Carrying money/Safety issues etc. | Debbie's Caribbean Resort Reviews Forums

I think I can wrap up most of the rest of my questions here……My husband is buying a wallet that you hang around your neck (inside shirt) for cash, etc. I would like to wear a fanny pack (worn in front though) — the kind that has a water bottle holder. Will a fanny pack be safe enough for me to use?On another note, a friend of ours, who had been to Cuba years ago, told us that the toilet paper is sold to you by the square?? and is horribly rough.Also told us there are no face cloths there. ?? Fact or fiction?
Face cloths are not usually supplied at AI hotels. Toilet paper or a substitute is something you take with you or take your chance finding/purchasing by the piece.Some of your info is about AI vacations and not applicable to independent travel. Independent travelers take everything they need.For me, traveling off resort: Cash goes in my pants pocket, the one credit card and health card go in a hidden pocket with my passport. Photocopies of those and other documents plus a flash drive with scans of everything in an inside zipped pocket. Anything I can afford to lose goes in the fanny pack.I’m sure Terry and others have a more comprehensive list. There is a thread about what we take here:

www.debbiescaribbeanresortreviews.com/forum/thread/20212/travel-haves

1.) I can’t stand any of the under clothes wallets, they’re hot, sticky and way too obvious that you’re carrying something of value. My money and such is in a pocket that’s secured with a zipper/buttons/Velcro/etc. to make it pickpocket proof. I carry very little with me on a day-to-day basis. Everything of value lives in one of these back in my casa:

www.pacsafe.com/travelsafe-12l-portable-safe.html

2.) In many cases washrooms have an attendant that you tip for the use of the facilities and they supply toilet tissue, usually in small amounts. An experienced traveller always has their own toilet tissue and hand sanitizer with them, never depend on the attendant and never assume a washroom will even have running water let alone toilet tissue.3.) And yes, with the face cloth issue you’re kinda mixing up all inclusive resort travel with independent travel but the fact remains that with few exceptions (like towels) EVERYTHING you feel you need should be brought with you. Face clothes are a first world issue, the rest of the planet doesn’t care.Cheers,

Terry

I use a similar approach to what Spunky does. I carry no wallet. I wear pants that are lightweight synthetic, zip off legs, and 8 pockets (I think), some with velcro or zippered closures and some of which are hidden. Cash is distributed among a couple of them so I never take out all of it at once. Cards, passport, ID and large bills are kept hidden. Sometimes I carry a small pack but absolutely nothing I can’t afford to lose goes in there.

Yikes amighty! You DO have to be very careful there, it seems. Thank you for the tips, and the links.
Much appreciated!

Yikes amighty! You DO have to be very careful there, it seems. Thank you for the tips, and the links.
Much appreciated! I think you have to be cautious, as you would in unfamiliar surroundings anywhere. I have never felt unsafe in Cuba, but I usually stay at an AI resort. However, I have walked around in Havana and in various small towns by myself, and didn’t feel threatened in any way. I tend to wear a fanny pack, as you do. But any large amount of money or credit cards is likely to be tucked away, so if someone tries to remove the fanny pack I won’t lose anything important. At home I will wear a jacket to discourage that kind of thing (prevents cutting the pack off from behind), but Cuba is a bit warm for that!
My approach is to do everything I can to not make myself a target. Petty theft is everywhere and I actually think that Cuba is fairly low on the list, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t happen. Here’s just a little example; If I’m out at a bar somewhere and I order 2 beers, I reach into my pocket where I know there is a 5cuc note or a few singles. The next guy pulls his wallet out of this bag and sorts through his wad of bills looking for the correct amount. He then sits down at a table and places his bag on the floor beside him, hangs it on his chair, etc. If there is someone around will ill intent, he just made himself the target, either for a theft or for the target of the scam. Not only has he shown that he has a lot of cash, his passport, credit cards, etc are probably in that bag as well. If he puts the wallet in a pocket, they know where it is and that it’s worth the attempt to pick his pocket. Don’t get the idea that I’m paranoid, I just think that it’s wise to control the little things you can and make yourself the more difficult target. Advertising the fact that you have a lot of cash and exactly where you keep it is not smart, Cuba is full of scam artists. They are overwhelmingly of the harmless type, but they can be annoying. "No pesos, senior" doesn’t work very well if they know better.
And you must be wary of the opportunistic snatch and run. Do NOT set your bag down, or leave it alone ‘for just a second’. I had an entrepreneur relieve me of a small pack containing a baseball, jersey, cap, camera and other stuff in Havana after a ball game. He could have been the star of the Olympic sprinting team. Just a moment of inattention on my part. Oh well, lesson learned.
Yikes amighty! You DO have to be very careful there, it seems…
By any measure Cuba is one of the safest developing countries on the planet that receives a lot of foreign tourists. Sometimes the most unsafe thing about Cuba is that it’s so safe that it lulls you into a false sense of security so that you get lazy and forget your common sense and street smarts.Cheers,Terry
The so-called "scams" in Cuba are invariably bush league when compared to many other destinations, especially in the developing world. You’re (usually) looking at losing a few bucks and a bit of pride, that’s all. No big deal. Crime is mostly the same but there are always exceptions of course, so don’t make the mistake of blindly jumping on the "Cuba Is So Safe" bandwagon to the point where you’re being stupid. Sadly, it’s NOT as safe as it used to be!

