The US trade embargo makes things difficult...
Luggage and bags: Bring large cups with you (such as a coffee go mug) for drinks at the bar. All of the hotels use tiny plastic cups and you will constantly be running back for refills if you don't bring something larger with you! The staff are quite accustomed to this, and don't mind using your cups.
Clothing/Shoes/Weather Gear: Don't plan on doing a lot of shopping for anything besides souvenirs in Cuba. Bring good clothes and comfortable shoes with you.
Toiletries and Medical Supplies: Bring any toiletries and medical supplies that you would like to have with you; you will find it difficult to purchase any of these necessities in Cuba. Sunscreen is difficult to purchase in Cuba and is very expensive if you do find it. If you tend to have a sensitive tummy, it would be wise to bring a box of Imodium and antiacid with you too...
If you'd like to tip anyone at your resort, over the counter medication, such as Tylenol and Children's Tylenol, are very much appreciated. Some street vendors will accept it in lieu of cash. Soap, shampoo and tooth paste are also greatly appreciated. Candy is a big hit too.
Photo Equipment: Again, you will be hard-pressed to find any electronics in Cuba. Make sure you bring everything you need with you, including film and batteries!
If you really enjoy your condiments - such as ketchup or peanut butter or jam - you'd best bring a jar with you. The ketchup they have in Cuba is awful and PB & J are almost unheard of.
Camping/Beach/Outdoor Gear: It's generally a good idea to pack a beach towel with you, since many of the resorts charge a refundable deposit for their beach towels.
If you are in Cuba during mosquito season (April through October) bring insect repellent - the mosquitos are TERRIBLE!!
Miscellaneous: Cash - bring your cash with you from home. You exchange your cash at a bank or cadeca in Cuba. There is one ATM in Varadero, at the bank at 43rd St. If you run out of cash, you can get cash from this ATM (5CUC fee) or get a cash advance on your credit card at a bank. Speaking of credit cards, make sure yours are not affiliated with a US bank (American Express, Diner's Club, MBNA, Chase Morgan, Capital One, most Credit Unions) as these are not accepted in Cuba. So what is accepted? For a Canadian, any credit card issued by a major Cdn bank - RBC VISA, BOM M/C, Scotia VISA, CIBC VISA, TD M/C will be accepted with no problems.
- Budget Travel
- Family Travel
- School Holidays
mini camera tripod ideal esp. if traveling solo
Luggage and bags: Small to medium back sack or the like for if you go on excursions so can have change of cloths if need swim suit for only part of tour or need long pants for evening part of Havana tour etc. My Roots shopping bag that kind of looked like old school work socks was taken by hotel staff as had kind of crumbled in room but still wanted to use it; accept it as my fault as having left it like could be seen as garbage.
Clothing/Shoes/Weather Gear: if you have shoes that you don't want I think they could be something can give away or barter with. I was going to play a round of golf and didn't bring my clubs but brought my shoes and had people and in one case a taxi driver pull over to ask if I was selling my shoes or wanted to give them away. I pointed out that they were my golfing shoes and therefore wouldn't be any use to them, but struck a cord with me that certain name brand shoes might be hard to come by and some people might only have flip flops to wear. My golf shoes are Nike.
Toiletries and Medical Supplies: As a male have little to no use for face cloths, but if that floats your boat then bring your own as didn't have any in my room. They had Shampoo and even a small needle and thread set on top of soap in my all inclusive room so think may be a little different then from even only 4 to 5 years ago.
Photo Equipment: I brought with me a small tri-pod for my camera that had both tourists & locals alike asking me where I got it from. Mine was from a small trinket set meant to be as a give away to customers at trade shows which had a level/laser to attach that didn't work but found tripod worked excellent for a camera. I used a tonne as went solo and able to get lots of great pictures without bothering others. Won't go on holidays again without this little gem.
Camping/Beach/Outdoor Gear: insect repellant. I got bite a fair bit and think the offender was not the mosquito's but sand flea's.
Miscellaneous: I loaded up at a discount clearance center with small items for children (Crayons and flavoured kids Chapstick), high end nail polish, small flash lights, small multi driver screw drivers, and the like to give away as gifts. My plane was in really early, 4am, and didn't have any customs to go through upon arrival. Once your through Immigration went through the have things to declare doors as doors with nothing to declare were blocked off and was more or less right into taxi line or bus line to your resorts. I wasn't over by much if only 60$ allowed to bring in, but nearest could figure they don't care anymore how much you bring in to give as gifts. If you want to have your room cleaned and your fridge filled everyday put your gift and or money each day on bed or in or by fridge and it will be done and you will also know if they had been by that day. Female staff clean rooms and male staff fill the mini fridges, it isn't one job and I tip both separate. My fridge on my last day had so much beer in it couldn't but a any thing else in it if wanted to, I left either a small gift(s) or 5 cuc each day and was glad to at least know if could be expecting another visitor each day to my room, room in my case cleaned around noon each day, fridge filled around dinner time each day.
