CUBA: Gifts to the Locals

Old Jul 4th, 2014, 12:10 PM
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CUBA: Gifts to the Locals

In the 1990's or the early 2000's I visited Habana, Cuba with a group of eight to twelve folks. Upon leaving I left toiletries and other useful items for my maid plus a "week's stay" in tips [dollars at the time]. This was appropriate. In 2015 I hope to return to this city for a week. I'm traveling with a group from and would like to take a suitcase full of toiletries, school supplies, and whatever else that's appropriate.

To you who have traveled solo as well as with an authorized group, did you give the locals or your housekeeper appropriate items of need? If so, were they similar to what I might take [if the company encourages it] or what? I'd appreciate your responses to this query.
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Old Jul 5th, 2014, 03:26 AM
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We travelled independently, we did not leave toiletries or anything else. We left tips for the maid in Euros & Pounds, not US dollars.
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Old Jul 5th, 2014, 09:49 PM
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We were told toiletries, OTC medical supplies, such as aspirin, band aids, school supplies, etc were appreciated and needed.
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Old Jul 6th, 2014, 09:48 AM
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I would try to connect with an organization, not just hand out things to people. I know in Mexico various schools, orphanages, etc. have specific things they need (and things they get too much of donated and don't really need).

Money is always good. And what I do.
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Old Jul 6th, 2014, 10:18 AM
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Your travel company has a list of suggested donations to bring with you. (Most toiletries are not recommended).

I always bring a few extra Spanish-English dictionaries and leave them behind with guides when I travel to remote parts of South America. Books are incredibly expensive.

Usually it is better to leave donations with an organization for distribution, but I've also given out small school supplies directly.
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Old Jul 7th, 2014, 03:13 PM
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Thanks to all who've responded thus far: your advice and tips have been quite helpful. If others desire to post, I'm willing to read. The more-- the merrier and useful.
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Old Jul 8th, 2014, 01:02 AM
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Most certainly, leave money or personal items which are largely unavailable or very expensive, with people that you meet in the hotel and you developed even a short relationship with. Be sensible and sensitive in doing it but gifts will always be highly appreciated. I understand that items such as soap and toothpaste are very well received. I have made two trips to Cuba.
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Old Jul 13th, 2014, 11:06 AM
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DO NOT give personal items for tips. This was true at one time, but no more. Tip in CUC's the Cuban money used by foreigners. That gives the people you tip the ability to shop in good shops. Or give your tour guide money to be distributed to charities.

The tour company I went with had a list of items that we could bring for the various organizations we visited...for example pens, notebooks, etc. for the small ESL school we visited.
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