Learning travel Uncategorized

Traveling to Cuba with the kids.

Blog post is courteous of my travel journal entries. I kept track of everything in my travel journal, since I left my computer behind and we had no internet in Cuba.

Our adventure began at 2:30 am on April 20th, it was departure day and like most trips I was packing everything last-minute. I hadn’t finished packing everything until midnight, and we were suppose to leave by 3am. I still managed to get a couple of hours of sleep before my alarm rang at 2:30am, after we showered and got ready to go we woke the kids up at 2:50am. By some stroke of luck, we managed to get everyone and everything out the door just shortly after three.

We had debated on calling a taxi to come and get us, but we had to take into consideration if we took a taxi we’d need to bring the kids car-seats. Than we would have to haul the car-seats around Cuba, and that didn’t sound ideal. So in the end we decided we’d go park our vehicle at the park to go, and we caught a shuttle bus to the Calgary International Airport from there. We got to the airport before customs opened, and had to sit and wait about half an hour.

Waiting for customs to open.

That’s the part where the kids started to get impatient, almost everything was closed because it was really early despite it being busy. I wasn’t expecting customs to be so busy so early in the morning, and not long after they opened there was two huge line ups of people.I had packed all of my stuff exactly as the airlines advised, and when it came time for my turn the airport security took my bag for further inspection and to be swabbed. I wasn’t concerned since I had nothing to hide, but I will admit it was a bit nerve-wracking being pulled to the side. Other than that little hiccup, everything went smoothly.

We ended up stopping at one of the airport convenient stores, just on the other side of customs where we bought some over priced junk food for the plane. Being awake that early was difficult without caffeine, and it wasn’t until we got to our gate that I realized there was an opened Starbucks.

Part of me wanted to grab a coffee from the Starbucks, but it was all the way down on the other side of the airport and I didn’t want to miss our boarding especially with the kids. Once we got to the flight gate, they told us we had to wait another 15 minutes. The kids were antsy to move and they didn’t like having to stay in one place, especially Zaden he wanted to run around but we distracted him with his junk food.

In the future I need to plan to give the kids something to eat, even if it’s something simple to tide them over. Thinking back we could have easily stopped at the McDonald’s drive-thru, and picked up a couple burgers or snack wraps to be eaten before we went through customs. Oh well, live and learn.

Everyone was in a good mood, when we first got on the plane.

I made the decision that I would sit with Emilee, and Zaden then Keera would sit with my mom. This plan was great since, I put Zaden in the window seat making it almost impossible for him to leave his seat meaning he’d sit for the duration of the flight. Emilee sat in the middle of us, because I didn’t want her in the aisle seat and I also didn’t want her whining to see me during the flight.Keera was happy to sit with my mom, and even happier to not have to sit next to her siblings. Our flight first flew from Calgary, Alberta to Regina, Saskatchewan. Once we got to Regina they changed the flight staff, some people got off and others got on and most importantly they fueled up the airplane one last time before we headed for Cuba.Once we left Regina, Saskatchewan we flew straight down to Holguin, Cuba. I had packed some colors, and a couple of books so that the kids had something to do on the flight. Including my Ipad, but I never ended up pulling them out. The flight attendants gave the kids each a “beach bag”, it had some crayons, a little coloring book, an inflatable beach ball for when we got to our destination.

Those bags were lifesavers, the only thing that the kids complained about during the flight was that they were hungry. Better planning could have avoided that though, but this give me knowledge about what to pack in the future. Our flight from Calgary to Regina was an hour and ten minutes, not including the time we waited for people to board and UN-board plus them refueling the plane. Than the flight from Regina to Cuba was 7 hours, and 45 minutes. Thankfully we took an early morning flight, and the kids spent a good majority of the flight sleeping.Before you get to Cuba the flight attendants give you two pieces of paper to fill out, one of them you need to fill out all of your passport information on. Including answering questions about how much money you’ve got on you, and in what currency along with some basic questions on drugs, animals, etc.The second piece of paper you must keep with you at all times, it’s your “ticket” to get into Cuba and you need it to leave Cuba as well. This paper has to be filled out with your name, your birth-date, and passport number as well as your signature.

Once you get to Cuba it’s nothing like getting off the plane in Canada, or even the States. The first thing you notice is you get slammed in the face by the heat, the second thing is you get off the plane by going down some stairs onto the runway. The best way to describe it is, getting off the plane “celebrity” style. 😛

Then you walk from the plane to the airport, once you get there you’ll see a bunch of doors and you need to stand in line to go through Cuban customs. You will walk through one of the doors when it’s your turn, and you’ll be in a tiny hallway. The attendant will ask you for your papers, and passport including a few other questions then you’ll need to have your picture taken.

NOT my photo, but shows you what Cuban customs looks like.

Once you get through there, you need to stand in another line. Think regular airport line where they scan your bags, and you go through a metal detector including a body scan with a wand if required. Once you make it through all that you are now officially on the other side, you’ll be able to grab your luggage that you put under the plane.

Welcome to Cuba!

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