1. Violent Crime
Still (almost) unheard of – against tourists, that is. (Cuban to Cuban is a different story.) Like the Royal Canadian Mounted Police of olden times the Cuban Police always, “get their man.” There are few places that can boast the almost 100% success rate for solving violent crime that the Cuban police do. Justice is swift and brutal. Result: So long as you’re not into under-age prostitution, drugs, etc. your chances of being shot, knifed, raped, car jacked, etc. are minuscule.(That said, a close friend and an acquaintance of mine have been murdered Cuba. They were both being very stupid and put themselves in situations that anyone with the slightest bit of common sense would never consider. Their murders are a complete non-issue to the average, common sense traveller.)


2. Snatch & Grab

Unfortunately this is becoming more common in tourist areas. Never stroll around with your purse/knapsack casually slung over your shoulder. Never carry a camera in your hand without strapping it to your wrist. Many times the Snatch & Grab thieves work in pairs with one riding a bicycle, thus offering both thieves a quick getaway.

3. Pickpockets

This is unfortunately now rampant in some areas and situations. If you’re being jostled in a tightly packed crowd in many places you will suffer pickpocket attempts. It’s inevitable.Fortunately pick-pocketing (like money exchange) is one of the very few crimes that is 100% preventable. A pickpocket can’t magically teleport something from you. A pickpocket has to physically get their grubby, thieving hands on your belongings. Inside pockets, zippers, Velcro, buttons, etc. are some of the many measures that can help make pick-pocketing almost impossible. Be prepared, and this very common crime becomes a non-issue.

4. Other Thievery

Never leave your belongings unsecured. Sitting a purse down on a bench and looking away for a moment is asking for trouble. Minor crimes of opportunity are very common, so don’t give anyone the chance.Most unique bit of thievery I witnessed: A purse stolen because it was left too close to a window – the thieves reached in through the security bars with a long stick, and silently spirited it away.


5. Money Exchange

This is by far the #1 scam in Cuba. Take a calculator with you so you know the exact amount of Convertible Pesos coming to you. If you don’t have a calculator (or cell phone, etc.) do not accept any transaction that doesn’t come with a printed receipt. No printed receipt invariably means that you’re being short-changed. Ripping off tourists during money exchange transactions is as common as sunburn now but it can easily be avoided with a few seconds of simple Grade 5 math and a few more seconds of carefully counting out your CUC in front of the teller. Like pick-pocketing this crime is 100% preventable.

6. Counterfeit Money

Counterfeit Convertible Pesos are fairly uncommon, but they are out there. To familiarize yourself with how the money looks, and the security features, have a look here…

i.) Convertible Pesos, CUC: www.cubacurrency.com/cuban_convertible_pesos_cuc.html

ii.) Cuban Pesos, CUP: www.cubacurrency.com/cuban_pesos_cup.html


7. Credit Cards
Never let your credit card out of sight and always keep your carbon copies. I had one monster cash advance taken out on my credit card and processed through Spain.

