You can only pack so much for your trip and you're going to want to bring home souvenirs. Here's how you can pack a few common items into your luggage with the intent to leave them behind that at once creates room for what you bring back and creates good will.
How to Pack Goodwill into Your Luggage
Souvenir Offerings and Budgeting for Your Trip
When you tell your family and friends that you'll be traveling to Cuba no doubt they will want you to bring something back for them. Cuba and its many cities have much to offer in the way of souvenirs and for a range of travel budgets. From the sort of tiny trinkets you find everywhere to one of a kind works of art, and of course world class rum and tobacco, preparing for and navigate the souvenir scene is a little easier if you know what and how much to expect.
As US travelers it is simple enough to budget for souvenir shopping since the US government allows a maximum of $400 worth of goods to be brought back from Cuba to the United States. And, it is very important to note that only $100 of that can be made up of a combined value of alcohol and tobacco. So, if you have it at your disposal you should bring $400 dedicated to purchasing souvenirs. So budgeting is easy but choosing is much more difficult.
Some of the things you'll be able to purchase in Cuba include:
- post cards
- wood and shell trinkets
- shell, metal and stone jewelry
- hats, t-shirts and bags
What is and Isn't Negotiable
There are two types of businesses in Cuba - government owned and privately owned. If you are shopping at the airport, at an official outlet of alcohol and tobacco or even at most hotels you are shopping at government owned outlets and the price is what it is. If, on the other hand, you are shopping on the street or in store fronts that do not have the government stamp on their products (the best example of these are on the tourist artery Obispo in Havana) then you are dealing with the private side of the Cuban economy and you'll find more flexibility in the prices.
The exception here is art. When you travel with SST we may visit artist collectives and community art projects with art for sale and while these are private initiatives we ask that you do not negotiate aggressively for two reasons. First, these projects are social enterprise in nature and share profits throughout their communities and second, these are artists more than artisans and it would be disrespectful to suggest that their work is not as valuable as they suggest it is.
How to Pack a Little Goodwill
Due to the isolated and restricted nature of the Cuban economy simple things that we in the Developed West take for granted are scarce and/or prohibitively expensive on the island. So, it is our recommendation that you purchase and pack some of these things to bring with you to Cuba and leave behind to the people we meet there. This engenders good will between our two peoples and it makes extra room in your luggage for the souvenirs you're sure to want to bring back!
Here is a list of some of the things you may consider bringing with you:
- bar soap
- children's school and art supplies
- men's prophylactics
- feminine hygiene products
- thumb drives
- external hard drives
- old smart phones
- rechargeable AA and AAA batteries with charger
- 1st aid supplies (like those in the kit on our blog)
- sports equipment
Whether you travel with us or with someone else we hope you spend a little extra time and resources to pack a little good will with you when you go.