Trump Changes Course on Cuba: What Travelers Need to Know

President Trump announced major changes to U.S.-Cuba relations today that have wide-reaching impacts. Among them, nullifying person-to-person travel from the U.S. to Cuba and restricting business with the Cuban conglomerate GASESA (Armed Forces Business Enterprises Group), which controls most sectors of the Cuban economy. We spoke with Tom Popper, president of U.S.-to-Cuba travel operator Insight Cuba[1], to give us the rundown on what Trump’s changes mean for American travelers, business, and Cubans. Here’s what you need to know.

MORE: The Best AirBnBs in Havana, Cuba[2]

Say Goodbye to Solo Trips

Individuals will no longer be able to simply check the “People to People” box on their visa and be granted access to Cuba, which not only stops independent adventurous types from exploring the island, but also people looking to visit their Cuban family. “If these changes are instated, then we could roll back to the same place we were before December 2015, when the Bush administration banned any individual from obtaining a license to travel,” says Popper. “In that case, you will only be able to travel to Cuba if you are traveling with a licensed tour operator like Insight Cuba. You won’t be able to buy a commercial plane ticket and book a hotel online and check a box on your visa.”

Tour Operators Could Fold

A policy resembling that of the Bush era is not only difficult for travelers, but also the tour operators that are then the only way for individuals to get to the island. “A policy that requires all travel to be through a licensed operator creates an incredible burden on organizations like us because we have to apply to the U.S. Department of the Treasury to become authorized to travel. If our approval gets delayed, then our trips get delayed, and our passengers get delayed. During the Bush administration, we experienced a four-month-long booking upheaval because the government can be slow with approving licenses. It made business continuity difficult." For travelers, that means that even making a booking with a licensed tour operator can be a crapshoot if the government is in the middle of re-approving their license to operate. Most tour operators have plenty of insurance and fine-print policy to protect their customers from losing all the money they put into their bookings in cases like this, but it’s still a huge bummer to have the trip you planned fall through because of government-induced delays that neither you or the operator you booked through have any control over.

ALSO: Cuba at 4,000 Revolutions per Minute[3]

If You Already Have a Trip Booked, You’re Safe

“If you’re planning to travel independently I recommend doing it this summer,” Popper says. If you’re planning on going on a group tour, you’re fine and have nothing to worry about because you’ll have a travel license.” For independent travelers who already have plans to visit the island, you’re safe. Commercial flight tickets and hotel reservations that were booked prior to the announcement and are booked for dates that fall before any executive order is written into policy by the U.S. Departments of the Treasury and Commerce will be honored.

For the Rest of You, Get to Cuba While You Still Can

But either way, things are changing. “My advice for people who want to go to Cuba is this: Get it in while you can.” Because regardless of whether or not it remains lawful to travel to Cuba, the more legislative restrictions that are enacted between the U.S. and Cuba, the more difficult it will be to have an easy, enjoyable trip to the island. Even though the specifics of the changes that will be enacted are still unclear, it is clear that things will change. Popper estimates that Trump’s order (if it is written into policy) won’t take full effect and be enforced for four to eight months. Look at that as your time frame to get your Cuba travel — as we know it now — checked off your travel bucket list.


  1. ^ Insight Cuba (
  2. ^ MORE: The Best AirBnBs in Havana, Cuba (
  3. ^ ALSO: Cuba at 4,000 Revolutions per Minute (

7 Days in Vietnam: A Slightly Insane Travel Itinerary

Day One: Get Lost in Hanoi

The first thing you notice about Hanoi is that everyone is moving at a manic clip, rushing by bicycle, moped, motorcycle, or (more rarely) car — and you’re just trying not to get run over. Such is the pace of life in Vietnam’s second most populated urban area, where chaos is the norm and humans are rushing by, all day. It may seem hokey at first, but a ride in a cyclo (a pedal-driven, modern-day chariot) is a must-do. Try some of the street food, if your stomach can handle it, and don’t miss out on a hot bowl of pho before the first day is up.

ALSO: Discover Vietnam's Ha Long Bay[1]

Day Two: Explore the Red River Delta

The drive from the metropolis of Hanoi to the countryside elapses in just about two hours, leaving you plenty of time to explore the natural wonder that is the complete opposite of Vietnam’s congested cities. Ninh Binh’s Tam Coc River is a must. Snag a seat on a rowboat (where skilled rowers scull with their feet), and sail into a relatively untouched, lush landscape. Entrepreneurial coxswains spend the day floating up and down the river with beers, which you’re encouraged to purchase. Kick back with a cold one and stay to watch the sunset illuminate the region in vibrant pinks, purples, and reds. Make friends with some locals and be sure to down a couple of shots of “happy water,” aka Vietnamese rice wine.

Day Three: Drive to Ho Chi Minh’s Home

It’ll take some time to get from Ninh Binh to the city of Vinh, the birthplace of Vietnam’s revered leader, so you might as well enjoy the ride. Spend some time exploring the Red River Delta ahead of the drive back to urban life. Some people dismiss Vinh as no more than a truck stop. Pay them no attention; it’s a vibrant city that feels as busy as Hanoi but less crowded. In Vinh’s outskirts is the birthplace of Ho Chih Minh, a humble house that’s surrounded today by information for visitors and a memorial. Stick to Tiger beers, not happy water, as the overnight scene in Vinh is less exciting — and the next day involves a lot of time on the road.

Go Big: 43 Adventures to Make This Your Best Summer Ever[2]

Day Four: On to the Imperial City

It is a day’s driving from Vinh to the historic city of Hue, but the coastal route is worth it. Along the way, stop at untouched beaches, mountain pass overlooks, and at least one roadside coffee shop. With a couple of cups of hot or iced Vietnamese coffee, a strong blend of steeped coffee and sweetened condensed milk, the journey is far from tiresome. You’ll likely arrive in the dark, so settle in and have a cocktail or two at the historic La Residence hotel, which once served as a colonial French domicile, before hitting Hue’s bustling bar scene.

