I met Ugne during my undergraduate studies in Nottingham, United Kingdom. And recently she told me all about her family travels to Cuba. Herself, together with her husband Rokas and their son Adomas (9 months at the time of travels) visited Cuba in winter 2018.
"Actually, our credo is that we would go anywhere we have not been before, but we kind of have this list on our minds which of the countries are on our top list to see/visit first". It’s quite a pragmatic approach – they hunt for the cheapest tickets and once they find an extremely low or lower than average price – they buy the tickets (this applies more for the long haul trips, as in general the tickets are pricier). For example they went to Thailand before Cuba, as they found tickets for 260EUR both ways, with good airlines (yes, airlines also play a part in their choice). So they go anywhere they have not been before and each year they try to have at least one long haul trip.
It was the same with Cuba - once they found really well priced tickets, they did not think too much. As Cuba was definitely on their top list of countries to see. Cuba has a very special history and also is very unique in terms of living conditions for the people there. The price of the tickets was around 900EUR for all of them and they flew from Cyprus to United Kingdom, from there to Canada and then finally Cuba. Ugne and her family lives in Cyprus where her husband Rokas runs his travel business from (feel free to ping him if you are planning holidays in Cyprus at www.kipriukas.lt), therefore the departure country was Cyprus.
One of the biggest disadvantage of traveling with a child (at least for them) is that it slows everything down a bit and they cannot cover as much of the things they would normally do if it was only two of them. But on the other hand – they have a slower pace and get to enjoy the beautiful moments for longer and in a more peaceful way.
Before their son was born, they were always really light travellers – a small backpack each, pretty much everywhere they go. "With a child you have to plan ahead and will definitely need more things, especially if we are talking about Cuba",- said Ugne. Their son Adomas was only 9 months old when they travelled to Cuba, still in process of weaning and just started at that time on three meals a day. Since the resources are limited in Cuba, they had to take pretty much all of his food for the three weeks they were travelling, all medicine (just in case), etc.
With regards to accommodation, they really like authentic places and try to be as less touristic as possible, so this influences their choices of where to stay. Comfort always comes first though, but authenticity matters a lot. Specifically for Cuba they chose to search for accommodation through Airbnb, as the hotels in Cuba are generally government owned with inadequate prices and also not really to the actual standard of what they should be. Airbnb was a good choice, since they got to stay with various Cuban families (usually Cubans have a guest apartment or annex added to their house for extra income). As this option only in recent years became available for locals in Cuba, it really provided the right feel and vibe of the country and we could ask a gazillion questions that we had about Cuba and Cuban life.
Is it hard to travel with a child?
"It’s a tricky question – I think it’s not hard, but neither easy",- said Ugne. Also, things can happen – children get sick, different climate, different germs. So something can happen really unexpected and could ruin the whole trip. This is definitely something that the parents should weigh before choosing where to go and whether to travel with a baby/child.
They also never stay in one place. Even in Cuba, they changed their location at least 5 times. Ugne always says that they do not do holidays – they travel, meaning that staying in one place is not something that they would really enjoy. Though – if it is a city break, most likely they will stay in the same place and will move around by visiting the places around the city, like they did on their recent trip to Beirut.
Any adventures during the trip?
"Well, I would not really call it an adventure, but our son did get sick during the trip",- said Ugne. So they did have a bit of ‘adventure’ when they had to find where to take him and the whole process of check ups in Cuban hospital, translator (even though I speak Spanish, it does not cover medical terms).
The best memory from this trip?
In general the best memories are from meeting Cuban people and the stories they were telling about their life. "What really stuck with me is their sheer excitement about regular things that we had with us – like toys for Adomas, his clothes etc", - said Ugne. Grown up people were taking the toys and trying to see how they work with genuine amusement as they never had this kind of things for their children or in general have never seen such things before.
Would you recommend this country for others traveling with a child?
Any country (mostly) is fine when travelling with children and Cubans are really friendly towards families and children, so no dangers there. "I would highly recommend Cuba for the experience, but it needs to be a well prepared trip from the parents side in order to have basic comfort while travelling with children",- ended Ugne.