By: Ebonne Holyfield of The Guest List
Hi We Go Too Family,
Ebonne Holyfield here from The Guest List blog and I have a few travel tips for you from my recent trip to Cuba. I’ve got you covered with the do’s and don’ts that will for sure make your travel experience much easier!
8 Go To Travel Tips For Cuba
1) Leave your Gucci flip flops at home!
No Gucci, Louis, Fendi, or even a “just in case” party dress! Well, at least while traveling in Cuba. I don’t know about you but most of the pics I’ve seen on the ‘gram or Facebook show the “cool kids” traveling to Cuba looking stylish, refreshed, and cool as a cucumber. Well, guess what… that was not our experience! In my opinion, it was entirely too hot to be draped in silk, tiptoeing in stilettos, and having a full on contoured “beat” face. Don’t get me wrong we wanted dope pics as well and we definitely got them, but let’s be clear those pics were planned for blogging purposes! So, if you’re traveling to Cuba in the summer just stick to lightweight shorts, tank tops and a cute maxi dress for the ladies if you’re feeling fancy. Also, If you want to look stylish, allow your accessories to be your best friends because your clothes definitely will not be.
2) Snacks on Snacks on Snacks
We had so many late night moments where we were hungry and there were no “corner stores” nor bodegas open. And of course, the few we saw during the day did not have the traditional American snacks that we were accustomed to (i.e. mini bags of chips). So we quickly established that for our next visit we’d definitely be (secretly) packing our weekender bags with an assortment of chips, cereal bars, juice boxes, bottled water, and every comfort snack we can think of for those late night munchies.
3) It’s Hot in Herre
In the words of my travel partner, “It really is a time warp and not in a nostalgic way”. One of the major challenges of said time warp was the lack of air conditioning amid blazing humid heat. There was no AC in the taxis, restaurants, stores, homes, and even some hotels. Actually, I only recall riding in one taxi with adequate air, which we were deeply grateful for in the 90-degree weather. Luckily, our Airbnb had air condition but ONLY in the master bedroom. So here’s a tip… bring your baby wipes on the go to freshen up and get a good pocket fan for hot taxis, walking tours, salsa dancing, and eating out.
4) Man down!
If you’re addicted to the ‘gram, enjoy looking up your daily horoscope, or rely on map apps to get around like us you will be out for the count. Why, you ask? Because Wi-Fi is damn near nonexistent in Cuba. It does exist, however, it’s few and far between and you have to pay for it, which is relatively cheap costing about 1.5 – 4.00 CUC per hour. However, on a positive note, no wifi access is not as bad as it sounds. It forces you to truly interact with whomever you’re traveling with, plan real activities to keep yourself occupied, and get to know the locals – but be sure to bring a pocket Spanish book for that (if you’re not fluent). Speaking of being fluent, be sure to save your house or hotel address in Spanish as most taxi drivers do not speak or read in English.
5) All you can eat…not so much
One of our biggest shocks was that there were limits on the restaurant menus! As in they may have 20 food options listed on the menu but only 5 of them available for order on that particular day. So basically their inventory varies day to day and they simply serve what they have when they have it. So while dining in Cuba be willing to be flexible and open to trying new things because your only option just may be an unfamiliar one.
6) Money, Money, Money, Money
Though Cuba is relatively cheap compared to America, we spent roughly 75 to 100 CUC per day. The food and drinks were insanely cheap however due to the heat, the majority of our money was spent hailing taxis to and fro. Although we didn’t stay far from most tourist attractions (10-20min), we took about 5 taxi’s a day and spent between 5 to 30 CUC each way. That said, be prepared to spend your money on taxis unless you enjoy walking many miles in the sweltering heat.
7) Hotels for the win!
We stayed in an Airbnb, however, if I had to do it over, I’d opt for a hotel just for the convenience of air condition, Wi-Fi, restaurants, concierge service, well-lit streets, and readily available taxis. In particular, we ran across a great hotel called the Melia Cohiba which was our saving grace throughout the duration of our vacation. We dined there for lunch, had late night cocktails at the bar, purchased their Wi-Fi, and received great recommendations for authentic Cuban experiences. Some things are worth spending money on if you prefer to travel with ease and a quality hotel is definitely one of those things that makes it easy in Cuba.
8) The more the merrier
Last but certainly not least bring extra undergarments! I took about 3-4 showers a day because once again the heat was intense! I am not exaggerating about the heat guys and if you’re anything like me, you value being fresh and clean. It just makes your traveling experience so much better when you’re not sticky and sweaty. So bring enough shower gel, undergarments, and deodorant to last you for all those showers!
I said this in my previous blog post “Prepping for Cuba” but bring flushable wipes! That was a real thing over there. Some places don’t have tissue in the restrooms and if they do there is an attendant standing outside measuring toilet paper and selling it to whoever needs it. So save yourself a few coins and just bring your own from home.