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1. Posted by tinyhands (Budding Member 2 posts) 12y

i am an american citizen who wants to travel to cuba, i know the basics about the trip but i'm just trying to get some tips. can anyone help me out????

2. Posted by GregW (Travel Guru 2635 posts) 12y

The U.S. government has the following information: http://travel.state.gov/travel/cuba.html

Assuming you don't have relatives down there and are looking for a legal way to enter Cuba, I would suggest looking for an educational program which is licensed. National Geographic says, "Educational study programs to Cuba are increasingly popular. And scores of tour agencies and miscellaneous organizations are similarly licensed to offer cultural study programs to Cuba. Almost every U.S. citizen can travel legally as a member of such a licensed group. (The eclectic range of offerings spans art, bicycling, jazz festivals, music and dance, among others.)" I know in recent times the U.S. government has been clamping down on licenses, but you should still be able to find something.

Assuming you don't travel legally, most U.S. citizens fly through Canada or Mexico. When you get to Cuba you will pay for a tourist card and get a 30 day visa. I have never known them to stamp a passport, so there will be no "evidence" of your trip.

Cuba is a fantastic destination. It is very beautiful, and because of the fact that they have a pool of potential tourists 250,000,000 people smaller than similar destinations like Dominican Republic, it is less expensive than other caribean locations.

I spent a week there and felt very safe. As long as you keep an eye on your stuff you should be fine. Everyone you meet will probably try and sell you cigars, but if you say no they usually leave you alone. Restaurants are sometimes scarce, but families are allowed to host visitors in their houses if they meet certain criteria, so if you are up for an adventure you could go with one of the families that is offering meals (though I wouldn't do it if I was travelling alone).

I saw Havana and Varedero when I was there, as well as an off-road trip through the country-side and sugar-cane plantations. Havana was very cool, and I would love to go back and see more of it.

A cheap way to travel to Cuba is to go as part of an all-inclusive package and then set out from there. We paid $CDN 1,400 for a flight from Toronto, hotel for 7 nights and 3 squares a day. Even if you only spend 2 or 3 days in the all-inclusive resort and spend the rest touring the country side, it's not a bad deal.

Let me know if you have more questions.

3. Posted by travelover (Respected Member 494 posts) 12y

I've done the all-inclusive thing to Varadero as well, and you won't regret going to Cuba, even if you're not going the all-inclusive route. My friend spent 3 months living in Cardenas, a town outside of Varadero and made plenty of friends who she still keeps in contact with. Cubans will definitely be interested in who you are because tourists are scarce in areas outside of the resorts and Havana, but they are more curious than anything else. Greg was right when he said they will try to sell you cigars, and if you do go to Havana, they will try to get your attention in a lot of different ways, but they are not too pushy. It will definitely help if you go with an educational program, but in the case that you don't, it's very helpful to speak Spanish. I had the hardest time because of that.

All-inclusives cost around 1000$ CDN depending on the season, but flights are obviously cheaper and living there isn't very expensive. Cuba is a beautiful destination and I'm sure you will love it when you get there! Good luck!

Tam

4. Posted by tinyhands (Budding Member 2 posts) 12y

hey thanks alot for all the info, i think i will probably just get a plane out of canada and pay my own way and find my own way around. but one thing, american banks are banned from letting US citizens spend money in Cuba, its actually not even illegal for a US citizen to travel there, only spend money, can i get a canadian check card or get some kind of plastic from another country. i just dont want to be carrying around a huge roll of cash. any ideas???

5. Posted by GregW (Travel Guru 2635 posts) 12y

You could open a bank account and get a visa card from another country, presumably. That seems like a lot of work just to have a visa card down in Cuba for a vacation. Plus not a lot of places take them. The big tourist resorts will, but outside of that.

Re: Bank Cards. It's very hard to find ATM machines that accept even canadian cards down there.

I would probably get traveler's cheques, though make sure you don't get American Express cheques, because they aren't accepted. That way you would have the protection of not worrying about losing a wad of cash without having to open a foriegn back account.

Greg

6. Posted by photobug (Budding Member 20 posts) 12y

Hi tinyhands!

Where in Cuba will you be going and how long will you go? Because if you are going to go spend most of your time at an all-inclusive style resort, you really wont need a whole lot of money, since you wont have many expenses to worry about. When i went, we stayed at a resort, but i did go to Havana as well, and i did all kinds of activities and i got by with no more than 200$ american.

However, if you are going to be travelling around discovering the country, that's a different story. Just one little tip: Make sure you have 25$ to 50$ american in cash with you by the end of the trip, because there is an airport tax that you will have to pay. We paid 25$, but keep a bit more just in case.

Good luck!
Taline