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What to know before visiting Cuba (preparing for a visit to Cuba)

Posted on 03/27/2017

Been wanting to go to Cuba? Here’s what you need to know:

Who can travel? According to the U.S. Embassy in Cuba, travel to Cuba remains prohibited by statute. There are 12 general licenses of travel. The 12 categories of authorized travel to Cuba are: family visits; official business of the U.S. government, foreign governments, and certain intergovernmental organizations; journalistic activity; professional research and professional meetings; educational 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 informational materials; and certain authorized export transactions.

Passport facts: To travel to Cuba, you will need a passport that is valid for six months after departure from Cuba. A tourist visa, known as a tourist card, allows a traveler to stay in the Cuba for 30 days and is valid for a single entry.

Work with a travel agent: The reason is simple. There is still a lot to navigate when it comes to travel to Cuba. For example, you can book flights, but not through online sites. You will have to book through the airline’s main site, so it’s best to leave your trip up to a professional.

Dress nice: This isn’t just to make an impression. Cubans like to get dressed so make sure you bring some spiffy clothes. Also, while you are packing, keep in mind that Cuba is a warm tropical island so you’ll want to dress light.

Bring cash: Cuba is not the United States so you won’t find as many ATM machines and credit cards are still a struggle to work. The last thing you want is to be strapped for cash while traveling there. You’ll want to keep extra money on you than you planned so you can buy food and souvenirs. You’ll also want cash for tipping, which is common in Cuba.

Bring it home: Speaking of souvenirs, travelers to Cuba can come home with as much alcohol and cigars as they can carry thanks to changes during the Obama administration. That bodes well if you are a cigar aficionado or a rum lover. You’ll want to come home with some treats from your trip.

Under the new presidential administration, there is a chance that any or all of these can change. As a result, work with your travel agent who can stay up to date on any changes that you need to know.

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