Need a packing guide for Cuba? Packing for Cuba is pretty easy really so if you are wondering what to wear in Cuba, you can wear whatever you feel comfortable in. Remember Cuba is hot, humid, and laid back. So when deciding what to wear when traveling in Cuba think light materials.
As it’s not a religious or conservative country so in Cuba you can wear what you like! It does rain over the Summer so it’s worth taking an umbrella or a light rain jacket. I have put together a list of some essentials to pack for Cuba. It is a list of basics so you may want to add a little more luxury if you have space. I only had a 28lt Cabin Zero Backpack with me so there wasn’t much room for luxury!
This packing guide for Cuba is based on traveling from 7-14 days there. I managed to go for the whole ten days washing a few items of clothing and my underwear in a sink using a laundry soap bar I brought with me and a little scrubbing brush. You can ask your casa host to do your laundry for you if you prefer.
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What to wear in Cuba
It’s pretty impossible to tell you exactly what you should and shouldn’t wear in Cuba. But what I can do if offer you some first-hand observations and share with you how I pack and dress in these particular areas.
Also at the end of the day, dress how YOU feel comfortable, just because I choose not to wear hotpants and a crop top in Medellin doesn’t mean you shouldn’t if you are comfortable doing so.
Cuba Travel essentials
First things first, you are going to need some solid insurance. If you don’t believe me then read this. I personally use SafetyWing Digital Nomads Insurance which is an ongoing policy that just renews each month. But before that, I used World Nomads who are the company I would highly recommend if you are backpacking. Both also cover COVID 19 now which is great news for safe travel during the pandemic!
If you just need basic insurance for a shorter vacation then I’d recommend doing a search on Travel Insurance Master.
Does anyone actually leave home without sunglasses? I personally always travel with 2 pairs. One for day to day use that I normally just throw in my bag. Then a second pair that are a bit nicer which I wear when I want to take some nice pics for the gram. I always get my sunglasses from Blenders, Glassesshop, or Knockaround as they are good quality, have UV protection, and are really reasonably priced.
Reusable Water Bottle
Having a good reusable water bottle is essential. If you are still a little worried then get a water bottle with a filter like this for peace of mind. For a bottle with extra tech this one is self cleaning via UVC light, is USB rechargeable and turns any water into drinkable fresh water. It is also vacuum insulated to keep your water cold for up to 12 hours.
Let’s face it, 2020 changed the way we travel, and there is no going back. Hand sanitizer is something you can no longer travel without and I’m obsessed with this hand sanitizer holder my friend designed. You can buy them in a pack of 2 and the bottles come with it so you can top them up. Not only are they super practical so they clip on o your purse, or luggage but you can also clip your mask on there too, save throwing it into your backpack! It’s vegan leather and you can choose the cute florals (which I have) or a brown and black combo.
You may need to prove you have had any specific vaccines and for some places you may need malaria pills. There are many vaccines that are strongly advised for travel depending on your location. So a few months before you travel to speak to a medical professional and make sure you were immunized with all of the suggested vaccines.
Please never take medical advice like this from a blogger! Go see a medical professional…
Download my packing list
Luggage for Cuba
It is really up to you what luggage to pack for Cuba but I would strongly recommend a good backpack if you are planning on traveling across Cuba to different places.
I’ve added images and links for the luggage I have tried and tested in Cuba below.
If security is a concern for you then I highly recommend getting in Pacsafe backpack for added security and peace of mind. I also wrote this blog post on the best digital nomad backpacks and this one about carry on luggage, just in case they are useful to you. The KnackPack is great for digital nomads with specific space for your tech and all your essentials.
You are also going to need some packing cubes to help keep all of your things organized (and squeeze in a few extra items of clothing). Plus a good laundry bag, toiletry bag, and of course a shopping bag. Alternatively, get a backpack with built-in packing sections like this one. It hangs like a mini wardrobe too which can be helpful instead of using hotel storage. It’s what I’m personally traveling with these days.
Other Useful Things to Pack for Cuba
Over the years backpacking the world I’ve got packing down to a fine art and I have some essential items in my backpack that you might not think of. So here are some things you are going to need that you might not think of!
Laundry Soap and a Nail Brush – Unless you want to be doing laundry every few days, it’s best to just wash out your underwater in the shower each night. To do this I always travel with a bar of laundry soap and a nail brush. It also comes in handy to clean off marks and stains from clothes you are washing.
A Travel Washing Line – I love mine, it’s so handy and takes up no room at all.
A Sewing Kit – When you are traveling sometimes you need to make-do-and-mend.
Carabiner clips – So useful for attaching things to your backpack!
