What did I pack for Cuba?

O que levei na mala para Cuba

After returning home, it is time to do a short analysis of what I did pack for Cuba and how I prepared it for the trip. It is an exercise I’ve been doing for a while, and I always end up learning a few things with the way I pack for a trip.

This was just a two week trip around the West side of Cuba main island, and once more I thought I wouldn’t need to pay for check-in luggage. Two weeks, in a subtropical country? I don’t think one needs to take that much stuff… But there are always things that don’t go that well, and some that were supposed to work better according to previous experiences.


Starting by the gadgets, just because they are quite important for me. One of my favorite hobbies when I travel is photography. Even though I don’t do much with the photos I take, it is a hobby that relaxes me a lot and that makes me look for details all the time, some that would otherwise pass unnoticed.

Dive in Playa Girón, using a GoPro Hero 4 Black
Dive in Playa Girón, using a GoPro Hero 4 Black

This time I didn’t use the tripod as much as I maybe should, and it was the first time I took this one on a trip. I bought it because it is compact, light and very versatile. I used it a few times, though I really think I should have had used it more. It is excellent for those who travel with carry-on only, it doesn’t take much space.

Something I’ve been asked to is about how useful a GoPro really is. Considering I like some adventure, it ends up being the camera I use when I am going to do some activity that might damage my main camera. The iPhone I barely use as a “camera”. For example, in Cuba I used the GoPro for horse ridding and scuba diving.

Old street in Trinidad
Old street in Trinidad

I looks like I ended up overpacking again. But no, I did pack my bags really well for Cuba! The Sony a6300 is the perfect travel camera! Really light and with a great response between shots, sometimes a bit too fast…

While packing I noticed that my power adaptor was damaged, so I had to buy one SKROSS power adaptor at the airport. I didn’t add it to the list above because it wasn’t part of what went inside my bag at home, but I see it as an extra expense.

Clothes and hygiene (and extras)

Well, clothes is something that one always must pack. Or maybe not?

Backpacks and other accessories

The North Face backpack is the backpack where I carry my gadget. Usually I place it in front of me, with the Lowe Alpine on my back, and they end up balancing the weight quite well without causing me any back pain.

It looks like this model of the Lowe Alpine is already discontinued, but is a brand I highly recommend. A lot of space, and the fact that it is made of soft fabric makes it easier to “squeeze” and take as a carry-on. It is an excellent option for those who like to travel with just hand luggage, without having to be too concerned with how much luggage they pack. Of course, always keep in mind the weight limits, that might restrain things a big…

What to pack for Cuba?
What to pack for Cuba?

The model I have of the shoulder bag it isn’t exactly this one, though it is very similar. Why carrying another bag, when I only had carry-on? To avoid annoyances with Aer Lingus. The Lowe Alpine had a lot of free space, so I packed the North Face in it, completely empty. And I packed all the gadgets in the Trespass, which is a bag that can easily be perceived as an “accessory”. However, the Trespass isn’t the most comfortable bag ever to travel with (buses and so on), and for this role the North Face is much better. It was the first time I did this, and it actually worked. Nonetheless, I am considering to buy a more discreet bag and more suitable for my gadgets…

Thankfully Travel Security Pouch is one of those things that doesn’t make much sense to use in Cuba. Cuba is a really safe country. However, for those who fear to be robbed, it is a very discreet way to carry documents and money.

The Quechua Travel Pillow one of the best travel pillows I have ever tried. Really compact, and versatile.

I already explained in another article why I carry a pillow case with me. It doesn’t sound that smart, though it is the way I split dirty clothes to wash. The clothes don’t get that perspiration smell, like when you place them inside a plastic garbage bag for a few days. And even if some of the dirty smell passes to other clothes, it won’t make much of a different, I always do laundry every week.


In some Central and South American countries it is highly recommended not to drink tap water. However, these bottles can keep water at a really nice temperature. So what did I do? I bought bottled water, and I transferred the water to my stainless steal one. Great quality and very practical.

The Packing Cubes is something I recommended before, and I will recommend again and I am sure I will keep talking about this in future. It is one of the best travel accessories I have ever purchased. I love it so much that I even wrote a whole article about these cubes. Nowadays you can find a wider offer of these kind of cubes, some much better and with self-compression features. These ones don’t do that. Though I still think they are a great travel accessory!

This time I didn’t even use my travel towel, but when I went to Australia it was the thing I missed the most when someone took it from me…

Clothes, shoes and hygiene

The jeans I was wearing on my way to Cuba. I left Ireland in Winter, so shorts wouldn’t be a great idea to get to the airport… And coming back in shorts wouldn’t be the smartest idea either…


What went less okay with this? The card deck, which I never used! Besides that, I used everything I did pack for Cuba! Okay, I also didn’t use the towel, but considering the destination and not having a clue about the places where I would stay, it was a good idea to take it with me.

Like I explained before, the jeans were a necessary weight. I only used them once in those two weeks I was in Cuba, and the rest of the time I was always wearing shorts…

And I still think I overpacked a bit. I did pack for Cuba considering I would not find a place to do laundry until Varadero. I was sure I would be able to do laundry there, though I ended up doing it before. And for the record, you can ask to have your laundry done in most of the home stays in Cuba, of course, it has an extra fee… and usually it is pricy…

In my previous articles about packing I had a section only for those things I had to buy on the road. This time I didn’t have to do it. Besides the power adaptor, the only things extra I had to buy was shower gel and shampoo. And that because I did not want to pay extra for checked-in luggage. And even that I didn’t take with me to Europe, I left it in one home stay.

I flew to and from Cuba only with carry-on luggage!

How about you, have you ever been to Cuba yet? What did you pack in your luggage for Cuba? Leave a comment with your experience!

By Gil Sousa

Portuguese expat in Cork, traveler and food enthusiastic.

1 comment

  1. Sounds like you did a good job of compacting everything into your luggage for your trip! I was intrigued to read what you said about clothing because I often find I pack the wrong items to wear. Good to know that having one pair of jeans was useful even if you only wear them for traveling days.

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