Travel Stories: A Month In Cuba With A Baby & Toddler

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Ben With His Daughters In Cuba…

I was so pleased when this turned up in my inbox from Ben – the trip he took to Cuba with his wife and two young daughters is a dream trip for me, and frankly, one that I did not have the courage to take when my kids were smaller. The mission of Have Baby Will Travel is to inspire, motivate, and help families travel with babies, toddlers, and young children – and with this post Ben has inspired, motivated, and helped me! If you’ve dreamed of extended travel throughout Cuba with baby, and hoped to get off the resort trail, read on – and and get in touch if you’re ready to plan your first trip with baby!

We (my wife, my two daughters aged 2 3/4 and 8 months, and I) were in Cuba for 4 weeks, we flew to Holguin from Germany, travelled through Central and West Cuba for 3 weeks before spending 1 week in the Sol Palmeras hotel in Varadero. I will describe our experiences mainly of travelling independently and what we learnt from it.

Planning For Cuba With Baby:

Preparation/planning: I learnt a bunch of Spanish words and a few phrases before we left, but essentially we didn’t speak much Spanish, but we managed to get around without great problems. We decided to travel by bus and taxi, so no hiring of cars, no organised tours or similar.
What did we take with us? The basics to cover a few days (baby food, nappies, wet wipes, things to chew on, pacifiers, clothes etc. The standard whenever you go anywhere I would think. Additionally we took: Night nappies (see below), a very small travel bed for the baby, a small easily foldable buggy, some little books, some colouring pencils and a colouring book for the big one as well as a tablet pc with some kids entertainment for long journeys. Also sunscreen (very important to take enough with you as this is very difficult to get for little kids).
What didn’t we take? Child seats (absolutely no point unless you are hiring your own car for all travelling as Cuban taxis and most cars have no seatbelts at the back), plastic toys etc.
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Pedicab In Camaguey, Cuba

First off, we were a little paranoid after reading about the lack of baby material in general and especially nappies. In fact, nappies in Cuba are not difficult to get hold of (except in Havana Vieja, the best place to go for child things in Havana seems to be the shopping centre at the base of Havana Libre hotel), but they vary significantly in quality and price, whereby among the cheapest also being the best (Brand name: Tenders). We found that we needed to buy a size larger than stated on the packaging to ensure that they would last a while. Even so they are not as good as European nappies, so if you want to avoid having to change nappies at nights its probably best to bring those nappies with you.

Baby milk was no problem to get hold of, baby food a little trickier but there are diverse grain based meals (to mix with water/milk – we used baby milk) as well as glasses of pureed fruits – other meals are difficult to get hold of.
You can get hold of wet wipes, but they are all perfumed, so you may want to take some unperfumed ones with you if that’s what you feel is better for wiping faces and hands.
We stayed in Casa Particulares, always asking our hosts to recommend a suitable casa in the next town – at which point they would always call people and pre-book for us – and we were never disappointed. We would always ask them to ensure that the next place would be “tranquillo” – quiet – and “grande” so that the kids would have some room. It worked out perfectly, we always paid 25-30 CUC (roughly $25-30 USD) per night.
cuba with baby, cuba with toddler, cuba horse and carriage ride

You Can Never Go Wrong With A Horse & Carriage Ride

Food – we ate in our Casas quite often, where we got nice, simple traditional Cuban food (lots of rice and beans, but also meat, egg, salad – usually too much for the three of us (incl. big daughter) even though we would only order for the parents. As our baby was eating purees reasonably well, we would ask if they could puree some rice and beans or whatever they had made and that was no problem. It wasn’t salty most of the time, so that was a good meal covered too.

Health – we had loads of things with us (always recommended in Cuba), but had absolutely no problems (the sun was one of my greatest worries, but with sunscreen and care it isn’t difficult to avoid sunburns). The food was fine and we only drank bottled water. We took a thermos flask and asked our Casa owners to boil the bottled water, which we then used for the baby milk etc. Washing, teeth cleaning was all done with tap water without any problems.
Travelling – we took the Viazul bus initially, but when the bus was full we discovered that with help and negotiation skills (often it was best asking the hosts of the casas, they would get really good prices and reliable people) you could get taxis for not much more than double the bus ticket price, taking you from casa to casa (really, really handy and much less stress than going to and from the bus stations). Also, this meant that we could both look after the kids instead of one parent driving and the other trying to keep to little ones happy (what with no seatbelts, no child seats to stop them from doing stupid things).

