Can American’s Go to Cuba?

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Can American’s Go to Cuba?

Eleven facts and things you should know when traveling to Cuba on a U.S. Passport in 2019.

The short answer is, yes! 

American citizens can travel to Cuba in 2019, even with the recent changes in restrictions. The major differences are American cruise ships are no longer able to visit the Cuban port and you can no longer travel under the people-to-people visa.

Be mindful of these few facts before you go:

1.    The restrictions on reasons for travel and where you can spend money are all United States rules. So, regardless of U.S. regulations, your U.S. passport is valid in Cuba.

2.    You must pick one of the approved 11 travel categories before you go:

  • Family visits

  • Official business for the U.S. government, foreign government and certain intergovernmental organizations

  • Journalism

  • Professional research

  • Religious activities

  • Public performances

  • Support for the Cuban people(this is what we traveled on)

  • Humanitarian projects

  • Activities of private foundations or research or educational institutes

  • Exportation, importation or transmission of information or informational materials

  • Certain export transactions

3.    Don’t stay in a hotel: we stayed in a superhost airbnb, and this helps go toward your visa of supporting the Cuban people. The airbnb locations are hosted by locals and provide an authentic and fun experience!

4.    Cash only! You cannot use your U.S. credit cards in Cuba, so you must budget out for each day and bring enough Euros to cover everything (you also can exchange American dollars but it is much more expensive). The perk of booking your stay and tours via airbnb is you can pay online beforehand and not have to take quite as much cash with you. 

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5.    You MUST have proof of valid health insurance. This will actually be via your airline and they will stamp your boarding pass as proof. So make sure you keep your boarding pass throughout your travels in Cuba.

6.    Keep your receipts! This way, if you are audited after you get home you can document and prove your claim of supporting the Cuban people. 

7.    Write out your itinerary before you go. This also helps if you get audited and helps make your trip more enjoyable.

8.    Print out maps of the city beforehand. Cuba has limited WIFI, so I just disconnected from the Internet completely and relied on good old-fashioned maps!

9.    You will likely have any necessities provided by your casa host BUT you cannot just go to a Walgreens and pick up Advil or hand sanitizer, so plan ahead. Make packing lists and bring anything you might need, including a roll of toilet paper! I brought Advil and Imodium and needed both!

10.  Cuba is SAFE! Be a smart traveler always, but Cuba is one of the safest places I have traveled. Also, keep in mind there are very few homeless (the only few are likely drunks and on the streets by choice). Due to the political situation in Cuba everyone has the necessities (food, water - for the most part- and shelter) so when people are begging on the streets it is not because they are hungry. These beggars make more than people who work full-time government jobs. Yikes! The average Cuban salary is $30 a month and beggars can make that in a week or less. So don’t be surprised if you buy extra food and try to hand it out, only to have the beggar reject it. However, your money is your money, so if you still feel inclined to hand out cash here and there, go for it! 

11.  Take a deep breath and enjoy your trip! Cuba is a beautiful country with a diverse landscape, historic architecture, and wonderful street art. Plan some time to visit more than one city and explore the mountainous region. It is breathtaking!

We just got back from Cuba and it was amazing, hot in July but easy in and out. I am excited to go back and explore more someday soon.