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Want to visit Cuba? Here are 5 things to keep in mind!

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With diplomatic relations between the United States and Cuba restored, Americans have already started to plan Cuban vacations with thoughts of eating good food and soaking up plenty of sunshine -but what should Americans keep in mind as they plan? 

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LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - CNN reported several things Americans should know before traveling to the communist-ran island nation of Cuba. What's changed as a result of America's new policy? What hasn't? Which way to the Santiago de Cuba? 

Here is Catholic Online's list of the top five things to keep in mind before visiting the island:


1. Get Approved

The United States Treasury Department has to approve American citizens before they can spend money in Cuba since most business transactions with Cuba are banned and punishable by serious fines or jail time. 

The Treasury Department has a Frequently Asked Questions PDF available here.

2. Travel Now!

Cuba may not accept U.S. credit cards, have the internet, cell phone service or enough good hotels; but if you want to take a look at what critics call "pre-Americanized" Cuba, now is the time. You may not have internet and cell phone service but let's be honest: No one goes on vacation to surf the net or check their voicemails from work. Relax! Experience Cuba's many features now -just don't forget your camera! 3. What is still considered off-limits?

So...Americans aren't allowed to visit Cuba for tourism purposes alone. Luckily, you can visit if you plan on adding an educational component to your stay!

Though there is no indication the U.S. government has kept an eye on which Americans went to the beach or spent a night club-hopping, travel companies continue to encourage Americans to interact with locals. U.S. Cruise lines have begun talks for educational tours following a proposed re-establishment of regular service between Florida and Cuba. 

If you're planning on a trip to Cuba, enjoy a few drinks on the beach then head into town and grab a bite at a privately owned restaurant. This way you'll be supporting locals and learning about the culture's eating habits!

4. Cuban food is better at privately owned restaurants

Speaking of privately owned restaurants, tourists and locals alike prefer to dine at local hot spots than enter a government restaurant. In fact, the Cuban government has disclosed plans for the closure of many of the state's inefficient restaurants.

When you hit the restaurants, look for "paladars," which basically means "privately-owned restaurant" and you'll not only enjoy some delicious food, you'll also be supporting local businesses!

5. Cuban cigars are legal in the United States

Hold on there guys, just because they are legal now you can't just barge in, go on an educational tour then purchase thousands of dollars' worth of cigars. New regulations clearly state all U.S. visitors can only return to America with $100 worth of Cuban cigars. 

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This can be a problem since most boxes run over $100 each, but that doesn't mean you can't bring any home! 

Well, a visit to Cuba isn't as easy as simply making a phone call and purchasing tickets, but don't let that stop you! Now is the time to really immerse yourself in Cuban culture so get going!

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