When President Obama opened up Cuba several years ago, Americans came flooding into the Cuba they had been dreaming about for decades. The romanticism of the old, worn buildings contrasted with the brightly colored cars mixed with the FOMO; the fear of not being able to see this Cuba before ‘everything changes'.’
While the new administration altered some restrictions, there are still several ways to go to Cuba. While we believe it will still be a long time coming before ‘everything changes’ we still think there are several great reasons to go right now (and not wait!).
Private businesses need your support:
Business was booming in Cuba for private businesses such as casa particulares (B&Bs), paladars (family-owned restaurants) and other small + private enterprises after Obama’s lifting of several travel restrictions. Due to the flood of Americans coming, many Cubans applied for private business licenses and spent VERY hard earned money opening up new casas, paladars and other businesses to accommodate and share in the new wealth. Since November, when only one ‘general license’ to travel to Cuba was revoked, Americans just stopped traveling to Cuba. Many families who had spent their entire savings opening up new businesses now have had to close up shop. Everywhere I go, people tell me Americans were coming in droves and we were thriving, and now, no one is coming and we are hurting. Cubans now, if ever, need your travel dollars, and you can still travel freely (within some restrictions).
2. Reduction in Flight Departures:
Airlines are starting to reduce or discontinue flights to Cuba. What were once completely full flights flying out of Atlanta, Charlotte and other hubs are now being reduced or completely eliminated, making it more difficult to get to Cuba, once again.
3. Cuba is safe:
Traveling alone as a female is inadvisable in most Caribbean, Latin and South American countries, but not in Cuba! With virtually little to no crime, you can travel freely without concern about your valuables suddenly going missing, leave things at a bar or restaurant and returning when you’ve remembered and it will still be there (or someone would have run after you with your missing item to make sure you get it back), getting the wrong change or even most of the time getting ripped off or scammed at all. While we don’t know if this will ever change because we believe these types of things are cultural as well as structural, in many countries that see increased tourism (ie rich foreign people spending lots of money) petty theft and scamming tend to increase.
4. Cuba is still inexpensive:
Whilst structured group and set-departure travel can still be very expensive, due to the history of mark-ups and formerly restricted access, it is actually not very expensive at all! Depending on your travel style, you can travel in Havana for much less than many other Caribbean destinations. Skip the expensive structured visit and go it alone, or hire us to design a curated trip for you (NB: we cannot assist you with budget travel, that is best done by yourself using travel blogs anyways). We want people to experience the beauty of Cuba and not have it be restricted to only those who can afford the high price tag of $3-6K per person. Budget travel is still doable in most places, though the cost of traveling outside of Havana can be high.
5. Cubans are friendly, helpful and colorful:
Get lost and can’t find your casa? Ask any Cuban on the street and they will at least tell you, or even take you there without any expectation of a payment or ‘tipo’. Need help finding a WIFI card? Ask around and someone will find one for you or call a friend- most of the time you’ll pay what they paid or just a smidge more for the convenience.
6. For the Food (and the Drinks):
We once had a Cuban friend tell us that growing up the three worst times of the day were breakfast, lunch and dinner. While we can’t lie, it took us quite a while to find some really good food in Havana, once we did we found ALL of it. Young, inventive and resourceful, a new breed of Habanero/a chefs are reinventing not just Cuban cuisine, but the entire dining experience.
7. For a unique experience:
We get it, we’ve been to the Caribbean more than once ourselves and it’s usually beaches, beaches, nature, more beaches (and usually ice-cold beer). Luckily for Americans its ‘verboten’ to travel to Cuba to hang out on the beach (that’s for tourists- you’re a traveller)- so if you go to Cuba you’ll be “forced” to enjoy the country’s culture, music, art, history, food, drinks, dancing, nature, landscape, fincas, birds, wildlife etc… You will be coerced into a unique experience that you genuinely will not find any other place in the world.
**No more excuses. If you’ve been meaning to try Cuba, now is the time. Who knows for how long we will be able to travel this freely?