Breaking Down Travel to Cuba: Yes, You Can Still Legally Go There
With Cuba being only 90 miles away from American soil, many Americans have longed for the opportunity to travel to the Caribbean nation, freely. After nearly six decades of travel to the “Pearl of the Antilles” being practically impossible, Americans are making their way to the island in droves.
Despite newly-issued travel restrictions to Cuba, Americans can still go to the island with no problem. On June 4, President Trump announced that American citizens would no longer be able to go to Cuba under specific guidelines established by the Obama administration.
Every U.S. citizen who travels to the Caribbean nation is required to choose one of the 11 categories.
The full list of categories is below:
- Family Visits
- Official Business for the U.S. Government, Foreign Government, and Certain Intergovernmental Organizations
- Professional Research
- Religious Activities
- Public Performances
- Support for the Cuban People
- Humanitarian Projects
- Activities of Private Foundations for Research or Educational Institutes
- Exportation, Importation or Transmission of Information or Informational Materials
- Certain Export Transactions
Previously, most people from the U.S. traveled to Cuba under the Group People to People Travel option, which is no longer allowed. The option was intended for American citizens to travel in groups for educational exchanges with the Cuban people. If you’ve no familial ties, aren’t a journalist, participating in religious ceremonies, performing or have official business on the island, how can you still go?
As a person who’s a journalist with familial and religious connections to the island, it’s relatively easy for me to go to Cuba. So how can the average Joe travel to Cuba with no problem? Great question.
With your American passport (not the card) and your Cuban visa, which can be purchased with your airline ticket, the easiest way to travel to Cuba is under “Support For The Cuban People.” What does this mean? Activities like learning to cook in Cuba, shopping at local markets, dance lessons, art lessons, or a discussion on culture with your host all qualify as support for the Cuban people.
Avoid staying in hotels and military excursions at all costs. Your best bet is to stay with locals who rent properties using Airbnb and eat in local restaurants. Your host can offer recommendations. Be sure to have cash as you cannot use American credit or debit cards on the island.
The new changes are minor. They encourage you to travel like a local tourist as you would in any other country.