If you’d like to travel to Cuba, but never felt like you’d financially be ready to pack your bags and we go, here are some tips to travel to Cuba on a budget. In order to plan accordingly and manage your money, you need to be smart about the decisions you make in order to keep costs low. By following these few steps, you can travel to Cuba for £100 or much less.
1. Stay in a private homestay
Typical hostels do not exist in Cuba and hotels can be extremely expensive. In Cuba, homesteads are called Casa Particulares. Casa Particulares mean private house. It is the closest a visitor can get to find a boarding house in Cuba. Casa Particulares run between £20 to £30 per night. The Casa Particulares are government sanctioned housing that are privately managed. Casa Particulares a part a person house, the residents have sectioned off a portion of their home for rent and serve as small guesthouses.
There is a blue sign shaped like a triangle directing tourists and backpackers on where to find the Casa Particulares, often people will be at bus stations trying to find customers to stay at their Casa Particulares.
Visitors are encouraged to make reservations at a Casa Particulares if they are traveling during a high tourist season. There are many benefits to staying in a Casa Particulares including developing relationships with the locals and discovering their culture, being able to be a home environment versus a staunch hotel room, cost, helping the locals financially by renting through them.
You can often spot a Casa Particulares because more often than not they will be newly painted, because the owners can now afford upkeep on their home through the extra income gathered through renting.
2. Eat at the Casa Particulares
Food is much cheaper at Casa Particulares, and more convenient! Prices for a home cooked meal vary from £6 to £8. Dining out could cost more than £12 per meal.
3. Do not use ATMs.
When traveling to Cuba, it is best to bring your foreign currency and trade at an exchange office in Cuba. US travelers exchanging US dollars will face a 10% penalty for an exchange transaction. EUR, CND and AUD do not have a surcharge. In Cuba, ATMs can be unreliable and credit card is not advised. Credit card fees can quickly multiply when you are out of the country.
4. Find local currency.
Cuba has two currency systems: one is used for tourists and one is used amongst the locals. CUC is for tourists and CUP is for locals. Places accepting the local CUP (peso national) currency are much cheaper than businesses accepting CUC or tourist currency.
For example, an alcoholic beverage may cost between £4 and £8 when using CUC, but the same drink may cost $0.30 when using CUP. As with any big city or tourist section, the areas most visited by tourists will be the most expensive. Try to find places where the locals gather.
5. Use local buses
Try to familiarize yourself with the local bus system. Taxis and tourist buses can up the cost of your visit. Hitchhiking is also widely used in Cuba. El punta amarillo or Amarillo Points are locations where cars must pick-up passengers, this is part of the Cuban hitchhiking system.
These simple tips can help lower your costs if you are planning on backpacking through Cuba!