Planning on a trip to Cuba? The most important thing to remember about packing for Cuba is if you’re American…stores will not take your Credit Cards and there are not a whole lot of stores to buy clothing, power bars, electronic accessories, suntan lotion, pain relievers etc…in the first place. So pack what you will need. Having said that, I would recommend packing light and do your best to bring your gear carry-on. It will save you plenty of time coming and going.
Cuba is located in the Caribbean right off of Miami so wear light clothing. I generally travel with wool Polo and T-shirts from Icebreaker. They look great, breathe better than cotton, don’t absorb sweat, and you can throw them in the shower, hang dry then good to wear again. For the most part keep it causal, but not sloppy. Long pants are generally best at night. Even though you’re not supposed to spend the day at the beach or pool, Locals do go to them , thus engaging in People to People exchange. Pack a swimsuit. It does rain every now and then so pack a rain jacket and/or umbrella.
Leave your loafers and high heels at home. Hiking shoes by day are highly recommended. The sidewalks here vary between well paved and completely broken up…often on the same street. The Malecon is fairly best up, but easy to walk on. Just pay attention.
Leave the bling at home. Cubans don’t have bling, this is not the place to flash it. It’s a very safe country, let’s keep it that way. No need to promote temptation…
If you are on prescription medicine or require over the counter allergy, pain relievers, etc bring it and some extra. Illicit drugs are totally banned in Cuba. I don’t care if your state Legalized it, a joint could get you life if not executed. Drink their Rum…it’s very good.
Pack suntan lotion, the sun is strong in Cuba. Since you will likely stay in a Cuban’s home bring your own toiletries, since it’s a coin toss to what they will have. I brought my own Toilet paper and packs of tissues just in case. My Casa Particular’s tp was fine so I left them mine. I packed Imodium which I did not need to use, but better safe than sorry.
Bring your own snacks, again not something easy to come by there. I packed some chocolate and Kind bars just in case. I ended up leaving half of the bars with my host, though the others came in handy at the Airport. I washed them down with a Buccaneer Cerveza.
Bring your chargers, maybe a spare power cord. Your room will have outlets, but don’t expect to see them all over the place like we have here. So bring a battery recharger, I like the Fluxmob Bolt.
Cuba is hyper-photogenic so bring a good camera, just keep it close. Of note, if you take a picture of some of the Locals in Old Havana they will expect to be paid a CUC or two. Some will even approach you asking if you would like to take their picture. This isn’t the average Local, but there are some who dress up for this specific purpose. I would suggest waiting until you get home to post your pics. First off Wi-Fi is less then common. Second, it’s likely Hermano Grande is monitoring what is being transmitted.
Bring a gift. If your staying in someone’s home it’s the right thing to do…and again they don’t have much access to a lot of basics. I brought my hostess a bag of Jacques Torres dark chocolate. It’s my favorite chocolate and I consider it a basic life necessity…don’t you?