Are you wondering what to bring to Cuba? This Cuba packing list is the ultimate guide for everything you will need for a once in a lifetime, bucket list trip to Cuba!
Visiting Cuba is an adventurous vacation that feels like you’re going back in time. Lively Old Havana is filled with old fashioned cars, pastel colored buildings, and brimming with Cuban culture.
This is all the travel information I wish I had beforehand. Use it to make your travel easier. All your questions about Cuba travel documents, currency, what to wear, cell phone service and must-haves for your trip are answered below.
You should also read What I Loved and Hated About Visiting Cuba for more Cuba travel tips.
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Weather and Best Time to Go to Cuba
The weather in Cuba is pretty hot all year round with average yearly temperature of approximately 79 degrees Fahrenheit and lots of sunshine. That said, there are differences based on the wet and dry season in Cuba.
Cuba’s Dry Season
December to May is the best time to visit Cuba. During the dry season the temperatures are very comfortable. It’s important to note that you can still expect light rain 4-5 days a month.
Cuba’s Wet Season
June to November is not a good time to plan your travel to Cuba. Hurricanes and tropical storms are quite common. It also coincides with the hot season where days can average 90 degrees with humidity.
10 Things to Put on Your Cuba Packing List
I felt like I made so many mistakes on my Cuba packing list which is why I wrote this post. I didn’t want anyone to be as unprepared as I was.
You won’t find malls or stores flush with inventory in Cuba.
Remember that Cuba isn’t one of those places where you can go out and buy what you forget to pack.
1. Bring a Few Portable Chargers to Cuba – No Matter What
Cuba has infrastructure challenges and the power goes out periodically.
On my trip to Cuba, we lost power for almost a full day and my cell phone and computer went dead. I’ll never travel without my trusty, lightweight portable charger again. I also won’t let my electronics sit uncharged.
Keep everything charged and make sure you have a backup portable charger. It will give you at least 2 full charges for your cell phone and it comes with two chargers that are the size of a phone.
Cuba mostly has 110 volt outlets so Americans and Canadians won’t need a power adapter. Europeans should bring a travel adapter for Cuba.
2. Rain Jacket for Both Cuba’s Rainy Season and Dry Season
I went to Cuba in January during the dry season and there was unseasonable torrential rain – with a tornado!
You should plan for rain. There are 4-5 rainy days per month during the dry season with light precipitation.
Don’t forget rain gear on your Cuba packing list.
Dry Season Rain Jacket: If you are going to Cuba during the dry season, bring a lightweight rain jacket that barely takes any room in your suitcase and has a hood that you can stow away when it’s not raining.
Rain Poncho: Or bring a rain poncho that is less than 9 ounces and fits into a small case that you throw right into your bag for the day.
Rainy Season Raincoat: This raincoat is longer so it will give you more coverage. It comes 15 colors that look great in photos.
3. Don’t Forget a Travel Umbrella for Rain or Shine on Your Packing List for Cuba
It goes without saying that you need an umbrella for the rainy season. This travel umbrella is windproof, lightweight, easily fits into your bag and it comes in multiple colors. I like bringing a color that will add interest to photos.
A UV Travel Sun Umbrella will keep you up to 10 degrees cooler. It will also keep you dry if it suddenly rains. The best part is that it’s windproof too. You can encounter all 3 of these situations during the dry season in Cuba.
4. Colorful Sundresses Should Be on Your Packing List for Cuba
You’re probably wondering what to wear in Cuba. Known for bright colorful buildings, old fashioned cars and lively energy you want your outfits to fit the part. There’s a retro sophistication to Cuba that begs for floral prints and bright colored dresses.
This short wrap dress is perfect for warm days and comes in multiple prints and colors. Mix it up with a halter maxi dress or a sexy wrap dress for evenings. Dresses take no room to pack and at these great prices, you can pack a bunch of different looks.
Fabrics such as cotton, linen and rayon make for breathable comfortable clothing in the heated weather. Also, lightweight dresses just feel good when it’s hot out. Cute skirts are great for Cuba too!
5. A Packable Sun Hat is an Essential for Cuba
Make sure to bring a packable sun hat that can double for sightseeing and pool time. The sun is HOT in Cuba and sunscreen alone won’t cut it.
This cute summer packable hat retains it’s shape, looks great and is a steal! I am a complete convert to foldable hats and will never return to hats that are not easily packable for travel. Does anyone else always forget their hat on the plane?!
6. A Filtered Water Bottle is a Cuba Packing List Must-Have
Cuban water is not safe to drink. There’s a small take out restaurant on the outside of the airport where you can buy bottled water immediately. Make sure you have your Cuban currency with you.
Regardless, having a filtered water bottle on your Cuba packing list will give you peace of mind that you’ll always have safe water to drink. Plus, you’ll be making the better choice for the planet. These bottles are so good, you could drink from a dirty puddle in the street if you had no other options.
The Lifestraw Go water bottle has a 2 stage filtering process, which removes 99.99% of all the bacteria and harmful materials that you could be drinking. It is not only important to stay hydrated, but you want to make sure that you do not get sick so that you can enjoy every second of your trip.
Related Post: What You Need To Know Before You Visit Cuba
7. First Aid Kit and Medicine That Should Be On Your Packing List for Cuba
I bring medication for everything I don’t want to get when I travel. If I have the medication, I don’t get sick. If I forget the medication, somehow bad things happen.
I traveled to Cuba without any protection for food borne illness, and guess what? Yep, it happens a lot in Cuba and you definitely want to have medicine on hand.
- Anti-Diarrheal: If you get a stomach bug, this will get you back to normal much faster.
- Electrolyte packets: These GMO free packets can help you rebound quickly if you get sick or hungover.