8. Restaurants and Bars

Never run a bar tab – always pay as you go. Keep a menu so you can compare the final bill against the real prices. In some places like Barrio Chino (Chinatown) in Havana it’s a given that your bill will always be padded.


9. Fake Menus

The Bar Neptuno down the street from my casa in Havana is a typical Cuban bar of very questionable repute. A beer or a mojito is 1 – 1.50 CUC.A popular scam is to allow yourself to be talked into buying a new “fren” a drink, and after a couple of rounds you’ll discover a bar tab of 75 CUC. When you express outrage/dismay a “menu” is quickly produced by the bartender, showing a mojito going for 7.50 CUC. I’ve rescued several tourists from this bar who were completely overwhelmed by their new frens scamming the hell out of them. Always ask the price, before you buy!


10. Taxis

If you’re not running the meter, always confirm the full price before you start the trip. The metered rate is the same as anywhere else – simply what the meter says and no more. Some taxi drivers will try and convince you the tariff rate, kilometre rate and the taxi rate has to be added together. Pretty funny, actually.

11. Customs Duty Coming Into Cuba

If you have too much luggage or you’re carrying something suspect (ALL luggage is X-Rayed upon arrival in Cuba) you might be red-flagged and hauled into Secondary Inspection.Cuban Customs Regulations are quite simple and straightforward. If you’re trying to bring in something out of the ordinary (especially electronics) familiarize yourself with the regulations and refuse to pay any duty that is not correct. Waving a copy of the Regulations and not speaking Spanish is actually an advantage in these situations.

www.aduana.co.cu/

12. Overweight Baggage Charges Exiting Cuba

When you’re leaving home always check the exact weight of your checked luggage at the airport. When the Cuban check-in agent tries to tell you you’re overweight on your return leg, don’t put up with that crap. Canadians in particular are singled out for this scam because they’re too polite, complacent and easily bullied. Believe me, the Cuban check-in agents would never try to pull this stunt on a plane full of Italians!!!Many people swear by the small, digital luggage scales that are available in travel shops. Sounds like a good idea to me for some travellers.(I’ve seen weights taped to the back side of the scales at Varadero and when I made a big scene they all expressed horror at the deception, claiming the “other shift did it.” Very, very funny.)


13. Airport Exit Scams

On one occasion I saw a large group of UK travellers paying the 25 CUC Departure Tax with 25 Sterling – dozens of people in the group were doing this, all because a crooked official told them that GBPs were being accepted same as CUC, so people were happily handing over their Sterling with no clue.I’ve also seen an inexperienced traveller paying 3 Departure Taxes all at once and the teller "lost" 15 CUC and demanded more payment. Obviously it was a dumb move to hand over the entire payment in one lump sum. The Departure Taxes should have been paid separately and the situation would never have happened.


14. Cigars

The cigars you bought from your best friend bartender/guide/cleaning lady/taxi driver who has a father/brother/uncle working at the cigar factory are counterfeit. They were not taken from the factory, they are counterfeit. No matter how well you know your fren, they are counterfeit.- that’s not to say they’re bad cigars.- that’s not to say they weren’t a great deal.- that’s not to say you won’t enjoy a good smoke.But quite simply, they are 100% fake. Accept this, get over it, and enjoy them!==============================There’s lots of other things, but really, they’re not important. Compared to many of its Central/South American neighbours (let along Asia and the Indian Subcontinent – watch out!) Cuba is no way/shape/form a corrupt destination (for a tourist, that is) and as mentioned at the beginning of this post the scams that a normal tourist will face are usually bush league and almost… naively innocent.It all boils down to one simple thing… Cuba is NOT a difficult destination (as a matter of fact, it’s incredibly easy to travel there) but like anywhere in world – especially in a developing country – you always have to use COMMON SENSE and DO YOUR RESEARCH.Have fun!Cheers,Terry

Hubby says it sounds like going to New York city (safety issues).

I’d have to have a whole suitcase for toilet paper — do you have any idea how much TP a woman uses in 6 weeks?!

Hubby wants to buy clothes needed while we’re there. I told him I’d check about that — any clothing stores in the towns?

