15 Tips for staying in a Casa Particular
15 Tips for staying in a Casa Particular
1. Remember, this is an authentic stay. Casa Particulars are not hotels, but homes that families open up to visitors. Remember, your reality is not the same as there's, but they are content there and hospitable. Leave your expectations at the baggage claim, and you can recollect them on your way home. Also, don’t forget, admire the creativity of the Cuban people who have been able to preserve the architecture and things for decades without the ability to use imported items.
2. In the App Store, download, Google Translate. Once you do that, be sure to select English and Spanish and download for offline use as the internet is not fast or widely available in Cuba. You may need this to communicate with your host at the home or others in the city.
3. Also, in the App Store, download Google Maps. Search for Havana, Cuba and download for offline use. That way you can use the walking directions when you arrive in Havana and need to navigate your way without internet. You want to walk and explore the streets, but it's always nice to have a sense of direction to return home.
4. Get to know your host. They have the inside information of life in Cuba. Don’t be afraid to ask. They love questions and want to clarify the perception of Cuba that you might have. If you are American, they will continually say “Its the Politics, Not the People.” This means we love you all. Thank you for coming, you are home, and we have no problems with you!
5. Bring flip flops for the shower and socks for around the home.
6. Bring a washcloth. You may only get a hand towel and body towel. Do not be alarmed. Just bring your own. You can buy a cheap pack and throw them out after you use it.
7. It is possible that the power will go out. In Cuba, it is not always common, but always ensure to charge your phone and portable battery, in case you lose electricity.
8. Windows are frequently open for a cool breeze. While mosquitoes are not always visible, carry bug spray. It is best to, spray and rub around parts of your body.
9. Know thyself. If you are a light sleeper or require complete darkness, be sure to bring earplugs and an eye-mask. While you may not need them, it is a light sacrifice in your luggage for a guarantee of a successful nights rest.
10. Get ready to have fun. You will be in the middle of Cuban life. One thing that is true about Cuba is that it is peaceful. You can walk, alone, as a female, in the middle of the night, and you will feel safe.
11. If you decide to book tours on Airbnb or other platforms, be sure to have screenshots of meeting places and important information before you land in Cuba. Put your list of things you want to do in the notes section of your phone as well so you can access it.
12. Wifi cards are available. You can use them at the wifi parks. You are allowed for one hour for 2-3CUC. However, the best way to enjoy Cuba is to be off the grid. Have the card to check in every few days, but you will find that the culture of swiping and constantly staring at your phone does not exist in Cuba. Be prepared to make strong bonds because conversing is the way of life in Cuba.
13. When you exchange money, try to carry a large amount of 1 CUC and 3 CUC for the taxi. Many taxi drivers will not have change so you will need to have exact change or expect to pay more. Use for tips for street artists and performers that will flood the streets of Old Havana.
14. If you want TV/Movies/Music/Books for long day trips or a relaxing time at the beach, be sure to download for offline use!
15. “No, Gracias” is a phrase you want to have down. You will be approached to buy cigars, CDs, and souvenirs. Politely say, No, Gracias if you are not interested. The next question is, “Where are you from?” At that point, they want to talk. As noted before, conversations are a way of life. If they can converse with you, it will make their day. They are happy to welcome you and are genuinely wanting to have a conversation. Just try- remember you came to Cuba, to be a part of Cuba. Enjoy them. When you need to leave, just say, “Yo Necesito ir. Mucho Gusto” You just said, “I need to go. Nice to meet you!”