Ask an Alumni: Cuba Through the Eyes of a Discover Corps Traveler
While travel to Cuba may seem complicated, Cuba is actually one of the safest, easiest, and most welcoming places to visit in Latin America – but don’t take it from us. Gina runs a blog called Gypsy Family Travel where she chronicles her trips around the world, and she wrote all about her experience traveling with three women on the Discover Corps Havana Weekend Getaway trip.
While the new regulations placed on Cuba travel require the average person to travel with a tour group, this gave Gina the chance to better immerse herself in the culture and support the local people and communities. Read about her experiences day-by-day below!
When travel to Cuba opened up a few years ago, my curiosity was aroused. The trip planning was very challenging, however. At the particular time, it was not a slam-dunk, travel agency type of trip. Among many other obstacles and requirements, there was also the tentative situation circling around what our new POTUS would decide about travel guidelines to Cuba. One requirement among travel programs was that you have to do four days in Havana as part of the educational trip theme. That was not a problem for me as Havana is the city I was most curious to see. Later, I discovered that the latter detail was a guideline (not a requirement) that some travelers get around […].
I did meet plane passengers who were traveling alone but I also noticed that they didn’t know what excursions to do once they arrived. They also weren’t going to have drivers or bilingual guides. I also observed at the Atlanta airport that many passengers were completing their Cuba visas there at the gate. That seemed stressful to me and I was grateful that ours were expedited ahead of time because we walked right into the gate and passed the others who were in line completing their visas.
Initially, I applied under a journalist application category for a Cuban visa but then my travel buddy and I applied under a People to People category once we decided to use this particular trip program. The application and the visa process were expeditious and seamless (this was more of a cultural immersion trip so we chose a program accordingly). Most of all, I liked that the People to People category directly supports the people of Cuba. By staying in casa particulares and dining at paladars, we were supporting the people and not the government. It also enhanced our cultural immersion to travel this way instead of staying at resorts….