Arrival and Departure from Cuba: Forget the bread and enjoy the meat
Let’s start with two ideas. The first is that the first impression is almost always what counts. The second is that airports, as everyone who travels a lot knows, are chaotic in different ways in almost all parts of the world. Cuba is not an exception to that latter, but it is an exception to the former. The process of getting to and from the island is complicated due to its many peculiarities, but we hope that the following tips will help you deal with any issues and that your trip will live up to your expectations.
Before setting foot on the plane, try to take into account some crucial arrangements to avoid delays and unpleasant situations. First, bring all the money you will need in cash. There are not many places that accept credit cards, especially those that are blocked by the United States in Cuba. Don’t risk running out of cash.
You can change money in CADECAS or in banks. Any airport personnel will know how to direct you. It is better to receive small denomination bills when changing money so that you can pay exact prices and do not have issues getting change.
Make sure you have all your documents in order: an up-to-date passport, Cuban visa card, travel insurance, health forms and a customs declaration if you need it, and be aware that there is a good chance you will spend a long time waiting for your luggage.
To ensure that your dream trip doesn’t become a nightmare, you should under no circumstances bring any kind of drug, mood-altering substances, explosives, pornography, weapons, or animal products that can carry disease to Cuba.
North American travelers no longer have to travel to Cuba through a third nation and there are already direct flights from the United States through several airlines, such as JetBlue, American, Delta, Southwest and United Airlines. On their websites, you can find what each airline offers for insurance and visa management, reservations, check-in time, baggage policy, and other recommendations.
When leaving, you should take into account almost all the same issues you did during your arrival, but now more relaxed and in the opposite direction. Change back all the CUC you have left, unless you want to keep some bills as souvenirs - not so much about the country as a consideration of the historical circumstance.
Then check that the items you take out of the country are in the quantities and weight that are acceptable according to current regulations. You can take up to 20 units of Cuban tobacco without presenting any document to the authorities; up to 50 if they are in their original sealed packaging and with the distinctive rings of brand authenticity. And more than that number provided that you present the sales invoice from an official establishment that is authorized to sell these valuable treasures. If you are returning to the United States, keep in mind that the established limit is that you cannot bring in more than 100 dollars of tobacco and rum.
Pay close attention to check-in times for your luggage and flight home. Each airline may have different recommendations. For peace of mind, it is best to be at the airport three hours before your flight.
And most importantly: do not let your first and last impressions of a vacation be of the airport. In other words, why focus on the layers of bread of a hamburger instead of a enjoying the meat? Cuba is an authentic, safe country that is unique in this world. This, if you know how to appreciate it, will be what really counts on your trip.