I play a fuzzy, non-saturated colored movie in my head. A place trapped in the 1950s era, with its famous vintage cars. Once it could only be a movie I imagined, but now I am going to be on the set.
For U.S. citizens, it was illegal to travel to Cuba, except I believe for journalism. Before Obama left office, he began fostering relationships with Cuba, opening the doors to travel to Cuba.
Although it wasn’t open to tourism, you could travel for the 13 reasons listed on the government website. One of the reasons was “People-to-People.” Most people chose that as an option, which was to travel with a U.S. operated tour.
When Trump took office, he took away that reason. Now, the next applicable reason for most travelers will be “Support of the Cuban People.” What that means is you will tailor your itinerary to help local shops, bring supplies in-country, do local lodging or tours (i.e. Airbnb), etc.
Also, FYI, most people who have a blog or YouTube channel think they can fall under the “Journalism” category. Please be careful with that. I think legally you need a Journalism ID. This one is for actual reporters.
Aside from having a valid reason, you will need a Tourist Card. It will either be pink or green. Pink is for people flying from the U.S. and everywhere else is Green (minus those countries who require a visa). This has nothing to do with your citizenship, just location prior to flying into Cuba.
For example, I am flying from the U.S. to Panama before I am going to Cuba. Because I will land in Panama before Cuba, my visa is green. The Visa is good for 30 days, but you can extend it another 30 days later.
Next, you need to look for traveler’s insurance. It is a requirement to enter the country. I got mine at World Nomad, and it was really easy. It immediately gives you the confirmation via email.
Also, side note, I think you can purchase your visa and insurance as you land, but I didn’t want to risk anything. I bought mine ahead of time.
For U.S. citizens, you need a passport to enter Cuba. Make sure yours is up-to-date. General rule is your passport is valid 6 months after your return date.
Lastly, you will need as much documentation on your trip as possible. If you’re unlucky, you will get questioned by customs on your return to the U.S. They will want to know you followed the guidelines for the reason you picked. If you can prove your itinerary with documentation, you will get through a lot quicker than someone winging it.
Please, please, please go to Cuba before this place is taken over by giant storefronts and noise congestion.