Heading to the destination you have dreamed of visiting? The one you’ve spent countless hours reading about and imagining wandering the streets, eating the local cuisine, and of course seeing real Cuba?
For thousands like you, traveling is about experiencing the rich culture and doing your best to blend into the local scene. You can claim victory when someone asks you for directions, a local starts speaking to you in the local language or you find your way to a spot where you are clearly the only tourist in sight.
The key to experiencing the authentic side of Cuba is finding ways to interact and get advice from those living and working here. Below are a few techniques to interact with locals in your next destination.
Instead of asking the hotel concierge for recommendations once you are here, try asking as many thing as possible by email, or once here to a local barman / bartender, or the bakery shop owner down the street. Front line employees of hotels are easy to talk to, but get commissions or are vested in recommending certain locales, so instead of going to that bar filled with other tourists, you can get directed to the one a little bit outside of tourist town with a little more local flavor if you ask to the right persons
Picking the right hotel or B&B, private apartment , or hostel before you arrive can also be a great way to interact with locals. By staying away from the big name hotels and finding the small bed and breakfast type places, you will have a true ally for doing cool stuff when you arrive, or giving recommendations or arranging unique experiences
And finally, there are definitely plenty of opportunities to stay with a local through services like CUBAMIGOS
Generally, you will find that websites like ours that list personal spaces are passionate about providing recommendations that show the unique and cool side of their neighborhood and city.
NO PLACE LIKE HOME.
Think outside of the big box chains when picking a place to rest your head. It can save you money and provide a better local experience.
Consider CUBAMIGOS to find lodging in a neighborhood you actually want to stay in and find apartments if you don’t need as much room, but still want to be in the city center with a kitchen.
All these options usually have kitchen access and that’s a huge cost savings if you don’t mind making a few of your meals, or even just making something to go.
With a big group, renting an apartment or house is more economical than getting multiple hotels rooms and way more group friendly.
With all options, you’ll have a local person to get great local tips and perhaps even take you around or make you a local meal. Win-win.
IMAGINE having a local scout to navigate you away from the worn down tourist routes and towards the local, up and coming spots. IMAGINE unique travel memories in unique places. IMAGINE a platform where you can choose the locals to plan this experience based on your budget, interests, and timeframe.
That can be CUBAMIGOS
Write to us us. Skip the tour package. Immerse yourself into the true experience of a place. Be independent. Save time planning. We have friends all Cuba ready to help with your trip. Let us be your guide in Cuba
TIPS TO TRAVEL OFF THE BEATEN PATH
No travel secrets exist anymore, right? On the contrary! Put yourself in the right place with your eyes wide open and you’ll uncover new places.
1. PREFERRED ENCOUNTERS.
Determine what types of experiences you want. Not specific ones per se, but decide if you’re looking to interact with locals, nature, food, art, history, etc and how. Let us guide you where you choose to travel.
2. REAL NEIGHBORHOODS.
Want to find neighborhoods or areas that look interesting to you? Search for blogs or local articles about up and coming neighborhoods. Look at the restaurants, shops in the area and see if it matches your expectations. Sometimes having locals as your neighbors is great, but it’s not for everybody.
3. LOCAL LODGING.
Today many chain hotels are offering local, but these options are still limited.Instead look into CUBAMIGOS to find inns, B&Bs, apartments, or independent hotels to stay centrally located in a neighborhood and perfect for those interested in interacting with people in the temporary home, hostels. CUBAMIGOS is a great option to meet people and have a built-in community of local guides when you arrive. Otherwise, the other options will still provide more authentic recommendations than the typical concierge.
6. FIND CONNECTIONS.
Reach out to your friend network and see if anybody has or knows someone who’s lived or traveled there. Your friends are a great resource of information. Sometimes this might not help with things to do (we’re all different, after all), as much as what to avoid if your friend had a bad experience or insight.
7. CALL (+53 52646921)
Or email us or your lodging host and ask about some local things that they or their friends do. This is invaluable and can give you some direction to research what you want to do upon arrival and at very least the types of places you want to be. If you’re staying in a chain hotel, the front desk is representing the brand and therefore less likely to give you unfiltered answers . . They might tell you what they think the average tourist
will want, but who’s average?
8. READ REVIEWS.This doesn’t mean just pulling up TripAdvisor (usually wrong regarding Cuba) and going to the highest rated restaurants, hotels, coffee shops, etc.
This is two-fold:
a) Read reviews of POIs (points of interest) to figure out what others thought of them. Take each review with a grain of salt, try to determine if that person represents you.
b) Then , when looking up reviews. seek out ones that are highly reviewed, but not from tourists (which just means everyone else knows about it). Also many reviews will tell you if the place a local spot. Anyway, Cubans have not much access to internet and most of review are done by tourists (exactly, most of our visitors are not travelers but tourists)
9. TALK or WRITE TO LOCALS.
One option is to write to us (even if you’re not using our services) and asking what types of things you shouldn’t miss or where to eat. This is especially helpful if you’re in a place where locals don’t speak your language. Since you did your research and put yourself where locals hang out, try to make some friends and indulge your
curiosity and ask questions. Maybe ask about daily life, the political situation, what to drink or eat and of course where they recommend to check out.
This can lead to great things and sometimes even an offer to join them for the day.
10. RELAX AND BE FLEXIBLE.
You’ve done your research and you’re out there talking with locals. Open your mind and allow room for serendipity. Try to temper your natural fear of missing out. Just go with the flow, be positive and say ‘yes’ a lot. You may have a list of things to do and see, but you might find yourself with an opportunity that’s better. Go with it and see what happens!!