Tips for Traveling to Cuba in 2018
Flights to Cuba are cheap and Cuban travel is still relatively easy. The biggest hurdle is qualifying under one of the 12 categories of allowed travel. Most of these categories are incredibly vague and finding ways to qualify is not difficult. The most important thing is to document your schedule. Our favorite category is “Support for the Cuban People”. You will need to list your travel category when purchasing your flight. If you don’t think you qualify, then you’re probably not trying hard enough.
12 Categories of allowed travel:
- Family visits
- Official business of the U.S. government, foreign governments, and certain intergovernmental organizations
- Journalistic activity
- Professional research and professional meetings
- Educational activities; including “people – to- people travel”
- Religious activities
- Public performances, clinics, workshops, athletic and other competitions, and exhibitions
- Support for the Cuban people
- Humanitarian projects
- Activities of private foundations or research or educational institutes
- Exportation, importation, or transmission of information or informational materials
- Certain export transactions
If you choose to travel under “Support for the Cuban People, I’d recommend documenting several “cultural activities” (tours, art shows, etc.) you will participate in during your stay. Although unlikely, U.S. Customs may want to review your itinerary on your return. As long as you properly document your “cultural activities” and are organized, U.S. Customs will likely find no issue with your travel to Cuba. Do not let these requirements deter you from visiting this wonderful country and supporting the Cuban people.
Per the new Trump era rules, you will want to avoid state-run restaurants and hotels. I suggest staying at Airbnbs and only eating at locally owned restaurants (they will be the top ones on TripAdvisor). You will want to document where you ate and stayed in your itinerary as well (keep it simple though).
- You will need a visa for travel to Cuba. The visa can be bought from your airline or at the airport for $50-$100 (American Airlines is the most expensive). Check with your airline for more info.
- Bring plenty of cash. US credit cards are generally not accepted.
- WiFi is government run and not easy to find.
- The airline may require you to sign an affidavit certifying your reason for travel. This is only for the airline’s recordkeeping purposes.
Planning a trip to Cuba can seem like a daunting task covered in red tape. I recommend keeping your documentation simple but thorough. Most of the time U.S. Customs won’t even ask to see any of the paperwork on your return, but it’s important to be prepared for any scenario. For further reading check out our 10 Things to Know before Traveling to Cuba and our American Travel Guide to Cuba.
Editorial Note: Any opinions, analyses, reviews, or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, approved, or otherwise endorsed by any card issuer.