Las Vegas Review Journal gives insight into planning and paying for your Cuba trip

Posted: 08-Apr-16 14:07

While some Americans can now travel to Cuba, there are still some travel restrictions in place. From understanding the rules, to how to plan a Cuban trip and what you need to know about the costs, the Las Vegas Review-Journal breaks down all the important information for U.S. travellers headed to the island.

Las Vegas Review Journal gives insight into planning and paying for your Cuba trip

President Barack Obama recently made headlines when he set foot in Cuba, the first American president to do so in 88 years. For most Americans, though, it is not a simple process. U.S. travellers to Cuba cannot go as tourists but must fall within one of the 12 government approved travel categories.

To help understand what planning a trip to Cuba entails, the Las Vegas Review-Journal recently printed some recommendations from writer Laura Woods. She began her article by outlining the history between the two nations starting with how U.S. President Dwight Eisenhower imposed the first Cuban embargo in 1960, shortly after Cuban President Fidel Castro took power. President John F. Kennedy later expanded the embargo and made it permanent. While President Obama has pledged an end to the long-standing embargo, it is still up to congress to lift the remaining restrictions.

Travel to Cuba was recently made somewhat easier by allowing Americans to plan people-to-people trips. This type of trip must be for educational reasons, but Americans no longer have to book through pricey tour companies. Woods points out that planning a trip to the island individually may save money, but requires travellers to reach out to locals ahead of time and find a hotel, which may be difficult.

Woods also mentions extra costs for U.S. travellers. Cuba uses two different types of currency and foreign visitors use the Cuban convertible peso (CUC), which offers a 1:1 U.S. dollar exchange rate. However, there is a 10 per cent tax that the Cuban government imposes on exchanging U.S. currency, that might be remove it soon. Some retails also charge a three-percent service fee. Most places cannot accept U.S. credit or debit cards.

Woods says to plan for spending about $45 per day, based on information off the Budget Your Trip travel site. This includes the cost of a hotel, water, food, transportation and entertainment, plus tips, souvenirs, alcohol and communication. She estimates a week-long trip will cost about $315, but the average charter flight, the only option for U.S. air travellers right now, boosts that to around $1,032.

The cost could go much higher with a stay in a luxury resort. Woods cites the Paradisus Varadero Resort & Spa as an example, with nightly rates ranging from $300 to more than $1,300, much higher than the $24.62 average nightly accommodation fee she listed as part of the $45 per day travel.

The writer also advises accounting for mobile phone and Internet service. While Google has announced plans to bring high-speed Internet service to Cuba, she says right now Internet access is unreliable and limited. She also points out only Verizon and Sprint offer roaming services in Cuba.

Still, though, the article references ways that travel to Cuba could be less expensive for Americans in the future. Specifically, she mentions predictions from the travel site Hopper.com that flight prices from the U.S. to Cuba could soon drop nearly in half if the remaining travel restrictions are eased even more. Several U.S. air carriers are hoping to gain commercial flights this autumn.


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