• Shirisma Shavers

Budget Travel: Havana, Cuba 2018


I’ve wanted to go to Cuba ever since my Cuban friend showed me it’s beautiful light blue waters, gorgeous architecture, and smiling brown people after her trip in 2011. In October 2018, I took my first step into Havana, Cuba. Keep reading to learn more about my adventures and to get advice for your very own trip to Cuba.

Before The Trip

Buy your ticket early for the best price. I bought my ticket in June 2018 via Skyscanner my favorite budget flight site and flew with Delta round trip. My ticket was pretty cheap at $130 USD base fare, but came up to $257. 91 with fees that also included travel insurance ( required by the Cuban government).

I immediately started a sink fund for the trip after getting my ticket. Cuba is cash only for Americans. Had I not done a sink fund and instead depended on my credit card, I would not have been able to go. #takenote

This leads to my next point which is research, research, research.

Cuba is a third world country that was cut off from America for over 50 years. You are going into a whole new world when you get there. No access to regular free wifi, no access to your American bank and credit cards, no access to anything American! They didn’t even have American fast food, which is extremely rare.;)

You will still have a great time, but be ready for the differences.

I listed some great post and videos at the bottom of this post, that were really helpful in helping me prepare and removed a lot of the culture shock.

I went with a group of 10 people. 8 of us decided to get an AirBnB in Habana Centro [Central Havana] and the other two grabbed an AirBnB in Habana Vieja [Old Havana]. Both are ideal spots to truly step into Havana culture.

Side note: All the internet weather channels predicted it was going to thunderstorm in Havana for our entire trip. It rained for 20 minutes while we were in the airport and sprinkled for a few minutes on day 2. I’m not sure why we were completely lied too, but this might give you hope if the weather looks gloomy for your trip dates.

Here are a few other things to grab for your trip

  • Walking shoes or some gel support – Havana is very walkable and its the best way to explore everything.

  • Sunglasses– it’s sunny and muy caliente in Havana.

  • Sunscreen– I used my homemade Shea butter lotion. That sun will bake you.

  • Two changes of outfit for each day. After everyday out I had to take a shower, while the nights were cooler.

  • Snacks and water bottle you fill up after you get on the flight- this saved me from thirst while I was getting used to buying water bottles- since Foreigners are encouraged not to drink Cuban tap water and I am used to never buying bottled water

  • Travel insurance- check to see if your airline includes it in the ticket

  • Passport Cover– for an amazing group passport picture

  • Travel Backpack– No need for sore shoulders on your trip

  • Mint Sim– Make free Wifi Calls to the states while on your trip

Before Trip Cost: $398.70

  • Delta Ticket from SkyScanner for $257.91 included my required travel insurance for Cuba

  • AirBnB $726.37/ 8 = $90.79 each [Click here for $40 off your first AirBnB]

  • $50 Cuban Visa- Bought via the Delta website after online check in

Traveling to Cuba: #Cultureshock

I went through 5 different cities to get to Cuba. Louisville, KY to Glasgow, KY to meet up with our Nashville, TN airport ride and then Nashville, TN to Atlanta, GA with short layover and finally Havana, Cuba. When you budget travel be ready for extra!

In Atlanta we exchanged our US dollars for Euros in hope to get a better exchange rate than the 13% rate for US dollars in Cuba.

The second I stepped off the plane in Havana I was hit with a hot and humid breeze which summarized the weather for the entire trip.

The first #cultureshock was the short skirts and fishnet tights of the airport security staff. Sadly, I didn’t get a picture, but when you go you will know immediately what I am talking about.

The money exchange took 30-45 minutes. About 15 minutes of that time was spent fixing my money exchange, it was off by $50 CUC’s! Having to argue with people who don’t understand half of what you saying was a total #cultureshock for me and almost made me want to give up. The money exchange lady ended up counting her entire draw in front of me and it had a $50 difference. Thank God! I warn you count your money carefully and ask for a receipt.

A 30 minute ride brought us to our AirBnB right next to the Malecon Wall and walking distance from the 1830 restaurant. It had a rickety elevator and looked pretty worn down, but inside was beautiful with great views of Havana from the balconies.

After dropping off two of our crew at their AirBNB in Habana Vieja, then picking up another one at the airport from her later flight we were wore-out.

Our cab driver Lazaro was very gracious and patient with us, probably because he got $90, plus tips. The smartest thing we did was get our cabi’s number! Lazaro and his partner ended up being our main cab drivers and I’m more than sure that saved a us a lot of money, since our average for our daily trips were only $30-$40 for the whole group.

We ate dinner at Mr. Mangoes, a 24 hour gem of a restaurant in the same building as our AirBnB. It had a variety of food like cheese burgers, cuban sandwiches, milkshakes, crepes, and pork chop platters.

The rest of the night was spent drinking Cuban rum, trying to get on the extremely slow wifi, and waiting for the rest of our crew to arrive at 1 am...

Read the rest of this great Cuba Recap by my friend Shirisma from Reeducated Twenties by clicking on below link:

https://www.reeducatedtwenties.com/budget-travel-havana/

Live Life Fully,

France MKB

#travel #grouptravel #havana #cuba #zika

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