My room had 220 volt electrical that would accept a 2 prong charger, have read others say only accepts non polarized (both ends same size, not with neutral prong larger then hot ) I didn't look to see if that was the case as my charger is non polarized. READ the rating of your charger before plugging in, one of my old Samsung phone chargers is rated for 120 volts only and would of either wrecked the phone or the charger or both if had plugged in. My camera accepted up to 240 volts so I plugged away and had no issues. You do need to check or risk letting smoke out of whatever you plug in!
PACKING FOR CUBA
Luggage and bags: Since Varadero has a tropical climate, pack light clothes like T-shirts, shorts, bathing suit, extra beach towels, sun hat, sun glasses.
It is recommended that you do not place valuables in your luggage, due to possible theft. Keep valuables in your hand luggage.
Clothing/Shoes/Weather Gear: I brought beach shoes as the bottom of the sea may be rocky. I also brought sandals and a good pair of walking shoes. The evenings are cool, so I brought a zippered hoodie and a light sweater.
Toiletries and Medical Supplies: Suntan lotion, preferably 45+ sun protection. A little medical kit consisting of bandages and antibiotic cream. Also bring some kind of bug repellant as there were little black (no see-ums) bugs that bit and itched for days. I had at least a dozen bites.
Shampoo and soap bar were provided in our hotel room. Believe it or not, there were not any wash-cloths in our hotel room, so you might want to bring some with you.
Be sure to put liquids in your checked baggage as they still do not allow liquids in your carry-on, even water bottles. For a list of prohibited items, check with your travel agent.
Prescription medication should be kept in the original container and packed in carry-on luggage. I put mine in a see-through zip-lock bag.
Photo Equipment: As it is a resort vacation, camera supplies are very expensive. I brought four sets of rechargeable batteries plus my wall charger.
Miscellaneous: I brought along some paper back books and some magazines, to read at the pool or on the beach. I saw many with kindle books, which is kinda cool and very trendy.
Shoes are gold there!
Luggage and bags: Fill your bags with used unwanted clothing to hand out- it is much appreciated!
Clothing/Shoes/Weather Gear: Bring lots of flip -flops. Old navy, Dollarama and Walmart have cheapies that you can collect and use as tips. There are a lot of shoeless people in Cuba. Also bring any unwanted clothing. I saw the women getting lots but we tried to bring mens stuff as well. One of the guards asked us for clothing and told us he worked 24hours a day then had to travel 3 hours each way on his one day off for $13/month!
Toiletries and Medical Supplies: Make-up, shampoo, cond. lotions all are apprectiated as tips to the locals.
Miscellaneous: childrens stuff - toys and candy and crayons are a big hit to give out.
Cuban pesos come in two denominations. One is a tourist peso that is dirty cheap to us. But the locals have thier own pesos that work out to a 3:1 ratio or something like that- which means that everything is priced in tourist pesos and they have to come up with 3x the amount to be able to afford to buy it. So a $3 lipstick is really $15 to them.
- Budget Travel
- Family Travel
Winter Can Freeze
Clothing/Shoes/Weather Gear: We were stunned to be caught in the coldest spell Cubans could recall in living memory. Temperatures dropped to an incredible 6 degrees for three days. The only warm item of clothing I had with me was a fleece jacket - goodness was I glad for that! If you're travelling there in Winter, bring a couple of warm things just in case. If travelling in Hurricane season, bring lots of white clothes as you will be advised to wear white if caught in a hurricane.
Toiletries and Medical Supplies: Bring tons and tons of anti histamines (and start taking them before you travel) as the mozzies here are prolific and nasty. Also carry a plug in mozzie repellant and a spray. Bring your own hair conditioner and favourite cosmetics - these are difficult to purchase. I found it impossible to buy cotton wool anywhere! Stock up on prescription medications - Cuba has highly trained and excellent Doctors, but medications can be hard to obtain.
Photo Equipment: You would be well advised to bring plenty of memory for your digital camera - it can be hard to buy.
Camping/Beach/Outdoor Gear: Bring comfortable shoes for exploring the sharp shelled beaches combing for shells or for exploring the ecological reserves.
- Women's Travel
- Family Travel
Mosquito Repellent-- The Stuff To buy
Toiletries and Medical Supplies: The best thing to do is go into the shop and buy Repel.. It works like a charm. The bug repellents here in Canada will not work. When I got the Repel and put some on, it helped like a charm. Mosquitoes only come out in the evening when there is no breeze off the water so be prepared buy Repel. It costs about 6 to 10 convertible peso, it's completely worth it.
- Spa and Resort
Luggage and bags: When you are going home from Cuba they follow the rules very closely when it comes to the weight of your suitcase so remember not to bring too much stuff that you have to take home again.
Miscellaneous: Mosquito Repellent -Mosquito Repellent -Mosquito Repellent
I can´t say that enough bring the strongest stuff you can find. I have heard that white tigerbalm (not sure if it´s the right name in english) should be good.
It's a different country than here.
