Wednesday, November 7, 2018

Cuba Travel Budget ๐Ÿ‡จ๐Ÿ‡บ

Ah, Cuba on a Budget! You may have heard that Cuba is a cheap destination to visit. And that is both true and untrue. We went to Havana to mark a very special occasion with deciding to visit our 5th country together to celebrate 5 years of marriage. So we definitely spent a little extra and splurged on a few things on this trip, but still stayed on a budget. Let's take a peak shall we? 
making restorations blog Cuba travel budget

Trip Length: 4 days & 3 nights for 2 adults 
Travel Dates: August 2018 

For simplicity, I've listed all costs in American dollars. At the time of travel 1USD was equivalent to 1CUC. Keep in mind that all totals listed below are for two people. 

Visas & Fees $230
Cuba is the first country that we've listed that required a visa, and boy was that little piece of paper expensive. 
Visas $150 
You have to have entrance visas for Cuba. For convenience, we purchased ours right at the airport the day of travel. We probably could have gotten them for a bit cheaper if we ordered them through the mail ahead of time.

Travel Medical Insurance $80
Our airline ticket actually included medical insurance coverage while in Cuba. But we also purchased travel medical insurance that would cover the cost of a medical transport back to the states. 

Flights $350 +$67 
Does anyone else just randomly troll travel websites looking for deals. No? Just me? Well, ok then. I had briefly discussed going to Cuba with Tom (though I don't know if he thought I was serious) when I found a deal of $350 for round trip flights for two people. What? That breaks down to less than $88 a flight to visit another country. I instantly scooped this up. Why so cheap? Because many Americans are so hesitant to visit Cuba, it's pretty inexpensive right now. And we were happy to take advantage. If you've read our other travel budgets, than you know that we NEVER pay full price for flights, so we of course used travel points. We were able to cover about $225 of the flights with travel points, leaving our out of pocket flight expense at $125. Then something happened....
The day we left for Cuba, there was an error in the computer system that made it seem as though Tom and I had missed our first flight. So when we showed up at our connecting flight with our visas and passports in hand, we no longer had seats. Seriously! We had to stand there watching our flight to Cuba board without us. The aftermath that followed included spending hours in line at the airport to get our flights rebooked and get vouchers for food and a hotel since we got stuck in Jersey for the night. It took several heated phone calls with the airline, but I finally got them to compensate us for the entire day that we lost in Cuba. They paid us back a portion of our airfare. But because we had paid for the majority of the flights with travel points, it worked out that they actually gave us a cash refund worth more than we had paid. For every trip that we've taken in the last few years, we have used travel points to partially or completely cover flights. But getting paid and making money to travel is a new one, even for us. 

Other Transportation $68
Our main source of transportation while in Cuba was walking as we were centrally located. But we did have to take a 30-40minute taxi into and out of Havana for the airport. And we opted for alternate transportation on a few other occasions as well. 
Airport Taxis $55
Classic Car Taxi $10
Tuk Tuk $3 

Accommodation $321 $61
As explained in our Guide to Cuba, we did not want to stay at a Cuban Hotel. Instead, we rented out a luxurious 2 bedroom 2 bathroom condo via AirBnb. You can sign up here to get $40 towards your first AirBnB stay. And no we didn't need a place this large for just the two of us, but I couldn't resist the balcony. 
Original accommodation cost was $321 or $107/per night. I had a credit through AirBnb of $60 from referrals (thanks to you all) and then applied travel rewards points worth $200. Out of pocket--we only paid $61 for the 3 nights we spent in Havana. By the way, if you're looking for a good travel card, I would reccommend this one, since you can apply points after the fact to ANY type of travel, hotels, restaurants, etc.

Excursion Adventures $216
Not going to lie, we definitely lived it up while in Havana. Just walking around and taking in the sites would be enough to keep anyone entertained. But we also booked a private 2 hour salsa class at one of the best dance studios in the city and we rented out a private classic car for 3 hours that included a driver and English speaking guide. 
Classic Car Tour $120 
Capitol Tour $20 
Salsa Dance Class $60
Revolution Museum $16 

Food $297
So as it turns out, food ended up being our greatest single expense during this trip to Cuba. Honestly, I have no idea how we managed to spend so much. For reference, this breakfast pictured below that included an entrรฉe, fruit, juice, and coffee was only $5. Everything tasted so good and was so cheap while in Cuba that we just stopped paying attention to prices and it caught up to us. Whoops! 

Drinks $87 
I normally don't separate food from drinks in these travel budgets, but in Cuba-the mojitos were flowing as it's the best way to escape from the heat. I wanted to make a distinction because drinks would have represented nearly a fourth of our food budget. What can I say? Those $3 mojitos add up fast. 

Miscellaneous $62
We only had a few extra expenses associated with this trip: souvenirs and tips. 
Additional Tipping $34
Souvenirs $28 

Original Trip Cost = $1,631

What we Actually Paid = $954 = $119/per person/day

While we budgeted a thousand dollars for this trip (after travel hacking), I never thought that we would actually spend this much. Cuba is supposed to be cheap, but deceptively so as the country participates in tourist pricing. This means that visitors pay more than the locals do. Even still, for the two of us to visit another country for under $1k, that feels like an accomplishment. And it was a wonderful way to celebrate 5 years of marriage together. 

Find tips for travel hacking and more travel budgets here
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