Here is a top ten list of how to best use the Internet in Cuba, where to get the cheapest data cards and a how to save time and money while online and offline:)
On our three weeks trip in Cuba we managed to make the most of the data cards with Internet. 15 hours of Internet were absolutely sufficient for two persons, to post daily on the social media accounts and to keep in touch with our friends, co-workers, clients and partners. For the latest two categories don’t imagine we had long conversations, we just gave brief answers and diverting them to the persons that can help them.
As you might now Internet is available in Cuba only in parks and some hotels and you need to buy Internet cards.
They are sold with 2 to 3 dollars per hour on the street.
Scratch the code, connect to the Telcel wireless network, introduce the user and password and you are (theoretically) online.
Top 10 advices
1. Buy from the official Telcel state owned office
Many touts will try to sell the in the parks or in the street. First we bought 5 cards with one hour each, worth of 10 dollars from a guard at one of the museums. We were happy to save one dollar per hour compared to the previous offers.
Later we found cards in the state owned offices with 1 dollar per hour and cards with 5 hours worth of Internet.
This way you have less user names and passwords to keep with you and less worries about which card still has minutes of Internet.
2. Save your password
Copy your password in the clipboard or in a note.
If you want to save Internet air time in Cuba you will need to introduce it often.
The user name can me remembered in în the sign in form of your smartphone.
But the ten letter password you need to introduce it everyone you login.
Keep it in the Clipboard as a pin text and/or in Evernote/your memo app
3. Use light versions of the usual apps
, like Facebook Lite, Messenger lite
Install them before you arrive, it might take forever to download while you are already on the island.
4.use offline maps
For exploring different attractions, especially when it comes to Havana the most useful for us was Google Trips. You can download offline a whole city, with (Google) maps and all the attractions present on Google maps, with reviews and pictures. You can have in the app all your trip details like accomodation, airplane tickets and trips etc
We also saved offline all the areas of Cuba on Google maps.
Some other people were using Maps.me with loaded maps and it was more useful, especially for directions.
5. Create content offline
This is maybe to most useful advice if you don’t want to spend half of your time and budget online, in the hot sun of the parks.
Most of the mobile apps have offline capability
Prepare on Facebook the posts and pictures you want to upload (forget about videos :P) and save them in drafts
Is the same with messenger or whatssapp. When you connect you will receive all the message ms. Go offline, answer to them, and next time you will connect to the Internet they will be sent.
On Instagram its easy too. Select the picture you want to post, write a caption and post. You will get the message: will auto-stop when is possible. You can leave it like this or select post later instead. I was preparing up to ten posts, with the post later option, leaving only one picture with the option to upload when there was a connection. This way I had not to worry when going online that I forget about posting on Instagram.
6. Take a break from the social media feeds
Are you obsessed with latest posts of your connections? Your ego is eager to check the number of likes your latest pictures have? Forget about it. It’s super time consuming and stressful. After a few days without it you will feel refreshed and much better.
You will be surprised that your life can go on and, maybe, you even start reading books and you remember that you have some good ones on your kindle.
7. Use the out of office feature
It’s no brainier that when you are in holidays you might be using this already. Before leaving post also on your Social media profiles that you will be in Cuba, with scarce Internet, so people won’t expect instant replies like you used them already. Maybe you did, maybe you did not 🙂
This way you have a great excuse not to answer to the friends that send you too many messages.
8 Check the Internet speed of the connection
If you have many pictures or a large volume of data to download/upload check the Internet speed so you won’t waste your Internet time with lousy connections.
We found that in some places the Internet was pretty fast and In some places really slow.
Surprisingly it did not depend so much on the number of people connected all the time. Try to avoid though the peak hours. Have the Speed test app ready before hand.
9. Disable your automatic updates
It will slow down drastically your already limited Internet connection
You will survive a couple of weeks without the latest version of YouTube.
10. Read offline news and blogs
If you are like me and can’t live without knowing the daily news install an offline reader like G reader or Feedly. Select your favorite media outlets and you will have hours worth of content every day, even with a poor connection to the Internet.