Advertising
Advertising

Cuba Travel Guide: How To Travel There Now

Cuba Travel Guide: How To Travel There Now

Are you feeling antsy and want to get to Cuba now instead of waiting until there are direct flights to the country? Read on. We’ll tell you how to go there before the droves of tourists and what to expect when direct flights to Cuba start later this year.

Cuba has long been the unvisited island in the Caribbean for Americans — a hot topic of history, foreign relations, and controversy, even today. President Barack Obama’s visit to Cuba last month was the first by a sitting U.S. president since Calvin Coolidge in 1928. Later this year, U.S. airlines will begin flights to Havana (HAV), Camagüey (CMW), Cienfuegos (CFG), Holguín (HOG) and Santa Clara (SNU), while Starwood Hotels and Marriott International will offer accommodations and Airbnb will expand services to visitors from all countries.

Advertising

What you need to know if you want to go to Cuba NOW:

At the present time, Americans are still barred from traveling to Cuba as tourists, but there are 12 other legal travel categories that U.S. citizens may fit into, and all that is required is what’s called a “general license.”

If you can check the box for one of the following, then keep reading:

Advertising

  • Family visits (Relatives there? You’re in!)
  • Official business of the U.S. government, foreign governments, and certain intergovernmental organizations (You might be a little more “special” than the average tourist if this is you.)
  • Journalistic activity (Can you write? Keep a journal? A daily blog?)
  • Professional research and professional meetings (Researcher? Writer? Business person? Check this one.)
  • Educational activities (Teacher? Student? World explorer?)
  • Religious activities (You probably don’t want to perform a rain dance in the streets, but hey, if you’re there on religious business, that works.)
  • Public performances, clinics, workshops, athletic and other competitions, and exhibitions (This time, it may be appropriate to perform a dance or song in the street.)
  • Support for the Cuban people (You’ll be buying their coffee, cigars, and food and loving it. Be a good guest when you’re there.)
  • Humanitarian projects (You selfless person, you.)
  • Activities of private foundations or research or educational institutes (Similar to some of the above, but you’re more private about it.)
  • Exportation, importation, or transmission of information or information materials (This one might be tricky, so unless you know for certain that this is your category, refer to the right person.)
  • Certain authorized export transactions (Same as above.)

The bottom line is that you should document everything you do there each day in a journal of some sort and take lots of pictures. Be sure to keep them all handy for the next 5 years should anyone from Uncle Sam come a-knockin’.

Next, get your legal documents in order. This includes an up-to-date passport with at least two empty pages and a visa. If you’re traveling with a tour group, most likely the organizers will prepare them for you. If you’re flying solo, the U.S. Government will refer you to the Cuban Interests Section. Look for the information on “consular services for foreigners.”

Advertising

Lastly, book your flight. Easy enough? Well, it soon will be, but not quite yet. You have two options right now:

  1. Book flights to Cuba via another country. Yes, this will involve two transactions. No, it’s not difficult, just a little more time-consuming. For example, book a flight from your nearest airport to a city in Mexico, then book a second flight from Mexico to Cuba.
  2. Book flights to Cuba via air charters. More airlines are jumping on this route (pun intended). JetBlue is the latest, offering weekly charter flights form New York to Havana, while Sun Country also flies there. However, be aware that those airlines have only partnered with charters, and flights are still booked through the charter company, not the airline (at this time).

What you need to know if you want to go to Cuba later this year:

The U.S. has authorized 110 daily flights to Cuba in the coming year. The following airlines have submitted applications to fly there: JetBlue, United, Southwest, Delta, Alaska and American.

Advertising

We should know more about the exact routes this summer. For your convenience, the U.S has made some embargo changes so you can eventually have U.S. dollar transactions there as well. Until then, you will have to deal with their dual-currency system of the CUC (1:1 ratio to the US dollar that fuels the tourist economy) and the CUP (the regular Cuban peso, which is what the locals use).

Stay on top of the latest Cuba travel news with FareCompare, and don’t forget to compare flights before you buy (and especially when the flood gates open this year for direct flights to Cuba!).