Hubby wants to buy clothes needed while we’re there. I told him I’d check about that — any clothing stores in the towns? Not a great idea. Clothing stores won’t likely supply what you want and may be more expensive than here. Of course, you could try finding what you want on the black market. Lots of items brought down and gifted to resort workers show up there.

The toilet paper situation might be alleviated by checking into an all inclusive for a night or two and negotiating with the maid.

I feel a lot more comfortable walking around towns in Cuba than I would in New York or Toronto. Apart from anything else, you are a lot less likely to be shot!

Hubby says it sounds like going to New York city (safety issues).

I’d have to have a whole suitcase for toilet paper — do you have any idea how much TP a woman uses in 6 weeks?!

Hubby wants to buy clothes needed while we’re there. I told him I’d check about that — any clothing stores in the towns?

1.) You can’t compare safety in developed and undeveloped countries. In any case as has been stated repearedly Cuba is very safe and isn’t comparable to New York by any measure.2.) Bring a few rolls to get you started, then buy your toilet tissue as needed or simply take a supply from your casa for day-to-day use.

3.) As stated over and over with very few acceptions bring EVERYTHING you need, and that includes clothing.

Cheers,Terry

I tell anyone going to Cuba for the first time to pack as if you are going to the interior of Algonquin Park – because if you don’t bring it, you won’t be able to find it. In 2005, I had a heck of a time trying to buy tampons for my friend who had forgotten her feminine hygiene products; in 2014, it is just as impossible to find them. Do not expect to say, Oh well, I’ll pick it up at the store. Usually, there IS NO store, or if there is a store, they sold the last one the other day and are waiting for "maybe tomorrow" for new stock. "Maybe tomorrow" can be the next day, but usually it is a lot longer than that. There are very few places to buy clothes. Your hub might want to invest in some Tilley clothing, socks and underwear, as it is washable and dry by the next morning.

Wash cloths – I pick up a few at the dollar store, as well as one of those soapy puffs for showering. There are no wash cloths at AI resorts. You might want to pack baby wipes for cleanup/washroom use. Do not flush your products down the toilet, put them in the garbage can beside the toilet. Cuban sewer systems are not like ours with the superpower flushability!

Oh I know about not flushing wipes up here; but in Cuba, don’t flush the toilet paper either. I was surprised to discover this when I first visited a house.

Thanks bunches. Especially on the TP tips. If I need to put it in the wastebasket anyway, I may as well take cheap baby wipes — more compact to pack.

Even though my husband says he’s done his own research, I can’ seem to get it through his head that you guys know what you’re talking about — from experience — and he’d do well to pay attention. Gr-rr-r!

I wonder if another plan of attack is to go to an All Inclusive for the 1st week.

Chat around a few of the locals and other guests and Taxi drivers until you feel more comfortable. Then venture out on your own. As Terry says not a scary place, but this might give you a bit more comfort. There are some very reasonable, clean resorts that would not break the bank, but still allow local insight.

Thanks eloisegirl: "Tilley clothing, socks and underwear, as it is washable and dry by the next morning." Really good advice. Part of my clothing for Cuba is Tilley and We use AIs.
Thanks eloisegirl: "Tilley clothing, socks and underwear, as it is washable and dry by the next morning." Really good advice. Part of my clothing for Cuba is Tilley and We use AIs. My travel wardrobe is not much different than my fair weather canoe tripping clothing. I also enjoyed the above reference to Algonquin.    Both are very good advice and have served me well!
I wonder if another plan of attack is to go to an All Inclusive for the 1st week.

Chat around a few of the locals and other guests and Taxi drivers until you feel more comfortable. Then venture out on your own. As Terry says not a scary place, but this might give you a bit more comfort. There are some very reasonable, clean resorts that would not break the bank, but still allow local insight.

I would love to do that but he insists on going as cheap as possible (casas). I told him that it may be struggle to buy khaki/chinos pants and sandals there. His reply: I see no problem — I’ll get the man of the casa to take me shopping. Hmmmm.

Lots of times AIs are cheaper than Air+Casas+transportation.
Right now it’s around $1000 for airfare alone or $1300 for two weeks AI. YDF to VRA March 17. A great way to save money and get acclimated for two weeks before venturing out for the next month. I’m not sure if the difference would pay for Casas, Food and Transport for 14 nights.

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