Travel always involves some element of the unknown. That’s one of the great things about it! However, unpreparedness is not always a good thing—as you probably know. To minimize the frustration of neglected necessities, begin packing well in advance. Each of these small-but-important things will serve you well in Cuba:
1) Your passport. Sounds like a no-brainer—but chances are, you won’t get far without it! Check its expiration date. It must be valid for at least six months after your trip to Cuba. Make sure it’s securely packed, but easily accessed (by you).
2) Warm-weather clothing. Cuba’s climate, by and large, is tropical. Pack accordingly. Remember dressier threads for evenings—Cuba’s less casual than the US when it comes to nightlife—and a raincoat, just in case. Include sturdy walking shoes and comfy socks for tough terrain or long days on your feet.
3) Sunscreen. (See above.) Sunglasses and a sunhat are also good ideas.
4) Razors, if you plan to shave. These and other common pharmacy items are scarcer and pricier in Cuba, at least as of this writing. Best to bring your own.
5) Like razors, aspirin or ibuprofen can be hard to come by. Unlike razors, they can minimize fever, pain, or inflammation. Easy to fit into a small bag, they pull their weight.
6) Personal medications. You don’t want to forget those!
7) …Also, tummy tablets, to be on the safe side. Foreign foods, like foreign governments, sometimes disagree.
8) Money. As of this writing, US-issued debit and credit cards won’t work in Cuba. Thanks to the two countries’ newly normalized relations, this is changing. But, for now, cash is king. Bring as much as you would for any international trip. Although many of your expenses are covered on an insightCuba tour, it’s good to have cash on hand should you need something or want to buy a trinket. (You can always bring extra cash home. It’s nearly impossible to re-supply if you run out.)
9) Insect repellant. Keep in mind that air transportation in and from the US places restrictions on the amount of liquids and other substances you may carry. This is where travel sizes come in handy.
10) Small gifts for your hosts and others you might meet. Friendships often form quickly in Cuba. Small personal-care items such as hair holders or cute toothbrushes for kids, or travel mugs or gardening gloves for adults, make thoughtful giveaways. However, take care not to “kill with kindness.”