Everyone's going to Cuba. Every time I look on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram, someone on my feed is in Cuba, has gone to Cuba and is now telling me the best ways to travel around Cuba.
I wanted to go to Cuba late last year too. I even wrote about it. But because everyone and their momma also put it on their travel wish list, I feel like I've already been to Cuba and bought the cigar to prove it.
From what I see in pictures, the beaches are beautiful, Havana looks vibrant, and I want to take a picture in front of a classic baby blue 1950's car just for the hell of it. But the more I see pictures or read articles about people's experiences in the once forbidden destination, it makes me wonder exactly what sets it apart from other locations in the Caribbean or Latin America. Nothing really, except its accessibility.
I've heard people say, "I want to go to Cuba before it changes." By "changes" they mean before Cuba becomes further entrenched by travelers and their conveniences -- glitzy resorts, widely available wifi, commonplace souvenirs, and other amenities that make a destination more desirable to travelers.
That sentiment is a bit shortsighted. Other countries like Bahamas, Jamaica, Costa Rica have made their bread and butter on tourism but I can't believe that anyone would say that tourism changed the fabric of the country.
So again, what's a really good reason for ditching all of your travel plans and heading to Cuba? Just because of everyone else is? I really don't think so.
Don't get me wrong: there's nothing wrong with wanting to travel to Cuba. If you have valid reasons for wanting to travel there, I think you should go. But it being the new "hot spot" isn't a good enough reason.
If I had to choose based on my available vacation time and expendable income, I'd probably choose to go to Jamaica again rather than Cuba. At this point in my travels, I am choosing places that spark a genuine interest in me, not because it's where everyone else is going. (Or if there's a fare glitch. Hey, I'm saying be more selective, not stupid. If you can get to Abu Dhabi for $187, you should go.)
I've loved every country I've been to in Africa and honestly, very little is topping my desire to see more of the continent. Kenya, Ghana, Morocco -- all at the top of my wish list. Not because they're the "it" destination right now, but because I have a genuine interest in learning more about their cultures.
Now I know you might be reading this and thinking I'm a travel snob (I'm not) or wondering why I care. As long as people are out there and seeing the world, I should applaud them. This is true, but this post isn't for those people.
This post is for avid travelers like me who have the time and resources to be a little more selective about where we choose to go. People shouldn't toss aside destinations they've been dying to get to so they can keep up with the Joneses and say they've been to Cuba too.
And I'm only picking on Cuba because it just happens to be on everyone's tongues right now. I'd even dare to put Thailand and Dubai in the same category. Next year it could be Russia. And I will have the same things to say (and probably more given our current political climate) about about Russia. I will probably never go to Russia. Not even on a fare glitch. Not even if the trip was free and they paid me to go. Just probably won't happen. But if it's on the cover of every travel magazine and all the blogs are telling people to go, more than likely Russia will be the new hot spot. But just because it's the new hot spot, does that mean you should go too? No. No, it doesn't.
I'll probably get to Cuba one day. But on my own terms and because I am ready to see what the country has to offer. Not to say I've been to keep up with the cool kids.