Traveling Solo: One Student’s Experience in Cuba

in Bryn Mawr/Features/Travel by

By Sophie Webb

A zest for exploration, discovery, and adventure is a quality that many Mawrters and Haverfordians share, along with a desire for independence. While Bryn Mawr and Haverford provide many academic and extracurricular opportunities for exploration and travel, Isabell Gerbig, BMC ‘19, decided to strike out on her own, spending a week of her winter break in Cuba.

Gerbig travelled first to Havana, the capital of Cuba, and then headed west to the smaller town of Viñales. When asked why she decided to travel solo, Gerbig responded, “I travel a lot with my family, but I recently found that exploring new places alone is a lot more freeing and a lot less stressful. I had read that Cuba was relatively safe, so I decided to take the risk and go by myself.”

She added, “Traveling alone was definitely a better experience than I’d hoped.” She highlighted the relationships she made with other travelers as one of the best aspects of the trip. She described how together they would eat Coco Glacé, a coconut ice cream served in coconut shells, everyday, and then return to the hostel at night to dance salsa with the owners.

Gerbig enjoyed the many museums and tourist attractions offered in Havana, as well as more adventurous activities in Viñales like horseback riding, hiking, and cave-exploring. Gerbig acknowledged that while Cuba is a relatively safe place for young travelers, “bargaining is a way of life there… almost every single interaction comes to a negotiation.”

“Going on this trip was the best decision I’ve made,” said Gerbig, “and I definitely don’t regret going alone.” She recommends the destination to other travelers,“The weather is perfect and the people are nice.”

However, she warned, “I wouldn’t necessarily recommend it for people who are looking for a luxurious vacation, because that’s just not the Cuban experience. There’s no wi-fi, you’ll get swindled at least once, and everything is chaotic.”

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