3. HOTEL INFO
Q. Can I book directly with airlines to fly into Havana?
A. Yes, you can book directly, but we will provide the contact info for our recommended travel agent once you have registered for the tour.
Q. Do the airlines have restrictions on the weight of checked baggage?
A. Always check the airline’s website before departure as policies tend to change and vary from airline to airline. There won’t be any in-country flights for this tour so you’ll only need to check with your carrier flying to Havana.
Q. What are the carry-on bag restrictions?
A. Every airline is different AND some enforce their policies while others don’t. Check your airline’s website and then hope that if your bag is over their weight limit, they won’t actually check the weight. 😁
Q. What is the category of travel for this tour?
A. If you are asked when booking your flights, you’ll want to specify the category of travel as: Support for the Cuban People.
Q. How should I get to the hotel from the airport?
A. We will make arrangements for you to be picked up by a driver/guide assigned by our company. Look for your name and WanderTours on a placard.
Q. What if I can’t find the driver with my name on a placard?
A. If for some reason you can’t find your driver, you can take a taxi to the hotel. We will provide you with an emergency number to call our local contact if you would like help once you’ve landed.
Q. Am I responsible for my own Tourist Card / visa?
A. While you can apply on your own for a Tourist Card (which is required for entry into Cuba), we recommend that we get this for you (cost is $100) and mail it to you once your final payment has been made to WanderTours.
Q. Is insurance required for this tour?
A. Cuba requires that all visitors have a basic level of medical insurance for entering the country. This is automatically added to your ticket price, whether you purchase directly from an airline or through a travel agent. The cost is generally $25. See below for additional information on our recommended level of insurance.
This medical coverage is noted on your boarding pass. It’s recommended that you keep your boarding pass with you at all times as proof of coverage.
Q. If I want to arrive prior to the start of the tour or stay beyond the last day, can you book additional hotel nights for me?
A. Yes, we can. As soon as you have your flights booked, let us know which nights you’ll need additional accommodations and we’ll be happy to book those for you (based on availability).
Note: while you can book extra hotel nights on your own, we highly recommended that we handle this for you on this tour as there is additional paperwork required between you and the hotel and you will be responsible for your own transportation to the hotel.
2. WHILE VISITING CUBA
Q. Will bottled water be readily available?
A. It will likely be hot in Cuba and you’ll want to drink cool water throughout the day. Although bottled water is provided during the tour, we encourage tour participants to carry their own reusable water bottle to cut down on the number of plastic water bottles that get thrown out daily. You will need to bring a water purifier, such as a SteriPen.
Q. Is tap water safe to drink?
A. Definitely do not drink water in your hotel room that’s straight from the tap. It is perfectly fine, however, to use tap water purified with a Steripen or some other water purifier. Though it “should” be OK to brush your teeth with tap water, if you are at all sensitive to intestinal issues, you should use bottled water instead.
Q. What sort of shots do I need for this trip?
A. We can’t provide specifics in terms of vaccines but, instead, highly recommend you contact your doctor for advice on needed shots prior to the trip. Keep in mind that some vaccinations require a series of shots, so you’ll want to get the process started early in case it takes several months to finish the round. You can also check the CDC website for recommendations.
Q. Do I need any special medications or a first aid kit?
A. If you are predisposed to anything (lactose intolerant or you have a sensitive stomach, for example) you may want to bring something for this. Although medications are available at pharmacies, you may not be able to find the types of over-the-counter medications that you’re used to at home.
Q. How much walking is there on this trip?
A. It’s difficult to say exactly how much walking there will be but consider this: this is not a walking/hiking/trekking trip and not considered to be an “active” trip as things go. Having said that, our vehicle can only get so close to some of the sights we’ll be visiting so there’s no way of getting around walking down roads and around the sights themselves.
There are times when some of the sights are up a steep incline or along cobblestone streets. You’ll enjoy the trip much more the better shape you’re in, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t go if you feel you’re a bit slow. We do a great job of making sure even the slowest amongst the group is having a great time. If there’s a day you don’t feel you can make it to one of the sights, you can always hang back in the vehicle and people-watch, read or nap.
Q. I get motion sickness. Will I be able to sit in the front of the van/bus on the tour?
A. We do try to make our tour participants as comfortable as possible, so please tell your tour guide if motion sickness is an issue for you. We can’t guarantee the front seat of the van or bus every time as it really depends on how many people in the group tend towards motion sickness or have other medical issues where they may need a different seat. We suggest that you bring ginger, wrist bands or ask your doctor about a prescription for motion sickness.
Q. Will we be responsible for handling our own luggage throughout the tour?
A. You will have some interaction with your luggage, but there are usually porters at the hotels and airports to help out. Even so, the lighter you can pack, the better.
Q. Is English spoken in the areas where we’ll be traveling?
A. Spanish is the official language in Cuba, but you’ll find that many of the people we interact with will also speak English.
