So, quarantine… am I right? If I close my eyes, I can almost imagine the sticky, NYC bar floor that I’m not stepping on, and picture all of the men I’d be dodging and rolling my eyes at on the dance floor. Coronavirus came in like Sharkeisha and completely curb stomped our freedom, but fret not friends! If we ACTUALLY practice social distancing and understand that
our selfishness and self-absorbed ideals no longer have a place in American society when it comes to the health and safety of our immuno-compromised friends and family this is how it has to be for a little bit, we’ll be out of the house in no time!
When that glorious day comes, I’m pretty sure that many of us are going to want to travel the world and see the countries that we were banned from visiting during this time. I, for one, have an August trip abroad planned that I’m hoping won’t be ruined (because we’re all going to practice social distancing, riiiiiight? Right????? O_____O). I know it scares the Bejesus out of many people, but I fancy myself a solo trip. Nothing gets me going more than the feeling of anonymity, and knowing people are not paying attention to me because of my strong Resting Bitch Face. I can just explore on my own terms, take in the sights, and have a blast all on my own while scowling unintentionally.
My very first solo trip was on a whim essentially. I traveled to Havana, Cuba, after being informed I had a week’s worth of vacation days to use, and I only had a month to plan it. While Cuba wasn’t super high on my list of “MUST” trips, if I was looking for true-blue isolation pre-corona, this was the right place to do it.
Below are some of the tips I utilized and discovered while exploring the country, and hopefully you can use them if you’re every planning to travel sola.
GET. TRAVEL. INSURANCE. : So… after being high-key tricked by a handsome chapiador (a gold digger) during my first full day on the island, I literally had 20 CUC ($20) to work with on the way to the airport to head back to Miami. Unfortunately, it wasn’t enough for the amount of my taxi ride to the airport, but ol’ boy was going to have to take it or leave it… lo siento, my guy! HEAVEN FORBID I couldn’t find an ATM to take out more money (which likely wouldn’t have happened since Cuba is still relatively old-school, and ATMs aren’t really a thing there), I would have been fxxked. However, travel insurance is something that I knew would have been helpful in that time of need, so I’m super thankful I took it out. A lot of the time, travel insurance comes with the airline, sometimes, it doesn’t. Even if you’re cheap… take. the. travel. insurance. One of the best, low-cost travel insurance companies is Allianz, and I recommend getting it especially on international trips. I recently took out Allianz insurance for my August trip, because the airline didn’t offer insurance, and they’re now on my list. So now, I have a much stronger peace of mind knowing that things are covered if the trip goes wrong or gets canceled entirely
AIRBNBs ARE YOUR FRIENDS: I personally don’t care for hotels. Sure, the luxury of people cleaning your bathroom and giving you brand new sheets is alluring, but I’m a rather simple bitch. With Airbnbs, you can get all the fixings of living in a home without the property taxes, and homie DO play that. Plus, it’s a fact that Airbnbs are usually cheaper, and you can find a place to stay based on the amount of money that you wish to work with. Since I was staying in Cuba for 4 nights and 5 days, a place costing no more than $100 in total was perfect for me. Not only was my host Betty’s place affordable, but her grandmother made me a big, authentic breakfast each morning, and Betty told me of so many places that are necessary to visit while in Havana. My favorite places to visit during the daytime were Plazas Vieja, San Francisco y Arma, all right in Central Havana, and within walking distance from where I stayed. The taxis were a bit hard to navigate and since mi español es un poco shitty, I walked a ton. But all of this to say… if you’re looking for a place that’s within your budget and has that authenticity factor, opt for an Airbnb. Plus, it’s super easy to find a sexy place to stay (always stay with Superhosts for both nice aesthetics and nice service).
TRANSFER YOUR USD’S TO EUROS FIRST: Listen… we don’t have time for crappy exchange rates in 2020, okurrrrr? If you’re traveling to Cuba specifically… transfer your money to Euros before transferring it to CUC (the Cuban dollar). The CUC and the USD are nearly identical, HOWEVER, the exchange rate at the Havana airport is much lower for Euros. I bought 280 Euros and got 315 CUC for it, after transferring my $$ in America from the dollar to the Euro. I think the rate of exchange is 3% for a Euro, whereas for USD, it’s 11%. Ain’t that a blip???? I personally think that I bought enough money for a 4 night, 5 day trip… but due to a circumstance with a fxxkboy there (see above), my money depleted far faster than expected. All and all… spend your money on YOU, and it will last.
MAKE A LIST OF YOUR “MUSTS” BEFORE YOU LEAVE, BUT LEAVE WIGGLE ROOM IN YOUR PLANS: Especially in Cuba, where they have no Internet, you can’t just Google places to visit while on the trip. Sit down with your good sis Google well before the trip, do your research, and figure out what you want to go to while there. TripAdvisor is also that girl, since Yelp really won’t help you as much internationally. Then, map out what days you can go to what places, based on proximity. Sure, some people like to wing it, and I give props to those who can. I am NOT one of those people, which is why I earned the nickname “Anal Girl” from one of my old coworkers. I plan everything to a T, just so I know that I won’t stray too far from the beaten path, and let the other crazy things happen along the way (because they’re going to happen). Find out what restaurants are musts, what bars seem great, and of course, keep in mind of some smaller places you’d like to try as well. For instance, I got hungry while in one of the Plazas, and got a delicious and random meal there for 7 CUC ($7). It wasn’t in my plans to go there, but girl’s gotta eat, and I’m happy I did.
MUST SEE PLACES IN HAVANA
Old Havana: Really amazing sights! Capitol Building is a must see- it looks exactly like the U.S. Capitol… except there’s no Donald Trump nearby, so it’s better.
Santa Maria Beach: Apparently, Varadero Beach is THEE beach to go to. HOWEVER, if you’re traveling solo, it’s incredibly far from center of the city, and we’re not spending money on taxi cabs! My taxi driver steered me clear of it and I went to Santa Maria instead, which was very close and beautiful. He also told me that Varadero Beach was “Full of gringos, and if you want that, you can just go to Miami.” Annioop.
Fabrica Del Arte: This is the best club I’ve ever been to, and that includes the Babysitter’s Club. Three floors, art exhibits, dancing, concerts… There was never a dull moment, and you don’t have to just “party” if you don’t want to (and I didn’t really want to!) $2 CUC to get in (take THAT NYC!), and their drinks were CHEAP and STRONG.