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Holidaying in Cuba: What To Bring

Updated on May 4, 2011

Preparation For Maximum Enjoyment

You have found an amazing price for a getaway to Cuba.  It is a steal and it is all inclusive which means all the food and drink you can have plus the gorgeous weather.  Sun, here we come, right?  Hold on, there are a few things you should consider first. 

1) First thing I can think of to mention is bring large drinking containers to hold your drinks.  Yes, the package is all you can drink but in Cuba they give you small cups.  Bringing a large drinking mug ensures that you don't have to repeatedly go back to the bar to get your flimsy plastic cup refilled.

Also, those plastic cups tend to get thrown all over leaving a mess by the day's end.  If you are into the rum, you can get a buzz very quickly depending on the capacity of your drinking vessel.

2) Bring salt and other spices with you. Much of Cuban food is cooked with sea salt.  Remember also that Cuba is a third world country so the food will not be up to gourmet standards.  Bringing spices will help make the food more palatable especially if you are eating the same foods every day.  If you have room, bring some non-perishables with you, or how about ketchup packets? 

3) Limit your poultry intake when eating at the buffet.  I tend to give this advise a lot because Cuban cooking standards can be below par and the meat that can make you most sick is poultry if it is not cooked properly.  Salmonella chicken is not a meal you will want to savor.  

4) Bring lots of dollar store items.  Cubans love lots of small items that especially are designed from your home country.  How about towels that have your flags on them?  Little trinkets, such as pens, drawing paper and other ditties you get at your dollar store will go a long way in making the natives happy.  If they are happy, they are sure to give you that extra hospitality that you might miss out on. 

5) Bring a Spanish translation book.  Cubans don't expect you to be fluent in Spanish when you are there, but they are tickled pink if you can at least make the attempt to speak their language.  Again, you will get much more hospitality and service if you at least attempt it.  Taking a Spanish course before your vacation is an added bonus. 

6) Bring extra things you use daily for gifts.  Extra make-up for the women, and shaving gear for the men is considered a big luxury.  If many of these things are done by incoming tourists, it is not unheard of to be invited into a Cuban's home for a traditional meal.  Cubans are not expecting these things but are pleasantly surprised when these efforts are made.

7) Bring some Imodium or similar over the counter drugs.  This is completely for you and you may require this if something you eat does not agree with you.  The sooner you get the bug out of your system the more you can get back to enjoying your vacation.  It is no fun being stuck inside on the toilet when sunny skies are waiting.

8) Be very careful about knowing the Cuban currency.  There are two types of pesos in Cuba.  There is the peso for the tourists (the convertible peso) and there is the peso for the natives which is a fraction of the value you are converting your money too.  Make sure that when you get change back from a vendor that it is the right currency.

9) Bring enough money for the airport tax.  Upon leaving Cuba, there is a twenty-five peso tax (per person) that has to be paid in order to leave the country.  Also on the money matter, it is good to budget for a safe in your room.  You can store your valuable in keyed safe and be assured that there will be no temptation for the staff to rob you.  

10) Bring mosquito repellent and  first aid.  The Cuban mosquito comes out around supper-time and they are smaller and harder to detect.  Remember to spray yourself ("Off" works well).  Bring some after-bite as well because mosquito bites can be severe and leave large welts usually around the ankles.  Your skin may already be agitated from the sun.  

11) Don't forget your sun protection.  Hats, sunglasses and of course sun cream that will protect well against the higher exposure to UV rays. 

I will be writing more on Cuba for those looking to go.  I hope this will be a help because if your vacation is planned right, it could be an enjoyable experience that you will want to revisit again and again. 


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    • Kalmiya profile image

      Kalmiya 6 years ago from North America

      Cuba is a good vacation destination, especially as Canadians we are free to travel there and get the most amazing deals! Thanks for your hub.