Ah Cuba! How you captured my heart! I took a photography course there with my local community college and I spent 10 days discovering Old Havana and spending hours exploring and taking photos. It was pure bliss!
However, unlike other trips I’ve taken it was not quite a “vacation trip” because I didn’t plan it myself and to receive credit for my elective I had to do all the activities planned for the group and complete photography assignments. Some of the itinerary activities were clear but there were also some open spots where the activities were TBD. So this gave me some fuzzy parameters for creating my travel capsule. In situations like this, even after all my travel experience I get anxious and I feel tempted to PACK ALL THE THINGS!
After doing some research on Cuba, most of the recommendations were to make sure and bring everything you could possibly need (including things like tampons) because some of these items aren’t readily accessible. This did not help my PACK ALL THE THINGS mindset. Also, traveling with a group means I can’t just spend 30 minutes on an excursion to track down a replacement for any items that I might have forgotten. In situations like this, planning ahead with worksheets and packing lists is essential.
Oh and to make the packing situation even more challenging I brought more camera gear than I usually pack-all in my carry-on! I brought a tripod, a Joby gorillapod, my heavy Canon 7D DSLR, a point and shoot, and a go pro with accessories.
The capsule presented here is a very close representation of what I packed. I went in the summer but since it’s a very tropical climate this capsule would work into fall and their “winter” as well, just add the appropriate layers. As always check the weather first and base your capsule on items that work best for the climate during your travels. I would add a rain jacket to this capsule if you go during the rainy season and switch out one of the shoes for a waterproof pair.
Light Grey Cardigan, White Tank, Sleeveless denim button down, tie front gray tank, floral maxi dress, off the shoulder black top,knot linen top, black tie waist shorts, palm leaf pant similar here, quick dry cargo pants, floral wrapover skirt, Ecco Damara Sandal, Jambu Aruba Sandals, Nike Tanjun Tennis shoes, Packable Straw Hat, Round Straw bag, Tote, swimsuit, Coverup, Gold Flip-flops.
A few notes and tips.
• It is extremely humid there. Quick drying clothes are helpful, especially if you are doing sink laundry as I often did. In this capsule I accounted for 6 tops, more than I would usually pack. I went through 2 shirts a day. It’s just humid and you sweat and it’s nice to have a dry shirt to change into after a day of exploring (and another shower!).
• I did several rounds of sink laundry because I was going through tops and sports bras. So make sure you pack a laundry kit. If you need to know more about travel laundry, read here.
• It’s very sunny and I would recommend bringing a ha. If you don’t want the hassle of bringing a hat you can buy one there cheaply-I bought one on the street for $5 my first night there. I wore my hat every singlet time I was outside during the day. Also bring plenty of sunscreen and remember to re-apply. Sunscreen is another essential that would be hard to track down there so add it to your packing list.
• Body glide is helpful in dealing with any chafing that can occur in warmer weather. I used it when I wore skirts and shorts in between in thighs.
• Comfortable shoes are an absolute necessity! Havana is best seen on foot so be prepared to walk.
• Bring all the cash you need. Most American credit cards are not accepted. I was advised to exchange my dollars to Euros beforehand and then exchanging the Euros to Cuban Convertible Pesos (CUC). I exchanged at the airport and then again at the Hotel Sevilla during my trip. Which incidentally, is also a lovely place for a morning cappuccino, especially with live music in their lobby.
• I found myself getting headaches the first few days because I was dehydrated from sweating so much. I found that drinking the fresh coconut water that is sold in the streets helped me with this. If I had known this, I would have packed some Gatorade packets or Nuun hydration tablets to help with electrolyte replacement.
• I’m not a big nightlife person but on the rooftop of the Hotel Ingalaterre there is live music at night and beautiful views.
There you go! I could write a mini-book about Cuba. But I will just keep it to helpful packing tips for now! If you need clarity on packing grab my Carry-On Capsule Planner here. Or if you need a more step-by-step guide for packing in carry-on luggage for a limited time I’m offering my Carry-On Capsule Summer Kit for $10.