Toiletries and Medical Supplies: Everyday items we take for granted are sometimes in short supply or not available at all. Remember to take things like toothpaste,deodorant and aspirin with you. Facecloths are not supplied in most resorts.When you are outside of your resort and require the use of a public washroom, you might be surprised to find that there is no toilet tissue or that someone will be sitting outside the washroom who is willing to sell you a small piece of tissue. To avoid this situation, take some small pocket packs of facial tissues. Some public washrooms do not have facilities for washing your hands. You can carry some alcohol wipes or waterless antibacterial hand wash lotion with you. They are both available in small size containers that can be carried in your purse or pocket.
Miscellaneous: You can take a number of things with you to give away as gifts to local people that you meet.Hand and face soap, deodorant, toothpaste and perfumes are hard to get and the selection is very small at best. Clothing, even used, is greatfully received with sport logo items high on the list of wanted items. Pens, pencils, pencil sharpeners, erasers and notebooks are difficult to acquire there and are also appreciated. Good quality hard candy is hard to get there is appreciated by the many Cubans with a sweet tooth.
Anything that you choose to give to the maid in your hotel should be accompanied by a note stating that they are a gift from you to the maid. This will prevent anyone from assuming that she acquired the items any other way.
INSECT REPELLENT: DON'T FORGET IT
Toiletries and Medical Supplies: If you travel to Varadero, don't forget an insect repellent, especially if you are going on rainy season. Mosquito bites almost ruined (well, they tried, but didn't suceed) my holidays, so protect yourself.
Si viajas a Varadero, no te olvides de llevar un repelente de insectos, especialmente si vas a ir durante la estación de lluvias. Las picaduras de mosquito casi me arruinan las vacaciones (bueno, lo intententaron, aunque no lo consiguieron), asi que trata de protegerte.
- Spa and Resort
- Water Sports
don't forget these...........
Clothing/Shoes/Weather Gear: minimal!!! just 2 pairs of shoes, a couple shorts, a bikini or two..something for the evening....bring some warm clothes just in case (the night may get cooler).
Toiletries and Medical Supplies: Bring toilet paper if you plan on leaving your hotel. Even at the clubs, you have to pay for toilet paper, but they only give you 3 squares!!!
Many people get ear infections...it cost about 150 $$ for the visit and the ear drops. I suggest bringing some antibiotic eardrops...you can ge the polysporin eye/ear over the counter at your local pharmacy, or go to your MD for a rx.
Mosquito repellent is a MUST!!! do not leave without it. I still got eaten alive. I gave the rest of my bottle to some unsuspecting visitors...so if you do get bitten, do bring some antihistamines and some soothing cream (hydrocortisone...or benadryl cream)
Anything you would need from a drugstore..
Toiletries and Medical Supplies: shaving cream, razors, Mosquito Repellent, afterbite,tooth paste, You name it that you might need bring it as I had never seen any drugstore.
Photo Equipment: Extra film if you think you might need it.
Miscellaneous: Cuba is not a wealthy country and does not have everthing other countries have.
Miscellaneous: Bring cash instead of relying on credit cards, debit cards or traveller's cheques. Even in tourist areas, it's extremely rare that merchants accept credit cards. Those who do (like your hotel) will charge an extra percentage for the privilege. And forget ATM's: they simply don't exist. Most shops literally work with pens and calculators.
You must exchange your local currency to Convertible Pesos (CUC) once you arrive in Cuba. US dollars are no longer accepted and incur a surcharge when exchanging. Wait to change your money at the hotel to get a better rate than at the airport.
There are three banks in Varadero, I believe, which have the best exchange rates. However, they are quite far from the hotel area and the waits can be long. You will need your credit card and passport if you wish to draw money. I do suggest trying to avoid the bank by bringing all the cash you need!
- Budget Travel
- Family Travel
- Spa and Resort
Just some travel basics
Luggage and bags: Make sure your luggage has enough space to bring back some great statues
Clothing/Shoes/Weather Gear: Sarong, bathing suit, teva sandals
Toiletries and Medical Supplies: Asprin, toliet paper (you need it as soon as you land at the airport), SPF, aloe gel, diarreha medication
Miscellaneous: Bring a travel mug and little gifts for the staff and locals
- Women's Travel
Evening can be chilly
Luggage and bags: The usual when you go south... Sunscreen, shades, bathing suits and sandals. Make sure to bring something a little warmer for the evening.
Clothing/Shoes/Weather Gear: Bring a light jacket, long pants and maybe a sweater. Although you're in Cuba, Varadero can be chilly at night.
Toiletries and Medical Supplies: Make sure to have some tissue or toilet paper in your purse or pocket as many facilities simply do not have any toilet paper at all. Even some restaurants will hand you a roll before you go to the bathroom and they will be waiting for you to bring it back...
Dining Hall Dress Code
Clothing/Shoes/Weather Gear: A dress code was in effect at our resort for sit down meals. They wouldn't let anybody into the main dining room wearing shorts or a T-shirt, the rule was strictly enforced and people were turned away at the door. Beach sandals were also frowned upon. Jeans were acceptable.
Men: Bring long pants and collared shirt.
Women: Same rule applies, only you get to wear dresses and tanks tops instead if you want.
- Spa and Resort