Trip Planning and Packing For Cuba – Some “do’s” some “don’ts” and some “maybes”

by Paul Raymond on July 31, 2015

Pablo’s Perspective on Packing:

This is the advice I give to the baseball team.  Dennis would send out an exhaustive list,  a lot of which is below.  To keep it real simple, please keep in mind that if you lost your luggage, you’d still be able to survive in Cuba if you remember to take the following:

– Your Passport
– Money

If you lost everything, and you only had the above, we could all chip in and give you clothes, equipment, and stuff, and you could live like a King in Cuba.

That being said, with the 44 lb., limit, and CTS’ requirement of $20 per checked bag, and overweight $1-2/lb including carry-on charges, it’s best to pack light. The other thing we all know is we wish we could have brought more stuff to give away – baseballs, batting gloves, etc. So it’s best to have the mind set that you’re going to bring a lot of stuff for others, including your clothes. Take old clothes and leave them. Most of the guys do this.

Getting Ready for the Trip – General Trip Planning

I’m always thinking of the upcoming trip, months in advance.  I’ll buy stuff and throw it in a box or two, to sort out later. It saves having to scramble for stuff down the road.  Plus you can save money if you plan it right.

• Buy Baseball gear you want to give away – gifts for kids, other baseball players – during peak “sale” times from your favorite department store or online.  I make purchases around the Christmas holidays and post, since there is a lot of sale activity.  I use a variety of on-line vendors – baseball and, are a couple of my favorites.

• Money Exchange to Euros or Canadian Dollars do it now at your bank or exchange agency or deal with it in Cuba at less favorable rates. How much to take is always a question.  My view is it is better to have too much cash than not enough.  I’ve covered that in the FAQ’s Post.  However, as a rule of thumb, figure $75-150 to cover any lunches or dinners not included, and spending money for souvenirs, cigars, alcohol, etc.

• Email Copies of Passport, credit card info or other pertinent data to your travel email addressset one up if you don’t have one.

 I suggest you make copies of your passport (photo page)  and put a copy in each bag just in case you loose your original, it will help.

• Make copies of any and all reservations with confirmation numbers 

• Airline Tickets – to and from Miami – be ready to purchase.  Until our trip is confirmed on the “outbound” leg to Cuba and the “return” to USA, it’s risky getting travel arrangements, unless you can modify, or not worry about any associated change of flight fees.  Remember that final Cuba flight information comes sometimes one month or so before the departure date.

• Print Copy of the Itinerary, Insurance, and other information (I’ll be sending you)

• Hotel in Miami night before departure – If you have not done so, make your reservations and let me know what you come up with so we can coordinate with others.  You can always cancel and not be subject to cancellation fees.

• Transportation to and from Hotel in Miami to Airport – make sure their shuttle runs the time you need it, otherwise make arrangements with a taxi. You may have an early airport check-in 8:45 a.m, or  4:00 a.m.  If you need a taxi, make arrangements the night before for a taxi to pick you up.


Begin with the bare basics of what you need for the baseball games and start adding from there. You’ll find the 44 lbs. adds up quickly and ounces count. I suggest you try a duffel type bag as it will be lighter than hard suitcases. I also suggest you consider a backpack or day pack to carry various items such as cameras, guide books, water etc. It will also give you a place to carry souvenirs etc.

Pack Early:  I suggest you start packing several days or weeks in advance and get a bathroom or similar scale and weigh your stuff. Best way to do it is weight yourself with and without the luggage. Once you see you are over weight, decide on what items you really don’t need and start trimming down, that goes for both you and your luggage. Remember the 44 lbs. will include carry on. They may be a little liberal at the airport check in but you can’t always count on it. Also keep in mind you will get charged by the pound for all weight over 44 lbs. plus extra baggage. You can buy some things in Cuba around the hotels but they may be more expensive and not as many choices. Many or similar things available in the US will be available there.

