Preparation Guide

People-to-People travel is the legal method for Americans to visit Cuba. More than just a method by which Americans can travel legally to Cuba, it has travelers engage in more than just tourist activities and sight-seeing activities. People-to-People travelers meet with Cubans to exchange ideas and stories about life in their home countries. Through TRY CUBA, participants will have the opportunity to experience the “local’s Cuba”. Travelers will interact with Cubans in schools, cultural centers, and art/music studios. The Cuban people are at the heart of Cuba, and with our tours every participant will have the opportunity to gain real perspective into the country they are visiting.

The U.S. Department of the Treasury, Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC), regulates travel to Cuba pursuant to the U.S. Embargo Against Cuba. There 12 categories of authorized travel to Cuba which include: Family visits; official business of the U.S. government, foreign governments, and certain intergovernmental organizations; journalistic activity; professional research and professional meetings; educational activities including People-to-People activities; religious activities; public performances, clinics, workshops, athletic and other competitions, and exhibitions; support for the Cuban people; humanitarian projects; activities of private foundations or research or educational institutes; exportation, importation, or transmission of information or information materials; and certain authorized export transactions.

Very few Americans qualify for the eleven of the twelve authorized travel licenses to Cuba, however the educational activities, which includes People-to-People tours, allows Americans to legally travel as long as they travel with a licensed tour operator, such as TRY CUBA.

According to OFAC, travelers on such tours while in Cuba must partake in a full-time schedule of activities intended to enhance contact with the Cuban people and support civil society in Cuba. We at TRY CUBA ensure that every traveler has a full-time schedule of educational exchange activities that will result in meaningful interaction between the traveler and Cubans.

Try Cuba will arrange all of your trip logistics. When you make a reservation with us online or on the phone, we will confirm space on the tour and arrange your flights from Miami to Havana and hotels in Havana.

Try Cuba reserves you a ticket on a licensed charter company authorized to provide US citizens with legal direct flights to Cuba, once your deposit for your trip is paid. The flight from Miami to Havana takes approximately 45 minutes and is normally flown on a Boeing 737 aircraft. The flight cost is included in your tour price. Also included is your Cuban Visa and baggage fee for first checked bag from Miami to Havana.

All guests are responsible for domestic airfare to Miami International Airport.

The Cuban government requires all US Citizens traveling to Cuba to obtain a Cuban visa prior to arrival in Cuba. The visa is valid for a single entry and allows the visa holder to remain in Cuba for 30 days. In traveling with Try Cuba, we will obtain your Cuban visa for you. Your travel documents, including your Cuban visa, your charter flight ticket and a Try Cuba letter of authorization will be ready for you at the Miami International Airport upon group check-in.

The Cuban visa has two portions. One portion will be given to immigration officials in the Customs Hall upon arrival in Havana and the other portion will be submitted upon departure. Be sure to keep your Cuban visa safe throughout your stay in Cuba.

Please note: Cuban-Americans born in Cuba require a special visa to enter. Please contact us for more details.

A valid US Passport is required to obtain your Cuban visa and for entry into the country. Your passport must be valid for six months after your return date from your tour!

The Cuban Convertible Peso (CUC) is the currency used by travelers. It can only be obtained in Cuba and has no value outside of Cuba.

The CUC is closely benchmarked to the US Dollar. However, changing US Dollars into CUCs carries a ten percent (10%) fee. Some travelers prefer to take Euros, GBP Sterling, Canadian Dollars or Swiss Francs – currencies for which there is no additional conversion fee. The savings can be approximately 4 percent (4%).

Despite the recent improved relationship, US credit and debit cards DO NOT work in Cuba.

American Express Traveler’s Checks can be redeemed but it is difficult and not dependable.

Try Cuba suggests that each traveler carefully evaluate daily spending needs prior to departure. A minimum of $100 per day is recommended. As there is no access to money once you are on the island, it is better to plan to bring money in excess of your needs than fall short.

Here are some approximate costs to help you plan your cash needs:

-Lunch/Dinner- 10-35 CUC
-Cafe - 2 CUC
-Cocktails - 6 CUC
-Beer - National Beer is 1-2 CUC. Imported beers may be up to 6 CUC
-Rum – An aged Bottle of Havana Club is 25 CUC
-Cigars - A box can be from $175-400, depending on quality. A cigar can be 5-25 CUC.

While in country you will be guided by a tour guide who will be with the group at all times. This guide will bring you to the various sites, activities and restaurants, but also provide your guidance about history and architecture. Try Cuba recommends providing the guide a tip on the last day of your tour. You can be assured that Try Cuba adequately pays your guide, but of course tips are always appreciated. We recommend tipping between $10-20/day per person.

You can convert your money into CUC at a bank, your hotel, or at a CADECA (Casas de Cambio SA – exchange bureau). Please note the exchange rate is best at the bank or CADECAs. You will need your passport to change money. Do not change money on the street or with an individual Cuban.

All travelers should keep their extra cash, documents, passports and other valuables in their hotel room safe. When leaving the hotel, only take the amount of money you think you will spend that day (we recommend that you take at least 40-60 CUC).Though Cuba is considered among the safest countries in the world with one of the lowest crime rates, pickpocketing in tourist areas is a potential problem.

Think of your trip to Cuba as an opportunity to relax and disconnect from your daily life. You can bring your smartphone and laptop, but there are few places to connect to the internet. Major hotels have Wi-Fi which you can pay to use in their lobbies (5-10 Cuban Convertible Peso CUC/hour). You can purchase wi-fi cards (2 CUC/hour) from ETECSA, the Government telecommunications company. These wi-fi cards can be used at various hotspots, generally busy street corners without seating.

All major US carriers (AT&T, Verizon, T-Mobile and Sprint) now have voice service in Cuba. The rates per minute inside Cuba and to the USA are expensive. Please consult your cellular plan. If your phone is unlocked, you can purchase a SIM card at ETECSA. There is a location just outside of customs in the Havana airport. The SIM card costs 3 CUC/day and travelers must purchase a minimum of 10 CUC of voice credit. Please note Cubacell SIM cards are for voice and text messages, data service does not exist.

Electricity in most Cuban hotels is 110 volts/60Hz, the same as the US and Canada, however some hotels and resorts also have 220 volt service and outlets. An electrical adapter is rarely needed.

Try Cuba recommends that travelers drink bottled water. Bottled water can be purchased cheaply at the hotel or in corner markets. There is no issue with using the tap water to brush your teeth or bathe. Should you fall ill, Try Cuba can arrange for a doctor or nurse to visit or we will accompany you to an international clinic. No vaccinations are needed to visit Cuba. Unlike other Caribbean nations, Cuba has had very few cases of Zika. That said, we recommend all travelers bring mosquito repellent.

Race issues are very different in Cuba than the United States. An extreme minority of Cubans are white or black. Most Cubans fall on intermediate ranges in the spectrum of color, and are proud to do so. Local jokes regarding race are common but not necessarily racist as almost everyone is considered a mixture.

Cuba is one of the safest countries in the world for female travelers. Solo female travelers are free to explore alone and at night. Though different than other Latin nations, Cuban men do “cat call” women. There is no cause for concern. If you are not interested just ignore the comment and you will not be pursued. Cuban men understand and respect “No Means No.”

Cuba is more accepting of the LGBT community than other Latin countries. Its relationship with this community resembles “don’t ask don’t tell”, but everyone has a gay relative, coworker, or friend. Violence against or harassment of LGBT travelers is non-existent.