With almost 10 airlines approved to fly to Cuba from the U.S., it’s no surprise that everyone from Khloe Kardashian to your buddy in the cubicle over are booking flights to the once inaccessible island.
But even though the regulations are easing up, the whole process is still kind of confusing. We broke it down for you.
Step 1: Go online and search for a flight from Miami/Fort Lauderdale to Cuba
There are 10 international airports in Cuba. If Havana is your destination, you want José Martí International Airport. These are the airlines that are making that flight from South Florida: American Airlines, Delta, Frontier, JetBlue, Silver, Spirit, HavanaAir
Step 2: Buy your ticket like you would any other flight
Flights range from $150 to $300
Step 3: Get your visa. You can do this on-line or in person
American Airlines has a pretty good how-to on it here. It’s going to run you between $50 and $100. The visa itself costs $50, but shipping and processing fees will vary.
If you do it online: AA recommends this site.
If you do it in person: Some airlines like JetBlue will process it IRL. You just show up to the airport on the day of your flight and the person helping you check-in will get your visa situation sorted.
Step 3.5: Visa FAQs
It’s technically still illegal to travel to Cuba for tourism. But you can travel there for any one of these 12 categories of travel. Two common selections are: educational activities and people-to-people exchanges OR support for the Cuban people.
Here’s what each one means:
Educational activities and people-to-people exchanges: Essentially, the trip can’t be completely for tourism. You have to plan an itinerary that helps you engage with Cubans living on the island, meet Cuban people, and learn about each other’s lives. JetBlue suggests you hang on to records of travel transactions/receipts for five years, just in case.
Support for the Cuban people: This includes activities with human rights organizations and other individuals or NGOs that work to strengthen civil society in Cuba. You’re not technically supposed to have “free time or recreation in excess of that consistent with a full-time schedule in Cuba.”
You can read the official breakdowns of each category here.
Step 4: Before you go, make sure you get some cash
No credit cards are accepted. BUT there’s a 10% penalty charged on top of the usual exchange fees if you exchange U.S. dollars into Cuban pesos. So instead, you should go to your bank in the U.S. and ask them to give you Euros or Canadian dollars. Then, exchange those bills for Cuban pesos once you’re in Cuba. Those currencies don’t come with a penalty in Cuba.
– Take out at least $100/day you are there.
-Plan to spend at least $20/day on transportation.
Step 5: Book your lodging
From a piece we wrote a while ago: “Stay at a casa particular …These are homestays where you rent a room in someone’s house for a set period of time. You can find a room using AirBnB or Revolico (Cuban Craiglist). Most guidebooks also list casa particulares nowadays.”
Step 6: When you land, customs is pretty chill
Just follow their instructions, and you’re probably not going to be asked any tough questions. It’s okay to have your passport stamped as long as you have a visa.
And when you get there, remember that you need to spend your money carefully – it takes caution to avoid channeling money to the Castro regime, as Alexandra Martinez pointed out in a piece here.
For example, don’t blow money at classics like Tropicana or King Bar or go to the museum for the Committee for the Defense of the Revolution because those institutions support the Castro regime. Also, if you’re “truly interested in learning about Cuban culture, there is a way to travel without being a complete pendejo,” she wrote.
These are her tips on how to travel to Cuba consciously. You should probs read ‘em.