Packing for Cuba is easy. It’s a chilled out island, so unless you’re an Instagram Influencer and need that photo of you in your red dress and stilettos in Havana, leave your high heels at home!
I’m not going to tell you how many tops or pairs of knickers you should be packing – I’m pretty sure you’ll be able to suss that one out for yourself. But a word of advice – you’ll probably overpack. You don’t need eight pairs of shorts, I bet you’ll only wear one. You can do your washing out there (see below) so take minimal items and save on luggage!
Time to get packing!
- Footwear? We’re packing flip-flops, trainers/converse, sandals.
- Clothes? We’re packing shorts, t-shirts, summer dresses, those super cool baggy hippy trousers, crop tops, loose jeans. Check the time of year you are going, and the weather. Cuba can be hot and humid during the day, and sometimes a little chilly in the evenings.
- Towels? It would be unusual for a casa particular to not supply you with a towel for showering. But, from experience, the towels are often hand-size. If you want to swan around the room in your towel getting ready for your night of salsa, bring your own. I recommend a micro-fibre travel towel – they’re cheap, lightweight, and dry really fast.
- Toiletries? Bring everything you need. It will be nigh-on impossible for you to pick up some L’oreal suncream or Max Factor foundation in Cuba. Bring everything and bring back ups. And once you’re leaving the island, give your leftovers to those who need it more – click here for more information.
General packing list:
- Travel insurance – printed out
- Cash – see tip #2 above
- Mosquito repellent
- Tissues/toilet roll (you’re welcome.)
- Anti-bac hand sanitiser
- Stomach settling tablets (you’re welcome.)
- Plug adaptor + chargers
- Hand-held fan (it gets hot guys)
- Playing cards
- Ladies – bring your sanitary items, you won’t find your favourite brand in Cuba.
- Day pack/handbag
- Condoms (safety first guys)
- Spanish Phrasebook if you’re a newbie
- Travel journal + pens
- A good book
- Leave your guidebooks at home! Go adventure!
Useful info about money:
If you’re coming from the United States, bring cash and lots of it because you most likely won’t be able to withdraw any money from the cash points. You can’t pay on card anywhere either – it’s a cash only currency.
If you’re coming from anywhere else in the world, still bring cash and lots of it. Card machines can often be temporamental and they’re not on every street corner like you’re used to.
You should also notify your bank that you’ll be in Cuba, just in case you get blocked.
Doing laundry in Cuba
If you’re staying in casa particulares, they’re usually happy to help you out with your laundry. You’ll pay a small amount – this usually depends on the amount of clothing you want to wash. From experience, this ranges from 2CUC to 10CUC and never much more. If you’ve only got a couple of small items and they’re doing a wash anyway, chances are they won’t charge you.
I’ve only had one strange experience and I was in Trinidad. I kindly asked the owner of the casa if she could wash some clothes for me. Her answer? “Nope, there’s no water in Trinidad”. When I replied enquiring if this was just a temporary issue (i.e. plumbing, drought), she told me “no, there is never any water in Trinidad and there is absolutely no way you can wash your clothes”.
So, naturally, I took myself to the bathroom and washed my undies in the shower with a chunk of soap. It did the job nicely.
FYI: Bring your own clothes detergent/soap if you have sensitive skin or special requirements. Whilst your casa particular owners will usually be able to wash your clothes for you, they may have a type of detergent that is different to what you’re used to.