Frequently Asked Questions
Q: Are flights included in the cost of my trip?
International flights to and from the destination are not included in the program fee. Discover Corps has a partnership with several agencies who can assist in organizing airfare if needed.
Q: Can I travel solo? Are there additional fees?
We welcome solo travelers on all trips, and there is no additional fee unless a single room upgrade is requested. We also offer certain dates that say STS (Solo Traveler Savings), which offer a single room upgrade for no additional cost. Locate these available dates on each individual trip page or contact us for more information.
Q: Are there age restrictions on your trips?
The minimum age requirement for the Cuba: Family Island Exploration is 5 years old (unless otherwise agreed upon with Discover Corps).
Q: Where are we staying in Cuba?
During your time in Cuba, you will stay in Casas Particulares, which are locally run bed and breakfasts. These are not a only quaint properties, but will allow you to come face-to-face with Cuban culture.
Q: Should I bring donations with me to Cuba?
A: Cubans warmly welcome gifts however small. Everything you contribute is an overture of friendship – and a great ice-breaker. Cubans lack many basic items we in North America take for granted.
Need is constantly changing in Cuba. Therefore, we advise that you consult your guide to determine who would most benefit from these donations. Sometimes, they're best for the casa hosts. Other times for some of the children in town. And even occasionally for our guides and their families.
We strongly advise against handing out gifts or money to individuals you meet on the street. In areas frequented by tourists, professional scammers attempt to fleece foreign guests with sob stories that win them cash or items they can sell on the black market.
- Any and all art supplies (Paint brushes & acrylic paints)
- Musical instruments, guitar strings, reeds for wind instruments
- Metronomes, pitch pipes, tuning forks, sheet music
- Baseball bats, balls and gloves, footballs, sport helmets and padding
- Aspirin and substitutes, Band-Aids, Multiple vitamins and vitamins A, B, C, D, E
- Medical gloves and masks, medical thermometers
- School supplies, all kinds, toys for children
- Spanish/English dictionaries and phrase books
- High quality summer oriented used clothing and shoes
- Sheets and towels
- Kitchen gloves and sponges
- New USB memory sticks (favorite)
- Nice chocolates, attractive jewelry
- Cool new T-shirts, caps with neat logos, new sunglasses, hip key chains
- AA batteries! Boring, yes. But they are scarce, costly and appreciated
*Note that the maximum value of these items can only be 250 pesos without being taxed at customs. Therefore, we strongly advise not to bring anything over this value.
Q: I have a disability or someone in my family has a disability – will that be an issue?
Generally no, but it depends on the severity of the issue. Many countries outside of the U.S. do not adhere to the same wheel accessibility as the U.S., so we recommend contacting Discover Corps directly to discuss and determine which trip would work best.
Q: I have special dietary requirements – will that be an issue?
In Cuba, we are able to accommodate most dietary restrictions such as vegan, vegetarian and gluten free. We do our best to accommodate all diets and allergies, but we do recommend you still inquire with a Discover Corps Travel Specialist about specific needs.
Q: Is the water safe to drink in the country I’m visiting?
Please bring a reusable water bottle as water will be provided by Discover Corps. It is not recommended to drink the tap water.
Do I need travel insurance? What should it cover?
Travel Insurance is not required but we highly recommend that a plan is purchased to protect any delays or cancellations that could incur. We partner with Travel Guard, a leading provider in travel protection, and can refer you to them for a quote. For more information click here.
Q: What essential documents do I need to take?
Any international travel requires a valid passport . Discover Corps recommends you take 2 photo copies of your passport and leave one at home and take the other with you. Travelers need to obtain a visa as well.
Q: Can you help with Visas?
As relations between the U.S. and Cuba are developing as we speak, we highly recommend going through a visa provider to make the visa process seamless and avoid any delays.
You can obtain your visa online through Cuba Travel Services for $85 plus applicable shipping costs. The visa will be shipped via FedEx through Standard Shipping (5-7 business days) or Overnight Shipping:
- If you are flying American Airlines, click here to obtain your visa
- If you are flying any other airline, click here to obtain your visa
- Note: Your visa category is either "People to People" or "Support for the Cuban People”.
Q: Are my belongings safe while I’m on my trip? Are there safes for storing valuables?
Yes. We trust that your belongings are protected while under our staff’s watch. There are no safes located in the casa particulares however there is a key to lock your room.
Q: Is tipping commonplace in the places we’re visiting?
On most trips, tips are provided for restaurants, hotels, and baggage. However, on all trips, tips are suggested for the guide and the driver. For guides, it is recommended to tip between $10-12 USD per day whereas the drivers should be tipped about $3-5 USD per day.
Q: Are Discover Corps trips suitable for LGBTQ travelers?
