Why We Decided to Drop Everything & Travel to Cuba

Nick Wharton Author Bio Picture

As you may know from our recent posts on our Facebook page and our big announcement on our YouTube channel (video embedded below), we decided to drop everything that we were doing here on beautiful Lake Atitlan to travel to Cuba.

Our Big Announcement:

But Why?

In reality, this was an easy decision for us to make. We’re somewhat close by, we have a 3.5 week window before we start pet sitting, plus, we always try to go to places before the crowds and modernization take over.

Cuba’s relations with the US are becoming more and more friendly. Obama has been lifting travel restrictions for the American people and the trade embargos that have been in place for over 5 decades are sure to follow. In fact, talks have already started and on January 21st 2015, President Obama and Cuban officials had a little sit down in Havana.

Part of what makes Cuba such a fascinating place to visit, is its disconnect from modernity and from the rest of the world. It’s possible that soon, the old Pontiacs and Chevrolets that have become so iconic for this Caribbean destination will slowly start to disappear and be replaced by 2016 Fords and Chevys.

Local markets and tiendas will slowly start to be replaced by Wal-Marts and 7-11’s and we want to get there before all of this happens.

Isn’t that why we all travel? To see somewhere and something different from what we’re used to in the western world?


We hope that new trade policies will help the local people, and that the modernization of Cuba is a good thing for the country and its economy. Hopefully American companies with good human rights open up in Cuba and help to provide jobs and a better future for the Cuban citizens.

We’re all for economic improvements that can pull people from poverty, but that doesn’t change the fact that we want to see the “old” Cuba first.

This also doesn’t mean that we won’t visit the new Cuba. No amount of other tourists or companies would completely scare us away from a destination! If a lot of people head to one place, there’s usually a good reason for it…but we still want to see the country before that happens.

The Cuban population is in desperate need of change.

Their economy has slumped extremely low, as has the quality of life throughout the country. For this reason, we would love to see the American trade embargos lifted, solely for the purpose of elevating a struggling people out of despair. We just hope that the US employs trade policies that help to expand the economy, not exploit it.

What Makes Cuba So Desirable For Us?

Cuba has been on our travel bucket list for a long time now and we’re thrilled that we’re finally making the steps to get there. There are a few things that make Cuba appear so high on our list and they include:

The People

Ever since watching our favourite travel show “Departures” on OLN, we’ve wanted to go to Cuba to meet the locals. From what we’ve heard, they lend their traits and culture to neither Latin America nor the Caribbean, so we’re eager to meet them and find out what they’re all about.

Recent research has shown us that some foreigners feel like walking dollar signs while in Cuba, so we’re hoping that this isn’t the something we experience while there.

I’m looking forward to smoking a big fat cigar (while coughing a lot because I don’t smoke) and talking with some local Cubans about their way of life. Hopefully they will be patient with me and my atrocious Spanish-speaking abilities.

The Home Stays

We’re excited to be partnering up with HostelsClub.com for our accommodation needs while we’re in Cuba. They have some awesome hostels, B&Bs and guest houses around the country, but they also have listings for home stays and the famous Casa Particulars!

We are really looking forward to staying in local’s homes and tasting the real Cuban food (not the bland resort cuisine that so many holiday-makers complain about). This is a real highlight of planning our trip to Cuba. The excitement of staying in families’ homes and getting in with the local people is a big part of our drive to visit the country.

The Beaches

We’re not really heading to Cuba for a beach holiday, but who doesn’t like a couple of days of lazing on powder-pure white sand beaches! Cuba boasts some of the world’s best, so we may have to stop by the sea for a couple of mid-day mojitos!

The History

From what we’ve seen in pictures and videos online, it looks like pretty much everywhere in Cuba is historical. We can’t wait to walk down the streets of Old Havana and see vehicles from the 1950’s cruising by with the backdrop of the baroque and neoclassic-style architecture that the country is famous for.

Since our planning process started, we’ve been reading books, websites and watching documentaries about Cuba’s unique history and the rebels that shaped the country into what it is today. It will be interesting to follow the footsteps of famous revolutionaries like Che Guevara and Fidel Castro and to explore a nation with such a turbulent and exciting past.

Stay Tuned!

When we get back from Cuba, we’re going to share our experiences with you and help you to better plan a trip to this amazing country.

