Our Blog

Ultimate Packing List for Cuba Travel Posted in October 10, 2018

Ultimate Packing List for Cuba Travel

The Ultimate Packing List for Cuba Travel

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.

If you want more Cuba Travel Tips and Advice, see our answers to your questions, or our FAQ.  And if there’s something that you think we missed please let us know on our Facebook page.

The Ultimate Packing List for Cuba Travel

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


The Ultimate Packing List for Cuba Travel

Sundries & Dry Goods

Neutrogena Ultra Sheer Dry-Touch Water Resistant and Non-Greasy Sunscreen Lotion with Broad Spectrum SPF 45, 3 fl. oz, (Pack of 2)

Neutrogena Ultra Sheer Dry-Touch Water Resistant and Non-Greasy Sunscreen

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


Pepto-Bismol BXPB25 Tablets, Two-Pack, 25 Packs/Box

Pepto-Bismol Tablets

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


Cortizone-10 Max Strength with Aloe

Great for bug bite, burns, and more.  About $6.00


Johnson And Johnson Consumer Band-aid Plus Adhesive Bandages - Box of 20

Band-Aid Plus Neosporin 

One scrap or cut can turn nasty when traveling.  These are soooo worth bringing along. About $15.00


CLIF Whey Protein - Snack Bar - Peanut Butter & Chocolate - (1.98 Ounce Complete Protein Bar, 8 Count) 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


Emergen-C Electro Mix (30 Count) Electrolyte Replacement Drink Mix, Potassium, Magnesium, Calcium, 0.14 Ounce Packets

Emergen-C Electrolyte Replacement Mix

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


The Ultimate Packing List for Cuba Travel


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


LifeTek Windproof Compact Travel Umbrella 

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


Image result for spiral bound pad and pen 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


Related image 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.

Parrandas de Remedios Cuba Havana VIP
Experience las Parrandas de Remedios
Best Cuba Travel Guide Book
Expert Reviews: Best Cuba Travel Guide Book
Lisa Cashion Schreiber

They were very organized and we experienced some truly authentic Cuban experiences- highly recommend

See More Reviews
Claudine Rosetti

5 stars for sure! Since I found Havana VIP via an internet search, Tony was very patient in our 45 minute introductory phone call to reassure me that his company was not only legitimate but that they had been in business for over 13 years and knew the ins and outs of Cuban travel for American citizens. Our group ranged in age from 13 to 75 (Grandma~ my mother, came along and she rode a horse in Vinales. Edwardo, our...

See More Reviews
Joerg Schicker

no not professional at all ,forget them

See More Reviews
Jane Hammond

We have just returned from a trip to Cuba, arranged by Tony and HavanaVIP. Three couples traveled to Trinidad and Havana, with a particular focus on upcoming Cuban artists. Every plan and arrangement happened flawlessly - guides and drivers were always on time, helpful and endlessly cheerful. Ernesto was our first guide in Trinidad, and he could not have given us a nicer introduction to this amazing country - both the history, and the social state of things today. Attending...

See More Reviews
Nick Nicastro

I can’t recommend HavanaVIP highly enough if you plan to visit Cuba (as you should, and soon!) The island of course is fascinating and friendly and full of interest. But I particularly wanted to mention what great friends our guides Eduardo, Adrian, Mario, Natasha and Olivia became to us. They were beyond compassionate to the needs of my mobility-impaired wife. Tony was always forthcoming and helpful, even as our plans changed due to health circumstances. And HavanaVIPs local connections got...

See More Reviews
Alain Rossmann

A memorable experience, great planning and local execution by Havana VIP.

See More Reviews
Glo Harris

My daughter and I travelled together. She was celebrating her 50th BIRTHDAY. From beginning to end this 5 day trip was magical: planning with Tony was seamless, he took care of each detail just as we discussed, his knowledge of Havana was thorough and his attitude patient and sensitive...and I can be annoying with myriad questions. The guides were the best we have had anywhere, the accommodations on the Malecon comfortable. We particularly enjoyed going to individual artists' galleries, most...

See More Reviews
Rob Boffard

Havana VIP sorted our honeymoon for us. Tony was a pleasure to deal with, and the activities he sorted out for us were perfect. Our guides - Kenia, Ginetet, Eduardo - and drivers - Damaso, Darvel, Eduardo - worked overtime to make us happy. Would highly recommend this company if you ever head to Cuba; they know what they're doing, and they make things simple. Unbelievable trip.

See More Reviews
Santiago Hermes

La Galería Santiago Hermes considera que la agencia Havana VIP realiza un buen trabajo en la promoción de la autenticidad cubana

See More Reviews
Martha Whetstone

We just got back from Cuba and we highly recommend Havana VIP. The quality of the trip was first rate. The guides and drivers were just great and all went out of their way to make our trip run smoothly. The accommodations were all comfortable and we enjoyed our conversations with our hosts. We felt like we really got to see a variety of cities, towns, and countryside. We traveled with two doctors and the guide arranged for us to...

See More Reviews
Martel Angelo Postell
See More Reviews
Jacqueline Postell

Havana VIP made every aspect of travelling to Cuba a breeze. Working with Tony was effortless. Tony and I spoke about the things we were interested in experiencing and then was able to create a seamless itinerary that was startlingly impressive. We met the kindest people; our tour guide, Jorge Gonzalez Estrada and driver, Eduardo, were so knowledgeable, accommodating and welcoming, we felt like family by the end of the trip. The flow of the activities were well timed and...

See More Reviews
Adrián Lamela Aragonés
See More Reviews
Lisa Mastronardi

Imagine hosting 25 friends and family in Havana in August for a 50th birthday celebration. Imagine most of these guys are well traveled, international, seasoned jet setters and you are going to try and wow them with a great adventure. What is a girl to do? Hire the best.