3. HOTEL INFO
Q. What sort of hotels will we be staying in?
A. Due to the U.S. embargo against Cuba, Americans are prohibited from staying at hotels that are fully- or partially-owned by the Cuban government. Therefore, the group will be staying at smaller, family-owned boutique hotels and bed and breakfasts. These are charming accommodations where we will likely get to meet and spend time with the family!
Q. Do you know the name of the hotel the tour will be starting from yet?
A. Hotel information is listed on the tour itinerary but we usually don’t have this confirmed until right before the tour (in case there are any last-minute changes). A complete hotel list will be provided a couple of weeks in advance of the tour start date.
Q. Will hotels have fitness centers and/or safe walking routes and will there be time to get some exercise?
A. The accommodations we will be staying in are small family-run hotels and bed and breakfasts. As such, there won’t be a fitness center available. It is, however, very safe to walk or run in the neighborhoods where we will be staying.
Q. Will the hotels provide shampoo and conditioner like they do in some countries?
A. Shampoo and conditioner are not provided in most accommodations in Cuba. Soap, however, is. In addition, face cloths are not generally available in Cuba, so you’ll want to bring your own if you’re used to washing up with one.
Q. Are there hair dryers at the hotels?
A. There are hair dryers at our accommodations in Havana but not in Trinidad (where we spend two nights).
Q. Will my items be safe in my room?
A. While we have never experienced theft from a hotel room on one of our tours, we recommend you take precautions wherever you go – Cuba or elsewhere. Don’t carry valuables and, if you do, leave them in the hotel safe or locked in your luggage.
4. PACKING INFORMATION
Q. What will the weather be like and how should I pack for it?
A. Expect the weather to be quite warm, perhaps as high as in the 90’s. Pack for the heat, but also bring a sweater or light jacket that you can wear in air conditioning or on cool evenings. We will provide you with a full packing list once you’ve registered for the tour.
Q. Can I wear shorts, short skirts and tank tops?
A. While the locals don’t normally wear shorts, it’s perfectly appropriate for tourists. Skirts, sundresses and tank tops are all fine as well.
Q. Will I need a swimsuit?
A. While our accommodations will not have pools, you might find yourself with some time when you want to slip into a swimsuit and relax in the sun.
Q. Do I need any dress clothes?
Q. Would you recommend taking a rain coat?
A. We will be traveling outside of the rainy season so you shouldn’t need a rain jacket, but you might bring a lightweight one just in case we have a shower or two.
Q. What kind of shoes should I bring?
A. No need to bring more than two pairs. This might include a pair of walking shoes and then a pair of sandals that will be appropriate for warm weather.
Q. Should I get small locks for my luggage?
A. We recommend keeping your luggage locked not only if you’re going to check a bag for your flight, but also if you leave any valuables in the hotel room while you’re out. Consider bringing a little lock to secure the zippers of your luggage together to avoid any opportunistic thievery. This will allow you to leave items such as a laptop or iPad in your luggage and not worry about it. While no one on any of our tours has experienced a theft from their room, it is a good preventive measure.
Q. What tricks do you use to fit all your items into a carry-on bag and still have room for souvenirs?
A. It’s true that if you pack light, you’ll have to do more laundry. But I’d rather live with rinsing out some clothes every four or five nights than lugging around a big bag. Check out this article I wrote on my secrets to packing light
5. TECHNOLOGY including CELL PHONES, CAMERAS and COMPUTERS
Q. Will we have internet access?
A. While our accommodations will have WiFi, it’s not super straightforward to access. We will make some time at the beginning of the tour to make sure anyone who wants a special card to access WiFi has one. In general, WiFi is going to be slow and expensive. Please set your expectations that you will not be on WiFi very often and let your friends and family at home know that as well.
Q. What sort of power adapter do I need?
A. Most electrical outlets in Cuba will accommodate a North American power plug, so you won’t need an adapter unless your electronics are something other than the two-pronged flat pin plug. Some outlets do only accommodate a two-pin round plug like this one so you could bring that as a backup:
Q. Will I need a converter for my electrical devices?
A. You will need a converter for any devices unable to handle 220 (ie. your hair dryer, curling iron, etc.). Laptops and other electronics usually now have internal convertors, but check on your particular device to be certain.
Q. Can I use my cell phone in Cuba?
A. While many cell providers allow you to use a roaming service in Cuba, it’s very expensive (upwards of $3/minute to talk with equally expensive data packages).
It’s probably best to rely on local WiFi when and if we have it. But, again, it will be slow so don’t rely on this for streaming or other heavy data downloads.
Q. Can I bring my laptop?
A. Of course!
Q. Are ATMs available?
A. While the use of credit/debits cards was recently legalized in Cuba and there are ATMs, they will not work for credit cards and it’s doubtful they will work with debit cards. It’s best to carry cash with you.
It’s recommended that you bring between $50 – $75 U.S. / day to cover the couple of meals that are not included in the trip as well as drinks and souvenirs. While tips for your guide(s) and driver are included in the tour cost, tips for waitstaff and hotel staff are not.