We’ve had a few hurdles to jump over in our preparations, so through our articles, videos and pictures, we hope to help you to have a smoother planning process.

We’re eager to get to Cuba, but we’re even more excited to show you what this Caribbean nation has to offer, and how you too can experience its cultural and adventurous side.

Have you been to Cuba? Is there anything you would recommend? Please share with us in the comments below!

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Why We Decided to Drop Everything & Travel to Cuba

Nick Wharton Author Bio Picture

Written by

Nick Wharton

Nick is the co-founder, editor and author of Goats On The Road. He contributes to numerous other media sites regularly and shares his expert knowledge of travel, online entrepreneurship and blogging with the world whenever he can. He has been travelling and working abroad since 2008 and has more than 10 years of experience in online business, finance, travel and entrepreneurship.

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34 thoughts on “Why We Decided to Drop Everything & Travel to Cuba”

  1. I’m an American. I really want to visit Cuba before commercialization takes over. I’m not saying Cuba should never have Starbucks or McDonalds. I just want to visit before they do.

  2. For the very same reason, this is why we’re thinking Cuba will be the last stop on this two-year trip before returning home. The clock is ticking!

    Have a great time guys!

  3. We went to Cuba last year and it was amazing; unlike anything we’ve ever experienced. You might want to read some of our resources before you go, they might help you out a little because it’s quite a difficult country to travel in.

  4. I think it’s a great time to visit Cuba, and maybe staying with Homestay’s will allow you to really get a feel about what the Cuban people think about all the impending changes.
    I’d also love to hear your opinion and experience on Cuba’s Internet censorship when your there. As individuals who are dependent on the world wide web, I think it would be a fascinating piece.
    All the best! Enjoy!

  5. You definitely have to go to Vinales. It’s a beautiful and quiet village. Most of the houses are casa particulares : have rooms for tourists. When we went in January it was quiet. You can get to nice beaches from there as well (it takes a couple of hours one way)

    We stayed in La Havana for a few days. What I loved the most was walking without a map and getting lost in areas without tourists.

    Trinidad is a must too, beautiful town that feels like a village. Same thing it was nice to get lost there, and meet the locals who don’t necessarily live of tourism. There’s a hill with a viewpoint. We haven’t found that as good as people say… and everyone asks for money on the way… it was unexpected.

    Overall, we loved cuba but it’s a two faced country. That must come from the fact that there are two currencies : one for tourists and one for locals. It was nice to use the local currency to take the cab, get pizzas in the street… not just because it’s much cheaper but as because that’s when you really meet cubans … and they were all lovely (when not in touristy places)!

    Enjoy guys!

    PS : you have to queue for everything there and that might take a while. Be patient.
    It took us 4 hours to get our bus tickets the first time. Try to get to the bus station early and the day before or even a few days. A lot of people have the same idea and want to visit cuba asap.

  6. Great read! I’m heading to Cuba for a study abroad this June, and I’m also excited about experiencing the people, history and country pre-commercialization. (I’m from the US!) Also excited to experience a culture (music, practices, etc) that basically hasn’t been globalized because the internet isn’t a very big influence there. Anyway, have a great trip!

  7. Hi 🙂
    Hopefully you will enjoy it! I was born and raised in Cuba until I was 19 yo. So far I’ve lived in a couple of places but I would love to do what you guys are doing and this year I want to head to Thailand or any other place in Asia.
    Obviously you guys have done your research but don’t forget to visit La Guarida is a restaurant in a apartment building where a famous cuban movie was filmed ”Fresa y Chocolate” and they left the apartment like it was on the movie. It’s authentic cuban food!
    If you can go to Guardalavaca or Baracoa both beaches in the west side of the island! You’ll love it! 🙂
    Have fun!!!

  8. Hey Guys, Thanks so much for the detailed comment and all of the recommendations. Good to know about the long lines… that’s crazy! We’re in Havana for 4 days and then heading to Vinales and it’s one place that we’re really excited about (actually we’re excited about all of it). We’re staying in Casa Particulars pretty much the whole time so that’s a definite bonus of the country for us. What a great way to meet the people! Did you feel like walking dollar signs while you were in the touristy areas of Cuba?


