Okay, so I am a notorious overpacker. Once in highschool I took a carry-on full of shoes on vacation and to this day my 4 siblings won’t let me live it down. So when it came to packing for this amazing adventure, I didn’t want to overpack, but by no means did I want to get to Spain and regret not bringing anything.
Let’s just say, I accomplished both of those things which I did not want.
In this blog you’ll find my tips for what to pack and what to say “see you later alligator” to. I sometimes over-explain, so I’ve left a summary of each tip at the bottom of each section for you to access faster.
1. Oh, my beloved shoes!
This was a tough one for me since, if you haven’t guessed from my earlier anecdote, #ILOVESHOES! Some people are just shoe people, and I’m definitely one of those people! Packing the right shoes was tough for me because I wanted to look stylish while still feeling comfortable on days where I’d be walking for hours. If you’ve never lived in Spain or a European country prepare yourself; there will be days where you check your step count and you’ve done 20,000 steps.
For shoes I’d recommend at least 2 summer shoes and 1 winter pait. When I studied abroad I was in Sevilla for 6 months and I absolutely destroyed my summer shoes and ended up having to buy a new pair. This worked out well because I wanted to get a pair of Spanish shoes anyways, so if you know you want to buy a pair here then maybe only pack 1 pair for summer and one for winter. I’d recommend a pair of sandals and a pair of tennis-shoes. (Sidenote: women here wear their tennis-shoes with everything and it looks amazing).
If you pack tennis-shoes as a ‘summer pair’, those will also be useful in the winter. The second pair I recommend packing would 100% be waterproof booties. I’ve been told it doesn’t rain a lot in Madrid, but in the 4 weeks I’ve been here I’d say it's rained for about 10-13 days. Waterproof booties are really handy because they transition well from summer to winter and vice versa. I’ve already used mine in the hot weather as rainboots and now in the cold to keep me warm. What also makes them a great shoe choice is that they’re super hardy and chances are you won’t have to replace them.
Main Shoe Tip: Pack 2 summer and definitely pack waterproof booties to use in the rain and in the cold.
2. Dresses, pants, and shirts oh my!
When I studied abroad I packed really light and I ended up wearing the same 3 outfits on rotation the entire time. I didn’t want to do that again while living here because I wanted to have more professional options for work and fun outfits for when I travel.
My 2 takeaways are that being an Auxiliar means that we get to dress very casually, so my professional clothes are sitting in my closet staring at me angrily.
My second takeaway is that most of my trips (actually all of them so far) are really quick weekend trips. This means that I’m either going on a bus, train, or cheap flight on an airline like Ryanair. Doing trips like these forces you to pack really light, so there isn’t a lot of space for a lot of the “fun” outfits I planned on wearing.
When packing just remember that, if you want to dress nicely for work or traveling, just pack things that take up little space. For example, heavy, thick, jeans take up a lot of space and weigh a lot, so maybe pack skinny jeans instead of mom jeans which are heavier. Another note is that one light dress takes up less space than pants and a shirt, which makes dresses a great option for short weekend trips.
Main tip: pack things that don’t take up a lot of space so they’re easier to pack for quick weekend trips. I find dresses are an easy option for light packing. Skinny jeans also take up less space than mom jeans or boyfriend jeans.
3. Loungewear and Pajamas
This is the area that I really feel I under-packed and now will have to supplement with purchases here. The biggest thing is that I did not think through the AC and Heating situation at my house and I underestimated how hot and cold Madrid gets. My biggest complaint is that I wish I’d packed at least 2 sets of warm pajamas (like the matching sets Jessica Day wears in New Girl). I didn’t because those types of pajamas take up a lot of space, but now I’m realizing that it's actually a necessity. That might sound intense but most apartments only have a washing machine and no dryer for clothes. That means you need to plan when you’re going to wear something so you have time to wash it and let it air dry. Hang drying clothes usually takes 1-2 days depending on the fabric.
It’s starting to get really cold here (it was 38 degrees Fahrenheit this morning) and as soon as I get home I want to put on my warmest PJs and get cozy. Since I only brought 1 pair of warm PJs, however, when I wash them I know I have to wait 2 days before I can use them again. Which is a major bummer cuz I hate being cold.
Now, when it comes to loungewear or activewear, this is definitely a personal thing, but I’ll let you in on my experience. For some reason I packed maybe 5 different pairs of workout leggings?. . .and I am not a person who works out. I wear 1 pair of those leggings regularly but aside from that I haven’t used the others. If you wear a lot of leggings, then bring as many as you normally use. But if you’re a person who doesn’t work out, don’t think that you’re going to start when you’re in Spain because you’ll be busy trying and seeing all the amazing things Madrid has to offer. I’m always walking around and seeing things, so I’m getting my heartrate up everyday without having to go to a gym or go running.
My main takeaway is to think of what you actually wear everyday. I made the mistake of anticipating what I might want to wear in different “Spanish settings” (eyeroll, I know) and so I packed things that I don’t really wear a lot. The things you like to wear in your everyday life are the things you're going to be comfortable in and want to wear in Spain. And if you ever feel like you want to look more European, you can always find great clothes for great prices here!