Since the final restrictions on US travel to Cuba were lifted this year and with commercial flights now being offered, traveling to the island has become much easier. While a US tourism ban still remains that prevents Americans visiting for leisure, there are 12 legal ways to travel to Cuba independently, without having to book organized group trips through licensed companies.
“People-to-people” trips are now becoming the most popular way to travel to Cuba. They are considered educational programs in which American citizens are required to have full-time schedules of authorized activities. The people-to-people interactions are meant to enhance contact with Cubans, promote their independence and support civilization.
Twelve reasons that allow travelers to qualify for people-to-people trips include:
1. Visiting relatives.
2. Educational activities.
3. Official government business and certain intergovernmental organizations.
4. Professional research and meetings.
5. Support for the Cuban people.
6. Journalistic activities.
7. Humanitarian projects.
8. Religious activities.
9. Public performances, clinics, workshops, sporting and other competitions, and exhibitions.
10. Activities of private foundations, research or educational institutions.
11. Exportation, importation or transmission of information materials.
12. Certain export transactions that may be considered for authorization under existing regulations and guidelines.
If you are planning on visiting Cuba based on one of the 12 reasons listed above, it is important to keep in mind what you can bring back to the US with you. Licensed travelers are authorized to import $400 worth of goods from Cuba, with no more than $100 worth of those items being tobacco or alcohol products.
Have you visited Cuba as an independent traveler? Let us know about your personal Caribbean travel experiences in the comments below!