Cuba is one of the top spring break destinations for us Canadians and I rounded out my fourth trip to the tropical island two years ago. Though my vacation is a stay-cation this year, a friend of mine asked for some advice which resulted in nothing shy of a texting novel and it was then that I realized I had plenty to share!
And no, you can’t take a yogi anywhere 😉 …
Tropics bound? Here are my top 15 tips to know!
1) Plane Food Is Plain Food
- Not only loaded with chemicals and preservatives, the packaged food is bland. Bring your own food for traveling such as quinoa tabouli, pesto wraps and homemade trail mixes.
- Note: when you land at your destination, fresh foods will often be discarded by customs. This past trip, however, they completely overlooked my grapes, courteously leaving them for me to enjoy on the long, scenic bus ride to the resort.
- Also note: Not all food travels well. Take my banana, for example, that blackened in my carry on and split open on the plane. Making not only a mess but a very fragrant bag every time I opened it. Next time, I think I’ll stick with apples!
2) Don’t Remove Your Shoes!
- Firstly, not on the flight. For someone who is eternally barefoot, I had to learn this the hard way. The pressure causes your extremities to swell and it won’t be a swell time trying to fit back into your shoes.
- Secondly, not at the hotel. Bring socks and slippers with you. I love to go barefoot as much as the next guy (more so, to be honest) but even I have my limits.
3) Keep Your Bikini In Your Carry-on
- In case of missing luggage, pack all your essentials on your carry-on. A book, a bikini, your yoga mat and you’re set!
4) Be Sun Safe
- Due to the proximity to the equator, the sun is stronger than you think and too many travelers begin their vacation looking like the lobster dished up for dinner.
- Wear a natural sunscreen (without the use of synthetic chemicals which cause cellular damage and are absorbed into your bloodstream), whether you think you need it or not… You do.
- In case you do become dinner… topically apply pure aloe gel which contains glyconutrients and anti-inflammatory agents to increase healing and soothe your sunburn. Apply liberally.
6) Snorkel With Bananas..
- Sneak some bananas from the breakfast buffet. When going snorkeling, this is how to bring the fish out. Do this as an amateur snorkeler along the shore for the pretty little fish, but not in the deep blue where you will likely attract banana loving barracudas (but who could blame them?!).
7) Go On An Excursion
- Resorts are wonderful, but to experience authentic Cuba, you need to venture off the less-than-beaten path into the rustic cities and towns. Do so with structured bus passes, day trips and local market runs (also the way to the freshest produce!).
8) Fresh Coconuts And Freshly Squeezed Orange Juice Are MUSTS!
- This is no exception. If I was to die tomorrow and I got one last thing to eat, it would be freshly squeezed orange juice from the Cuban oranges.
9) Drink Tons And Tons And Tons Of Water
- Tropical climates are incredibly dehydrating, especially if you spend the majority of your days soaking up the sun on the beach. Ease up on the caffeine and swim-up bars and load up on large mason jars of clean water.
10) BUT DON’T EVER USE THEIR WATER
- Not even to brush your teeth. Use bottled water at all times. This is how many travelers fall ill because our body’s microbiome is not used to the foreign strands of bacteria that congregate in the faucets.
- To protect your delicate gut bacteria, load up on your shelf stable travelers probiotics and avoid any ingestion of tap water.
10) Opt Out Of Ice
- Though tempting to refresh yourself with an ice-cold beverage, skip this step! As noted above, ice is an easily forgettable source of tap water.
11) Eat The Right Things
- You know what it’s like to eat at a buffet from the time you’ve spent at all-you-can-eat-shushi. The last thing you want is a food coma when you can be setting sail on the waters, exploring the resort and salsa dancing your way across the stage.
- Skip excessively heavy foods and navigate to your best ability. Always keep snacks on hand for during the day. This means packing food bars, trail mixes etc. into luggage before you go and sneaking some bananas from the buffet, not just for the fish but for you too!
12) But For When You Accidentally Eat The Wrong Thing…
- Come prepared for food poisoning, which can be caused by anything from contamination by E.coli to the bacteria from food preparation.
- The fix? Pack activated charcoal in your holistic arsenal. This chelates toxins in the body to get it out of your system and fast! Do not use it every day as it is non-selective in its chelation meaning that it will remove harmful toxins but also beneficial vitamins and minerals along with it. The key? Use it when it is needed, but not as a preventative.
15) Last But Not Least:
- Talk to the locals! Socialize to your heart’s content but be sure to do so with your servers, and bartenders and the exceptionally nice man who tends the garden outside your room. The locals are full of interesting stories, will give you a great insight into their culture (the highs and lows) and will offer you an incredibly deep appreciation for the luxury of being there (and yes, even a greater appreciation for the snow you may come home to). But the best part; you may just brighten their day!
While I continue to reminisce over our time spent in the sunshine, I will be relishing in the beautiful weather we have here in Canada this year.
Wishing you safe and sunny travels,