Not To Miss Touring Cuba With Baby:

In all we travelled from Holguin to Camaguey, then to Trinidad (don’t miss Playa Ancon, fantastic for a day trip or two with the kids), Cienfuegos, Havana Central (Vieja was nicer), Vinales, Las Terrazas (the eco-hotel there is not great and v. expensive with kids, so that’s one stop I wouldn’t recommend), back to Havana (this time Vieja) and then to Varadero.
Other tips for the kids – ask for “Parque de Distractiones” (I think) – most big towns have a fairground/amusement park and if you don’t go on a Sunday it will be very quiet and the kids will have most rides to themselves (and you’ll be hard pushed to spend more than 2 dollars on rides – they are all very old and simple but our (big) daughter loved them). Do check in advance if they are open, in Cienfuegos it was closed on Mondays, in Havana the biggest one was closed from Monday to Thursday! Also, we were not impressed by the Aquarium in Havana, very expensive but hardly anything to see.
cuba with baby, cuba with toddler, cuba beach

Cuba Is More Than Just Beaches, But They Are Awesome

The all-inclusive hotel at the end (Sol Palmeras) was nice, but not ideally suited for very small children (they didn’t have enough baby seats, entertainment as of 5 year olds, no significant playground) but was fine, great beach, ok baby pool, food was good and the huge choice meant all always found something to their tastes. But being in Varadero is not experiencing Cuba, while travelling independently does let you get at least a vague idea of what life is like there – especially with kids! (You go to places away from the normal tourist route, people are even more friendly and helpful).

If this report  and information helps others choose to go to Cuba with baby and have a great time there, then it won’t have been a waste of time writing it. The holiday was fantastic and all one needs is the courage to go.

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10 Responses to Travel Stories: A Month In Cuba With A Baby & Toddler

  1. Laurel at 23:41 #

    Love this! Cuba sounds so amazing. Always love to see families traveling the world with little ones.

  2. I’ve been dreaming about going to Cuba for so long. Sadly it is a bit harder for US Citizens to do it. Not impossible, just a few more hoops, and flights, to get there. One day soon though. One day soon!

  3. mary at 10:21 #

    I love your article on Cuba.We went there before my first pregnancy from Havana to Santiago by car) and it was one of the most beautiful journey of my life. I’m looking forward to coming back with my two children. Your article gives me a lot of enthusiasm to take this trip again!

  4. Noosa at 08:59 #

    You are so brave to take the kids to Cuba,I love this blog post.

  5. Karina at 19:13 #

    Do you have any tips for us – we are travelling with our 19month old but we only have a week-ish, and it is our honeymoon so we are really hoping to find somewhere with some childcare so we can have some time on our own too. Thanks!

  6. Maryse at 14:08 #

    Thank you so much for writing/publishing this. We’re planning a three week vacation in Cuba with our two year old daughter and five month old son, and it was incredibly helpful to us.

    • Corinne at 23:04 #

      Would love to hear all about your trip, Maryse – safe travels to you and your family!

  7. Marie at 05:17 #

    Thank you so much!
    Please be assured that it was not a waste of time writing this report.
    We’ll go to Cuba this November with our 2 children (20 months old and 3 ¾ years old children) for 3 weeks. Not to mention I will be 7 months pregnant!
    I’m struggling finding information about traveling independently with young children in this country (most reports, forums are about all inclusive stays in Varadero).
    Corinne, when was this trip taken (I mean which year, was it recently?)
    Is there a way I can contact Ben? I would have a few questions if I may…
    Also, congratulations on you blog! I haven’t read it all yet but I look forward to reading it.
    Thank you again, I’m so glad I found this article and your blog!

    • Corinne at 10:34 #

      Hi Marie! This post is about 18mos. old, so not too terribly outdated. If you like I can forward your contact info to Ben and see if he gets back to you?

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