Cuba packing list for backpackers

Monday, May 08, 2017

I spent two weeks in Cuba at the beginning of a 6 month trip. We made the biggest error in the history of my travel life when before arriving in Cuba. We had all our toiletries full sized of course, packed and prepped in our backpacks, all except one. We chose a miniature sun cream, I don't know when and I don't know why but we did. We had a miniature sun cream to get us through the first few days and I remember us saying 'we'll buy some more when we get there' five days into our two week Cuba experience we were out of sun cream and it became ever more apparent to us that Cuba doesn't really do sun cream, not the kind that we'd need. Cuba doesn't really do much in the way of toiletries.

Cuba packing list for backpackers


Cuba packing list for backpackers - and stress free travel to Cuba



To avoid you making the same mistakes as we did with our sun cream I've compiled the ultimate packing list for a backpacking or budget trip to Cuba! Don't be caught short all the essentials you can't get in Cuba, add these items to your list for a convenient backpacking trip to Cuba. 

Sun cream - a large one

If you have sacrifice other essentials then do so but not sun cream. Make sure you have enough sun cream, the sun is hotter than hell especially in Trinidad so make sure sun cream is at the absolute top of your Cuba packing list. What was available to us in the one shop we found in Havana selling sun cream was not up to scratch. 


After sun

Similar to sun cream after sun can not be purchased in Cuba. The sun is hot and nothing really beats that refreshing feeling of having after sun moisture on your frazzled skin. After sun isn't an essential and definitely worth sacrificing if you can't fit your sun cream in. 


Water purification 
tablets

It may sound like an odd one but having a small box of water purification tablets with us saved us so many times whilst travelling in Cuba. Water is widely available in Cuba of course and water can be purchased in large bottles for around $2. But the tap water in Cuba is not for drinking like many couturiers in Latin America and the Caribbean. Smaller towns often have fewer, badly stocked shops which close down on weekend.

In Playa Larga we arrived on a weekend and all the shops were closed and we were unable to buy water unless buying small bottles at a restaurant. We didn't dehydrated though thanks to our water purification tablets. Cuba was the only place we used them. 


Sanitary products

As crazy as it sounds sanitary products are not widely available in Cuba. Stock up on everything you'll need before hand. Same goes for condoms!

Other essential toiletries

Toothpaste and other essential toiletry items are hard to find in Cuba, although for the most part you can always grab a bar of soap. Toiletries aren't always the cheapest or easiest to come by in Cuba. Take what you need with you for a backpacking trip to save on high costs mainly. 

Day-to-day non prescription medicine

Imodium, paracetamol, antihistamine. Take with you any pharmaceuticals you'll need during your stay on the island. of Cuba. Prescription medication goes without saying but other essentials are hard to come buy. Plus you may need the painkillers for all the Mojito induced hangovers you'll experience.

I always recommend having a box of anti-histamine for insect bites or heat rashes. Which gets me on to my next point about insect repellents and after-bite.

Insect repellent

Mosquito/insect repellent and after-bite should make your packing list although there's no malaria in Cuba there are still mosquitoes, hungry ones at that. Stuck up on sprays before you arrive always check customs rules for DEET percentages to avoid losing your insect repellent at the airport.


A mini first aid kit

Take with you a mini first aid kit with all the essentials for any trip long backpacking trip.  Plasters, bandages and antiseptic wipes or cream all these items are not easy to find in Cuba. Its wise to be prepared for any minor injuries.

Obviously with any serious injuries you should always see a professional but its good to know that with any small cuts or sprains you can take care of yourself. 

Travel adapters

We didn't see one single place selling travel adapters in Cuba, make sure you take the correct adapters with you for your stay. 

Other non essential items for a backpacking trip to Cuba include a mosquito net, flashlight, travel locks, money belts and a hat for that killer sun. Its always wise to have a travel lock although we found Cuba to be exceptionally safe with minimal crime it is still important you can protect your valuables as a standard travel rule.

Packing lists aren't always essential but for a country like Cuba where toiletries and commodities aren't always available and accessible having some pre-trip backing insights can be really handy!


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