Traveling to Cuba as an American can sound scary or even make you nervous because most Americans don’t know if you're allowed to travel to Cuba or not. You will hear many different stories. As of right now, April 2018, Cuba is more than welcoming tourists to travel there. Actually, they need it more now than ever since the hurricane occurred last fall. Cubans' incomes rely on tourism. The Cubans were very friendly to us and didn’t care if we were American or not! They actually wish more Americans and people from other countries would travel to Cuba! It's very safe and we never felt intimidated by any Cuban we met. You’ll meet a few beggars here and there, but you'll see them anywhere in the world you go. If you want to avoid beggars try to blend in like a local and don’t bring expensive attire/bags.
We had no issues traveling to Cuba as Americans. No one asked us any questions coming in or out of Cuba on why we were traveling to Cuba directly from America. We had this whole excuse recited just in case they might ask us why we were traveling to Cuba. To our surprise, we didn’t even need to explain “our excuse".
If they did ask, we had options of excuses for traveling to Cuba as an American. Here were our top "excuses".
1. Journalistic activity- I'm a travel blogger and have a website to prove an article will be written about Cuba.
2. Support for the Cuban people- By staying in an Airbnb you support local business or donating supplies to the Cuban people. We brought clothes, chocolates, notebooks, and crayons to Cuba to donate. We honestly wanted to do this out of the kindness of our hearts but it was our MAIN excuse to come to Cuba.
3. Professional research- As a licensed scuba diver, I would have used scuba diving as an excuse for marine life research.
We even printed out our whole itinerary so they knew where we stayed and what we were doing. We had an extra carry on bag full of donations as well, but still no questions where asked to prove why we came to Cuba.
At the airport, before you leave to Cuba you will need to purchase a Visa for $75. You can pay cash or credit. All airlines will vary what you pay for your Visa... we flew with United Airlines. I recommending buying this Visa on a credit card because in Cuba you'll need all the cash you can get since you won’t be able to use your visa cards in Cuba! Credit & debit cards issued by American banks still don’t work in Cuba! The only issue I found at the airport is that they are very strict on what you bring in and out of Cuba. At the airport, my drone was taken away because apparently I didn’t do my research very well and my drone was confiscated. I received it back before I got back on the plane to New York but it made me feel so uncomfortable to leave my expensive electric drone in a foreign airport! I also got my tweezers and small scissors taken away in my carry on bag which I've traveled to many countries in my bag before and never got it confiscated.
Getting a Visa for Cuba.
You can get your Visa online before you leave to Cuba, but I’m not actually sure how you can apply for one. I tried to purchase a visa before Cuba but never found an official government website I trusted. Plus it's about the same price as the airport.
What do you need to apply for a Cuba Tourist Visa?
A passport - valid for at least 6 months after your departure date from Cuba.
A completed and signed Cuba Visa application form. (You get this application at the airport)
Your flight itinerary to and from Cuba. (They didn't ask us for our flight itinerary but I printed it out for myself)
Visa processing fee.
"Stop being afraid of what could go wrong and think what could go right."