  9. What an awesome place to study! We leave for the airport in about 9 hours and we can’t wait 🙂 We want to see the local people have improved quality of life, but we also want to see the time warped beauty of the place before it changes for good. Thanks for commenting and enjoy your time there!

  10. We’re hoping to have a few updates while we’re there, but also looking forward to being disconnected for a bit and just connecting with Cuba. We will do our best to put up a few updates (maybe even a video) while we’re there. Thanks for reading!

  11. Honestly, we haven’t heard anything really bad about Cuba yet. Everyone who has been has just been raving about how wonderful it is and how friendly the people are there. I can’t wait to see it for myself. I just googled the La Guarida Restaurant and it’s now added to a (very long) list of things to see / do. Thanks! We’ve got plans to see Baracoa as well 🙂 Cheers and thanks for reading.

    What part of Cuba did you grow up in?

  12. Do you know how long you will be staying for? I’d really love to hear about your trip, especially if you get back before I leave. I’ll especially be looking for Havana tips since that’s mostly where I’ll be!

  13. Oh yes,definitely! In some places they only see us as big dollar signs. Even in some casas particulares where they try to “force you” to buy their tours. We were in a casas just like that (in Vinales)and left after a night.
    You will definitely feel that they want your money but try to not stay in the touristy areas for long and it will be fine.
    We heard the south, Baracoa’s area, was beautiful as well but didn’t get a chance to go.

  14. I actually think it. why cuba as always 😀 you answered my self thoughts..
    but anyway thanks for this sharing informative stuff like this.
    Keep it great ! Thumbs up for this blog. 😉

  15. Finca Paraiso – self sustained organic resto/farm. All meals cooked with products grown on the property. Gorgeous afro descendant mama of woman in kitchen deep frying tarot and plantain. 12 cuc=eat EVERYTHING! A bottle of rum on the table. Hallelujah to this experience. In Vinales. Salsa dance the weight off later at local open ceiling live music club. Head to nigthclub in the caves. Epic!

  16. Jealous of your plans as Cuba will be an amazing adventure for sure. Question though, aren’t there American chains and corporations in pretty much everywhere we all travel? It sure doesn’t stop places like Mexico and I would assume Guatemala (i’ve never been) from being awesome destinations, does it? It just seems like this “threat” is a bit overblown as I can’t think of one place I have been in the world that has been “ruined” by having a Starbucks or McD’s there.

  17. We’re so jealous! Like you, Cuba has been on our bucket list for like forever. The cars, the architecture, the food, the music — what a vibrant, richly textured country it seems to be. And you’re absolutely right. The clock is ticking so it’s best to go sooner rather than later. Enjoy your trip! 🙂

  18. Hey Sarah,

    Thanks for commenting. We’re back now and can say that homestays (casa particulars) are definitely the way to go!! We spoke with many people while in Cuba some of whom are all for the changes, while others are skeptical. Internet is definitely lacking and if it weren’t for that, we’d live there for a while!


  19. Hey Scott!

    Thanks for commenting. You’re absolutely right, bigger chains and modernization definitely won’t “ruin” Cuba, we just decided to get there to see the Cuba of now. That’s why we all travel, isn’t it? To see something different than what we’re used to? There aren’t many places like that left in the world! Having now returned, we are happy that we went sooner rather than later. I hope that the trade helps the Cuban people – half of which are skeptical of the change coming, while the other half we spoke to are all for it.

    When we were in Luxor, it was an incredible experience looking out at the ruins…but there, in the distance were the golden arches – which totally brought us back to “reality” and away from our exotic Egyptian daydream. It didn’t ruin Luxor for us, but I could’ve done without the neon sign 🙂 haha.

    Thanks for sharing your opinion 🙂 Cheers!

  20. Totally see where you were coming from, guys, and I bounce back and forth on this issue all the time and on the day I commented it looks like I was in the “it isn’t that bad” category. In on respect, I don’t like chains either, but on the other side of things, one could argue that they, in a weird way, bring people closer together because we all have more shared experiences now, we all use smartphones, we all know what it’s like to go into a fast food restaurant and get a terrible meal. From a travel perspective though, in the end, yeah, it’s probably dulls our experiences, like the one you mentioned at Luxor. Must be something about Luxor’s, because the Luxor in Vegas even had a casino and buffet in it ;).

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