- Insect Repellant people swear by this insect repellant to keep mosquitos and biting bugs at bay.
- Sunscreen: I love this reef friendly 40 SPF sunscreen that is a great makeup primer.
- Emergen-C: We are exposed to so many bugs when traveling, you should take a little extra precaution to boost your immunity.
- Sanitizing wipes: These days, we’ve all become professional germ warriors. Don’t forget to pack sanitizing wipes for the plane, hotel room and throughout your trip when you can’t wash your hands.
- Lightweight Travel First Aid Kit: This is a good thing to bring if you will be doing any hiking or sports in Cuba.
8. A Zippered RFID Blocking Wallet
A wallet with pockets for 2 different currencies is one of the first things to pack for Cuba. Cash is king in Cuba so you’ll have more in your wallet than usual. With coins in the mix, a zipper will protect you from losing any money. There’s more information on currency in Cuba below.
RFID blocking wallets protect your credit and debit cards as you go through airports getting to Cuba. There’s a high probability you won’t be using debit or credit cards in Cuba but you need to know that everything is safe.
9. Sounds Weird But Snacks Should be on Your Cuba Packing List
Whenever I go to a country with a chance of getting food borne illness, I like having snacks for a safe meal just in case. Thank goodness a friend told me to bring snacks to Cuba. There was a crazy storm right within hours of arriving. Between torrential rain and a long power outage, those snacks became my first few Cuba meals.
Since there aren’t convenience stores like other locations, pack nutrition bars, granola bars, trail mix bags or whatever is your favorite to ensure you have something to eat. It is never a bad idea to have snacks on you especially if you are on the go!
10. Bring Plenty of Cash to Cuba
Currency in Cuba is somewhat confusing. There is one type of currency for Cubans called CUP (Cuban pesos) and another currency for foreigners called CUC (Cuban convertible pesos). Apparently the exchange rate for Euros to CUC is better, so some people change their US Dollars to Euros prior to their trip. I personally just exchanged USD directly to CUC.
One thing is for sure, almost everything is paid in cash and you need to bring enough for your whole trip. Don’t count on being able to use credit or debit cards. Also, change money immediately so you can buy water.
What to Bring to Cuba for the Locals
Cuba is one of those places where your tourism really helps the country and there are a few ways you can make a difference.
The first is just by visiting Cuba and spending money there. Try to use local guides. Stay in Casa Particulares. Make choices that make people’s lives better.
The second is bringing items to donate – specifically clothes and hygiene products. Since packing is generally light for a tropical destination, bring gently used clothes and shoes you don’t want anymore.
It’s hard for cuban people to buy clothing. Many people can’t afford it. We think nothing of popping into the mall and buying whatever we want. They don’t have the same luxury.
You can also bring hygiene products such as toothpaste, deodorant, soap, and even makeup. No matter where you are staying, someone will know how to put your donations to good use.
Although it is not expected to bring gifts, it is always extremely well received by the people.
Luggage Limits and What You’re Allowed to Bring to Cuba
Cuba does have some strict baggage weight limit requirements. All luggage combined including hand luggage must weigh less than 50 kg or approximately 110 pounds per person.
Most airlines tend to have a 50 lb weight limit per bag, but if you happen to be checking two bags and have a carry on, be sure that they are under that combined 110 lb weight limit.
This hard-shell spinner luggage set has been all over the world with us. It holds up really well and is lightweight so you can use most of your weight allowance on the things you pack, not your bag.
We use these compression packing cubes inside to fit more in our bags and keep everything organized.
Cuba Packing List Women
Documents You Need to Bring to Cuba
There are many important documents you can’t forget for when traveling out of the country. Cuba specifically has special document requirements so be sure that you don’t forget these three items.
- Passport: You must bring your passport with at least 6 months of validity to enter Cuba.
- Cuban Tourist Visa or Tourist Card: A Tourist Card, coming from the USA it’s also known as a pink card, is required of every visitor. You can apply for it ahead of time or you can get it at the airport. Your airline will provide you with information about the documentation you need and what type of assistance they offer. My flight from New York, stopped in Fort Lauderdale and there was a Cuban Travel Service kiosk at the Southwest check in that handled the tourist cards.
- Travel Insurance: Visitors to Cuba are required to have a travel insurance policy. Traveler insurance was included with my Southwest Airlines ticket. Check your airline first to see if they have included travel insurance. You will need to hold onto your boarding pass for access to the insurance.
- Proof of Return Ticket – You need to have your return ticket with you.
Phone Service & Wifi in Cuba
Phone: The phone service in Cuba is limited. Don’t expect to go to Cuba and use your phone, text, and data plan the way you do regularly. In fact, it would be best if you considered your time in Cuba as a digital break.
I have Verizon phone service and I was told incorrect information about using my phone/data in Cuba. It’s really expensive and the coverage is spotty. I met a couple who had Sprint and they seemed to have a much easier time.
Wifi: I read about free wifi in parks in Cuba but couldn’t figure it out. My casa particular had wifi but only during certain hours. The hours were constantly changing so sometimes I got lucky for an hour or I had no service for hours on end.
It was frustrating mostly because I didn’t know it was going to be such a problem. If you consider Cuba a digital break, you’ll be pleasantly surprised if you get a signal. I would imagine that staying in a high end hotel (not allowed for Americans) the wifi situation might be better.
This Cuba Packing list will get you prepared for the trip. Make sure to read What I Loved & Hated About Visiting Cuba for more information about this interesting and beautiful country including where to stay.
Information about traveling to Cuba is constantly changing. We attempt to keep this information current but check the current information provided by your airline. They will have the latest updates regarding tourist cards, travel insurance and luggage limits.
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