Tara Hitchcock's adventures in Cuba

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(Source: Tara Hitchcock) (Source: Tara Hitchcock)
(Source: Tara Hitchcock) (Source: Tara Hitchcock)
PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) -

Last year, the president eased decades-old travel restrictions to Cuba, allowing Americans to fly from the U.S. to the country for the first time in years.

I took advantage of that and bumped into a lot of Arizonans who did the same.

Reinier Menendez was my fantastic guide! Just click or tap his name to shoot him an email. You also can find him on Facebook.

Where I stayed

[SLIDESHOW: A peek into my photo album]

[WATCH: Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3]

[WE HIT A SNAG: Our "Cuban Money Crisis" - It all started with cigars!]

Traveling to Cuba is not as easy as buying a ticket and grabbing your passport. The American Citizens Services Unit of the U.S. Embassy in Havana has put together a list of five things you need to know as you plan and take your trip. It's also there to help if you run into trouble while you're there. 

1. Can Americans visit Cuba?

Yes, but not for “tourism.” There are 12 categories of travel.

  • Family visits
  • Official government business
  • Journalistic activities
  • Professional research and meetings
  • Educational activities
  • Religious activities
  • Public performances, clinics, workshops, athletic and other competitions, and exhibitions
  • Support for the Cuban people
  • Humanitarian projects
  • Activities of private foundation or research for educational institutions
  • Exportation, importation or transmission of informational materials
  • Some authorized expert transactions

More info: Treasury.gov/cuba or 1-800-540-6322

2. How can Americans get visas/tourist cards?

You have to go through the Embassy of Cuba in D.C.

Embassy of the Republic of Cuba
2630 16th Street, NW
Washington, D.C. 20009
Website: www.cubadiplomatica.cu/eeuu
E-mail: recepcion@usadc.embacuba.cu
Phone: 202-797 8518, Ext. 600

Some third-party travel companies are equipped to help you, as well.

3. How to get to Cuba?

Several airlines fly to Cuba from the U.S.

  • American
  • Frontier
  • JetBlue
  • Southwest
  • United
  • Spirit
  • Alaska
  • Delta

4. Bring cash! U.S. credit and debit cards do not work in Cuba.

I learned this one the hard way. My advice? Bring more than you think you will need.

[READ/WATCH: Our "Cuban Money Crisis" - It all started with cigars!]

5. Limited connectivity

That goes for both cell service and internet service.

Before you go

Enroll in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) for support when abroad. This will help the U.S. State Department to locate you in the event of an emergency or to send important health, safety, or emergency information relating to Cuba.

Need help while you’re in Cuba?

ACSHavana@state.gov or + 53 7 839 4100

And finally...

You can find out more about my epic three-day trip the "52 weekend adventures 2017" piece that's in the current Phoenix Magazine. It's laid out by month so the part about Cuba is at the end.

[MORE FROM PHOENIX MAGAZINE: Tara's BIG Travels]

Copyright 2017 KPHO/KTVK (KPHO Broadcasting Corporation). All rights reserved.


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