When I heard that travel was opening up for tourism in Cuba I was thrilled and knew that I had to do it-and fast in lieu of our current administration. Luckily I have a fun boyfriend who goes along with my adventurous whims!
Planning this trip, like many trips I take, was almost half the fun. I was so happy to search for the best deals I could find as I am a very frugal traveler and an all-around lover of great deals. To my pleasant surprise, it was much more possible to travel to Cuba on a shoestring budget than I imagined.
Per Person Cost:
$224.00 Flights to/from Orlando
$203.56 Flights to/from Havana
$50 Cuban visa (purchased at the gate on the way to Havana)
$70 Staying with a local in Havana
$150 Local transportation, food and drinks
Total: Under $700 for a week’s trip to Cuba!
I highly recommend making this trip while it is still possible. Floridians are especially lucky because there are so many direct flights from Tampa to Havana for around $200 roundtrip-this trip is easily doable on a budget of under $500 if you live in Florida.
Travel requirements include a current passport and a Cuban visa. The easiest way to get the visa is to purchase it directly from the airline at the gate (hats off to JetBlue for making it so convenient and easy). In order to get the visa you must select a reason for travel. “People-to-people” is the best option for non-educational, non-governmental tourists. I qualified for this travel reason by staying with locals, using the local transportation system and supporting local restaurants. I will admit, I did go to a popular hotel on a couple occasions to use the internet (be prepared, you will not find wifi accessible in most places).
I typically avoid touristy places when I travel internationally, I prefer to culturally immerse myself and go “where the real people go.” I converse with the locals and do what they recommend. This is easy to do in Cuba as the culture is very warm and open. I had the chance to practice my Spanish as well, which was an added bonus. We met some awesome people who were very friendly and helpful in sharing ideas of what’s fun. We went to the beaches where the locals told us they like to go on the weekends. They were full of happy people of all ages swimming and enjoying life in the sun. It was super fun and there was yummy cheap food being made in stands near the beach where they also sold ice cold Cuban beer-my kind of place!
Traveling to the beaches was an adventure as it requires going by car. There is nothing quite like riding along the Cuban coast in an old imported car from the early-mid 1900s. It’s truly impressive how well people take care of their vehicles, and I really appreciated the opportunity to experience what felt like stepping back in time.
Besides visiting the gorgeous beaches my favorite activities were riding bikes around the city and eating/hanging out at some amazing restaurants that were in walking distance from our host. We also enjoyed some delicious fare that our host graciously prepared for us. I especially loved the breakfast as there were so many delicious tropical fruits like fresh mangoes, bananas and guava-and the juices! Forget about it!