Babe’s menu. Playa del Carmen L1090871.JPG

Babe's menu. Playa del Carmen L1090871.JPG

September 02, 2016 | More from Vacation

Babe’s menu. Playa del Carmen L1090871.JPG

Babe’s menu. Playa del Carmen L1090871.JPG
By erlin1 on 2008-01-02 20:11:34
Finding and booking discount travel vacations packages to Cuba is no big deal. But actually ending up with a cheap Cuban holiday is a different matter, and it needs some smart planning and knowledge of how things work here. But let’s start with booking the package first, and then look at the practical travel tips for cheapskates.

Cuba is the Caribbean’s biggest island, and straddles the Caribbean Sea on one side and the Atlantic Ocean to the north, facing the United States. It is just a quick 90 mile hop from Florida. Canada isn’t that far off either, with a 3-1/2 hour flight between Toronto and Havana.

These two particular points are important, because first – US citizens can’t go to Cuba as tourists. Secondly, most people assume that Havana, being the country’s capital and most famous destination, is the only gateway in and out. Not so, because international charter flights operate right out of resort destinations like Varadero.

It’s cheaper to book these charters than to make the local journey from Havana to the resort destination in question. It’s just as easy, since most of the popular tourist destinations are also on the north coast facing the Atlantic. This includes Havana and Varadero, plus resort islands like Cayo Coco or Cayo Santa Maria and destinations in Holguin like Guardalavaca.

The trip could be even cheaper if the direct flight to the resort destination could be booked as part of a vacation package. It should include hotel stays, flight tickets and airport pickups. These packages typically shave a healthy amount off the tab.

Another way to save big is to go during the off-season. It is bright and sunny all year round, and the white sand beaches are just as stunning and pristine in spring or winter. The Cuba Libre, mojitos and rum in the local bars will taste just as good. But the vacation package prices will be lower and the beaches and hotels serenely empty.

Of course, summer vacations are still the most desired period and besides, there are other ways to cut costs. For example, local expenses on the trip will be much lower if a visitor knows or learns at least some Spanish. Secondly, those planning on traveling around should get a rental car because the local transport will either be expensive or rickety.

Third, get used to eating rice and drinking rum – lots of rice with beans, pork and chicken, not to mention bottles of local rum in the bars. Eat in ordinary restaurants with the locals, instead of eating at fancy tourist traps or posh restaurants attached to beach-front hotels. Consider it a part of the real Cuban experience.

There’s a lot more to be learned about cutting costs that travelers will realize after the first visit to this colorful and exotic island nation. But the sum of it is that it’s better to choose a destination and book a direct flight there as part of a package deal. Look around and do some comparison shopping, because there are many agencies offering discount travel vacations packages to Cuba.

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