1) Immigration in Cuba can be a little nerve racking. You will be que’d to enter immigration booth (one person at a time) and you will be required to hand over your passport and Visa (a Visa is required – most tour providers included in the cost of the tour, check with your travel agent for details). Your passport and yourself will be scrutinized – you will most likely feel uncomfortable and they may ask you questions – provide simple answer. If you have children, you can take them to the booth with you. You cannot go into the booth as a whole family though so split the kiddo’s up between the parents. If you have older children (teenagers+), let one adult go first, then the older child and then another adult, this way; if by chance the child is sent for interview there is an adult on the same side of immigration as the child and you can demand to go with your child.
2) Keep a copy of the photo page of your passport in case your documents are stolen.
3) Batteries are expensive and hard to get, make sure you bring enough. If you have a digital or video camera, remember to pack your chargers and get a big memory card!!
4) Underwater Camera is a MUST. Fantastic pictures of the coral and fish that you’ll want to include in your vacation memories. An underwater disposable camera is one of my ‘musts’, you can get some fabulous pictures of the coral and fish.
5) The cheapest form of contact back home is text message via mobile phone, followed by a quick phone call. If taking your mobile phone with you, be sure to tell everyone NOT to call you and especially do not leave a voicemail (unless of emergency of course) – you have to pay to receive the call. If it’s a voicemail, you pay again to listen to it AND then pay again to store the message! Anything incoming, other than texts, you are paying a nice chunk of change for. A pre-paid phone card and use of the public card phone is also a great option of choice. Using the hotel phone to make a call is much more expensive than public card phones. Most Mobiles work in Cuba, it does not depend on the ‘band’ of your phone but on your network provider. Be sure and check with your provider on whether your phone will work or not in Cuba. You can also get from your provider the current charges for calls and texts for Cuba.
6) Any medication is not widely available in Cuba so be sure to take enough prescription medications for the whole of your trip. You will also need to ensure you take general first-aid with you – pain killers, Imodium, allergy medication, Band-Aids etc., as these are both costly and difficult to get hold of in Cuba. Whatever you have left, over pass on to any Cuban folk as they will be most appreciative of it – medications are unaffordable to them. Condoms are a must, for obvious reasons, and expensive to purchase!! Ladies…..please take tampons and sanitary wear with you, if the unexpected should happen you will not be a happy camper. Again, please be sure to leave any unwanted tampons with a Cuban – she will remember you for ever. Take little packets of tissues with you; toilet paper is scarce or chargeable (off of resort), they are handy to have at the airport. Baby wipes might needed to as even the toilet paper on the resort can be quite thin and cheap in some resorts. Take plenty of sunscreen, various factors and after-sun – expensive in Cuba but a cheap product, also anything for sunburn, the sun is very hot so be careful. A hat, especially if you are bald or have thin hair. Summer attire definitely. November through March, you may want a thin/lightweight jacket or sweater for a chillier evening.
7) Take repellent, products that contain 50% Deet. Take after-bite lotion and tablets to relieve itching, Benadryl is a good brand, also zapper pens or the bite pens that contain ammonia. Some travels never leave home without a can of Raid in case they get any uninvited visitors, such as roaches, ants etc. (once the spray is applied to troublesome areas, such as balcony doors; it will deter them from coming back) Again, leave the can with a Cuban. Sand fleas can be an issue sometimes too. Be sure to exchange your dirty beach towels at the end of a day for clean ones – do not take dirty beach towels to your room to avoid taking any sand fleas back with you.
8) Food is very basic in Cuba so don’t go there expecting fine cuisine. If you like to have munchies in your room then I suggest you take your own as the choice is very limited in Cuba.
9) Cuba has a zero tolerance on drugs, sniffer dogs are present in the airport and freely sniff your luggage. Cuba is increasingly being used as a transit country for drugs destined for Europe. Cuban law allows for the death penalty and courts are handing out very severe penalties (in excess of twenty years) for all drugs related offences. Do not take drugs in with you and do not accept from anyone offering you drugs (you could be accepting from under-cover cops).
10) Baby food and disposable diapers are scarcely available in Havana and normally unavailable in the rest of Cuba. If you are bringing a baby it is always best to come self-sufficient and bring every thing you are likely to need for baby. Bring anything that would cause devastation if baby didn’t have 🙂 Please also remember to bring any medications you could possibly need if baby was to fall ill. If baby has an allergy to any medications ensure you bring an alternative with you just incase baby should need it. Most doctors are sympathetic and will give you a prescription if you explain that you are going to Cuba and stress that medications are difficult to come by.