what to bring
WHAT CLOTHES SHOULD I BRING?
Despite its subtropical location, Cuba has distinct summers and winters. Winter is between November and April, with relatively little rain and pleasant, temperatures of 75º to 80º F. Cool, rainy spells are possible, due to cold fronts moving south from Florida. May through October is off-season and is the hottest period with temperatures between 85º and 90º F in mid-summer, and the possibility of severe storms and hurricanes. Casual, comfortable, light, loose fitting and washable cotton garments are the best options for Cuba. In the months when rain or cold winds are a possibility, a light sweater or water-proof hooded poncho will come in handy, as will a collapsible umbrella. Unless you are in Cuba for business, there is little use for a suit and tie. However, a cocktail dress or pair of dressy slacks may be needed at a fancy nightclub, disco or restaurant. Comfortable walking shoes are a must, as are a good supply of socks. Also pack a wide-brimmed hat, sunglasses, and sunscreen to guard against the strong, hot Cuban sun.
DO I NEED AN OUTLET ADAPTER?
ELECTRIC CONVERTERS / ADAPTERS
All of Cuba runs on 110 volts and 60 Hz. The outlets are for flat prongs. However, the Parque Central Hotel has 220 volts. If staying there, make sure you bring an adapter/converter like the ones use in most of Europe (round prongs). If you forget to bring one, it will be hard to buy one in Havana; the hotel sometimes has adapters to loan but they are rarely available. You can purchase adapters on web sites such as Amazon: search euro plug adapter.
WILL MY HAIR DRYER WORK IN THE OUTLETS?
The rooms at the Hotel Parque Central and Hotel Nacional are equipped with hair dryers, however, they are attached to the wall and are not the most convenient and comfortable to use. For the ladies that are accustomed to blowing their hair properly …you might want to consider bringing your own hair dryer. Keep in mind the 220 volts and the different plug set up at the Hotel Parque Central.
SHOULD I BRING MY OWN MEDICINES/SUNDRIES?
MEDICAL SUPPLIES AND SUNDRIES
Although larger hotel stores carry some goods, travelers to Cuba should bring their own medicines, vitamins, bandages, contraceptives, sunscreen, toothpaste and toothbrushes, shampoo, soaps, prescription medications (in their original bottles) and other essentials as none of these items are readily available or available at inflated prices. It is best to assume you will have difficulty finding daily essential items in Cuba. It is recommended that travelers also pack rolls of toilet paper, tissues, pre-moistened towelettes, and anti-bacterial wash to anticipate the chronic shortages one can encounter on the road at locations outside of the hotel.
There are no coin laundries in Cuba, and most hotels offer a laundry service that charges on a per piece basis.
IS THE WATER SAFE TO DRINK?
Sanitary standards are very high in Cuba and the drinking water is usually safe, however, it is recommended that travelers consume bottled water. Regardless, packing some Imodium or Lomotil for an upset stomach never hurts.
CAN I BRING GIFTS* FOR THE CUBAN PEOPLE?
Simple gifts are very welcome. We encourage our travelers to bring along a few items to leave behind. Your itinerary includes several visits that would benefit from your generosity. Children – Pens, chalk, pencils, calculators, blank CDs, art supplies, staplers, rulers, and office supplies. Hospitals, Clinics, and Homes for the Elderly – Over the counter medicines such as aspirin and vitamins, anti-bacterial ointment, cotton, bandages, syringes, sterile gloves, eye drops, analgesic ointment (Ben Gay), cold medicine, anti-itch cream, toothpaste, allergy pills, reading glasses, DVDs of cartoons in Spanish. Religious Organizations – Both churches and synagogues play an important role in distributing goods to the community, often by organizing various community programs designed to assist the needy. Suggestions include clothing, reading glasses, school supplies, and hygiene products, shoes, DVDs (cartoons in English or Spanish).
Prescription medicine is made available to the public thru a non-denominational pharmacy operated by the Jewish Community Center (Patronato), which is always in need of medicine. A full time pharmacist will accept donations of all kinds. Of importance are asthma inhalers. Large donations of medicine should be divided among fellow travelers to avoid a potentially long inspection process by Cuban airport inspectors. Please call INVICTA GROUP SERVICES to discuss larger medical donations. Try and reduce packaging if possible and consolidate pills. Reduce the volume of packaging as much as possible.
*if quizzed by a Cuban customs official, refer to your donations as gifts (not donations).