Tara Hitchcock's adventures in CubaPosted: Updated:
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.
Where I stayed
[SLIDESHOW: A peek into my photo album]
[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.
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.
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
[MORE FROM PHOENIX MAGAZINE: Tara's BIG Travels]
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