1. Have an open mind
Before visiting Havana, I was a bit skeptical of what it would be like. As a novice traveler who's never met anyone that has been to Cuba, I turned to YouTube. This turned out to be a mistake as I became so discouraged by the content I found. I even contemplated changing my flight! People made it seem like the poorest and most depressing country possible but in fact it was very special in its own unique way.
2. Know your requirements
Be aware of what is acceptable! It is illegal to visit Cuba for tourism as a US citizen. Visitors will be given a form at the airport to select one of the 11 government approved reasons for travel: most popular is " Support for the Cuban People" (This form is also available online with some carriers). Once you've selected a category, you will need a Cuban Visa which can be purchased at the airport before departure. There are also restrictions on where you can stay. Although. I don't wholeheartedly agree with it, here is the list. (Changes have been made due to the new administration but support for the Cuban people is still the best option.)
Use Airbnb to reduce the hassle of finding a place to stay.
3. Plan but don’t plan
I stayed four beautiful days in Cuba with an itinerary planned for each day. Like most travelers, I turn to social media to find all the places I would like to visit but barely made it halfway through my list! Cuba is a place where the island takes you by surprise. For instance, I never expected my Airbnb host to invite me to dinner with his family and this was by far the best dinner I had in Cuba.
4. Ignore stereotypes
Considering the sanctions of the past and negative stereotypes portray of Cuba, it is one of the most interesting and culturally rich places to visit on the planet. The people are so warm and welcoming, I felt at home.
5. Cash is King
US credit and debit cards do not work in Cuba, take cash instead! There are several popular currencies, such as the US dollar, Canadian dollar, UK Pound Sterling, and the Euro, which can be easily changed in Cuba. However, you may incur a fee. For example, there is a 10% fee to change the USD. Be sure to budget properly since there are not many alternatives if you run out cash.
Most importantly have an amazing trip and collect beautiful memories!
Editors Note: Opinions expressed here are the author's alone, not those of any parties mentioned. None of the entities mentioned has reviewed, approved, or endorsed the content listed in this post.