Colorful travel suitcase packed with vacation items, beach backdrop.

Generally the idea is to travel light, and if you forget something, you still can purchase it on destination.
Well, it does not stands true in Cuba, and even more nowadays.

With average temperatures ranging from 24°C to 30°C year-round, packing for Cuba is easier than other destinations. But keep in mind that there is a limited access to numerous essentials, including medications and food. Forgetting an essential can lead to unnecessary headaches.

The bottom line is : since the country is lacking of many necessary conveniences, bring the necessary items you need to be confortable.

Papers & Money

  • Passport : Double-check the expiration date.
  • Tourist card (visa): Without it you can’t get through Cuban customs. Please read the Visa section for more details.
  • Health Insurance : In order to enter Cuba, it is mandatory that you have health and Covid insurance. Keep documents handy—you might be asked for proof upon arrival. You can get one before leaving the customs. 
  • Online Forms: Fill the Health Form online 48h before departure
  • Airline Tickets
  • Hotel reservations
  • Cash : Credit cards aren’t widely accepted and ATM access is iffy, so bring enough cash for all your trip. Convert some to Cuban Convertible Pesos (CUC) for larger purchases and keep some in Euros or Canadian Dollars for better exchange rates on the ground. Read more : Currency and budget in Cuba.

Bags and Luggage

  • Choosing the Right Luggage: Opt for a durable suitcase or backpack. Soft-sided luggage can be more forgiving with those classic American classic cars’ trunks.
  • Day Packs and Secure Bags for Outings: A secure daypack is essential for city explorations and beach trips. Consider anti-theft features for peace of mind.
  • Luggage Organizers : Packing cubes are game-changers, keeping your belongings organized and accessible.

Reviewing Airline Luggage Restrictions

Avoid airport surprises by knowing your airline’s luggage rules—size, weight, and fees for extras.

Important: Cubana de Aviacion’s domestic flight baggage allowance is 20 kg per passenger.

Clothing and Footwear

  • General Clothing Tips for Tropical Weather: Think breathable fabrics—cotton and linen are your pals. Light colors reflect sunlight, keeping you cooler.
  • Rain Jacket or poncho : you’ll want to pack for warmth and occasional rain if you travel in the wet season from May to October.
  • Fleece can be valuable if in air-conditionned vehicles.
  • One or two sweaters if you’re traveling in December and January (the evenings can get chilly).
  • Sandals or Open footwear
  • Scarf
  • Footwear: Comfortable, sturdy shoes for those cobbled streets and rural explorations. Well-worn sneakers or sandals with good grip.
  • Nightlife and Dining Out Attire: Cubans dress up for the night. A nice dress or trousers and a collared shirt will get you in tune with the local nightlife scene.

Cultural Considerations and Dress Code: While Cuba is relatively relaxed, it’s respectful to cover up when not on the beach—especially in religious buildings.

Health and Hygiene

  • First Aid Kit and Medications: Pack personal medications with prescriptions and a basic first aid kit—you never know when you’ll need a Band-Aid or pain reliever.
  • Hygiene Products and Toiletries: Pack travel-sized toiletries, but remember, less is more. And ladies, sanitary products should top your list as they can be hard to find.
  • Water Bottles and Purification Methods: Staying hydrated is key, and tap water isn’t always safe. Consider a bottle with a built-in filter.
  • Sun Protection Essentials: Sunscreen is a must, with a high SPF. Aloe vera or after-sun lotion can be a skin-saver after a day under the Cuban sun.
  • Mosquitoes can be relentless: Bring repellent and consider a mosquito net for sleeping in less protected areas.
  • Travel-Sized Laundry Detergents: Laundry services might not always be available, so a small detergent pack can be a savior for hand-washing essentials.

Beach

  • Swimsuits
  • Sun hat
  • Sunglasses
  • Sunscreen 30 SPF minimum
  • Sarong or cover-up
  • Books

Electronics and Gadgets

  • Power Adapters and Converters: Cuba’s outlets typically fit the standard American plug, but a power adapter/converter can be a lifesaver for other gadgets.
  • Charging Cables
  • Photography Gear, memory cards and backup solution
  • A multi-socket power strip is practical when a single outlet must accommodate multiple devices for simultaneous charging.
  • Flashlights and Headlamps: Power cuts are common, so a flashlight or headlamp can be handy.
  • Powerbank

A VPN will significantly enhance the security of your data on public Wi-Fi and may also allow you to access websites restricted in Cuba. I recommend Turbo VPN (Easy and free)

Power Sockets

Electricity in Cuba is distinctive, utilizing both 110V and 220V systems. The country employs standard North American outlets, eliminating the need for an adapter for those travelers. However, international visitors may require one. Upscale hotels and resorts often provide 220V power sockets in bathrooms, while some guesthouses may lack grounded sockets, possibly making certain adapters incompatible. Preparedness is advised.

