For several weeks now, we have been hearing that the Trump administration is considering making changes to Obama’s Cuba travel policy. These changes would not totally prohibit US passport holders from all travel to Cuba, but would limit how we can visit the country, especially as solo travelers. This is all very disheartening, and I am thankful I visited Cuba earlier this year, when I did.
Shortly after the inuguration, the urgency to go to Cuba became real. Cuba had always been very high on my list of destinations, and I felt as if the window to see it was closing. My father always dreamed of visiting Cuba as well, so I asked him if he might be interested in going soon, and he was. Much quicker than I had expected, I was booking flights and Airbnb listings for a week in Cuba for my dad and I. Since I am not (always) one for group travel, I was dead set on traveling in Cuba with just a loose plan and a guidebook.
On my departure night, when United Airlines issued me a boarding pass to La Habana, it all became so real! I never thought I’d see the day when I could travel on a US carrier, from the United States to Cuba. Like a giddy first time traveler, I could not stop looking at that boarding pass.
My father and I spent a fantastic week in Cuba together. Not only was traveling with my dad special, but Cuba was such a wonderful place for us to bond. In fact, I know several travelers who have traveled to Cuba with a parent, and they all say the same thing. Although I believe travel is always educational, Cuba exemplified that. Traveling there felt like a living class in Cuban art, history, and society. This island, which was once forbidden to me, was everything I expected while being nothing that I ever imagined. I learned so much about the people, the culture, the language (Cuban Spanish is fun), and the history of the country.
My biggest takeaway after my week in Cuba was how wonderful the people were. Entrepreneurial, friendly, intelligent, witty, I really enjoyed getting to know all of the Cubans that I met along the way. And they were so happy to practice Spanish with me. The Cuban people have got what it takes to continue to build their country while (for the first time in a long time) enjoying more freedoms. Being able to explore the island on my own itinerary, and without having to break any laws to get there, was such a gift.
That is why I firmly belivee that the time to go to Cuba is now for US passport holders. Trump might make it illegal to go without a cruise line or a tour company. Solo travel there might be impacted. It is unfortunate, as solo travel is the way to really meet the Cuban people and pay locally for goods and services, ensuring your money goes to the local economy.
If you are trying to get to Cuba soon and little help or advice planning your trip, please contact me. Together we can put together a fantastic Cuban travel experience that you will never forget.