05 August 2013

Pack It Up

I am now less than 40 days away from my adventures abroad and many of my fellow auxiliares are probably in the same boat. Judging by the Facebook page, loads of people are freaking out about cell phones or finding a flat. Call me shallow, but at the moment my biggest concern is packing. I'm moving abroad, and it's not like college where I would switch out my wardrobe every time I came home. Luckily, the lessons I learned from studying abroad are still fresh in my mind. While this list is definitely not exclusive (things vary according to your own needs), I think it's probably what I'm going to base myself off of.

PS, this list is geared a bit more towards women, because I am female. Sorry, boys!

Nic's Packing List for EspaƱa

Clothes and Accessories

  • Cute and trendy tops/blouses
    • avoid t-shirts unless you're planning to exercise. You will not really see Spanish women wearing a casual tee in public.
  • Jeans, particularly darker ones
  • Leggings and tights
    • if you're short on space, these can be bought for cheap at H&M
  • Shorts
    • avoid: sweatpants and gym shorts. Again, the Spanish generally dress much nicer than the average American college student.
  • a coat, preferably one that is suitable for both day and nightwear to save space
  • comfortable shoes! I cannot stress the comfort factor enough. You will walk A LOT, even in the larger cities like Madrid that have an extensive metro system.
    • a nice pair of leather boots would be ideal for winter. While generally more expensive in Spain, I saved space in my suitcase and bought mine at Zara for 80 euros.
    • other personal preferences: ballet flats, house slippers, one pair of heels (only if absolutely necessary...cobblestones)
    • avoid: packing every pair of shoes you own (go for shoes that can be paired with a large variety of outfits); sneakers unless you plan to use them to work out; Uggs...no one wears them; heels - they aren't very comfortable for going out, so if anything go with wedges instead.
  • scarves! Spaniards love them and you will be using them a lot.
  • underwear and bras
    • note: if you're really busty, I would recommend stocking up on bras here...European bras fit a little strange.
  • cardigans and sweaters
  • socks! LOTS OF THEM.
  • tanks, particularly ones that can be used for layering
  • at least one nicer and more formal outfit. You never know what kinds of events you'll be invited to.
  • pajamas (preferably pant ones for the winter)
  • a small bag or purse. I'm partial to cross-body bags because you can keep an eye on it at all times.
    • if desired, you can bring one more casual one and a nicer one for going out
    • keep in mind that pickpocketers are everywhere, and you'll be targeted for being foreign

Personal Hygiene

  • deodorant. The one in Spain is odd.
  • any medication you might take. Talk to your insurance in the States to see if you can take enough for your stay abroad. 
    • note: some medication will be available over-the-counter at Spanish pharmacies. Just take your prescription in and they will try to find you the equivalent.
  • pain killers such as Tylenol
  • any vitamins you take
  • Neosporin + bandaids (I'm accident-prone)
  • toothbrush + travel-sized toothpaste
  • makeup! It is much more expensive in Spain.
  • nail polish
  • chapstick, especially if you're attached to a particular brand
  • hair accessories: headbands, hair elastics, bobby pins
  • sunscreen...it's outrageously overpriced in Spain
  • travel-sized bottles for shampoo and conditioner. You'll need them if you plan to travel and stay at hostels.


  • laptop + charger
  • camera + charger
  • iPod + charger
  • headphones
  • flash drive
  • adapters for all your chargers 
  • cell phone + charger
    • if you have an American smartphone, you can bring it to Spain and just turn off data, leaving it on wi-fi only mode. You'll be able to iMessage, whatsapp, viber, etc. when connected to wi-fi. You can also bring your phone and have it unlocked so that you can enter a Spanish SIM card. I'll probably cover cell phones in another post.


  • another form of ID, usually a driver's license
  • credit/debit card(s)
  • health insurance
  • at least 100 euros in cash
  • a wallet
  • copy of all your important documents. Leave one copy at home and bring the other copy with you.
  • a carry-on that fits baggage restrictions for airlines like Easyjet or RyanAir
  • SOME craft supplies. Don't buy out Michael's, but you might find it useful to bring a few things (especially stickers).
  • measuring cups if you enjoy baking

Get in Spain

  • shampoo and conditioner
  • feminine hygiene products
  • regular-sized toothpaste
  • razor
  • blow dryer and straightener
    • you can bring your own if you really want, but many people have ruined theirs so watch out.
  • hair products (gel, mousse, hairbrush, etc)
  • soap/body wash
  • face wash/lotion
  • polish remover
  • floss
  • umbrella
  • maps...you'll find them useful, I promise.
  • any and all house needs: hangers, bedsheets, pillows, towels, silverware, etc. They have Ikea in Europe.

Bonus Tips

  • DO NOT overpack. I know everyone says this, but I cannot stress it enough. Spain is a very modern country, and many of the things we have here are available there. Advice from my study abroad office: take out everything you want to take, and then half it.
  • Most of the months you will be abroad will fall within the colder months. Heating is not as common in Spain as it is in the States, so make sure to pack winter clothes! I definitely did not pack enough when I went abroad and ended up buying a million new sweater tops at Zara (not the worst thing ever, but still). 
  • Take into consideration the weather in the places you're planning to visit. For instance, I visited London in mid-October, and it was much much colder there than it was in Sevilla at the same time.
  • The key with clothing is versatility and layering.
  • Realize that you will probably do some shopping in Spain (and elsewhere). Leave space in your suitcase for that unless you plan on just buying an extra suitcase.
  • If there is a particular candy you're attached to, you might consider bringing it. A girl I know brought a jar of peanut butter with her, I kid you not.
  • As an auxiliar, part of your job is to teach kids about your culture. It would be good to bring some things that represent home: pictures, American holiday goodies
  • The dress codes at the schools is generally very casual. No need for dress pants if you wouldn't normally wear them.
  • In general, Spaniards dress much more nicely than Americans. You won't see people walking around in sweats or a baggy tee. If you would wear it to work out or lounge around, don't bring it (again, unless you plan to exercise).
  • For my fellow sorority girls, no need to bring all your lettered shirts. You'll only make yourself stand out more.
  • Weigh your bags before you go to the airport. Check weight limits for the airline you're flying on. In general, the limit for checked bags is 50 pounds.

No comments:

Post a Comment