Miscellaneous Essentials

  • Snacks and Comfort Foods: Long bus / car rides and limited store offerings make packing your favorite snacks a wise move.
  • Locks and Safety Gadgets: A good lock can secure your luggage. Safety gadgets, like door alarms, give that extra security in hotel rooms or casas particulares.
  • Maps and Travel Guides: Despite the digital age, a physical map or travel guide can be priceless, especially in Wi-Fi sparse areas, but you can download our App for Offline Browsing !
  • Offline maps : Always useful. maps.me is one of the best.
  • Translator App : ChatGPT or DeepL

Small Gifts for Hosts or Locals

When staying with locals, small tokens from your home country can break the ice and are a kind gesture.

Due to the US embargo on Cuba, the country faces acute shortages of essential items, including food staples like oil and milk, as well as clothing and electronics. To aid the Cuban people, consider donating items you no longer need. Such contributions are not only a joyful experience but also invaluable for the recipients and an excellent method of tipping. You could even take an extra luggage just for donations. With some planning, you can easily gather donations from your family and friends to offer meaningful gifts during your visit.

  • Eyeglasses
  • Baby clothes
  • Toys
  • Clothing (T-shirts, Blue Jeans, pants, etc…)
  • Unused Smartphones
  • Perfumes
  • Music and Art Supplies: Small musical instruments or art supplies can be appreciated gifts that also support local talent.
  • Pens & Pencils
  • non-prescription medication  : Cubans often ask Aspirin, ibuprophene, etc…
  • Educational Materials and Books: Bringing books in Spanish can be a thoughtful gift, especially for kids.

What NOT to Bring to Cuba

  • More than the equivalent of 5,000 US dollars
  • Drones
  • Over two mobile phones, laptops, or iPads per individual.
  • Walkie-talkies
  • Camera gear is recommended to be kept to a basic kit eg: 1 x camera body, 2-3 x lenses.

Final Packing List

Checklists are your friend.

So I’ve coded for you a checklist. Feel free to run through it before departure to ensure nothing’s left behind, the checked items will be saved in your device for 90 days.

Documents & Money

  • Passport with +6 month of validity
  • Cuban Tourist card (mandatory)
  • Health and Covid insurance
  • Cash (bring enough for all the trip)
  • Credit card
  • Photocopy of your passport
  • Fill the Health Form online 48h before departure
  • Hotel reservations
  • Flight Tickets
  • Photocopy of your passport that you will bring with you throughout the day
  • Copies of you passport on the cloud

Luggage

  • Suitcase or backpack
  • Light back pack for the day
  • Packing cubes
  • Dry bags (for dirty clothes, shoes or electronic devices)

Clothes

  • Tropical Shoes
  • Hiking shoes or Tennis
  • Walking Sandals
  • Jacket ( for dry season nov to April), Rain Jacket (rainy season may to October)
  • Nightlife and Dining Out Attire

Toiletries

  • Toilet paper
  • Wet wipes
  • Hand sanitizer
  • Face wipes
  • Minimal makeup
  • Deodorant
  • Body spray / perfume
  • Shampoo & Conditioner
  • Moisturizer
  • Toothbrush & toothpaste
  • Hairbrush

Medical Kit

  • Hand Sanitizer
  • First aid Kit
  • Water Filter Bottle
  • Mosquito Repellant
  • Sunscreen, sunburn lotion or ointment

Beach

  • Microfiber Towel
  • Swimwear
  • Hat
  • Sunscreen
  • Snorkel Gear

Electronics

  • Power Adapter & Converter
  • Photography Gear, memory cards and backup solution
  • A multi-socket power strip
  • Flashlight & Headlamp
  • Powerbank

Misc

  • Snacks
  • Books
  • Locker
  • Offline Map
  • Translator (DeepL or ChatGPT)
  • Download a VPN (Turbo VPN – Free)