My trip to Cuba was incredible. I swam in caves, smoked a cigar and rode scooters through the countryside. Although the adventures were a plenty, there are a few things that I know now that would've made my trip a little bit smoother.
P.S. If you're looking for the basics like which visa Americans should get and how to get it, then read How to get to Cuba and What You Need to Know.
Now for the tips!
1. Downloads maps.me on your phone
Ugh, we DIDN'T have this on our trip and I so wish we did. Other people found restaurants and neighborhoods without WIFI while we got lost and hungry. The big trick here is to download the app and the map of Cuba BEFORE you get to Cuba. You won’t be able to download it there, even if you get WIFI.
2. Get money out in Euros in America; exchange it into CUC in Cuba
Exchanging USD at a Cuban airport is taxed, so you'll pay a fee. If you want to exchange money when you leave, just exchange it to Euros. There is a limit to the amount of USD you can get back.
3. Hail taxi collectivos
Man, I wish we did this more! Collectivos are like UberPool but more flexible, cheaper and local. Within a city, anyone can jump in, pay their fare and jump out where they want. You will be sharing cabs with strangers, mostly locals, which is really fun. From city to city, it’s more like a shuttle van with multiple people going to the same place.
4. Book a tour in Havana through Airbnb Experiences
Airbnb Experiences are like tours hosted by local hosts. It's new and only in 10 cities; Havana is one of them! It was a great experience. I loved having conversations with a local, meeting her friends and meeting up with other travelers after the experience was over.
5. Take day trips
We hit up a quite a few places but we could've done more had we thought about day trips. Cuba is a big, so there's a lot to see. Wherever you go, try to get outside the town or city to see how people live in less touristy areas. Try renting a scooter, paying a driver or booking a tour.