Backpacking to Cuba with kids (and babies)
While planning our trip to Cuba, I sometimes felt like I was being judged. When I would tell people that we were about to leave on a 3-week long backpacking trip to Cuba with our young kids. Many of them had a hard time believing me and the others were wondering how we thought we would survive this trip. #Lol
Cuba is a country where it’s tough to find food and baby products in markets or grocery store. They don’t have the same hygiene standards that we are used to seeing in occidental countries which can sometimes be dangerous for our health.
Overall, everything went well. For the major part of the trip, we stayed in a Casa. We also rented a car to get us from places to places, except for the 4 days when we were visiting Havana. I must admit that having a car made our trip to Cuba successful, mostly when you have children.
As for the lack of food, often at the Casa they would provide the meals in the house for a little extra per person. I must say that this also helped a lot, you will find out why later on in this post.
We brought with us everything that we needed for 3 weeks with 2 children in Cuba. You can think of diapers for 2 kids (by that I mean a lot of diapers!) , we also planned for 3 weeks of wet ones and snacks. Let’s say that we were prepared!
CUBANS LOVE CHILDREN
Cuba overachieved our expectations. Everybody was so welcoming to our little family. Almost everywhere we went people were carrying and taking care of my babies as if they were their own. They played with them and cuddled them in such a natural way. They were taking care of Téo during the meals without even asking for it. We were far from expecting such beautiful gestures towards our kids and we were more than pleased.
BABY AND YOUNG CHILDREN SUPPLIES
As for the supplies we needed for our children, I saw at some point that they were selling diapers in a store. The quantity was limited, 4-5 diaper packages per store, but a lot of stores were carrying them. I didn’t pay attention to the size, but in the worst-case scenario, you can always make it work. To be honest, it’s better if you bring your own as it will make your trip less stressful.
Of all the stores I went to, none of them were carrying wet ones for baby. Once, I also saw baby puree, but I didn’t pay attention to the flavor, or if there was enough variety for a balanced meal for your baby.
For every Casa we booked, we made sure to have one bedroom for Téo and a bedroom for Ély and us. At some point, we also booked at a Casa with 1 bedroom and 2 beds where they would often offer us a crib for our baby. It was also a good option as we didn’t have to co-sleep with our baby ( or we would get to choose to cosleep or not) #CosleepLover 😉 .
We also made sure the Casas we were booking had a fully fenced yard or even a large patio. This way we could let Téo run around without having to be by his side at all time. We also have great memories of our nights out on the patio while the kids were sleeping.
That’s always what we are looking for when traveling with kids. We always make sure that our accommodation has at least 2 bedrooms, a kitchen, a living room and at least a balcony or even better a small yard. Having more choices on where to hang out always makes our trip much more comfortable. Plus, as a parent we always need our chill time and having those extra spaces allows you to take time for yourself when the kids are in bed. If you don’t have an Airbnb account just yet, I highly recommend you creating one. It’s super simple to use and it will make traveling with kids so much easier. Click here to create an Airbnb account. www.airbnb.fr/c/lnadeau35
When reading about Cuba, we often heard that it was a loud city and it’s somewhat true if you’re staying downtown Havana. What usually happens is that the houses are not built with our types of windows which allow for all noises to be heard. Also, the Casas are often built very close to the streets which makes it even louder. Although, we found that at night it was still easy to find sleep as the noise coming from the a/c was covering any random sound.
I will be writing a longer post on the subject as I believe it is a hot topic when traveling with kids. Knowing if you should rent a car or not rent a car and use public transportation in Cuba. On our side having a car, made our trip so much more enjoyable.
We brought our double stroller for visiting different places in the country and it went very well. The street can sometimes be chaotic or even small sidewalk, but I wouldn’t have done this trip without our stroller. Knowing that my babies can nap wherever they want, while I am discovering the world sounds awesome to me. Plus, with my little terrible two, he could safely be attached in his stroller and secure when feeling under the weather!
As well, I believe the baby carrier is as important. I already had the Ergobaby360 for Téo and now that I have 2 babies, I bought a second one for this trip. I now have the Chimparoo Multi 2.0. Both of my baby carriers made it to Cuba. I really appreciate being able to carry my babies when visiting a museum or a castle, hiking a mountain or even going to the grocery store. For me, there is nothing better than carrying my 2 babies under 2 years old.
FOOD, MEAL, HYGIENE
For the whole trip, we booked the complimentary breakfast at the Casa. We made sure to pick our Casa knowing that they were offering this service. All the breakfast we ate were good and the price was very similar to what most of the restaurants were offering. Plus, with kids, it made the trip even better as we didn’t have to rush out the door to go eat breakfast. The breakfast was served according to our time preference. To be honest, it really simplified our mornings.
As for baby’s meals, I was breastfeeding Ély (100%)and Téo eats everything we eat. It wasn’t complicated.
As well, if Ély was doing BLW, it would have been really easy to feed him, but we would have had to be extra careful with the kind of food we feed him with.
To avoid being sick in Cuba, everything that you eat must be either cooked, boiled or fried. Vegetables and fruits must be washed and peeled before consuming as well, eating salad is not recommended. I know it makes for high carbohydrate meals, but what is it a couple weeks of bad eating in your entire life to avoid diarrhea I prefer controlling what I eat and be somewhat healthier than getting sick and having a bad trip.
