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I'm traveling alone to Cuba for two weeks (American). Need advice!

I'm traveling alone to Cuba for two weeks (American). Need advice!

Old Dec 21st, 2014, 10:13 AM
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I'm traveling alone to Cuba for two weeks (American). Need advice!

Hi all - I'm a 30yo American male and have decided to head to Cuba for two weeks in January. I've done a lot of research on these forums already so I hope I don't sound too amateur.

Also, just a quick note on my style of travel: I like to travel independently and go off the beaten path if possible. I appreciate good people, good culture, good food, beautiful sites, and serendipitous connections -- pretty much what anyone would enjoy I know with Cuba the food won't be exceptional but that's a small price to pay. I've always wanted to go and now I have the opportunity. Would love this forum's advice on the below questions!

- Getting in: The obvious question is how to get in. Two friends of mine have flown through Mexico City to Havana without a problem (Cuba didn't stamp their passports, just gave them a slip of paper). I want to make sure this is still the case.

- Lodging: I prefer to stay in hostels when I travel but have mostly heard of people staying in casas particulares. Is there even a hostel culture in Cuba where I can meet fellow travelers? If so, I found a good one here that I'll probably stay in when in Havana (http://www.hostelz.com/hostel/202558...dos-Backpacker)

- Cultural activities: Any local events or cultural events I should consider looking into? I really enjoyed Thai kickboxing in Thailand, Flamenco festival in Cordoba, etc. Is there anything I should keep an eye out for in Cuba?

- Outdoor activities: On a similar note, are there any outdoor activities I should look in to doing? Would love to tour some cigar factories in the hillsides or similar. Hikes are also fun. I've heard good things about scuba. The less it feels like a formal tour, the better, but I understand if that's not an option

- Cuba destinations: I'm thinking of spending 6-7 days in Havana. I've heard I should also visit Trinidad and Vinales. Are there others I should consider?

- Money: I plan to take about $1200 for two weeks. I'll just have to be careful with my money. Am I way off base?

- Getting around on my own: I know this is a longshot, but I'd love to rent (or borrow from a local) a car or motorcycle to get around the island. Is this even possible?

Thanks all
kevinballa is offline  
Old Dec 21st, 2014, 11:36 AM
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Going thru the DF should still be possible, why not ? A friend of ours attended a film festival there that way. His advice was to go to a dollar store and buy a bunch of cosmetics for the hookers and to bring a toilet seat for yourself. My ex and his wife from Madrid were there a while back and were able to rent a car. They drove as far as Guantanamo (she's a journalist). Do you speak Spanish? That would certainly help. Ask your friends who have been there for further info.
Bedar is offline  
Old Dec 21st, 2014, 12:48 PM
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My first piece of advice is don't use your computer on a public forum to ask how an American can break the law

My second advice is go with an authorized cultural tour the legal way until they decide open up the embargo.

My last advice is when you're exchanging your dollars you're definitely breaking the law, even if going with a cultural group

So why not just ask your friends that did it and take your chances?

Let us know how it went! Good luck!
blamona is offline  
Old Dec 21st, 2014, 03:47 PM
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I'm sure that, even in Cuba, you have to put down a credit card to rent a car. U.S. credit cards don't work there. The embargo is still in place and will be for the foreseeable future.

Everybody I know who has gone came back and said that Cuba turned out to be more expensive than they had expected. Determine a budget and then give yourself an extra "just in case" amount as a cushion. Remember that you'll have no way to get extra money if you start burning through cash faster than planned. Your ATM card will not work.

I agree that your questions are too public if your screen name is your real name. I like the idea of a cultural tour. It's approved and legal.
Jeff_Costa_Rica is offline  
Old Dec 21st, 2014, 11:51 PM
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Thanks for the info all.

Also - what do you mean about the toilet seat?
kevinballa is offline  
Old Dec 22nd, 2014, 12:35 PM
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Our US passports were stamped in Cuba,April 2014.
HappyTrvlr is offline  
Old Dec 31st, 2014, 02:51 PM
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Kevin, I just read your queries and would suggest that you go to http:www.cubaabsolutely.com. It's an internet monthly magazine that can give you many answers to most of your questions.
I'd also suggest that you stay in an independently run [private] facility. From what I've read, that's the way to go if you desire NOT to stay in a hotel. Also, remember you're traveling during 'high season.' Hope you will not encounter too many difficulties in seeking what you want if you've not made prior reservations which is virtually impossible as an independent traveler who is not traveling on a People-to-People program [which most of us US citizens have to do if we wish not to travel as you're doing.]

During the last of February, I will be traveling with a P-to-P program, but my time is horrendously limited; I'll be staying for a paltry week. But, when that friggin' embargo has been lifted, I, along with other US citizens, will be 'FREE' to travel at will.

I extend the best to you in your future travels; please report back here and write for all of us to enjoy vicariously!
Eddwarm is offline  
Old Dec 31st, 2014, 03:12 PM
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I hope you've read and/or reading some good guide books. Some that I am reading are: DK EYEWITNESS TRAVEL: CUBA, DK EYEWITNESS TRAVEL TOP 10 CUBA, TIME OUT: HAVANA & THE BEST OF CUBA, FODORS and FROMMERS books. I have a few others but not at my finger tips at this writing. Read everything possible that's on the next. Ask www.bing.com and www.goggle.com some questions. Both can respond with salient and helpful information along with websites to consult.
Eddwarm is offline  
Old Jan 4th, 2015, 01:56 PM
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For goodness sakes. Don't worry about posting in a public forum. The US government is way to busy worrying about ISIS to worry about someone going to Cuba from Mexico. You can find some great casa particulars in Trip advisor. Cash is king in Cuba. Just bring lots of dollars. I have been traveling to Cuba since 2000. If you ask for your passport NOT to be stamped, they won't stamp it. They stamp P To P passports now because, why not? the trips are legal, so there is no downside.

There is a great old boxing school in Old Havana. Everyone knows where it is. Old Havana is small. I love Vinales--it's gorgeous. The scenery is incredible. I also love Trinidad, but it is a much longer trip than Vinales. Trinidad is a fun place with great dancing in the square until 3AM. The scenery isn't as spectacular as Vinales, but there are terrific beaches nearby. It's all in what you are looking for.

So, check TA for casa particualare and decide if you want to go to Vinales or Trinidad (and visit Cienfuegos). Just google them and see which is more 'you".

have fun!
BostonHarbor is offline  
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