Friendly Planet Blog

Advice for Americans traveling to Cuba

Our recent survey of folks who’ve traveled to Cuba on Friendly Planet people-to-people programs showed how these trips are changing the hearts and minds of Americans nationwide. U.S. citizens get a unique opportunity to meet Cuban people one-on-one in these programs, learning how the Cubans live, work, and play.

The big lesson from our survey? As traveler Cynthia Richmond told us, “This was the most meaningful trip I have been on. You will not come back as the person you were.”

Respondents were also eager to offer advice to other Americans traveling to Cuba. If you’ve been considering visiting this island nation, read on to hear what they had to say.

Just go, and go now!

“If you have the opportunity, go. It’s an experience of a lifetime.” - Jose Deleon, traveler on a people-to-people program with Friendly Planet in May 2012.

“Don’t put it off, go now! You won’t regret it. What a wonderful opportunity and I can’t wait to go again!” - Suzanne Wells, traveler on a people-to-people program with Friendly Planet in March 2013.

“Be prepared to really enjoy yourselves.” – Nancy Hood, traveler on a people-to-people program with Friendly Planet in September 2012.

 “The most interesting trip we’ve taken in a long time. My advice is go to enjoy the Cuban people, art, and beautiful scenery.” - Ida Mousouris, traveler on a people-to-people program with Friendly Planet in October 2012.

Come with an open mind

“Be open minded and enjoy learning. Appreciate the people for who they are, and don’t judge. Be willing to talk with the people on the street. They are people, just like us, trying to raise families and make a living. I met people, not a government.” - Jane Bauer, traveler on a people-to-people program with Friendly Planet in December 2012.

Image © Jeremy Woodhouse | Pixelchrome.com

“Enter this country with an open mind. Cuba is a safe country with some of the friendliest and most intelligent people that you’ve ever met. Great food, dance, art, and people are waiting there for you! Cubans won’t treat you like a tourist, they’ll treat you like family!” – Christopher Swain, traveler on a people-to-people program with Friendly Planet in September 2013.

“Don’t be afraid and come with an open mind. Also be able to accept people for their beliefs. Be ready to have a great time.” - Marilyn Smith, traveler on a people-to-people program with Friendly Planet in (no date given).

“Prepare to put aside what you think Cuba is and apply a sense of wonder to its reality.” - Noel Cave, traveler on a people-to-people program with Friendly Planet in May 2012

 “Travel with an open heart and mind, share yourself with those that you meet. You can easily bridge any linguistic, cultural or political differences by interacting warmly and genuinely with the Cuban people.” - Janine Welty, traveler on a people-to-people program with Friendly Planet in 2011.

Ensure it’s on a people-to-people program

“We chose Friendly Planet based on the itinerary. Friendly Planet was so organized that when we were waiting to board our charter flight in Miami we were telling to other travel groups what to do because their travel agencies/guides had not adequately prepared them (one was a Harvard group) … We’ve been home for 10 months, and every time we get travel information on Cuba (we researched many many alternatives before we chose Friendly Planet) we look at their itinerary and think “ours was so much better!” We’d never done group travel before and in hindsight there’s nothing we’d change. Friendly Planet and our “Colors of Cuba” trip were outstanding.” – Robin Hannigan, traveler on a people-to-people program with Friendly Planet in January 2013.

“Travel with Friendly Planet. The group size, the make-up, the guides, the experiences — everything was perfect. (We saw a Roads Scholars group at the Nacionel while we were there, and it made me very glad that I had chosen Friendly Planet instead.) Thanks so much for giving me this opportunity.” - Kaye Bennett, traveler on a people-to-people program with Friendly Planet in June 2012.

“Take a people-to-people tour and don’t do it by “sneaking in through Canada.” I have never taken a group tour and have always arranged my own trips but glad we didn’t do this for Cuba. Be open minded if you are going to visit Cuba … I thought the people-to-people price was a good value for everything we got.” - Sheila Weed, traveler on a people-to-people program with Friendly Planet in May 2013.

Bring supplies

“Take plenty of medical/educational supplies to give. My entire suitcase was filled with medical supplies I received from my family doctor. I also brought 700+ Bic razors.” - Tim Demkin, traveler on a people-to-people program with Friendly Planet in October 2010 and February 2013.

“Bring school supplies like crayons, pencils, and pens.” - Teresita Abad Doebley, traveler on a people-to-people program with Friendly Planet in October 2012.

And be prepared for it to change your life forever

“Enjoy every minute of the trip, embrace everything you can and go home a changed person.” - Christine Glatz, traveler on a people-to-people program with Friendly Planet in October 2012.

“You will take away so much more than you can imagine from your trip. After you leave Cuba, ask yourself the question: ‘How can I make a difference for the Cuban people?’ My answer would be: Tell everyone you can that you, an American, have been to Cuba and it is time that more Americans go and see … this country and change our attitude.” Jean Pluchar, traveler on a people-to-people tour with Friendly Planet in April 2013.

“Our trip was the most wonderful immersion experience I have ever had on such a short trip. Friendly Planet not only immerses you into the Cuban culture, it makes the trip easy and fun as well. And the accommodations, meals, and adventures, are first-class. Having both a U.S. and Cuban guide makes it a super experience.” – Steve Rutherford, traveler on a people-to-people program with Friendly Planet in February 2013.

“We felt like our trip to Cuba was an incredible gift. … There was so much to see and do and absorb, and the people-to-people interactions were what made it so special. Cuba was nothing like the 51 other countries we have visited in the past.” – Robin Hannigan, traveler on a people-to-people program with Friendly Planet in January 2013.

Keep your eyes on the blog as we share even more from our Cuba survey.

 

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About Peggy

Peggy Goldman is a specialty tour operator and travel expert, who owns and operates Friendly Planet Travel, a full-service company that specializes in tour packages to exotic worldwide destinations at affordable prices.   More about Peggy

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