Check the luggage requirements for your airline. Most all airlines are charging about $25-50/bag each way so try and limit the number of bags you take. Also they generally have a 50 lb limit for luggage. Go over that and there are stiff penalties. They generally also have a size limit. I think American Airlines is 62″. This means the sum of the width, thickness and length added up need to be equal to or less than 62″.

Remember not to lock your luggage unless you have official TSA locks. I DO suggest you have these locks on all compartments on your luggage so you can lock them when you are in Cuba – i.e., you can lock them in your hotel room.  Don’t lock them at Miami Airport on the flight to Cuba because Cuba does not have the TSA master keys.

Noted below are some “suggested” items to consider (or everything you need to take or not take with you)

Packing for Your Flight:

• Passport
• Money
• Copies of reservations or itinerary.
• Reading material
• Beverages
• Electronic Games/Music
• Pillow
• Ear Plugs
• Headphones
• Eye Shades
• Airline Tickets
• Food Snacks
• Guide Books
• Email Updates
• Cell Phone
• Medications
• Wet Wipes
• Contact Lenses/Solution
• Address Book
• Airline Booties
• Luggage Locks for each bags (TSA locks suggested for domestic flights but don’t lock for Cuba flights)
• Travel Sickness Medication if you need them
• Sleeping Pills if you use them
• Rabbits Foot

Keep in mind that unless you have a place to leave these in Miami, you may not want to take unnecessary items as they will weigh you down.

Daily Travel Pack:

• Light Jacket/Raincoat
• Camera/batteries/film/cards
• Video Camera/batteries/cards/film
• Film-best to buy in US as limited supply, very expensive and may be difficult to find in Cuba, who uses film these days anyway?
• Guide Books
• Maps
• Water or beverages – wait and get it at Miami airport and in Cuba
• Suntan Lotion
• Watch
• Copy of Passport
• Pens or Pencils
• Pad lock for your bags
• Hand Cleanser
• Note Pad
• Cap to protect you from the sun (Iœll have one for you).
• Roll of Toilet Paper-if you need it, they probably will not have any in public places, wait and get it at the hotel in Cuba


• Light Jacket/Raincoat/Sweatshirt or Sweater
• Socks
• Underwear
• T-Shirts-you can also buy some in Cuba
• Sport Shirts-you can also buy some in Cuba along with a guayabera
• Comfortable Walking Shoes
• Levis/Slacks
• Short Pants
• Swim wear-bring your Speedos if you want to look European
• Light cool clothing, cotton or light synthetic.
• Sandals or Lounge Wear

Useful Items:

• Sun Glasses
• Matches/Lighter (in your carry-on)
• Rubber Bands
• Safety Pins
• Small Sewing Kit
• Extra Shoe Laces
• Zip Lock Bags
• Paper Clips
• Small Laundry Detergent Packs-if you plan to wash your own stuff

Electrical Items:

• Alarm Clock/Watch
• Extra Batteries
• Electrical Chargers
• Electrical Converter-may be needed, also will need plug adapters, many cameras, iPhone, iPads work with either 120 or 220
• Cell Phone (for use in the USA only)
• Cleaning Implements
• Extra Lenses
• Cameras
• Flash
• Tripod
• International Phone & Charger if you have one

Toiletry Bag:

• Toothbrush
• Toothpaste
• Dental Floss
• Mouthwash
• Shaving Gear
• Lip Balm
• Combs/Brushes
• Contact Lenses/Solution
• Deodorant
• Nail File/Clippers
• Shampoo-hotel will generally have this but a small extra bottle just in case
• Soap-hotel will generally have this but good to have just in case
• Tweezers
• Sunscreen/moisturize-you can buy in Cuba or at Miami airport after luggage check in
• Diarrhea Medications, just in case
• Sleeping Pills if you use them
• Wash Cloth if you want-Cuban hotels do not provide wash cloths, only bath and hand towels


• Coin Purse
• Money Belt
• Tickets & Reservation Confirmations
• Wallet
• Money Clip-All you need to carry in Cuba is your money and hotel card, money clips are very convenient
• Money
• Credit Cards
• Copy of Credit Card Info. & Emergency Numbers-separatee from your cards in case you loose them
• Visa-pick it up at the Miami airport
• Cuba Travel License – this will be a Form Marazul Charters, or another TSP (travel service provider) will give you at Miami airport.  Keep it with your travel documentss for when you return to Miami.

