By Mayté Solano Gómez
Cuba is an island of beautiful places, with a climate as scorching as the people who inhabit it. You will discover here human warmth, as well as an incredible variety of landscapes, architecture and emotions. But what to do if you travel to Cuba?, where you should book a casa particular?…
I´ve met tourists who visited Cuba and have suffered (nothing serious or irreparable), as a result of not having all the necessary information, after making their reservations, despite having done so in advance.
The main cause was reserving several services in the different destinations (accommodation, transportation, activities, etc.) by different providers. As a result, some have started their holidays in Cuba through Havana but, instead of booking a private house in Havana, requested their first accommodation in the western part of the country, while they rented a car that they had to pick up in Santiago de Cuba (opposite end of the Island, more than 878 Km away).
Others have reserved transportation in Cuba to a destination, but not accommodation. If you are someone who handles uncertainty and changes well, a lover of adventure and difficult challenges and situations, you will not have problems with this. But if you prefer organized things and do not like surprises and disagreements, then you will need a guide or advisor in the process of organizing your stay in Cuba.
Consult an expert to organize your trip in Cuba
A guide or advisor? … This may seem unnecessary or excessive: somehow the country does not matter, if we go on vacation abroad, we will always need accommodation, transportation, food and places to visit or activities to do. However, for someone who does not know the Island, with all its triquimanejes (a double currency, limited internet access, with serious difficulties with transportation, etc.), it would definitely be helpful to have advice when you´re preparing your trip. And if this does not represent an additional expense …
You can always find a solution to your situation and a lot of Cubans willing to help you, but only after the moment of tension and always with less money in your pocket.
Nowadays you can find several travel agencies or websites in Cuba, with more or less experience on the subject. The tourism bureaus are the perfect places to receive official information. But if you are already staying in a casa particular, you can count on them to define your route in the Island, including accommodation, transportation and activities.
What to pay attention to from the organization of your trip.
There are many things to consider when traveling to another country. Here are some that we consider esential if you are going to visit Cuba.
⦁ To stay in Casas particulares in Cuba and to make use of other private services is a good option for your trip.
⦁ Consider the duality of currencies in the country: the Cuban Peso (CUP) and the Cuban Convertible Peso (CUC). With the CUP you can pay smaller items, which are sold by the so-called self-employed, mainly home-made foods, fruits sold by street vendors, on the streets or in agricultural markets. Public transport is also paid in this currency. The CUC is used to pay for products in state currency collection stores. Also the transport dedicated to tourism, both state and private; the restaurants and paladares; the entrance to museums and nightlife centers; accommodation, whether private or state; among others.
Useful tips if you travel to Cuba
It’s not convenient:
⦁ To carry your documents (passport) everywhere. You will not always need them, except to change money in banks and CADECAs. If you lose them, the procedures to recover them can be very cumbersome.
⦁ To buy cigars or ron, whether to take or consume, to people on the street. Go to the different official points of sale that exist. They are safer and can claim if you are not satisfied.
We recommend the following:
⦁ Try to find and book as many services as possible in advance, through a single provider.
⦁ Contact this provider during and after the process of organizing and booking services, as much as you need.
⦁ Do not hesitate to tell the tourist service provider what you want or expect to find, clearly and openly. Most of them are in function not only to earn money, but to offer you what you need to have a pleasant trip and get a good impression of Cuba. He will tell you how clear what is possible and what is not.
Do you think there is something else to consider? Share it and we will all appreciate it.