Budget and Money
QUICK INDEX OF TOPICS ON THIS PAGE:
- GETTING THERE
- "KOOKS": CONVERTIBLE CURRENCY
- DAILY EXPENSES
Traveling within Cuba is relatively inexpensive. Getting there and back isn’t necessarily. At the time of our trip and presently (April 2105), there are no international direct flights available from the US to Cuba, thus requiring entry through a third country.
I paid about $800 (US) for a round-trip ticket from California to Cancun and another $400 for a round trip ticket on Cubana Air from Cancun to Havana. Additionally, US Airways charged me $150 EACH WAY to transport my bike (disassembled in a bike box). We were subject to an airport tax of $25 leaving both Cancun and Havana.
Total airfare, including bike shipping charges, California to Havana and return = $1550 (US).
What Are You, Some Kind of KOOK?
On the ground in Cuba we exchanged US dollars or Canadian dollars for CUCs (pronounced “kooks”), the convertible currency used by tourists in Cuba. Among Cubans, Cuban pesos are freely exchanged but foreigners traveling in Cuba will want to convert their money to CUCs for simplicity sake. The dual currency system takes a bit of getting used to but basically CUCs are the rough equivalent to US dollars and worth around $25 Cuban pesos. Although we were occasionally given change in Cuban pesos in non-tourist areas, CUCs are the desired and main currency for travelers in Cuba. Cubans love to get paid in CUCs as their state jobs pay them only in Cuban pesos.
Our daily expenses on the ground, for all three of us, were around $75/day with about $50 of that going toward lodging (which often included dinner and breakfast). The other $25 of the group’s daily expenses was “pocket money”, roadside purchases of daily necessities, bottled water, bread, fruit, pizza. Fairly inexpensive all in all. It is not unrealistic for one to plan a budget tour of Cuba for $25-30/day, including lodging.
Aside from the cost of actually getting to and from Cuba, our net travel costs for seventeen days on the ground there, staying in hotels three nights and in casas particulares the rest of the time, totaled around $1200/person.
(For more on this, see FOOD AND LODGING page)