The time has come, and you couldn't be more excited: You’re about to embark on a once-in-a- lifetime trip to Cuba!
Now, the most difficult task lies ahead: What will you pack?
Here are the top 11 items to pack for Cuba:
1) Your passport: the most important item for international travel. Before your trip, make sure your passport is up to date.
2) Summer clothing: Cuba is known for tropical weather, so bring comfortable and light clothing that you also can leave behind if you end up bringing home more souvenirs than could fit into your suitcase. (Some travelers donate some of their clothing to friends they’ve made during their stay on the island.) Don’t forget to pack a bathing suit or two!
3) Comfortable Shoes: Whether sneakers or sandals (pack both), make sure to bring shoes you can walk in comfortably. Cuba has an array of taxis, bicitaxis, and cocotaxis, but you will also probably do a lot of walking.
4) Sunglasses and sunscreen: Cuba’s sun is strong, and you’re sure to soak up those rays while learning about the country’s history. Sunglasses and sunscreen will help protect you no matter what time of year.
5) Toiletries: Bathroom supplies and the stores that offer them are limited in Cuba, so bring along the toiletries you rely on daily: bars of soap, shampoo and conditioner, a pain reliever such as Advil, female products, upset-stomach relief such as Pepto-Bismol, and anything else you might need.
6) Toilet paper and baby wipes: Similarly, toilet paper is not as readily available in some places on the island. Bring at least one roll, plus baby wipes to stay fresh and clean.
7) Cash: Debit and credit cards from the U.S. don't work yet in Cuba, so make sure to bring enough cash for your trip. Once you land on the island, you’ll convert it into CUC (Cuban currency) at the airport or in the hotel.
8) Travel money holder: As you’ll be traveling with more cash than usual, bring a comfortable money holder or belt you can strap around your waist or near your body.
9) School supplies: Oftentimes, youth and students in Cuba’s schools lack supplies. After your arrival, consult with your tour leader about which places could use donations. School supplies such as pencils, crayons, and paper, are often accepted with open arms and big smiles.
10) Books: Time moves differently in Cuba. Bring along one or two books that you can enjoy during more-relaxed moments. Mix it up and bring one book featuring local history and facts, and another for leisure.
11) Camera and journal: No trip would be complete without a camera! Bring your favorite camera to take snapshots or videos throughout your trip. Don’t forget memory cards and extra batteries so that you can capture an unlimited amount. Jot down noteworthy memories to add to a scrapbook with your images later.
Written by Melissa B. Skolnick