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.
Did You Get Insurance Yet?
If 2020 taught us anything, it’s that us travelers should be prepared for anything.
Travel insurance has always been high on my list of things to organize before I travel but now more than ever it’s at the top of my list.
I’m pretty sure we have all had travel plans messed up because of COVID and not all insurers covered this. So you need to find an insurer that covers travel disruption due to COVID-19, World Nomads, Safety Wing, or Travel Insurance Master are the ones to go for.
World Nomads is great for incidents that happen prior to your trip, so if you get sick or are unable to travel due to travel restrictions some of their policies will cover that as cancellation cover.
Safety Wing goes the extra mile and covers quarantine outside your home for up to 10 days, they also have a really handy map on their website showing requirements and restrictions for each country.
I also use Travel Insurance Master for some short vacation-type trips as they are cheaper than World Nomads a lot of the time.
If you are doing shorter trips or a longer backpacking trips then WorldNomads or Travel Insurance Master are the best options. If you are a digital nomad or planning travel of at least 6 months then go for SafetyWing.
Cuba Travel essentials
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 freshwater. 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.
I suggest getting an eco-friendly one for your body and then getting something a little more aggressive like this to spray on your clothing.
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.
If you plan on covering a lot of ground then I would personally suggest a 60L backpack and a small daypack that can easily be packed when traveling.
I’ve added images and links for the luggage I have tried and tested in Europe 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.
If backpacks are not your thing, this suitcase with a 20″ laptop pocket will do wonders for you, and with this coupon LEVEL8Claire10 you get a 10% discount!
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.
Last but not least, this travel pillow with memory foam will be your best friend for long periods of traveling.
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.
Mini First Aid Kit – Goes without saying really! I also add in some extras like activated charcoal and other useful pharmaceuticals.
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.
A Door Stop – Worried about safety in your room at night? Use the doorstop to block the door from the inside and make it harder for someone to enter the room.
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.
Quick-dry towel – I have 2, a large one and a small hand size one that I keep clipped to my backpack.
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.
A scarf – Another multi-use item that doesn’t take up much room. Scarfs are great for covering shoulders from the sun, or when entering churches. It will also help keep you warm, and they look cute!
Yoga Mat – I never travel without my yoga mat. I wrote a whole post to help you choose the best travel yoga mat here.
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.
Aeropress – I do love my coffee, so traveling without my Aeropress is not an option haha. This is also another great portable coffeemaker/ mug if you aren’t a fan of the Aeropress.
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.
A favorite for me is the Gamma – Graphene Heated Jacket that works in both warm and cold weather. Use the code CLAIRE10 to get a 10% discount!
No matter the case, whatever you are looking for, you can find it at NxTSTOP. From comfy socks to travel kits with essential clothing like sweat pants, t-shirts, and towels. Think of anything you’d need for your next trip and you’ll find it with these guys.
- 1 or 2 nice dresses
- 1 pair of hiking pants or leggings
- 2 pairs of lightweight pants
- 1 pair of jeans
- a pair of denim shorts
- a pair of quick-dry sports shorts
- Quick-dry sports top
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. 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 used to use before I invested in the iphone 13 pro max.
Kindle – Save space by investing in a kindle and kindle unlimited. You will find most of the lonely planet travel guides are available to read for free with the plan.
Lightweight laptop and external hard drive – I have a MacAir which is perfect for traveling. After losing all of my photos a few years ago I also always travel with a heavy-duty external harddrive.
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. My camera geer has grown with my blog and my essential travel cameras now include this DJI Osmo and this mini drone. If you need a tripod, I love this one 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.
Backup charger – I have these two and always keep one in my bag.
Travel adaptor – Get a worldwide one like this so you can use it wherever you travel to.
Portable WiFi – I never travel without my TEP wireless device. If you can’t live without WiFi I recommend buying or renting one. Or another of my favorites is the GlocalMe G4 because of its versatility.
What to Read in Mexico
Where would we be without the trusty Lonely Planet Mexico book?!? It really is the best all-around guide to Mexico. The only issue I ever have with these books is that often the information can be outdated, but if you want to really explore Mexico, not just the tourist trail version of Mexico then get this book on your Kindle. It’s oftern free if you have a kindle unlimited subscription.
It’s all about the food here in Mexico. Especially in Oaxaca, thought of as the culinary heart of Mexico. This Mexican cookbook is the first true introduction to Oaxacan cuisine by a native family, each dish articulates their story, from Oaxaca to the streets of Los Angeles and beyond.
The book showcases Mexican “soul food” serving up 140 authentic, yet accessible recipes using some of the purest pre-Hispanic and indigenous ingredients available.
As much as I don’t want to perpetuate Mexico’s reputation as a county full of cartels, drugs, and danger. It can’t really be ignored, and I know many people are interested in learning more. So I’ve included Midnight in Mexico on my list of books to read. It’s a true crime book written by a Mexican-American journalist and migration lawyer. It’s about as close to the truth as you can get. Being. journalist here in Mexico is one of the most dangerous arrears you can have. But Corchado is known for never shying away from the truth reporting on government corruption, murders, and the drug cartels of Mexico. In 2007, Corchado received a tip that he could be their next target, he had twenty-four hours to find out if the threat was true…
Oh my goodness, this book. I devoured it in 2 days. I cried many tears, I don’t think I truly grasped how horrendous their journey actually was.
I think what makes this book resonate with so many people is the characters, it follows a middle classed Mexican woman who is forced to flee her home with her young son to escape the local cartel. It will change the way you view migrants. In the words of Oprah “I was opened, I was shook up, it woke me up, and I feel that everybody who reads this book is actually going to be immersed in the experience of what it means to be a migrant on the run for freedom.”
All of that said, I only found out after that the author of the book although she has a grandparent from Puerto Rico she identifies as white and is not a member of the Latinx community, which is troubling as this isn’t her story to tell. There are some alternatives written by Latinx authors which I’ll be adding to my reading list: Enrique’s Journey by Sonia Nazario, and The Beast by Óscar Martínez.
Are you even alive if you don’t know who Frida Kahlo is? If you are a Friday fan then this is the perfect fictional accompaniment to your Mexican vacation. Especially if you will be visiting Mexico City.
Using several of Frida’s notebooks as inspiration acclaimed Mexican novelist F. G. Haghenbeck was inspired to write this touching fictional account of her life. Through the book, you are taken on a magical ride through this imagined life of Freida
An old, but a goodie! This one is for all of you lovers of romance novels! It’s described as:
“A novel of passion, food, and magic, Like Water For Chocolate is a romantic, poignant tale, touched with moments of magic, graphic earthiness, bittersweet wit – and recipes.”
Forbidden love, family obligations, and seduction by food… what more could you ask for in a novel!