Soooo after watching my recap of Cuba, whatcha thinking? Looks great right? Looks like I had tons of fun, like the time of my life, right? Nah.
Before traveling to Cuba, I saw photos and videos just like this and I thought the same thing: wow! Cuba looks like fun.. I want to check it out. And instead of doing some real research, asking the right questions and gathering my own info, I bought a ticket and booked an airbnb.
My trip was solely based on the perception I had from other people’s photos… But the expensive lesson I learned is just because everyone else “appeared” to have a great time, it doesn’t mean my experience would be the same.
So before booking your flight, consider these 9 things I wish someone would’ve told me before going to Cuba:
1. There is a language barrier
I mean for real for real… I’ve been to several spanish speaking countries and been able to hang (with just my high school spanish vocabulary) but in Cuba? Nah. I’m not sure if they are speaking some sort of spanish code, but I couldn’t understand a damn word. So unless you’re fluent in spanish or have a hispanic homegirl traveling with you, expect to NOT be able to communicate.
2. Stay in Vedado not Havana
The biggest mistake we made was staying in Havana… We were SO far away from everything that we had to take taxis everywhere every time we left the house. Vedado, on the other hand, is in the busy bustling part of town and you can easily walk to restaurants, hotels, etc.
3. Expensive AF
Would you believe that the dollar is actually worth less in Cuba? What sense does that make?! 100 dollars is only worth 87 cucs. Not only is the dollar worth less, but everything is extra expensive. So in essence, you’re overpaying for their old ish. You are absolutely NOT going to get what you paid for. We literally paid $100 each to go to the beach for one day, spent at least $50-60/day in taxis alone and the dinner shows are $100 on average. [The ONLY thing that was cheap was the food + drinks.]
4. They are stuck in the 50’s – this is an actual photo of a store.. in 2017
Everything is old.. the cars, the homes, the buildings…errythang! Now, I knew I wouldn’t have 24/7 access to the internet but I had no clue that it would be virtually non-existent. Cuba literally just got the internet 2 years ago and cell phones 9 months ago, they have not caught up with the times yet. They have “wifi parks” and “wifi cards” but it’s not widespread at all. The city literally looks like they haven’t built anything or grown at all since their revolutionary war.
5. Bring extra toilet tissue
Toilet tissue is a hot commodity in Cuba… so much so that our flight attendant gave us a few extra rolls to survive. Some of the restaurants don’t even have running water… imagine that.
6. Currency exchange before you get here
Exchanging money is a hassle and NOBODY accepts cash. Do yourself a favor and exchange in the airport before you leave the U.S. Credit cards are also a HELL NO so be sure to bring lots of cash… (we met a couple from NYC who had to call home for money TWICE in one week.)
7. Hotels are clutch (tours/English)
We chose to ball on a budget by staying at an airbnb for $55/night. If you can afford to stay in a hotel, do it! The one we priced was $580/night (ridiculous) BUT at least you have access to their English speaking staff… we literally went to the closest hotel every day for help.
8. The closest beach isn’t close at all
You would think Cuba is like this tropical, beachy place right? WRONG. The closest beach was 30 mins away and the nice beach was 2 hours away.
9. Before you go…
Before leaving the U.S. we had to purchase a visa for $75 at the airport + be sure to know your reason for traveling since we’re technically not allowed to go as tourists. You may be quizzed at the airport [we said educational purposes]
My verdict for Cuba:
The moral of the story is that you shouldn’t base your decisions on the perception of other people. Ask the right question, do your own research and don’t believe everything you see on IG. My biggest advice is to just give them time to catch up with the times…wait at least 5 years before taking the trip unless you’re a history buff and want to experience staying in the sticks. Just take your coins to an exotic destination and enjoy a resort (that’s where I’ll be!)
P.S. Here is a second opinion on Cuba from my favorite travel blogger, Rachel. WHYYYYY didn’t I find this before I went??! smh.