Traveling in Cuba solo sounded a bit scary to me, at first. Well, it ended up being one of the best decisions I’ve ever made! As I’ve shared with everyone who will listen, my trip to Havana, Cuba in April of 2016 was my absolute favorite trip I’ve ever taken, so far. I’m no stranger to traveling solo, but this time I stepped outside my comfort zone by staying for a couple of weeks and ended up having one of the most amazing experiences of my life.
Although I love to travel and see new places, I’ll be honest and say one of my favorite places to be is at home in the comfort and familiarity of my own bed. I’m usually ready to get back home for a break after about 4 or 5 nights away. I didn’t feel that way at all in Havana. After a few weeks there, I actually still wasn’t ready to go back home to the States when the trip was coming to an end! When I tell people that they look really confused, but trust me, there will come a day when you go somewhere and will feel the same way.
For me, Havana was that place.
So, What’s it Really Like to Travel in Cuba Solo?
Though more Americans are starting to travel to Cuba, you may still be wondering what it’s really like and what to expect. If it’s any indication, I spent most of my trip in Havana and would gladly go, again! Although I didn’t have any issues that made me feel unsafe, insecure or worried, there were a few inconveniences I ran into that I share with others who are thinking about making the trip. Here are some of my top recommendations for solo American travelers heading to Cuba:
– Get familiar with the latest travel advisory guidance from the U.S. Department of State – Yes, U.S. relations with Cuba have improved, but it’s still complicated. Whether you’re planning to go with a group or traveling Cuba solo, I highly recommend checking out the latest straight from the Department of State’s website to help your trip go as smoothly as possible.
– Make sure you bring more than enough cash to cover your trip – When you arrive you’ll want to exchange your USD$ for CUC (Cuban Convertible Pesos). There is another currency used by Cubans called the CUP (Cuban Peso), but as a tourist you will almost always use CUC. And, trust me, you don’t want to run out while you’re there…I made that mistake and it was stressful! U.S. credit and debit cards still don’t work there.
– Get used to not having the internet at your fingertips – This isn’t a bad thing! If conditions are still the same as the time of my trip, internet and your cell phone service won’t be widely available, but why not use that as an opportunity to actually enjoy your trip and live in the moment?
– See as much of the country as you can…book an excursion or guided trip to another area of the country – I took an organized day trip to Viñales and I’m glad I got the opportunity to see another side of Cuba outside of the Havana city life! Also, I got to meet other solo travelers along the way so it’s a great way to meet people. Check out this great article from The Huffington Post that gives a great overview of the magical place that is Viñales.
Favorite trip, so far….Why is that?
So, what did I love so much about Cuba? The people! All the Cuban people I met and personally got to know on my trip were very kind, curious and truly loved their country in a way I haven’t seen anywhere else I’ve been. I learned so much about Cuban history, culture and what it’s like to grow up and live there. I also loved that many people I met were also curious about what it was like for me to grow up and live in the United States and why I was interested in visiting their country.
Something I will also always remember about this trip is that I did it solo with a little hesitation at first, but I ended up meeting so many new friends from all over the world who had a huge impact on my time there. Traveling solo isn’t always the easiest thing to do, (especially traveling in Cuba solo due to limited internet access and language barriers, for some) but it’s so worth it. You end up learning so much about yourself and how to meet and build relationships with people you may not have if you came with a group. To me, that’s a dope and necessary skill to have in life.
Cuba was amazing for me and I recommend it to anyone even remotely thinking about going! Check out more of my photos here. And, if you have been, let me know what your favorite thing about your trip was!