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Traveling to Cuba soon? The following items will be a lifesaver if you are exploring Havana, Cuba. I recently traveled there and was prepared for the most part but there are some items I wish I would have packed which I added to the list.
I packed everything in this Kopack Anti-Theft Backpack and absolutely loved it! Crime is very low in Cuba but I wanted the anti-theft pack anyway since I will also use it for water parks, future trips, etc. It was well worth the investment for me not to have to worry about someone opening the zipper without me knowing it.
What to Pack in your Backpack for a day in Havana, Cuba:
1.) Toilet Paper Wet Wipes: Bathrooms can be hard to find and toilet paper is even scarcer. Even if you are a customer in a restaurant or store, you are expected to give a small amount of change to the bathroom attendant to use the bathroom. Plus, giving change to the attendant is the only way to get toilet paper in most bathrooms unless you pack wet wipes. Typically only a few squares of toilet paper are given out, so if you use a lot of toilet paper you will definitely want to bring some! I recommend individually wrapped wipes because they are so versatile and take up less room.
Here are a few travel friendly flushable wipes on Amazon:
- FreshExit Individually Wrapped Wipes 30 Count
- Stall Mates: Individually Wrapped Wipes 30-Count
- Cottonelle Fresh Care Flushable Wipes – 12 Travel Packs of 10-Count Wipes
2.) Small Coins / Pocket Change: As I mentioned above, you will be expected to give change to the bathroom attendant for use of the bathroom and for toilet paper. Be sure and ask for small coins when you exchange currency so are prepared for the bathrooms.
Here are some cute options for secret money holders with great reviews:
- Traveler Scarf Infinity Scarf with Secret Zipper Pocket Stash -$11.99 for most styles: Ok, you are probably thinking a scarf is crazy for super hot Cuba, but trust me, it is SO nice having a scarf to shield the sun. I even wore a sweater the last day of my trip because I felt like I was getting burned with sunscreen on and the sweater actually cooled me off.
- StashBandz Unisex Travel Money Belt Extra Wide w/ Spandex -prices start at $18.99: Choose from 7 colors. Each includes four wide pockets for money, keys, passport and more.
3.) Travel Sized Hand Sanitizer: Again, bathrooms infrequent and there is rarely a sink. Only one bathroom I went in had soap so sanitizer is very handy.
4.) Individually wrapped over the counter medicines: Individual packets take up so much less room in the bag! I ordered these before I left:
- Individually Wrapped Advil 50 Packets of 2
- Individually Wrapped Tylenol Extra Strength Caplets 50 Packets of 2
- Pepto Bismol Individually Wrapped 50 Packets of 2
As another option, you can just as easily pack your own meds from home in one of these keychain portable pill bottles.
5.) Sunscreen: Again, it is blazing hot and I did not see sunscreen for sale anywhere. A great trip goes south fast with a sunburn (and nobody likes a whiner!). I suggest a full-size bottle of sunscreen.
6.) Bug Bands: I wore bug bands to be precautious but I only noticed mosquitos at night.
7.) Bottled water: To prevent an upset stomach, do not drink the water (the ice did not bother me at all but others may have a different experience). Bottled water is hard to find so bring some before you head out for the day if possible.
Last but not least, obvious ones but essential:
8.) Cash: You will not be able to use bank or credit cards. Be sure to ask for lots of small bills for tipping and easier transactions.
9.) Camera: Cuba is seriously a photographer’s dream and I felt completely safe carrying my best camera around. Smartphones work too, but I am so glad I took my camera.
Additional items you may want to have in your backpack:
- Download or Buy a Spanish Handbook (I used this one): Even if you know the basics, this is nice to have if you want to communicate more in depth with the locals.
- Download or Buy a Physical Map because phone signal is scarce & just say “no” to data charges!
- Band-Aids: Even if you wear great shoes, you can prevent being caught off guard with blisters if you pack a few Band-Aids. You will likely not find any first aid items in the stores.
- Snacks: This is a way to save money and to balance out all of those Mojitos with some food in between meals. However, this should be on your essential list if you are a diabetic. You may have a hard time finding healthy snacks since ingredients are limited to Cubans. Amazon has tons of individually wrapped snacks ranging from candy to protein bars.
- Additional sun protection: I strongly recommend a hat or even a sweater (see above). I purchased a Sun Hat from Dollar Tree that I didn’t care about folding up. Tip: If you do wear a hat, be sure to take it off if you go in any of the religious buildings to avoid being insulting.
- Mirror: If you are used to having a mirror, you may want to bring one. There were no mirrors in any bathrooms I went in. This highly rated mirror & comb in one fits in just about anything. You can even get a personalized version if you feel so inclined!