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Until recently, traveling to Cuba was tricky for Americans, with the privilege reserved for just a handful with special permission from the government. With ties between the US and Cuba becoming friendlier every day, it’s now possible for the average American to visit via charter flights like Sun Country Charters, guided people-to-people cultural tours or by entering through a third country like Mexico. Last December, the US State Department also announced that regularly scheduled flights to the island nation could begin as early as 2016. The latest policy changes mean that American carriers will soon be able to enter previously blocked airspace and form codeshare agreements with Cuban airlines.

Traveling to Cuba could become much easier in 2016. Image courtesy of Shutterstock.
Traveling to Cuba is becoming easier in 2016. Image courtesy of Shutterstock.

Requirements to enter the country have also loosened up for Americans visiting the country under a general license, which allows travelers to avoid the paperwork once associated with travel to Cuba. But don’t expect to just hop on a plane and head down just yet — you’ll still have to have an approved reason for visiting, such as journalistic, academic or religious purposes, people-to-people cultural activities or plans to visit relatives. However, recent changes mean you can also fly to Cuba to organize professional events, or to pursue creative endeavors, such as art or television production. Normal tourism outside these reasons is still prohibited, but as restrictions continue to ease, it’s possible that Americans will have open access to travel to Cuba — for any purpose — in the future.

Ready to plan your trip? Try renting your own apartment in an authentic Cuban neighborhood with Airbnb, now an Amex Membership Rewards partneruse this link to get $20 off your first stay! — or staying in a traditional casa particular (homestay) like TPG did when he visited Trinidad, Cuba, last May. Here’s TPG’s guide to booking Cuban hotels, like the Hotel Occidental Miramar in Havana, if that’s more your style.

H/T: New York Times

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