Factors to Consider When Visiting Cuba as an American

Photo by: Bigstockphoto
Photo by: Bigstockphoto

Recently, Cuba has softened its anti-American stance against the United States. This is good news for all travelers because finally, Cuba is taking steps towards bolstering tourism in the country. Although Cuba has decided to improve its diplomatic ties to the US, travelers cannot simply book a vacation to Cuba without taking certain factors into consideration. For a hassle-free visit, keep these tips in mind:

Spending Money in Cuba

Again, going to Cuba is a little complicated because most business transactions in that country are banned and punishable by hefty fines. The fact is, Cuba remains as the only country in the world where American tourists are off limits. But because Cuba started to improve its diplomatic ties in the US, it is now possible to explore the island.

However, you have to get an approval from the Treasury Department to spend money in Cuba. American tourists are only allowed to engage in 12 categories of activities, including professional research, working on a humanitarian project, or taking part in educational activities.

Off Limits to Tourism

Unfortunately, Cuba remains off-limits to tourism. To travel to Cuba, you have to show the educational component of your visit. That said, there is very little effort on the US government to find out which visitors hit the beach and which ones have legitimate business in Cuba.

Most travel companies are working to developing people-to-people offers to spur interest in Cuba, perhaps as a future travel destination.

Available Flights to Cuba

Improved diplomatic ties mean more direct flights are available for American travelers. Instead of working your schedule around flying in a creaky Russian airplane to get to Cuba, there are daily flights available via Miami. In fact, more flights are being added from destinations such as New York, Orlando, and Tampa. A regular Miami to Havana flight takes only 45 minutes.

However, the seats have to be booked via a third party charter company. Airlines do not sell tickets to Cuba directly because both countries have yet to agree on a new civil aviation agreement.

Accommodations in Cuba

Because Cuba is not ready to receive an influx of visitors, especially from the US, do not expect a myriad of five-star or four-star hotels in the country. Not even from the city or popular hot spots. In addition, US credit cards are still not accepted in Cuba. There is no overseas roaming available in the country. The same thing goes for wireless internet; there is very little connectivity in Cuba.

Should You go to Cuba?

Despite the hassles and legal murkiness of traveling to Cuba, the country is experiencing a tourism boom thanks to American tourists. Efforts by the Cuban government to open its doors to some travelers have made a world of difference to a largely misunderstood country.

If say, you have legitimate reasons for traveling to Cuba and you successfully obtained an approval from the Treasury Department, now is the best time to visit the country. Of course, going there will take more hassles than an average trip.