If you are fortunate enough to go to Cuba you may be wondering what to bring to Cuba. Cuba is a country of friendly people. Bring to Cuba things that you will need to make yourself comfortable during the trip but you should also pack some extra items that will help you connect with the people of Cuba. You should be wary of anyone who approaches you asking for something, and be sure to give the gifts you bring for the local people outside of the hotels where they get the most presents from travelers.
- Bring hard-to-replace items. The mosquitoes can be thick, especially at dusk so bring bug repellent. The sun here shines most of the time and it is intense so be sure to wear sun protection. Even if you can find the over-the-counter medication that you need it will be prohibitively expensive in Cuba. Prescription medication and glasses or contacts would be very difficult to replace so bring extras. Other items that are not easy to find are batteries or memory cards for your camera.
- These are great items to bring to Cuba for kids. But you do want steer clear of street beggars in Havana. Kids there crave things we take for granted like soccer balls, pens, notebooks, socks, and clothes. Don’t however bring clothes with writing on them in English, promoting a sports team, or anything that would be controversial in Cuba.
- For adults, bring useful items. A lot of adults use Tiger Balm for aches and pains but it has become increasingly hard to find in Cuba. Buy the red version that comes in a small round container. Over-the-counter medications such as pain relievers are very expensive for the local people. Toiletries are often in short supply as well. Deodorant, toothpaste, toothbrushes, and shampoo are appreciated. Replace the space your clothes take up in the suitcase with Cuban souvenirs and leave your clothes to a local charity.
- Bring to Cuba some supplies for teachers. School supplies are difficult to come by and may be expensive so there is often a shortage of necessary supplies in the classroom. Basic supplies such as pencils, paper, and calculators are needed. Spanish-English dictionaries are always in demand as well as crayons and other art supplies.
You can donate directly to a school, orphanage or charity in Cuba. Giving things out on the street may be uncomfortable and cause dignified Cubans to feel awkward. But when you meet someone and have a genuine interaction it is fine to discreetly leave them a gift.