Some holiday destinations are safer than others, and it’s not as though this is going to come as a surprise. Indeed, many travel insurance companies feature an exclusion that invalidates the policy if you go to a country that your government has issued a travel warning against. So for example, if you happened to take a holiday in Somalia and were faced with the need for emergency medical care or other assistance, chances are that your travel insurance provider wouldn’t help you. This is simply because some places are deemed to be of too high a risk, generally from terrorism, rampant crime, or general civil unrest.
OK, so you might not be in the mood for a summer vacation in Afghanistan or Yemen, and yet you might be interested in the general safety in the country you will be going to.
So how safe is Cuba?
It’s a question that many people would have difficulty answering. To a certain degree, Cuba was seen as an unfriendly country in terms of its relation with the USA (although they’re now buddies again, fortunately). And yet, this was politics, and has very little to do with how safe you will be walking down the streets of Havana. And the good news is that Cuba in in fact very safe indeed. So what do you need to know?
The Lack of Street Crime in Cuba
Some destinations that are popular with tourists are notorious for petty crime, and Barcelona is an unfortunate victim of its own popularity in this respect. Granted, you might not think it’s particularly petty when someone snatches your bag from your arms and sprints away down the street, but it does happen. It’s good to know that such crimes are rare when considering how safe is Cuba, and street crimes such as these are not a common occurrence. It’s a strange contradiction, how Cuba can feel all rather madcap on one hand, and yet on the other, you do see a fair number of police patrolling the streets. Having said that, you should still take the proper precautions and never leave your bag or valuables unattended.
Additional Precautions (If Desired)
If you are still concerned about the possibility of pickpockets and other occurrences such as these, you can of course invest in a travel money belt that is concealed beneath your clothing. In all honesty, such a precaution is unlikely to be necessary in Cuba, but if you go with this option, consider the accessibility of whichever belt you choose. Remember that Cuba is a cash-based society, and so you will need to access your money numerous times each day. So essentially, you don’t want to choose one that needs to be removed each time before it can be unzipped.
The Question of Bling
Are you the type of lady who likes to wear her jewels everywhere, or a guy who can’t leave the house without strapping on his expensive watch? This might be a habit you’ll want to break in Cuba. As mentioned, actual street crime is rare and so it’s not as though you’ll be targeted for robbery on the basis of the perceived price of your accessories, but it’s more a case of standing out too much, since this type of fashion is a rarity in Cuba. Some of this has to do with the fact that the average yearly income in Cuba is low when compared to most other countries in the region of a comparable size, and so such accessories are generally deemed unnecessary.
Security in Your Accommodation
In which type of accommodation will you be staying while in the country? This is an important consideration when wondering how safe is Cuba. Like in any other destination, hotels will generally have room safes for their guests (or a hotel safe), allowing you to securely store any expensive items you might wish to keep extra secure. This is unlikely to be the case if you’re staying at a Casa Particular (which is a Cuban homestay style of accommodation).
This is essentially staying in a converted section of a private home, and so a safe might not be available. Of course you can lock your door, but this might warrant a rethink as to whether or not you truly want to bring the device in question. Remember to ensure that your travel insurance covers you for the full replacement of the item in the highly unlikely event of it being stolen.
Not Con Artists, Just Annoying
When wondering how safe is Cuba while you’re in the actual country, you might become suspicious of the overly friendly locals who approach you when you’re walking down the street. They’re personable, chatty, and for some people this might trigger a warning. Don’t worry, they’re not con artists or attempting to lure you somewhere unsafe. But they are certainly trying to lure you somewhere. They’re touts, and their motive is to get you to visit a certain bar, restaurant, or entertainment venue (and they’re often paid on the basis of how many people they deliver). So while this is not an attempted crime, it can be rather annoying. A polite “no” should be all you need though.
How Safe is Cuba? A Final Word
Like any destination, Cuba is never going to be entirely free of crime. Happily, the level of crime happens to be much lower than in many other tourist destinations around the world. You still need to take the proper precautions, and so you’re not going to stroll down the street with your bag wide open and all your valuables on display. If you should feel that you’re in an unsafe situation, simply leave. Sometimes it can be mindful to take a taxi back to your accommodation instead of walking through the dark streets. But this is more to prevent you from becoming lost, as opposed to something unfortunate happening.
Do you have questions? Just leave a comment below!