Family Vacation Tips and Tricks: CUBA All-Inclusive

12:13 PM

Recently Calvin and I packed up the kids and about a quarter of our belongings and took the flight to Cayo Santa Maria, Cuba to stay at an all-inclusive resort for one week. It was fabulous! I know from my past Chicago tips and tricks post, and from various ones about Orlando, Los Angeles, and Brazil, there are some people out there who really appreciate the advice, so while it's still fresh in my mind, here are some of my tips and tricks to bringing your family to an all-inclusive resort in Cuba.

What to Pack

- Reusable cups: we are so grateful to have packed the kids' sippy cups and our own personal cold-drink tumblers. When you've paid the drink to have unlimited beverages, and the cups they're handing out are like 6oz, you'll be happy to have a big old mug to say "Hey, fill 'er up with a Cuba Libre!" and walk back to your beach chair to enjoy for the next hour.
- Food: we heard rumours that Cuban resorts can be lacking food-wise, and there's some truth to that. While we never went hungry, it definitely didn't stack up even close to our stay at an all-inclusive in Mexico before the kids were born. For this reason we brought our own personal ketchup, bbq sauce and Frank's Red Hot, and were happy we did. On "pig roast lunch" days, we'd stand in line for a huge dripping plate of delicious pork, with black bean-rice and olives on the side, and then we'd be super happy to pull out our familiar Sweet Baby Ray's BBQ sauce. We also had some room-snacks, like corn chips, salt and vinegar peanuts, the kids' goldfish, and trail mix.
- At least 2 bathing suits each: so many times I would go to put on the same suit as yesterday and be like, whoa this is still damp. Yuck.
- Sanitizer. We would often go straight from the beach to the buffet so I'd make sure to give my kids a quick spray before digging in to their food. I also used it on the high chair trays.
- Organizer: I packed our Ikea hanging organizer and it was so convenient to have in the bathroom full of undies, socks, sunscreen, toiletries, etc.

What Not to Pack
- Booster seat: Dakota received a "mother in law" booster for her birthday, and it's a cloth piece that fits over a standard chair so that she can be buckled in like a high chair. I brought it along just in case but it turns out every place we ate had ample high chairs so she was fine, short of trying to climb out the whole time.
- Long pants, sweaters: we lived in bathing suits or tank tops and shorts/skirts. It was in the high 30's (C) the whole time. HOT. Even at night.
- Valuables: I felt great keeping my expensive camera, my wedding rings, and my wallet at home. It was just better than accidently losing anything.

Other Tips
- You will have to pay a $25 CUC airport tax when you leave. Be sure to have cash on you.
- The exchange rate from pesos back to CDN is brutal. Just spend it at the duty free shop.
- You can bring back 50 cigars per person, and 2 bottles of liquor per person.
- Hang on to your "tourist visa card" that you fill out on the plane. Very important.
- Re-apply sunscreen often. We are all peeling like snakes right now.

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