How To Visit Cuba As An American
I’m an American and I traveled to Cuba, no questions asked.
A few weeks after returning from my trip and I’m still
bragging bringing it up to basically anyone who’ll listen.
Cuba leaves that kind of impression on you. It’s not like other Caribbean islands.
But even though Americans have been granted (somewhat) access to Cuba, most of us still don’t know how to get ourselves there. Luckily and surprisingly, its way easier than it looks.*
Just trust me, even you can do it. Let me break it down for you:
How to get there
Book a flight. Literally, it’s that easy.
Most major airlines, including Delta, JetBlue, United and even Spirit now fly to Havana. You book your flight the way you would book any other trip, no questions asked.
The airline even takes care of the mandatory entry visa and health insurance needed to enter the country.
- The medical insurance is built into your airline cost. The airline stamps your boarding pass with a special symbol, and you’re required to carry it around with you during your trip – just in case someone asks you for proof. No one ever asked me for proof.
- The visas are typically sold for $50 from the airline. Call up your airline a few weeks before departure and ask to purchase your visa. Again, no questions asked.
- The OFAC form is completed at the airport. The airline representatives will hand you the forms when you’re checking in or arrive at your gate. This is the only time (in my experience) that you’ll be asked to specify why you’re traveling to Cuba. Naturally I put down “journalistic activity” – but I met other Americans who checked off “peer to peer counseling” or “religious reasons”.
Voila, you’re headed to Cuba.
What to pack
I’m not going to tell you how many t-shirts and undies you need to bring, but there’s a few unexpected items you’ll want to pack.
- Toilet paper. Yepppp, it was true. Most clubs or bars didn’t have toilet paper in the restrooms. Pack a roll and stay dry ;)
- Umbrella. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been on a trip and got caught in the rain without an umbrella. A tiny, packable version is now my best friend.
- Extra clothes. No locals will beg or actually ask you for anything, but we felt compelled to leave behind some stuff we didn’t really need to bring home. If you’re fortunate enough to be able to repurchase some of the items in your closet, consider packing clothes to donate.
What to know
Check out this post for everything you need to know before you go to Cuba ;)
*Editor’s note: This was written in 2017 before recent policy changes affecting Americans visiting Cuba.