The idea for this The Ultimate Packing List for Cuba Travel came from our clients who always ask similar questions about what to bring for a successful trip. At Havana VIP we always tell our clients to pack for Cuba as if you were going backpacking. Cuba is a unique destination to prepare for because there are many everyday conveniences that contemporary travelers expect, but are just not available in Cuba. Like going camping, if there is some item that you might require to fully enjoy your trip – bring it. Because odds are that you will not find it in Cuba. That could mean anything from potentially urgently needed medication like an Epi-Pen, to personal preference items that might spoil your trip if you go without. For example, one recent client arrived in Havana and promptly ordered a de-caf coffee, only to be answered with a blank stare from her cook asking “what is de-caf coffee, and why would you want something like that?” As it worked-out in that case, we sent our runner to a diplomatic store (where only diplomats and invited guests are allowed to shop) and by chance they happened to have a dusty bag of de-caf for sale.
Please don’t take any chances of Havana bad time (see what we did there?), pack your bags not only to survive but thrive! Here’s our ultimate packing list for Cuba travel (complete with Amazon aff-links). It’s based on years of experience and hundreds of clients recommendations. And all of this stuff makes excellent leave-behind gifts for real support for the Cuban people.
First Things First: Luggage for Cuba Travel
|Hynes Eagle Travel Backpack 40L Flight Approved Carry on Backpack, Black with 3PCS Packing Cubes|
|Rolling luggage is not well-suited to Cuba travel for the simple reason that many paved surfaces in Cuba are too rough or broken to roll over. Sometimes you may have to carry your bags a couple hundred meters over cobblestones or up and down stairs (not if you’re a Havana VIP client – we carry your bags for you), and rolling spinner bags are easy to roll, but difficult to carry.
Hynes-Eagle products are generally of excellent quality, and this bag is no exception. The interior is thoughtfully designed with clever straps and compartments, and combined with a Hynes Eagle packing cube system, you can easily manage a 2-week Cuba trip with just this backpack. The exterior is made of tough ballistic nylon and has reinforced handles, and tough zippers and pockets exactly where you want them to be. A good deal at about $75.00
|4 Leak Proof 3 oz Travel Containers for Toiletries with TSA Quart Bag|
|BYOB toiletries because you won’t find your fave brands of soap and shampoo in Cuba! Set of four + bag: About $10.00|
Sundries & Dry Goods
|Do not underestimate the power of the tropical sun. Bring plenty of your preferred sunscreen and apply it often! Set of 2: About $14.00|
|There is nothing that can ruin a fun trip like traveler’s diarrhea. You will not find any remedies in Cuba – Fidel’s Revenge?
The water in Cuba is clean and potable when it leaves the treatment plant. It’s the distribution system – the plumbing that can get you. Watch out for the ice in those Mojitos!
Box of 25 tablets: About $6.00
|Great for bug bite, burns, and more. About $6.00|
Band-Aid Plus Neosporin
|One scrap or cut can turn nasty when traveling. These are soooo worth bringing along. About $15.00|
|Meal Replacement Bars|
|You never know when you might get caught somewhere with no food, or maybe just yucky food. Maybe your car breaks-down in the middle of no-where and it takes a long time to get out. It can happen… Everyone at Havana VIP likes these CLIF Bars. You could also just bring along a few snickers bars too.
Each Bar: About $2.00
|Between the heat & humidity, the rum, and maybe an unexpected bout with traveler’s dispepsia, its very common for travelers to Cuba to become unexpectedly dehydrated. Save yourself a long and frustrating (but eye-opening) adventure into the Cuban national healthcare buy bringing along a few packets of electrolytes. Also a handy hangover remedy – just saying. About $9.00|
Rainleaf Microfiber Fast Drying Travel & Beach Towel
|OK, Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy jokes aside, a towel comes in handy. Especially on a tropical where you’re almost always sweaty, and where you’re likely to come across beautiful white sand beaches and tropical waterfalls. You could just purchase a towel somewhere when you arrive, but if you want a super cool hi-tech towel this is our choice. About $20.00|
|An umbrella is one of the best two-for pieces of gear that you can bring with you to Cuba. You can use it for those sudden tropical downpours, and you can use it as a parasol. Many people, particularly men, feel self-conscious using a parasol, but Cubans do not – including their hyper-macho men. We cannot stress enough how punishing the tropical sun can be. Bring your shade with you! In the immortal words of Rihanna: “You can stand under my umbrella, ella, ella, eh, eh, eh…”
You can buy a Chinese-made umbrella for as little as $8.00, but if you want to do it right, get this windproof titanium frame nylon canopy bad-boy: About $30.00
|Spiral Notebooks and Pens|
|In Cuba it can be exceedingly hard to come up with a pen and paper when you need them. We bring a stack of pocket-size spiral bound and pens every time we go. They also make an excellent gift.
Set of 6: About $6.00
|A Good Pair of Water Shoes|
|These will make you so happy when you go wading into a the pool of a tropical waterfall paved with slippery and jagged rocks. Even happier when you walk from a burning-hot white sand beach into blue waters that often hide sharp bits of coral on the seafloor. If you’re going to be doing either of these activities these are not a luxury. Buy them. You will love having brought them along on your trip! About $20.00|
That’s what we recommend you bring with you you to Cuba. To prepare your mind before you travel to Cuba, check out our post on the Four Books to Read Before Traveling to Cuba.