Planning a worthwhile Spring Break takes a lot of work, so it’s never too early to start planning. Cuba may not exactly be the perfect Spring Break destination people were hoping for, but there are plenty of reasons to visit. Mainly, the fact that after 55 years of travel restriction, America has finally lifted its ban on travel to Cuba and is allowing Americans to visit the lush, tropical island.
However, there are still quite a few travel restrictions outlined on sites like LegalCubaTravel.com and PeterGreenburg.com. In order to be eligible to go to Cuba, you cannot just visit for fun, (unless you’re a Kardashian, apparently.) There are many U.S. government-approved categories for Cuba travel in which a license is not required, such as:
- Professional research or professional meetings
- Public performances, clinics, workshops, athletic competitions and exhibitions
- Religious activities
- Humanitarian projects
- Journalistic activities
- Family visits to close relatives
- Activities by private foundations or research and educational institutes
- Exportation, importation or transmission of information technologies or materials
- Authorized export transactions including agricultural and medical products and tools, equipment and construction supplies for private use
- Official business of the U.S. government, foreign governments and certain intergovernmental organizations
- Educational activities in Cuba for schools, including people-to-people exchanges open to everyone
If you don’t plan to be engaged in one of these above activities full-time during your stay, entry may not be permitted. As LegalCubaTravel.com states, “purely touristic travel such as relaxation stays at all-inclusive beach resorts is prohibited.”
But there is good news: no vaccinations are needed to travel to Cuba because risk for viruses and diseases like Zika, malaria and hepatitis B is very low. However, mosquito repellent isn’t a bad idea since it IS a tropical island.
There are also some concerns in regards to spending money. U.S. credit and debit cards are legal but do not yet function in Cuba, so you’ll need to bring cash to convert into the Cuban national currency. The Cuban Convertible Peso (CUC) has a value of one-to-one with the U.S. dollar, but changing U.S. dollars into CUCs carries an additional 10 percent fee. Prepare for this expense, and be ready to convert when you arrive at the airport.
As far as luggage, make sure you do not pack any narcotics, pornography, anti-Cuban literature, aerial drones, stand-alone GPS devices, walkie-talkies or items considered to be weapons. Do bring light, thin clothing, an umbrella and sandals, as the weather is quite hot and humid.
Be sure to do your research before you plan your visit to Cuba, and expect a worthwhile, enriching experience with the native people and their culture. Safe travels!