5 things to know if the Cuba travel ban is lifted

A bipartisan group of senators introduced legislation early this year that would end all travel restrictions from the U.S. to Cuba, but what does this mean…
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FILE: Vintage American cars and a horese-drawn carriage park outside some of Habana Vieja’s most expensive hotels in an attempt to lure tourists into guided tours of the capital of Cuba. Diplomats from the United States and Cuba held historic talks in January, with hopes that the travel ban to the island be lifted. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

A bipartisan group of senators introduced legislation early this year that would end all travel restrictions from the U.S. to Cuba, but what does this mean for you?

The senators backing the bill claim that lifting the travel ban could instigate change in the Communist nation. While the bill faces numerous obstacles in both the House and the Senate, the introduction of the bill is certainly an important step toward uninhibited travel between the US and Cuba. If they have their way you won’t have to furtively fly through third countries — like thousands of Americans do illegally every year, or go on culturual ecxchanges when you’re deepest idea of culture has been much else but going to the latest Katy Perry concert.

SEE ALSO: Raul Castro asks for end of embargo once and for all

“We’re not offering a concession,” Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Arizona) said. “We’re simply saying that Americans should be allowed to have the right to travel wherever they would like to unless there’s a compelling national security reason.”

So what should you know if all Cuba travel restrictions are lifted?

1) You may not have to fly out of Miami

Flights to Cuba are often done as a part of charter trips.

Most recently the majority of air travel from the US are done through charter flights such as this one operated by American Airlines.(Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

Currently, most authorized US-Cuba travel begins from Miami via charter flights. It is illegal for US airlines to fly to Cuba, but if the travel ban is lifted, you may be able to catch flights to Cuba from cities other than Miami. Several airlines have already expressed interest in flying to Cuba, including Delta Air Lines, JetBlue Airways, United Airlines, and American Airlines.

2) You can stock up on Cuban cigars

Cuban cigars are a hot commodity.

Cuban cigars would no longer be contraband if the new law takes effect. There wouldn’t be limits either. (Shutterstock)

Right now, it’s illegal to bring back purchased Cuban goods to the US, which is one reason why Cuban cigars are the most coveted cigars in the world. If the bill passes, you just might be able to stuff your carry-on with packs of Cuban cigars—legally! Note: You can currently bring back a limited amount of them to the U.S. — up to $100 worth of the coveted smokes.

3) You can travel for leisure, not “cultural exchange trips”

La Bodeguita del Medio is a restaurant in Cuba known to attract tourists.

La Bodeguita del Medio ia a legendary eatery in Havana, Cuba. It’s especially popular amont tourists. (Shutterstock)

One of the only ways for U.S. citizens to travel to Cuba is on some type of a cultural exchange trip. These legal pre-arranged trips are essentially group tours where you adhere to a structured itinerary. If the travel ban is lifted, you might just be able to go to Cuba with no strict schedules or plans—you may be able to actually go for a vacation.

4) You won’t have to be visiting relatives

Visiting relatives might not be the only excuse to travel to Cuba anymore

Having to visit your Tio Pepe in the countryside might not be the only legal excuse to get a visa if you want to travel to Cuba if changes take place. (Shutterstock)

US citizens can travel to Cuba to visit family only with the permission of the U.S. government. In the future, it may be possible for relatives or businessmen to book a flight to Cuba without obtaining a visa first.

5) You’ll be able to swipe plastic

Mastercard credit cards issued in the U.S. might soon be allowed in Cuba.

Mastercard announced that soon US-issued credit cars bearing their name will be accepted in Cuba. (Shutterstock)

For the US citizens who have jumped through all of the hoops and have traveled to Cuba in the past, they have had to leave their credit cards at home. US credit card companies have always blocked transactions by US customers in Cuba, but that is already changing. According to the Miami Herald, both American Express and MasterCard are getting ready to do business with Cuba, which means that you will be able to swipe your card from Havana to Santiago de Cuba without the worries of bringing cash with you.

SEE ALSO: Mastercard is coming to Cuba this March

Unrestricted travel to Cuba may not happen right away, as the senators backing the bill have acknowledged, but when it does, Americans will finally be able to visit this Caribbean nation uninhibited and imbibe in some good Cuban cigars.