Day Five: Sightseeing and Jetting to Ho Tram

The most significant attractions in Hue, a former capital city of Vietnam, are architectural: a citadel that dates back hundreds of years, and the Imperial City that lies within its borders, surrounded by a moat. (An English-speaking guide is a must here, if you want to absorb any of the history of the place beyond the decorations and sculptures.) When you’re finished playing tourist, grab a taxi to Hue’s Phu Bai airport and catch a short, 90-minute flight to Ho Chi Minh City, aka Saigon. Before you’ve had your afternoon coffee, hire a local guide and head straight for Ho Tram, the beach town that wishes it were Las Vegas.

Day Six: Hit the Beach

When you wake up in Ho Tram, located about two hours southeast of Ho Chi Minh City, you’ll wonder why you didn’t find this piece of paradise sooner. Do as the locals do, and spend the day eating seafood, drinking local beer, and taking in the sun. Most of Ho Tram is still undeveloped, making it something of a hidden gem. If you can, find a guide who will take you off-roading in the lush, beachfront terrain, as well as the nearby dunes. Spend the night in the seaside area of Vung Tau, a vacation town popular with Russian tourists, and take in the view from a high point, ahead of a final day in Ho Chi Minh City.

Day Seven: Ho Chi Minh City

Wade through the traffic thick with two-wheelers back to Ho Chi Minh City for a day of adventure within the sprawling metropolis. Once you’ve established a base of operations, grab something to eat and begin to wander through the city’s alleyways and boulevards. You don’t have to look hard to see French influence on architecture, food, and daily routine; it may feel as densely packed as Hanoi, but the way of life is far less stressful and chaotic. Cap off the day, and the journey, with a drink at the Caravelle Hotel: a popular place for foreign journalists stationed in Saigon during the Vietnam War.


You Need To Book Your Arizona Getaway Right Now

A golfer tees off at Troon North. Credit: Tony Roberts / Getty Images

Wetter-than-normal storms have drenched the West this winter, quenching parched reservoirs and loading the Sierra Nevadas with their deepest snowpack in years. But skiers and snowboarders — and people who enjoy, you know, water — aren’t the only ones to benefit from the wild weather. The deserts east of the Sierras are experiencing their most fertile spring in decades. So bust out the tinted visor and dust off those clubs[1], because now is the perfect time to book that last-minute getaway[2] to Arizona.

The mean temperature in March for the Valley of the Sun is a mild 78 degrees — meaning, you can actually spend extended periods of quality time outdoors. And the recent rains have the landscape bursting with color; in fact, Maricopa Supervisor Chairman Denny Barney recently predicted “one of the best wildflower seasons in recent memory.” So the hiking and mountain biking in the entire region should be spectacular — but only for the next few weeks. [3][4]

RELATED: Natural Structures Wiped Out By Mother Nature[5]

With nearly 200 courses and almost 4,000 holes to play, the Phoenix area is a duffer's dream. So if a golf getaway is on your mind, now is the time to book that trip to Scottsdale[6], before it's too darn hot to play 18. The desert greens will be lush — and surely forgiving — after the winter soak, particularly those at lauded public courses Troon North[7] and TPC [8]Scottsdale[9]. If you're feeling luxe or just historic, we recommend the legendary Frank Lloyd Wright-designed Arizona Biltmore[10]

RELATED: Some Ski Resorts are Celebrating, Others Are Sobbing. Find Out Where Your Favorite Ranks.[11]

Most baseball fans dream of a spring training fantasy trip: the tickets are cheaper, and the stadiums are smaller and more inviting. There are 10 spring training complexes sprinkled around the Phoenix area, and many of the complexes in the Cactus League host multiple teams. So a day/night doubleheader, with a happy hour stop at one of our fave brewpubs in the US, Arizona Wilderness Brewing Company, is easily doable. But if you want to make this the year you finally make it to spring training, keep in mind the MLB regular season starts in less than a month. 

And lest we forget, the NCAA March Madness Final Four[15] takes place in Phoenix April 1-3. Tickets are still available[16], but unless you want to pay scalper prices, jump on these[17].

Right now, Expedia and particularly TripAdvisor both have package options to suit most any budget, and some great golf and spa packages as well. So if you want to score a last-minute deal to Arizona in March, you'd better hurry — most airlines require a 14-day advance purchase to score the best prices.


  1. ^ clubs (
  2. ^ book that last-minute getaway (
  3. ^ hiking (
  4. ^ mountain biking (
  5. ^ RELATED: Natural Structures Wiped Out By Mother Nature (
  6. ^ Scottsdale (
  7. ^ Troon North (
  8. ^ TPC (
  9. ^ Scottsdale (
  10. ^ Arizona Biltmore (
  11. ^ RELATED: Some Ski Resorts are Celebrating, Others Are Sobbing. Find Out Where Your Favorite Ranks. (
  12. ^ tickets are cheaper (
  13. ^ Arizona Wilderness Brewing Company (
  14. ^ make it to spring training (
  15. ^ NCAA March Madness Final Four (
  16. ^ Tickets are still available (
  17. ^ these (
  18. ^ TripAdvisor (
  19. ^ golf and spa packages (
  20. ^ last-minute deal (

How to Surf Your Nearest Wave Pool

Wave pools are popping up everywhere, but not all are created equal, and there are surprisingly few options here in the United States. The arms race to create the perfect swell is great for the future of man-made waves, but right now just a handful of operations are open for business, or will be in the near future. Here’s all you need to know to surf your nearest fake wave.

Credit: Courtesy NLand Surf Park