Packing for Cuba


One of my favorite shots I took in Cuba is this old car I happened to come across on my way back from the Info Centrum

I’ve been blogging about Cuba because the three weeks I spent there were so different from everything else I’ve experienced.  Somehow Cuba manages to be unlike any of the 32 other countries that I’ve visited!  Perhaps it is most similar to Venezuela in the sense that there are many things that are difficult to find.  What I’m trying to say is that you need to be a little more prepared and pack a little more carefully than you would for visiting any other Caribbean island (the Dominican Republic, Curacao, and Trinidad were much easier).

I chose to only bring my Osprey backpack so I could travel easily on the bus between cities.  I’ve also heard stories of other travelers arriving and their bags getting lost along the way. By traveling carry-on only  I was able to easily travel all over the island and I only needed to wash my clothes along the way a couple of times.  I highly recommend this method of travel if you will be traveling by bus where space is at a premium.  Other than needing to have nicer clothes for going out, I was happy with what I packed with me (except for the few things which I mention below).

What I Packed With Me

1 long sleeve merino wool Icebreaker shirt to cover up on the bus

1 skirt for dancing

1 pair of dark capris

1 pair of stretchy pants for long bus rides

1 pair of shorts

2 tank tops

2 t-shirts

1 nice shirt for going out

2 bras

7 underwear

1 pair of PJs

1 sarong to use at the beach and for covering up on the bus

1 bikini

1 travel towel (I didn’t end up needing this because all of my casa particulars provided me with a towel)

1 pair of comfortable sandals for walking/beach

1 pair of comfortable heels for dancing

1 pair of dance sneakers for salsa class

Insect repellant (there were a ton of mosquitos in Varadero and Vinales)

Stick of Sunscreen (great for carry-on bags)

Normal toiletries and travel makeup

1 Longchamp bag for bringing back souvenirs and using at the beach

3 packs of Travel tissues (there was almost never any toilet paper in public restrooms in Cuba)

iPhone 6S as my camera

Lots of cash (about $1000 per week) because US credit cards and bank cards don’t work in Cuba

Cuba Travel Guide– I was so thankful to have access to the kindle version of this travel guide on my phone! When staying at casa particulares you are basically staying with old ladies and families, not a hostel with preprinted maps or a hotel with a travel agency.  In other words, I was kind of on my own when it came to finding places because the directions I got from Cubans were always very vague.  The Lonely Planet Cuba book came in handy all the time. I used it several times a day until I had been in a place for enough time.

What I wish I had Brought

Waterproof Go Pro–  I spend a lot of time hiking, swimming, and just hanging around water.  I saw several other people with GoPros taking pictures in the water and everyone says that they are amazing for adventure travel.  A GoPro is definitely at the top of my wish list right now.

64GB memory card– On one hand, I like using small memory cards, but I always end up forgetting which ones I’ve used and which ones have free space.  With a card of this size I would be able to fit quite a bit more than the 8GB cards that I currently have.

Selfie Stick–  I’ve been denying it for years, but I think I should finally buy a selfie stick since I do so much solo traveling!

Water sneakers– When I was doing my tour of the Valle de los Ingenios we hiked through some fields and down to a river. My feet got some cuts and became covered in dust because I was just wearing flip flops. These would have been perfect.

Packable Daypack–  I had another daypack with me that was so cheap that it broke the first week I used it.  I want to try this brand and see how it works.

Granola Bars–  I spent a lot of time on buses in Cuba and some of these granola bars would have been perfect to hold me over until we stopped for lunch or dinner.  Snack food is just not really common in Cuba.

Have you been to Cuba? What were the things you were so thankful you brought? What were things you wished you had left home? Comment below! 

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8 responses to “Packing for Cuba

  1. I love how informative your blog is. I will be in Cuba for one week the end of June. This post is especially helpful about clothing and what to bring for shoes. What are salsa sneakers?


    • Thanks, Lisa! I’m glad you found this post helpful.

      There are dance sneakers that you can wear when you need more stability. Since Cuban salsa has a lot of jumping and turning, during dance classes a lot of people wear dance sneakers. Here is a link to a pair that you see lots of dancers use:


  2. Oh my gosh! Thanks for this post! I am leaving for a trip Friday! You’re lost is being added onto mine! I appreciate it!

    This almost makes me want to go to Cuba! Check out my blog I’ll be writing about it!


  3. I was going to go in 2020 and the Covid arrived …

    I’ll write down the repellent thing. It is something that I always consider taking and one of the first things that I discard in my backpack so as not to fill it.

    I have a list of things to pack that I choose from, but on almost every trip I learn something new that I can take the next time. I think that in Cuba, even reading people like you who have been there and advise, I will always miss something.

    Good luck and nice future trips!


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