Before I boarded the plane to Havana, I was bombarded with a plethora of advice in many different forms. I received calls, texts, and even emails with different options of what to bring, how to pack, survival tips, you name it. So now that I received my Cuban stamp, I am ready to share mine.
• Currency– Unlike the advice I was provided, Cuba accepts America currency and businesses do accept Visa, MasterCard, and American Express. Do not be mistaken that the exchange rate and foreign transaction fees are ridiculously high, but it’s still a great piece of knowledge to know you have these options. I was told neither American currency, nor credit cards would be accepted, which created quite the financial burden for my travel companion and me. We were in Cuba six days and brought Euros of the $700 USD equivalency. We had maybe $50 USD cash and no cards. We nickeled and dimed to survive, but it would be helpful to have known all our options before crossing the border. If you are going to travel to Cuba with foreign currency, you should compare the rates of Euros and Pounds for the best rates. We had Euros and never considered Pounds and we lost out tremendously.
•Transportation– The classic cars from the 1950’s are a must while cruising around town, but do not feel obligated to use this as your sole transportation. You have a plethora of options that include yellow cabs, shared cars (the equivalent of a shared Uber), train, and multiple city bus choices. Prices range from 1 cuc to 160 cuc based on the location and time utilized. Treat yourself, but the choice is yours.
•Connectivity– Data and wi-fi options are few and far between, as the Cuban people are still updating the infrastructure. Your best resource for connectivity is to go to a local hotel and buy a wi-fi card. You can buy a card for one hour at the cost of 1 cuc or five hours at the cost of 5 cuc. It is helpful to know that you can log in and out of the service, therefore I was able to purchase a five hour card and use it sparingly over the course of my six day duration.
•Hydration– We traveled with two gallons of water to utilize as our daily drinking water. The Cuban water including the water that is bottled has minerals in it, and not recommend for drinking. Depending on how much water you drink, I would suggest bringing even more than we chose to carry. We drank it sparingly, but both Ashlee and I are used to drinking a gallon daily. We decided against three gallons, but in retrospect it would have been okay coming through customs and immigration.