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How to Experience the Magic of Cuba on a Budget

Traveling the world can be one of the most rewarding experiences possible. However, it can sometimes seem hard to truly appreciate everything that a place has to offer if you’re low on funds. Luckily, you don’t need to splash the cash to enjoy somewhere like Cuba. You can make the most of every minute here while still sticking to a budget.

Living like a local

Long gone are the days when hotels were the main accommodation option for vacation-goers. Thanks to companies like Airbnb, many people now stay in another person’s home while traveling. Not only does this make you feel more like a local, but it also saves you a lot of money. Visitors to Cuba who are on a budget are advised to stay in casas particulares, which you can book through Airbnb. In terms of price, it typically costs around $30 per night.

Prepare to bargain

People might not always realize it, but when they visit another country, they have a flashing sign above their head that screams tourist. In somewhere like Cuba, locals will take advantage of this to try and bleed you dry. Don’t let them. For instance, when it comes to taxis, always negotiate a price before going anywhere. The driver will typically suggest a rate that’s unreasonably high, so stand your ground and put forward a slightly smaller price. If they don’t budge, find someone else to give you a ride. It’s as simple as that.

Eating cheap

You can’t visit another country and not try some of the local delicacies. This is food you might not find anywhere, so it’s worth going out and spending your cash. Thankfully, a meal will never cost you too much if you eat at the paladares. These are privately-owned restaurants that come in all shapes and sizes. You can dine on things like ropa vieja – shredded beef – or lechón – roast pork – for as little as $10. That includes a drink too.

Understand the currencies

Unlike most countries, Cuba actually has two currencies. These are the CUC and the CUP. The former is what your money will be changed to when you convert your dollars, whereas the latter is what the locals use. Although people will usually accept either currency in Cuba, certain things might only be priced in CUP. It’s important to remember the conversion rate – which is around 25 CUP to 1 CUC – so that you never pay more than you owe.

Wait until later

It’s also a good idea to only exchange a small amount of money when you arrive in the country. That’s because the services in town usually offer better rates than the ones at the airport. So, make sure you have enough CUP to get you to your accommodation, then change the rest later. You should also keep in mind that you can’t convert your money outside of Cuba, and that you can’t use ATMs either.

Vacationing on a budget might not always seem possible, but it’s actually a lot easier than it seems.