To give you an example, one of those nights in Cuba, we didn’t follow all the rules. Daddy and Téo ate a salad and a few tomatoes with their meal for dinner. The same night, they shared a freshly pressed fruit juice. The next morning, the two of them got really sick. It lasted for a good 4 to 5 days. And you’re wondering about me? Well, I didn’t eat any of it, I went for a cooked, boiled or fried meal… and I didn’t get sick. 😉
Also, we shouldn’t be drinking water from the tap as it is not safe for us. Water can easily be purchased anywhere.
Another important recommendation is to carry your own toilet paper with you at all time and anywhere you go. All the bathrooms we went to even the public bathroom, did not provide you with toilet paper. As well, it is hard to find soap to wash your hands properly and that’s if there is a sink with tap water. I think in our 3 weeks of travel I saw one bathroom properly equipped for us to wash our hands (in Cayo Jutias) #Lol . That being said, it’s mainly in the public bathroom that toilet paper is not provided, in the Casas everything is usually provided to you.
IS CUBA A SAFE COUNTRY?
Personally, wherever we went we felt safe except that one time when we were in a sketchy little store on the side of the highway in Soroa. The only moment we felt unsafe was because we got asked by everybody at that gas station to give them money. We had just arrived in Cuba. We found it a little bit alarming and intense. But other than that, we went out at any time of the day and evening with our kids, when it was somewhat busy, and we always felt safe.
For our 3-week trip to Cuba we spend around $6500 and that includes travel insurance, vaccines for Téo, etc.). Keep in mind that we also rent a car for a major part of our trip. That was the most expensive part of our trip as it costs $2500 to rent the car, to pay for the gas and the insurance. As well, we didn’t opt for the cheapest Casas, we were mostly looking for a kid’s friendly casa. We left with $600 cash and we went to the bank during our trip to get more money out by using our credit card (Visa).
TRAVEL GLITCH AND ANECDOTES
We booked a Casa in Trinidad for 6 days. After a couple of days, we couldn’t handle it anymore. There was no hot water, which makes it’s difficult for us to bath a 6-month old baby in ice cold water. As well, during the day there was no power, which would leave us with no a/c making it very hard for the kids to nap. Plus, the neighbor, was rebuilding his house. The construction would start super early every morning and we could hear the hammer hitting on our bedroom walls (as the houses are built side by side).
As a result, we left the Casa earlier than planned. Having to find a new place to stay made us waste a couple hours of our trip. The city and the beach of Trinidad were nice, but as we were struggling with our Casa some of our memories are good and others are bad!
As well, during our trip, my partner and Téo got diarrhea, which slowed us down on our visit plans.
As for the mosquito, we used a lot of mosquito spray, mostly during the evening. If you’re well protected with long sleeves and mosquito spray you should be fine.
Another thing that bugged us was the fact that they use 2 currencies ( CUC and CUP). We were often disadvantaged as we were not allowed to use Cuban pesos (CUP) in 97% of the places we went to. Our 3-week vacation ended up being a little bit more expensive than we thought for a country where the cost of living is supposedly low. When we would see locals using their Cuban pesos (CUP) we would right away try to use ours, but they would refuse them as we were tourists. As tourists, we have to pay with CUC. When it’s 10 CUP for the locals, as a tourist we have to pay 10 CUC. To give you an idea 10 CUP is about CAD $0.50 whilst 10 CUP is about CAD $ 12. The difference is massive, mostly when you spend 3 weeks in the country.
While backpacking around the country, Ély was also having his 6 months old growth spurt. It was very demanding for me as he needed to breastfeed more often. Plus, by the end of the trip, half of his clothes barely fit him anymore. #GrowingBaby
We would also like to give a special mention to all the bugs that crossed our path during this trip. At some point, we even had cockroach falling from the a/c and landing right on our bed. #Yep #ICouldntBeliveIt . At one point, we had a lot of mini ants in our beds, just like in the sugar container that came with your coffee in the morning #Everyday as well as in our mojitos #AlcoolKillGermsRight?. That’s without mentioning the mosquito mom that lay her eggs on my toothbrush #Yep #IAlmostPuked . From time to time snails would visit us in our bathroom. #WhereAreYouFrom As well, at all time the walls, the floors and the kitchen counter were covered with ants, there was for sure a lot of ants in Cuba.
IS IT EASY TO BACKPACK TO CUBA WITH KIDS (BABY)?
I might sound like I am repeating myself, but to do this kind of trip you must love backpacking and not being the kind of person that likes all-inclusive if you see what I mean. The fact that we rented a car, made our trip much better. We found enough water and food to keep us going for the 3 weeks. All our credit card worked as planned in whatever bank we went to. All the Casas and Airbnb, we went to, our hosts were nice and we always felt comfortable in their home. But most of all, wherever we went in Cuba we felt safe.
Do I recommend backpacking with kids in Cuba? For sure! It’s the best way to discover this one of a kind country, Cuba. It’s also a great way to get to know it’s very welcoming citizen. Bon voyage!
If you have any questions, feel free to reach out to me!!
Léa, 28 years old, loves my life and my 3 mens. I am a go-getter, a sociable and creative person. My heart always wants what’s real and my taste pallet always wants what’s good #foody ;). I adore to travel, to read, to make new discoveries as well as practicing yoga #Namaste.