More by this author

Five Rad Festivals for Your 2017 Bucket List 4 Steps To Find Really Cheap Flights To Europe Back Road to Hana 9 Tips For Navigating the Road to Hāna 10 Things You Need for Your Next Flight Cuba Travel Guide: How To Travel There Now

Trending in Lifestyle

1 Science Says Knitting Makes Humans Warmer And Happier, Mentally 2 How to Eliminate Work Stress When You’re Stressed to the Max 3 10 Benefits of Sleeping Naked You Probably Didn’t Know 4 10 Benefits of Reading: Why You Should Read Every Day 5 7 Amazing Things That Will Happen When You Do Plank Every Day

Read Next

Advertising
Advertising

Last Updated on October 23, 2018

Science Says Knitting Makes Humans Warmer And Happier, Mentally

Science Says Knitting Makes Humans Warmer And Happier, Mentally

My mother was a great knitter and produced some wonderful garments such as Aran sweaters which were extremely fashionable when I was young. She also knitted while my father drove, which caused great amusement. I often wondered why she did that but I think I know the answer now.

Knitting is good for your mental health, according to some research studies. The Washington Post mentions a 2013 survey of about 3,500 knitters who were asked how they felt after a knitting session. Over 80% of them said they definitely felt happier. It is not a totally female occupation as more and more men take it up to get the same benefits. Harry Styles (One Direction) enjoys knitting. So does Russell Crowe although he does it to help him with anger management!

The Neural Knitwork Project

In Australia, Neural Knitworks was started to encourage people to knit and also become aware of neuroscience and mental health issues. Knit-ins were organized but garments were not the only things created. The knitters produced handmade neurons (1,665 of them!) to make a giant brain. The 2015 project will make more neural knitted networks (neural knitworks) and they will be visible online. You can see some more examples of woolly neurons on the Neural Knitworks Facebook page.

Advertising

While people knitted, crocheted and crafted yarn, they listened to experts talking about mental health issues such as addiction, dementia, depression, and how neurons work.

The knitting and neural connection

The human brain has about 80 billion neurons. Learning new skills, social interaction, and physical activity all help to forge neural connections which keep the brain healthy and active. They are creating networks to control movement and make memories. The knitters learn that as they create the woollen neurons, their own neurons are forming new pathways in their brains. Their creations are mimicking the processes in their brains to a certain extent. At the same time, their brains are registering new and interesting information as they learn interesting facts about the brain and how it works. I love the knitworks and networks pun. What a brilliant idea!

More mental health benefits from knitting

Betsan Corkhill is a physiotherapist and has published some results of completed studies on her website, appropriately named Stitchlinks. She conducted some experiments herself and found that knitting was really helpful in reducing panic and anxiety attacks.

Advertising

“You are using up an awful lot of brain capacity to perform a coordinated series of movements. The more capacity you take up by being involved in a complex task, the less capacity you have for bad thoughts.”- Betsan Corkhill

Knitters feel happier and in a better mood

Ann Futterman-Collier, Well Being Lab at Northern Arizona University, is very interested in how textile therapy (sewing, knitting, weaving and lace-making) can play an important role in mood repair and in lifting depressive states.

She researched 60 women and divided them into three different groups to do some writing, meditating and work with textiles. She monitored their heartbeat, blood pressure and saliva production. The women in the textiles group had the best results when their mood was assessed afterwards. They were in a better mood and had managed to reduce their negative thoughts better than those in the writing and meditation groups.

Advertising

“People who were given the task to make something actually had less of an inflammatory response in the face of a ‘stressor’.” – Dr. Futterman Collier

The dopamine effect on our happiness

Our brains produce a chemical called dopamine. This helps us to feel happy, more motivated, and assists also with focus and concentration. We get a boost of dopamine after sex, food, exercise, sleep, and creative activities.

There are medications to increase dopamine but there are lots of ways we can do it naturally. Textile therapy and crafting are the easiest and cheapest. We can create something and then admire it. In addition, this allows for a little bit of praise and congratulations. Although this is likely not your goal, all these can boost our dopamine and we just feel happier and more fulfilled. These are essential in facing new challenges and coping with disappointment in life.

Advertising

“Sometimes, people come up to me when I am knitting and they say things like, “Oh, I wish I could knit, but I’m just not the kind of person who can sit and waste time like that.” How can knitting be wasting time? First, I never just knit; I knit and think, knit and listen, knit and watch. Second, you aren’t wasting time if you get a useful or beautiful object at the end of it.” – Stephanie Pearl-McPhee, At Knit’s End: Meditations for Women Who Knit Too Much.

If you thought knitting and textiles were for old ladies, think again!

Featured photo credit: DSC_0012/Mary-Frances Main via flickr.com

Read Next