We spent our entire lives being told we could NOT visit Cuba. Being the true millennials we are, my wife and I planned to visit the moment it “opened.” Then came along our surprise baby. Plan thwarted…until we read Cuba is a safe country to take children. We immediately booked our flights to Havana for when our baby would be twelve weeks old.
Now that she’s thirteen weeks old, she has her first stamp in her baby passport and her parents have the confidence to travel even more as a family. We spent six days in Havana and here’s how it went with a baby:
- We easily booked our flights on Southwest (Only $220 per round trip ticket). The Cuban government requires each traveler to have Cuban health insurance and a visa.
- Southwest includes the health insurance with your flight. Just keep your boarding pass to Havana as proof of health insurance. Our baby traveled free so call Southwest beforehand to make sure they issue your baby a ticket. You’ll pay $25 for the health insurance.
- Buy your visa beforehand here and pick it up at your final destination before you fly to Havana at the “Cuba visa” booth near your gate. It’s $50 per visa and you need to mark your reason. Most people pick “People to people” or “Research” as your reason for going, but border control on both sides never asked.
- We got our baby a passport. It was really easy to do. This article walks you through it.
- We booked an Airbnb for our entire stay. This apartment in Old Havana was perfect for our little family at $50 a night.
- Since wifi is state run, unreliable, and overall frustrating, we did most of our research beforehand. If we could do it again, we’d write down EVERY DETAIL of the sites you want to see including hours of operation, address, etc.
- Create a Google map list and add each place.
- Cuba does not take ATM cards or credit cards for US banks so you’ll need to bring all the cash you need. There’s a 10% tax on exchanging US dollars for CUC (Cuban money) so we brought Euros. Weeks before you go, make a visit to your bank and request to withdraw money from your account in Euros (Be sure to do this 6-8 weeks before just in case your bank requires that much notice). We took out $600 worth of Euros and ended up having $100 left by the end of the trip.
- Pack! For us adults, it was easy. Since we went in perfect April, we packed shorts and short sleeved polos for me and light dresses for my wife. For baby, we packed:
- ThinkBaby sunscreen.
- Diapers for six days (We brought sixty-six).
- Baby wipes.
- Light stoller and car seat (We got this one for free from our neighborhood mom network).
- Travel baby sleeper.
- Baby insect repellent (We got this kind, but we ended up never using it since we saw no bugs).
- Mosquito net (which we never used).
- Ten summer outfits.
- One swaddle.
- Four burp rags.
- Baby soap.
- Baby thermometer.
- Night light.
- Fully stocked diaper bag.
- Baby Tylenol (just in case).
- A Noise Frida.
- In addition to the diaper bag, all the stuff we brought fit in one large suitcase (which we checked) and one carry on bag.
During the Trip:
- Baby Addy did a great job! At twelve weeks, she’s taking in the world and her eyes were wide with excitement as she took in the bright colors and friendly new faces.
- The flights were easy. It’s only forty-seven minutes from Ft Lauderdale to Havana!
- Cubans love babies and men and women alike will smile and talk to your baby. They often make a kissing noise when looking at a baby (It’s not as creepy as it sounds).
- We got to skip to the front of every line. It was as if Cuba recognizes women take on a huge responsibility in being pregnant. Any woman who births a human, should get respect. In Cuba, they give it.
- We relied on the Ergo for almost everything. We’d put sunscreen on our baby’s legs only and make sure the cover shielded her arms and face from the hot sun.
- Get up early with our baby to start exploring Havana. Once it hits noon, go back to your Airbnb for ciesta. Otherwise, you’ll get yelled at for bringing a baby into the heat. You can go back out around 5PM.
- Stay in Old Havana. The streets are narrow providing more cover from the intense sun.
- At night, we’d go out to explore some more and enjoy a meal. At times, we had to stay home for dinner so baby could sleep. Then one of us would go out and get take out.
- We only used the stroller twice since the side walks are uneven and like a concrete jungle.
- We only used the car seat twice. Most taxis don’t have a seat belt in the back so we had to hold onto our baby for dear life.
- You’re better off doing a lot of city trekking. Go from street to street enjoying the vibrant street art, cheap mojitos, and beautiful plazas. A few recommendations:
- Take lots of photos of your adventure so your baby can visualize the stories you’ll tell her.
- It’s hard to get on wifi. It’s only available in a few parks and hotels and you’ll need to purchase a wifi card to access it. Once you log on, it may shut off randomly or be very slow. I’d leave your computer at home and turn this into a “no technology” vacation to save you the stress of logging on.
- Unpack and do laundry!
Havana, Cuba is a great vacation spot with a baby. It’s safe for children and gives the parents a sense of adventure. If we had to do it again, we’d go for four days. With a baby, that’s the perfect amount!