Head torch – Equally as useful for camping as it is for reading in bed, or trying to find your way home in the dark.
Ear Plugs – If you are planning on staying in hostels you are going to need these!
A Whistle – I know many people worry about safety and want to protect themselves. I like to carry a whistle just in case I need to pull attention. It might not be as effective as pepper spray, but as that is illegal to fly with too many countries, this is a good alternative.
Silk Sleeping Bag Liner – Another thing that doesn’t take up so much room, but will give you a lot of peace of mind if you need it. Sometimes you might either find yourself chilly or just not wanting to sleep in the bedsheets. So hopping inside a sleeping bag liner helps you get a good night’s sleep, wherever you are…
Umbrella – If you are traveling somewhere tropical it’s likely to rain, but still be hot. Having an umbrella in your bag will keep you dry without making you feel like you will collapse from heat exhaustion!
A padlock – I recommend getting one of these locks so you don’t need to worry about keys. They are TSA approved so you can use them to lock your luggage when flying as well as using it to lock your locker at the hostel.
USD – I always keep an emergency $50 USD hidden somewhere, just in case. USD is the most widely accepted currency, but you will need to ensure the notes are clean and crisp. Many places won’t accept them if they are marked at all.
A sarong – I never travel anywhere without at lease 2 sarongs. I use them to replace my towel, hang over my bed in a hostel for privacy. Wrap around my hair when it’s wet, sunbathe on… I could go on and on. I even make a dress out of mine when I’m at the beach.
Spice Bag – If you are planning to do some cooking then I recommend making a spice bag so you don’t end up wasting lots of money or herbs and spices, or eating bland food for the whole of your trip. I put my spices into ziplock bags and then keep them in one of these clear bags.
Ziplock Bags – I know, I know, more plastic. But they do come in really handy when traveling and you can wash and reuse them so you aren’t throwing them away.
Coffee Flask – Great for keeping hot drinks hot and cold drinks cold. It also saves you having to use disposable cups when you buy a takeaway coffee.
Clothing to Pack for Cuba
You can see my full Cuba packing list here on Amazon, and you can also download my free Cuba packing list here. So I’m going to try and keep this section brief.
I never travel with much and Cuba is a pretty dressed down country anyway. Here’s what was in my bag for Cuba:
- Four basic vest tops/ t-shirts
- 2 ‘nice’ more dressed up tops
- Two pairs of denim shorts (one black and one blue)
- One pair of leggings (for horse riding and avoiding mosquitos)
- One dress (suitable for salsa)
- One dress (suitable for daytime/ beach cover-up)
- One denim shirt (the only time I used this was as a blanket on the bus and plane so I probably could have done without it.
- Five pairs of panties
- Two bikinis
- 1 crop top/ bralette
As I said I pack pretty light. I also wash out my underwear and top each night and leave it to dry to save space. Don’t skimp out on essentials though. If you need things like glasses, make sure to pack extras or spares. You don’t want to be caught out if you break your main pair or lose them. Consider a range of styles for your spare pair – John Lennon glasses, cat eye glasses, rimless glasses… the options are endless!
Note: Catcalling is pretty rife in Cuba and although hot pants and crop tops are totally acceptable (most locals will be dressed like this). I personally decided to dress a bit more conservatively most of the time. This is my personal choice as I feel a bit more able to deal with the looks and calls when I’m less exposed physically. You may feel totally different to me. So you should feel free to dress however you personally feel comfortable. Just be aware that no matter what you are wearing you are likely to get a lot of unwanted attention for local men.
Toiletries to Pack for Cuba
You can very all of the travel toiletries I recommend here on this Amazon list. Many things you can actually buy in Cuba easily, so I wouldn’t stress too much about buying a lot of toiletries to travel with. But there are some things that are harder to get hold of and expensive in Colombia, like shampoo! It’s all imported and I’m always shocked at how much it costs. So I always try and travel with my own.
Technology to take to Cuba
If you are stressing about taking your smartphone to Cuba, don’t. Most Cuban do have smartphones, so you aren’t going to stand out having one too. You will need to be careful about flashing your expensive digital gear around Cuba though. Take a read of these posts to help you prepare if you are worried.
Here are some digital things I’d recommend packing for Cuba.
Smart Phone – If you don’t want to take your fancy iPhone traveling, then this is a great phone with a very good camera for under $300. It’s what I personally have and shoot a lot of my vlogs on.
Camera and Tripod – I travel with this DSLR but I also have this mirrorless camera which I often take if I want to use something more discreet. I also love this tripod as I can use it with all of my cameras (even my phone), plus it’s small and light enough to fit in my daypack.