Qualify under one of the 12 US government categories. The categories most US visitors to Cuba will fall into will be
- People to People
- Support of the Cuban People
- Educational Activities
Booking activities where you engage with the Cuban people in a meaningful interaction will qualify you for one of the categories above. Some examples, Tours about religion, history, dance, photography lessons
Book your flight to Cuba. Most major airlines have flights to Cuba. These include United, JetBlue, Delta, Southwest, AlaskaAir. *Note Frontier, and Spirit airlines have elected to stop service into Cuba.
Book Accommodations: Unlike most locations people will typically book a hotel or resort for their hotel. In this case I am going to suggest that you book an Casa Particular (The Cuban version of a BnB) or AirBnB. With few exceptions they are much better than the hotels that are currently available in Cuba, cheaper, and go directly to helping a Cuban family. Some links
Decide what you want to do. You can easily fill all of your time just seeing Havana. Do you want to see additional cities e.g. Vinales, Trinidad, etc. Once you decide on what you want to do you can start budgeting. Do you want private custom tours or group tours, private or shared taxis. Do you plan on using buses or taxis to various cities.
BRING CASH – This cannot be stressed enough. US Credit cards and Debit cards do NOT WORK IN CUBA. IT’s better to bring too much cash than be stranded. You need enough to pay for food, lodging in some cases, transportation and souvenirs
Cuban Visa/Tourist card – While you can get a visa from the Cuban embassy it is much simpler to simply get the visa from your airline. Most airlines have a separate check in for Cuban trips. You will get your visa from there as well as your boarding pass
Tourist cards will be available for purchase from Delta/United for $50 at the gateway departure gate, prior to boarding. Delta/United accepts cash, credit and debit cards when customers purchase a tourist card (Cuba’s entry visa) for $50 at the gateway departure gate, prior to boarding. Debit cards must bear a major credit card logo to be valid for acceptance Check your respective airline for their policy and pricing. DO NOT LOSE YOU NEED IT TO LEAVE CUBA ( you will be charged a $25 departure fee if you do not have this tourist card)
Medical insurance: The cost for a temporary medical insurance policy is $25 which will be automatically included in the cost of the passenger’s fare. You must carry around your boarding pass as proof of insurance
Enjoy: Keep an open mind and leave your expectations and go with an open mind and you will enjoy Cuba. Go with the expectation of learning about the culture and history of Cuba from the viewpoints of the citizens that live there. Also keep in mind that the amenties we take for granted e.g. unlimited internet is not available there. Be prepared to be off the grid for the most part.