Q. Can I pay for items in U.S. dollars?
A. You may be able to pay for items in U.S. dollars but it will depend on the vendor / restaurant.
We recommend bringing dollars in a mix of small bills (5s, 10s, 20s, 50s). Once we are in Cuba, our guide can answer questions regarding currency and exchanging money. There may not be a need to change any but we’ll know more once we are in-country.
Q. If I bring US dollars, do I need to be concerned about what kind of shape the bills are in?
A. It’s best to have newer bills (2006 and later) rather than old or torn bills. Sometimes shopkeepers and money changers won’t take bills that are not in good shape.
Q. Do we tip our guides and driver?
A. We handle tipping for guides and drivers on our end. Having said that, if you feel like they’ve done an exceptional job, please feel free to tip on your own if you’re so moved.
Q. I’d like to bring a gift to our in-country guide and, perhaps, other people I meet along the way. Do you have some suggestions?
A. For small gifts, we suggest something from your hometown or state such as food items (local tea, coffee, for example) or items with logos like a coffee cup or baseball cap. You’ll want it to be easy to carry and something for which you don’t need to worry about sizing.
Q. Can we bring items to give away to children?
A. Although it’s tempting to want to bring gifts for kids, we discourage this because it encourages begging. Consider bringing something like balloons or bubbles where you can have some sort of interaction with the children without actually giving them something and potentially causing them to ask future travelers for candy, pencils or other “gifts.”
Q. Will I need to bargain when shopping at markets?
A. Expect to bargain in shops where there are not fixed prices or where items have prices marked on them. In many shops, there may not be any prices noted in which case you should start a counter-offer at half the asking price and go from there. You’ll particularly have luck bargaining if you’re purchasing more than one item from the same vendor.
Q. Is it safe to carry cash?
A. Cuba is very safe, but pickpockets do exist. We suggest carrying cash in different places on your body and be sure that any cash in your room is locked up in your luggage.
7. WANDERTOURS TRAVEL DETAILS
Q. Do I need insurance for this tour?
A. In addition to Cuba’s requirement for basic medical coverage (see info above), we suggest that all tour participants acquire travel insurance. We have now partnered with Travel Insured International so that you have ability to purchase “cancel for any reason” insurance. We HIGHLY recommend travel insurance (no matter who your provider is) to protect your travel investment from any future issues. Although we are technically not requiring it, if you choose not to purchase it, you will be asked to sign additional paperwork acknowledging the risk of traveling without insurance.
Q. Is there a schedule for installment payments?
A. We don’t have anything formal set up, but you can definitely send in payments on your own schedule. Some people send in monthly payments while other people send in payments when it’s convenient.
Q. Will I receive a refund if I have to cancel my participation in this tour?
A. Once you have paid a deposit, there is a cancellation fee if you cannot join us. The cancellation fee depends on the tour and how far in advance of the tour you cancel. Our refund policy is covered in our Booking Terms and Conditions and is also outlined on the Registration Form that you’ll receive within 24 hours of registering with a deposit.
Any refunds will be sent by check within two weeks of our receiving written notification of your cancellation (email notification is fine). We will respond via email and ask for confirmation of your mailing address for any refunds. Address must be confirmed within six months, otherwise expect forfeiture of refund as we close out our books at that time.
Q. Will you be sending an updated itinerary with our overnight accommodations so we can leave it with folks at home?
A. Yes, you’ll receive the hotel information as well as emergency contact information one or two weeks before departure (note: it is subject to last-minute changes).
Q. What’s the emergency contact info that I can give my family?
A. Along with the hotel contact information, you will be given a cell phone number for your tour escort shortly before departure.
8. SPECIAL COVID CONSIDERATIONS
Q. Will I be required to have a negative Covid-19 test result to join this tour?
A. At this time, you will not be required to provide a negative Covid-19 test result in order to participate in our tours. The exception to this is if Cuba requires a negative test prior to entry. We will provide you with any entry information in advance so you will be prepared, but you will not be required to send WanderTours your test results.
We will provide you with all entry information in advance so you will be prepared.
Q. Do I need to have a negative Covid-19 test to return home?
A. There are a handful of countries that still require a negative Covid-19 test prior to boarding your flight to that destination. Usually the test must be administered no more than 72 hours prior to boarding the flight. Alternately, in some cases, you may show proof of having recovered from Covid-19.
We will do our best to keep you apprised of this situation but, ultimately, it is your responsibility to abide by the mandates, laws and recommendations put forth by your the government at your next destination. If a negative test is required, we will make time in the itinerary to get tested to ensure that anyone who needs one has results before departure.
Q. Will masks be required during this tour?
A. Masks will not be required during the tour. If, however, you find yourself with any symptoms that are associated with Covid, we ask that you mask up for the protection of others.
There are still inherent risks with traveling while Covid-19 is actively occurring and one’s health cannot be guaranteed by WanderTours.