According to an extensive report conducted by the Center for Responsible Travel (CREST), "Cuba is one of the safest countries in the world to visit." So, is it safe to travel to Cuba? Based on this, we'd definitely say yes!
But what about those scary attacks in the news? Don't new U.S. regulations prohibit Cuban tourism? What's the best way to stay safe in Cuba?
Read on to find out the answers to these questions and many more!
Do I Need to Worry About Sonic Attacks?
The main reason behind this fear of traveling to Cuba are the recent alleged sonic attacks. In 2016-2017, U.S. embassy employees reported hearing loud sounds of unknown origin. They then develop signs and symptoms similar to those that occur with head trauma.
At the time, the consensus was that these employees were victims of a sonic or acoustic device. While this all sounds pretty scary, the fact is that no one even knows who perpetrated the attacks. In fact, a recent analysis of a sound clip recorded during one of the attacks identified a possible source: crickets.
We may never definitely know what happened. But one thing is for sure: 0% of travelers experienced an attack.
Whatever happened, one thing's for sure: as a visitor, you are safe from these attacks. If these are targeted attacks, they only seem to be focusing on U.S. government officials.
Is It Even Legal to Travel to Cuba?
In wake of news about the attacks, the U.S. removed all but essential personnel from the country. And this led to the widespread belief that U.S. President Trump made tourism to Cuba illegal.
The fact of the matter is that pure tourism to Cuba was always illegal. That's right: even when U.S. President Obama loosened travel regulations, it still didn't allow for tourism.
Wait, so if it's always been illegal, how are people going there anyway?
To travel to Cuba, you must fall under one of these 12 categories to be authorized. The most common reason, though, is "support for the Cuban people". Essentially, this allows an American to travel to Cuba with very little questioning.
The only new restriction you really have to worry about is a stricter economic embargo. This means you can't spend any money at businesses that have ties with the Cuban military. Instead, support the local Cuban citizens.
If you want to be sure you're complying with these laws, make sure to book some time at a casa particulares. These are homestays, where you can stay with a local and get an idea of daily Cuban life. Check out some of them here.
Many people consider this to be the highlight of their trip. And it helps you support the Cuban people as well as avoid giving money to the military.
Also, be aware that you need to buy a Cuban tourist card before boarding your plane. The prices vary based on different airlines, but they range from $50-$100. Typically, your airline will help you with this — learn more here.
Finally, if you're an immigrant to the United States, traveling to Cuba may more complex. Visit this site to find out more information.
General Safety Tips
Is it safe to travel to Cuba? Yes. But there are some general safety tips you're going to want to follow — as you would with travel to any foreign country.
Cuba actually is pretty well-known for having high-quality healthcare. Be sure to buy valid health insurance for your trip. It's actually required, and many airlines build it into the price of your plane ticket.
But if you're in a rural area, it might be harder to find a clinic. It's best to pack a first aid kit just in case!
Do not drink the tap water. Even the locals will boil water before drinking it. You don't want to get sick during your trip!
Drink bottled water as often as possible. Or you can bring a filtering water bottle. You might not always be able to find bottled water, so it's best to bring one just in case.
Because of maintenance problems, potholes, and low street lighting, car accidents are common in Cuba. Additionally, train tracks are not well marked and road signs can be inconsistent. If you insist on driving, be very cautious.
Pickpockets are especially a problem in the larger, more crowded cities. Always be aware of your surroundings, especially when you're in a crowd. Always keep track of where your wallet is, and avoid displaying money, which might make you a more enticing target.
Because Cuba has a dual currency system, some people will use this to take advantage of tourists. The Cuban Convertible Peso (CUC) is more valuable, and 1 CUC is pretty close to 1 U.S. Dollar. But the Cuban Peso (CUP) is only worth 3 or 4 cents.
Always double check your change after a transaction. If they swap out one for the other, you can quickly lose a lot of money.
Traveling alone is as safe as in any other country, so use the same precautions you would everywhere else. Don't walk around by yourself at night. Since the streets aren't well lit, it's going to be pretty dark and you may attract thieves.
Don't get drunk by yourself, either. The rum here is amazing, but be careful not to become intoxicated. Being drunk and alone also makes you a good target for thieves.
Keep Your Belongings Close
Always keep your personal belongings in sight. That includes when you're at the club or the beach. It might be tempting to put your things down for a while, but if you do they likely won't be there when you go back.
Follow these safety tips and you'll be golden.
Is It Safe to Travel to Cuba? Yes!
So, for all of you out there asking, "Is it safe to travel to Cuba?", the answer is a clear "Yes!" It's perfectly safe and legal to travel to Cuba. As long as you keep your wits about you, it's one of the safest countries in the world for traveling.
Are you planning a trip to Cuba and wondering where to go? Check out this awesome post about 7 awesome places to visit on your trip.