Planning a trip to Havana Cuba?
Wondering if it’s really possible to travel there from the USA?
At the beginning of this year my wife & I took a kid-free trip to Havana Cuba (thank you grandparents).
Below is what we learned during our time in Havana Cuba – specifically what NOT to do.
You might be wondering HOW we were able to visit Havana Cuba from the USA.
Obama created 12 legal reasons US citizens can travel to Cuba.
Many of them are very abstract, such as “support for the Cuban people” (not sure how long these rules will apply under Trump.)
You just have to pick one and fill a form for the airline, but that’s it.
When you come back they may or may not ask in the airport where you just came from.
As bloggers, my wife & I simply visited as journalists.
For more specific questions, contact Letty from Letty’s Cuba – she helped us with all our questions (Thanks Letty!).
I recommend you get this travel guide.
If you get the travel guide then this street map probably isn’t necessary.
What NOT To Do When Visiting Havana Cuba
It’s easy enough to get there, but what we found when we arrived was TOTALLY different than we expected.
Here are 7 things you should NOT do when you visit Havana Cuba.
Don’t Check Your Luggage
I highly recommend NOT checking your luggage.
Our luggage didn’t arrive on our plane…
It arrived 36 hours later!
This is a BIG deal in Havana Cuba because there are NO shops – NONE.
Want to buy toothpaste? Sorry.
Forgot your deodorant? Too bad.
If you must check your luggage, at least pack a few toiletries & change of clothes in a backpack…
Whatever you can’t survive the trip without should be in your carryon.
Don’t Take Where You Stay For Granted
We stayed in an Airbnb in Havana Cuba – and Airbnb didn’t let us down at all.
They were fantastic actually.
Here’s a picture of our street.
The reality of life in Cuba means you might need a little extra support & our Airbnb host gave us a cell phone to use to contact him during our stay.
Now, he wasn’t able to help us with the missing toothpaste or deodorant, but I’m sure he would have if they actually had stores.
Don’t Forget – You’re In A Communist Country
The propaganda was ridiculous.
In a beautiful square they played COPS-style videos to the crowds.
Meanwhile, the public infrastructure has been sadly neglected leading to falling down buildings & insufficient sanitation.
Some buildings being held up by sticks while families still live in them (notice the laundry!).
Others collapsing completely.
How beautiful these buildings would be if they’d been properly maintained.
Here’s hoping one day they will be restored to their full glory.
Don’t Assume There Are Stores
OK I know I told you earlier that there are NO stores in Havana Cuba.
Actually, we saw 1 store.
This is a picture of their version of a CVS pharmacy.
This strange shop (likely owned & operated by the Cuban government) had no essentials.
If you forget to pack your toothpaste, you’ll have to find someone willing to share (lucky for us, the family staying in the other room of our apartment had some to spare!).
There is no CSV or Walgreens or Cuban version of a convenience store.
The locals have to wait for their rations, so they don’t have any left to sell or share with you.
Don’t Skip A Classic Cars Tour
It’s a fun way to see Havana Cuba & if your driver/tour guide is half as friendly as ours, you’ll be all set.
You can book them for short or long tours & have them drop you off somewhere convenient for you.
Don’t Pass Up A Drink In Each Famous Bar
Yes, they’re packed full of tourists, but they’re also full of great music & serious bartending.
La Bodeguita Del Medio – Havana, Cuba
The show & the prize!
El Floridita – Havana, Cuba
Crowds again, but so worth it!
Don’t Worry Be Happy
This seems to be the motto of the people in Havana Cuba.
One good thing about visiting a communist country is that there is virtually no crime, so we felt very safe walking everywhere at night.
It’s a massive cultural shock to American consumers used to having “stuff”.
But WOW were we impressed with the resilient Cuban spirit.