The are certain items I consider essential for travelling to Cuba. Now I’m a frequent long term visitor to Cuba. And these are the items I will tell you from my own experience that you absolutely need in Cuba.
You can choose to take these items with you to Cuba on my recommendation. Or you can get there and realise you need them and then waste your holiday running around trying to find them on the island. The choice is yours.
Here’s my list of essential items for travelling to Cuba. For everything else you should read my Cuba FAQ page.
Essential Items For Travelling To Cuba
A VPN Is Essential For Travelling To Cuba
Without a VPN in Cuba you will not be able to access your favourite social media applications, messaging apps, websites, foreign banks or do much at all on your mobile devices.
Cuba is under US sanctions. And Cuba tries to limit access to certain social media and messaging applications. What this equates to is an inability to access much on your phone or laptop without a VPN.
Don’t travel to Cuba without a VPN loaded onto all of your devices. Once you arrive in Cuba you’ll realise it’s a much more involved process to add a VPN.
You can add a VPN after arrival but it’s a chicken versus egg problem. You’ll need to access you mobile App Store to get a VPN. But will need a VPN to access the App Store. I’ve got a how to guide on this website for all those people who don’t heed this warning.
The only VPN I use and recommend for Cuba is NordVPN. You can get NordVPN at www.nordvpn.com. Or click the banner below.
Travellers Medical Insurance Is Essential For Cuba
Cuban Aduana (customs and immigration) may decide to check if you have travellers medical insurance specifically covering Cuba when you arrive. It’s a legal requirement in Cuba that you have medical insurance specifically covering Cuba.
If you’re found not to have travellers medical insurance covering Cuba then Aduana will make you buy their Cuban version.
The Cuban version of travellers medical insurance costs more and is worthless. You won’t want to be treated for anything in a Cuban hospital.
I get all of my travellers medical insurance for Cuba from visitorscoverage.com. Visit visitorscoverage.com or use the widget below.
Do Take An Adequate Supply Of Personal Medications
If you don’t take enough of the medications you need with you to Cuba, you’ll likely need to hunt for medication on Revolico. And on Revolico you’ll be competing with the locals.
Any medications you require or have been prescribed by a doctor should be taken with you to Cuba. You should definitely take more than you require for the length of time you intend to stay on the island.
I would strongly urge you to take an extra 7 days worth of medications when you travel to Cuba. This is because you might get stuck somewhere or your travel might be delayed. If you don’t have enough extra meds to cover any delays, then you might need to go without.
Revolico is Cuba’s blackmarket craigslist. You can find most things on Revolico. But hoarding is common in Cuba. And when meds do pop up on Revolico it’s often a race to buy them all. Which then leads to more shortages, even on Revolico.
So take the medications you require on a daily basis with you to Cuba. And take extra medication to cover any potential travel delays you might encounter.
Do Take An Adequate Supply Of Cash To Cuba
Always take more cash with you in USD or Euro than you believe you will need. Don’t rely on electronic means of payment. If you run out of cash in Cuba this can be disastrous for your Cuban vacation.
There are ways to get extra cash to Cuba if needed. Yet all of these are going to be much more expensive than just taking extra cash with you.
Always ensure you have an adequate supply of easily exchangeable foreign currency when you visit Cuba. Your credit card is practically useless in Cuba.
You will need to carry rather large stacks of local currency while in Cuba. So it’s also a good idea to take something that you can carry cash in, like a fanny pack or a small bag.
Sunblock Is Essential In Cuba
Sunblock can be hard to find in Cuba. And you definitely wont find any sort of post sunburn aloe gel. So you should definitely take these with you to Cuba.
The Caribbean sun is harsh. As a tourist you’re going to be outdoors a lot. You’ll be walking between museums, wandering around Old Havana, visiting the beach or riding in Cuba’s classic old convertibles.
You’ll get exposed to Cuba’s sun everyday. If you don’t have sunblock and some form of gel to deal with potential sunburn this can quickly ruin your Cuban holiday. Be sure to take sunscreen and post sun gel with you to Cuba.
Take Personal Care And Personal Grooming Items To Cuba
Cuba has frequent shortages of most products. And Cuba never has the same selection of products available that you will be used to in your home country.
I always take my own shaving supplies, shower soap or shower gel and my preferred deodorant. So I can avoid running around town buying random products from Cuban markets at inflated prices.
Having an adequate supply of personal grooming products means I don’t need to run around looking for these items at private markets. And it means I can use the same products I would at home. Because I take these items with me.
You don’t need to overdo it with personal care and grooming supplies. Just take the same amount you would normally use at home.
Take A Light Weatherproof Jacket To Cuba
Cuba can have random cold snaps. And it’s more often the wind that makes it feel cold. You would do well to take a very light and portable weatherproof jacket with you to Cuba.
Ideally you’d want something that rolls up quite small but is capable of blocking both wind and rain. Finding yourself stuck in a cold breeze or worse yet, a cold breeze with torrential rain can be unpleasant.
I always carry a windcheater with me in Cuba. That way when the weather turns inclement I can pop it on and avoid getting drenched by the rain or frozen in the cool sea breeze.
I also carry with me a couple of light denim shirts that I can wear like a very light jacket in Cuba. These help cover my upper body from the harsh Caribbean sun during the day. And for slightly cooler evenings they keep some of the cool sea breeze off me.
Other Miscellaneous Products (Junk You Don’t Need)
Various websites recommend taking a lot of random junk. Fancy filter straws and the like. But I have never needed these or found a use for them in Cuba.
Having a ‘life straw’ is all well and good. But bottled water is everywhere and cheap. If you aren’t comfortable spending around $1 per day buying bottled water in Cuba, you can go and buy a $20 disposable straw.
Some blogs will also recommend prepaid travel SIM cards. But these are next to useless in Cuba. And when they do work they’re far more expensive than using a regular Cubacel SIM card from ETECSA.
The prepaid travel SIM cards wont work with La Nave or Mandao. Two of the most important mobile applications that you will need in Cuba. For how to get a local Cuban phone number see our guide.
Where Can I Get More Information About Cuba?
I’ve made my Complete Guide To Traveling Cuba available on this website. And I would strongly advise you to read it before travelling to Cuba. It will help you navigate Cuba and Cuban society.
My Complete Guide To Cuba will save you a lot of time and a significant amount of money on your trip to Cuba. Cuba is not the sort of destination in which you can just arrive unprepared.
Read the most Complete Guide To Traveling Cuba here.