First Aid Kit-Medications:

• Antihistamines
• Aspirin/Tylenol/Advil/Naprosyn/Vicodin/etc.
• Band-Aids-Bandages
• Motion Sickness Medications
• Cold & Flue Remedies
• Cough Remedies
• Prescription Medications


• iPod/iPhone/iPad/DVD Player
• Head Phones
• CD’s
• Video Games
• Any gifts you want to leave

Baseball Gear:

• Uniforms
• Baseball Socks
• Baseball Undershirts
• Game Belt
• Medications
• Sunscreen
• Baseball Glove
• Metal Bat
• Batting Gloves
• Cleats
• Baseball Cap
• Sun Glasses
• Baseball Gear Bag
• Catchers Gear if you are one
• Leather Game Baseballs
• At least 2 Warm Up Balls
• Towel-grab one from hotel but be sure to return it
• Bottled Water-wait until in Cuba
• Batting Helmet-5-6 volunteers to bring please
• Baseball cards, if you have them-bring them to give away and impress people

Gifts and Donations

I know that many of you may be thinking about bringing things to give away and I encourage you to do so. No matter how much or what you bring you will wish you brought more. I personally plan to ignore the 44 lb luggage limit this year so I can bring some additional things to give away. This is a good place to take and leave any old, used or new baseball gear you may have laying around. By the end of the week, a lot of guys will trade their jerseys for Cuban jerseys. Here is a list of some suggested items to consider.

For Players:

• Baseball Uniform Jerseys or Pants
• Baseball Socks, Sanitaries
• Baseball Undershirts
• Baseball Belts
• Baseball Caps-very popular
• Batting Gloves-one of the most asked for items
• Baseball Gloves
• Baseball Bats
• Batting Helmets
• Cleats
• Wrist bands
• Head bands
• Sun Glasses
• T-Shirts
• Baseball Gear Bag
• Catchers Gear if you have some
• Leather Game Baseballs-you can’t bring enough
• Plastic or Rubber baseballs for kids-kids play stick ball in the streets all the time
• Candy, gum, toys etc. for lots of kids
• Score Book
• Baseball cards

For Others:

• Perfumes
• Soap
• Shampoo
• Aspirin
• Sunglasses
• Music CD’s
• T-Shirts
• Blouses
• Scarfs
• Jewelry

I read recently that soaps, shampoos, toothpaste are no longer items the government will provide with their rations. This means the Cubans need to purchase them so it might be good to bring some.

A good place to pick things up is at your local 99 cent store or Dollar Tree store. I bring lots of cheap toys, make up, munchies and things to give away.

Some of you may be bringing a lot of stuff, if anyone wants to volunteer to carry some extra things say so please.

Having just covered too many things to pack, I encourage you to pack as light as you can.

I usually start packing at least 4 weeks ahead of when I travel. This gives me an opportunity to recall things that I may have missed. After I think I have it all, then I start trying to figure out what I can live without for a few weeks. Keep in mind that you will most likely be buying some T-Shirts or other clothes while in Cuba. I always bring back more than I brought so leave space for souvenirs etc.

** Remember the world is made up of 2 types of travelers, those that pack light and those that wish they did.

**Don’t forget to be aware of TSA Prohibited Items – Click here for the list.

And finally, for various travel needs you can find lots of things on line or in your local travel stores. Some web sites to try are:

Magellan’s Travel Supplies



{ 0 comments… add one now }

Leave a Comment

Time limit is exhausted. Please reload CAPTCHA.