The Havana VIP team both in the US and in Havana knocked it out of the park.

Great housing, fantastic excursions, customized itinerary, amazing experiences,...

See More Reviews
Cara Hogan

Havana VIP Tours did a fantastic job with our trip. My husband and I loved how everything was handled smoothly from the moment we arrived in Cuba until we left. The housing, the tour guides, the drivers, the dinners, and more were all fantastic and well planned out. We learned so much about Cuban culture and history and met some amazing people along the way. If you're looking for an immersive, informative and fun experience of Cuba, this is the...

See More Reviews
Brocky OA

Tony & Havana VIP Tours did an outstanding job from inquiry to finish. We couldn't have asked for more. We were 8 people traveling (4 cousins) whose grandmother & aunts & uncles lived in Havana for 4 years prior to being allowed to enter the US from 1922 - 1926. So we decided to visit where they lived. My wife found the address & we said let's go. We contacted Tony and explained about our journey that we wanted. Tony...

See More Reviews
Josh Poling

My wife and I traveled to Cuba with my parents in November 2016. Tony and Havana did a great job coordinating a custom trip to meet our interests. All of the guides and drivers they set up were very professional. I honestly can't imagine travelling to Cuba any other way! We made sure all of our guides knew we wanted to experience the real Cuba and get off the beaten path, and they were always more than happy to oblige....

See More Reviews
Nancy Pettersen

From our first conversation with Tony we felt we were in the right hands. He listened to what we wanted down to small details like food and music, customizing our trip for 4 adults. The wonderful Cuban people who guided us through Trinidad, Cienfuegos, and Havana were interesting and a great highlight, even down to our Havana driver Pedro who was so much fun. We found our days informative, educational and great fun filled with history, culture and the arts...

See More Reviews
Elizabeth Furst Frank

Tony organized a fantastic family visit to Havana for us. Magalys was a wonderful guide - full of information, always on time, and very friendly. Lidice gave a family cooking lesson in traditional Cuban food. And we loved our family salsa dancing lesson as well. We highly recommend Tony and his team.

See More Reviews
Lj Pruitt

I struggled with finding a tour operator that understood the new laws for Americans to legally travel to Cuba. I called Havana VIP Tours and was pleasantly surprised to speak with someone that knew more than me – Tony. In addition, it was clear that Tony had a deep knowledge of places and things to do in Cuba.

We are a family of 4 ranging in age from 15 years to 83 years. Our interests are...

See More Reviews
James West III

Having traveled extensively, allow me to say that in all aspects the service provided by Havana VIP Tours was the probably the best in all aspects; Communication, Logistics,Transportation, Lodging, On the ground support services, and, well, everything. Tony laid out what was to be offered in the Tour package, and unlike many in the business, he delivered to the most minute of details. His coordination of Flights was well taken care of, as well as necessary Visas. He communicated what...

See More Reviews
Judith Chevalier

We visited three cities and Tony arranged the housing and the transportation and a number of experiences for us. We are a family of 5 and the kids range from 19 to 7, but everybody was very happy with the places we stayed and the activities we had. We really did get to meet a number of interesting people and got a closer look at life in Cuba than we would have if we had set it up on our...

See More Reviews
Mercedes Sera
See More Reviews
Paul Audia

An amazing experience from start to finish.

From the planning of the trip to the people we met and guided us through the country, this was an educational and informative trip filled with Cuban culture, history, and Art.

I'm not big on planned trips but I am so glad we found you and your team for this experience! Thank you!

See More Reviews
Deisy Suarez

Tony is the best ! He arranged a 5 day havana tour for me and my friends. We stayed at a private house and ate at the best local places. Our driver was amazing and couldn't recommend any other concierge company in havana. Our experience was truly magical and unique.

See More Reviews
Stephanie Marsh
See More Reviews
Linda Meier

Tony arranged a 2 1/2 week custom visit to Cuba in March for four couples. We stayed only in "casas", frequently ate in private restaurants, visited with families and were very pleased with our itinerary. I would agree that of all the wonderful experiences we had, the people themselves and their stories and friendliness were the highlight. I would highly recommend using Havana VIP to organize a customized trip free of hassle and complete with backup support should it be...

See More Reviews
Jennifer Brandenburg

Our visit to Cuba was a fabulous experience. We learned so much about its interesting history, rich arts and culture through a very full and diverse set of daily activities. Our interactions with Cuban people were insightful. The trip took a lot of advance planning and precise scheduling by Tony and his Havana VIP Tours team. Our guides and drivers, as well as our hosts at the casa particulares, all took good care of us – special recognition for Hector,...

See More Reviews
Pat Topitzer

Tony arranged our 8 day visit and he completely hit itout of the park. We presented something of a challenge... 2 no-longer-young grandparents with their 23 year old granddaughter. and one of us had some significant physical challenges as well. Between the guides and the drivers, the lodgings, restaurant recommendations, the itinerary, I cannot imagine we could have been any more thrilled with our first visit to Cuba, The people, of course, are the major draw in our view, but...

See More Reviews
C Cybele Raver

Tony and his team were terrific- we felt lucky to be so fully immersed in art, culture, and history while visiting Havana and Trinidad. Tony listened closely to our preferences and interests, providing us with excellent itinerary, superb guest-house stays, talented and engaging tour guides, and warm and helpful drivers for ground transport.

See More Reviews

Havana VIP Custom Independent Cuba Travel

No Strangers, No Tour Buses
Exclusive Immersive Experiences
100% Legal Travel for US Persons
Luxury Trips at Affordable Prices