Packing tips

Don’t overpack!  We always aim for a small, carry-on suitcase and a backpack.  For a little inspiration, read this article (although ignore Tip#10-don’t plan to buy it in Cuba).

 What do Cubans wear?

City wear, particularly Havana means tidy, not wrinkled clothing.  Although the buildings are crumbling, the Cubans’ are not.

Daytime:  long shorts/capris/skirt, neat unwrinkled shirts

Nighttime:  capris/skirt/dress, collar shirt for men

Country wear is more relaxed clothing, most anything goes.

Consider Packing:

  • Carry-on suitcase
  • TSA-approved suitcase lock
  • Small daypack
  • Sunblock & bugspray
  • Flashlight, extra batteries
  • A bar of soap & wash cloths
  • Any medicine you may want (there are no Walgreens stores) No CBD products! 

*No converter is necessary for electrical outlets, and we will have electricity everywhere we go

We always pack enough clothes for half the trip, then pay a small fee to get our clothes washed for the second half of the trip.


  • 3 t-shirts
  • 3 tops
  • 1 comfy capris & 1 pants/jeans
  • 1 dress, 1 skirt
  • 1 sandals daytime or nighttime
  • 1 pr blk flats
  • Undergarments
  • 8 pairs white socks for tennis shoes, 4 pr black footies
  • Flip flops
  • Solid tennis shoes for trails
  • Swimsuit, swim sandals and thin hand towel for beach
  • Snorkel mask, tube, fins
  • Sunglasses/hat/umbrella for sun
  • Water bottle narrow enough for the cup holder on the bus (as wide as a can of soda)
  • Can salted nuts & raisins
  • Travel pillow/cushion to sit on
  • Disposable rain poncho
  • Ziplock of misc medicine
  • To share with Cuban friends: packs of gum, CO postcards, USB sticks, tea, bouillon or seasonings


  • 2 quick dry travel shirts
  • 4 t-shirts
  • 2 collar shirts & 1 dress shirt
  • 1 dress shorts & 1 pants
  • 2 athletic shorts & 2 pants for hiking
  • Socks & underwear
  • Swim trunks & quick dry towel
  • Snorkel mask & tube/water shoes
  • Quick-dry towel
  • Tennis shoes/shower shoes
  • Dress socks & shoes
  • Water bottle (Steve likes a big one)
  • Hat
  • Bug spray
  • 8 granola bars
  • Rain poncho
  • Travel pillow

In your carry-on backpack:

  • Passport and visa!
  • DON’T pack your camera equipment (or anything valuable) if you check luggage. Carry it on.

Cigars and Rum

You may purchase alcohol and tobacco products while in Cuba for personal consumption and bring them home.  Rum must be in checked bags once you arrive in Florida.

Travel Safety

  • Purse snatchings and muggings are extremely rare.  Cuba is an unusually safe place for travelers
  • Keep a photocopy of your passport on yourself all the time
  • Don’t count your money in public places.  Everybody in Cuba knows Americans travel with LOTS of cash, rather than credit cards. ATMs are rare.
  • Scammers are COMMON.  Referred to as “jineteros” they will help you find a restaurant, dance club, etc.  A warm and friendly stranger who has no reason to meet you will probably be a jinetero.  Then they’ll expect you to buy them dinner, etc.  Most jinoteros steer clear of us when they see our guide with us.


Cuba has a dual currency system, the Cuban Peso is only used by Cubans and have a much smaller value.  The CUC (pronounced “kook”) is what all foreigners must use.

You can change your money in any bank, change house or at the airport, they all are government-owned and will give you the same rate (87 CUCs for $100).

CUCs-Request 5s and 10s when you change money in Cuba.

  • We highly recommend $50 a day for the tour (most people spend less) -bring more for the days you are there before the Viva Cuba tour.
  • Bring new/like new bills.  A wrinkled or marked bill might not be accepted. US credit cards/ATM cards cannot be used in Cuba
  • Most businesses will not be able to make change for 50 CUC bills
  • Some Americans bring Canadian money because it has a better exchange rate.  If you have extra Euros or Canadian money on hand, you can bring it.
  • Make sure at least half of your money is in US Dollars-some places can be difficult to exchange other currencies.
  • For meals alone, expect to pay $10-$20 (US) a meal (note that on a Viva Cuba tour you will have very few meals to pay for on your own).

Tipping guidelines:

​*Porters: 1.00 CUC per person. Restaurant staff: 1.00 CUC per meal per person * Chambermaids: 1.00 CUC per day per room

*Local park guide 2-4 CUC per person.

Save for the end of the tour ​*Tour Guide (Roger): $20-$40 for entire trip per person (CUC or USD) *Tour Driver: $10-$20 for entire trip per person (CUC or USD)