Yes, we are confident that LGBTQ travelers would be more than welcome on our trips and in Cuba..
Q: I’m concerned about the political stability and/or safety of the country we’re visiting. Is it safe?
Discover Corps holds the safety of our travelers and staff as our #1 priority. We provide safe and secure lodging, healthy, hygienic meals and bottled water, safe and comfortable transportation, and expert local knowledge in order to facilitate safe travel programs. Discover Corps also does not take travelers to destinations that are deemed unsafe. We are constantly keeping up with local news in the countries we visit and can help answer any concerns that may arise before your departure or during your trip.
Q: What is the best way to carry money?
It’s best to divide money into different places and keep small bills handy. In some destinations, accommodations offer safety boxes. If you need money once in-country there will be ATMs to take out money throughout the trip.
Q: Is refrigeration available for medicines?
Yes, there are refrigerators in the casa particulares that are available for medicine if needed.
Q: What if I end up ill or get injured on the trip and am unable to continue? What happens then?
In the case of injury or illness, first and foremost, we would seek proper medical attention. In each of the locations we operate, we have designated medical clinics and hospitals that we take travelers to in such cases. Discover Corps also includes a comprehensive medical insurance policy for each traveler who goes abroad with us. Please see the medical insurance section of this pre-departure handbook for exact coverage descriptions.
If you are unable to join Discover Corps prior to the trip, travel insurance will cover the costs depending on the severity of and reason for the situation. You can inquire with Travel Guard for exact policies and the guidelines.
Q: What type of luggage do you recommend I take?
Overall, the rule of thumb across all of our trips is to pack as lightly as possible. This will simply reduce the amount of luggage you are carrying around throughout the trip and make things easier. Typically, rolling luggage works best, but keep in mind that uneven sidewalks and cobblestones in many destinations may make this more difficult.
Q: What clothes and footwear should I pack?
Each destination varies in climate, so it is recommended to look over the packing list that is provided under each destination. Please reference the packing list here on the Travel Portal or the “What to Pack” section in the Cuba: Family Island Exploration Pre-Departure Handbook.
Q: Can I opt out of certain activities?
Travelers can opt out on certain activities, but keep in mind that each program is a set price and includes most activities.
Q: Will my mobile phone work? Will I have access to the Internet?
It’s not guaranteed that your phone will work, depending on your phone carrier they may offer roaming services. There are other options such as renting a mobile phone or buying a SIM card. For more information visit the US Federal Communications Commision here.
Internet access can be found at two sources: upmarket hotels in cities like Havana or at a telepunto (stores that offer Internet services). Hotel lobbies have Wi-Fi available for $6-8 per hour, which allows you to use your own devices – laptops, iPads or smartphones. At a telepunto, scratch cards cost $6 for an hour and come with a username and password, which you then enter into the terminal provided. Any extra time on the card can be used again at another telepunto. Internet availability outside of Havana is possible but not as widespread as in the capital.
Q: What is the currency in Cuba and how many U.S. Dollars can it buy?
There are two currencies in use in Cuba. One for Cuban nationals and one for foreigners. The currency for use by foreigners is the Cuban convertible peso (CUC). Notes are in the following denominations of peso - 100, 50, 20, 10 and 5. Coins are in the following denominations - 1 peso, and 20, 5, 2 and 1 centavos. There is a 1:1 exchange rate between the two currencies.
Exchanging Money in Cuba - This is a comprehensive article explaining currency exchange in Cuba. The main items to note are US Dollars are subject to an additional 10% penalty. Therefore, it's best to bring Canadian dollars or Euros as your primary spending cash (and bring some US dollars as a backup reserve in case you run out of money). Check exchange rates before choosing a currency. It may make sense to use USD over another currency if the exchange rate changes.
Q: Do I need to get vaccines before I travel?
According to the Center of Disease Control and Prevention, there are no vaccinations required in order to travel to Cuba. However, we also recommend consulting with your local travel clinic for recommended inoculations for all international travels.
Q: What else do I need to know?
Travel in Cuba is much different than the rest of the world. As the government regulates everything from the flights travelers take into Cuba to the hotels that travelers stay at, the keyword is flexibility. The schedule is subject to change as are, in rare cases, the hotels and accommodation. We will try our best to stick to the schedule of activities as planned, but ask that you embark on this journey with an open mind and a willingness to accept ambiguity in certain situations. It is a very interesting time in Cuban history and you will be at the forefront of this momentous change.
Q: How Far in Advance do I need to Reserve my trip?
The farther in advance you book, the better selection of dates you’ll have. On most trips you’ll want to book 3 to 6 months out. For holiday trips, you’ll want to reserve 6 to 8 months out. Rest assured, though, we’re also masters at accommodating last-minute reservations!