Until last month, I had yet to visit Cuba — ever. I’d done the all-inclusive vacation package type trip before, but Cuba was a new destination for me. The moment I began to ask around about where to stay, what to do, and so on, I was quickly flooded with the following tidbit of advice, “Bring lots of dollar store stuff to give the staff.”
That turned out to be a solid piece of advice, but in the weeks leading up to my departure, it wasn’t nearly specific enough. So I started looking online to see if I could find any more information about what kind of things to bring to Cuba, who I should be giving it to when I get there, how often, how much, etc.
Surprisingly, I didn’t find very much info on the subject at all. A few bits and pieces here and there after hours of research didn’t really give me what I was looking for — a quick ‘n dirty list of what to bring to Cuba. So here it is, look no further, your “things to bring to Cuba to give away as gifts” list:
- Kids tooth brushes (fun stuff like Superman or Dora)
- Tooth paste, mouthwash, floss
- Deodorant, antiperspirants
- Hair scrunchies — a lot of them. I took a bag of scrunchies and gave them to our housekeeper on day one, along with the Spiderman tooth-brush and tooth paste. She was so happy she was nearly in tears, as if she’d hit the jackpot. That’s when I realized I probably could have shared the wealth of those scrunchies around a bit more!
- Feminine hygiene products
- Vitamins — both adult and for kids
- Reading glasses, sunglasses
- Toys for kids (crayons, colouring books, yo-yos, anything really!)
- Flip flops or Crocs — bring down some shoes you’ll use while you’re down there, but leave them behind when you go.
- Bubba mugs! This is a fun one I didn’t realize until I arrived. All the Canadians at the pool had Bubba mugs — which they used for the entire week then left behind for staff. What a great idea!
- Soap, shampoo, conditioner — again, bring down small bottles you can give away, but also bring down larger bottles you’ll use while you’re there, then leave it all behind.
- Gardening/utility gloves. The landscaping staff is often forgotten, and they were oh so grateful when we gave them all clean, heavy-duty gloves to work with. We saw them all week with bright (maybe not so bright by the end of the week) white new gloves.
These seems like everyday little items to us, but to most of the locals in Cuba, these are highly coveted items. In the greater scope of our wallets, it’s really nothing for us to spend $50 to $100 at a dollar store buying things to bring to Cuba. But it can really mean the world to hard-working Cubans, who just don’t have access to the things you and I take for granted.
Aside from gifts to bring for the locals, we’ve created a list of what to bring to Cuba to include documents, clothing, and more.
Now it’s your turn — what have I forgotten? Please feel free to share your thoughts and add to the list of things to bring to Cuba!
Check out the Government of Canada website for more information on Cuba travel.