“Ready to Go to Spain: What to Pack”

“Ready to Go to Spain: What to Pack”

by Arcadia University

“. . . . Students should be prepared to move their luggage through airports, on and off busses during orientation, and up several flights of stairs to their rooms. Student rooms are normally equipped with only a foot and a half of hanging space and two, three-foot bureau drawers or the equivalent shelf space, and emptied luggage is usually stored under beds. Keep this in mind when you’re packing.

The leave-half-behind rule.

We’ll say it again. You are going to have to carry whatever you pack by yourself, so leave behind half of what you think you need. You will be limited to two pieces of checked luggage and one carry-on bag on the flight, and even that is more than you can comfortably carry. Large, hard-sided suitcases are tough to carry and even more difficult to store. USE DUFFEL BAGS or a good, internal frame BACKPACK. Closet space will not be as generous as what you are used to, so even if you can get it there, you won’t necessarily know where to put it. No one has ever complained about taking too little luggage. If you don’t believe this, talk to a student who has done it before. Every year we see unhappy students struggle to get a mountain of their own luggage on and off buses and up and down stairs. Don’t be one of them.


Practical and sturdy clothes are what you need for your stay in Spain. Students dress casually: jeans, t-shirts (not the torn variety), comfortable shoes. Keep in mind that Toledo is extremely rocky and hilly – you’ll want to keep your feet happy. You may also want to bring:

  • A warm coat for winter months.
  • A raincoat with a warm lining (detachable is best) or waterproof Patagonia or Gore-tex jacket.
  • Bring a lighter weight jacket, windbreaker, raincoat or jean jacket.
  • Jeans. Bring several pairs.
  • Khakis or lightweight trousers.
  • Two or three pairs of comfortable walking shoes. Sturdy, lace-up shoes are a good choice for fieldtrips. A couple of pairs of casual shoes (loafers, Doc Martens) for skirts and trousers.
  • A Turtleneck.
  • One or Two Dressy Outfits for formal occassions.
  • A couple of cotton sweaters.
  • Cotton t-shirts, long and short sleeve. Good for layering.
  • Pajamas.
  • A couple of bathing suits.
  • Underwear and socks. Bring two weeks’ worth at least.
  • One sweatshirt, one pair sweatpants.
  • Umbrella.
  • Accessories, such as belts and costume jewelry. Leave good stuff at home!
  • Sun screen.

Other Items

Hairdryers and other electrical appliances

If you can help it, don’t bring electrical appliances from home. The electrical current in Spain is 220 volts at 50 Hz (cycles per second). In the US, it is 110 volts at 60Hz. You will not only need an adapter to plug in your appliance, you will also need either a transformer and adapter plug, or a dual voltage appliance which can be switched from 110 to 220 volts. (The difference in the number of cycles means that appliances with motors may not work as well in Spain as they do in the US.) Most returning students agreed that converters were a hassle and said it was best to buy a hairdryer overseas.

Contact lenses

The overwhelming advice is to switch to chemical disinfectants and extended wear lenses, and bring solution from home. Some students report running out several weeks before the end of the program, so you should bring more than you think you’ll need. Bring a spare pair of lensesalso, take along apair of glassesfor emergencies. And don’t forgetsunglasses

Disinfecting units are a problem for contact lenses

Because of the difference in voltage, the timer may not shut off automatically. Besides, electrical outlets are hard to find when you’re on the road traveling. However, if you can’t stand chemicals, try the dual voltage (120/240) unit from Cooper Vision.

Musical instruments

Large instruments, such as guitars, may count as one piece of luggage on the flight. Your instrument should be properly insured and safeguarded.

Mp3 player or Ipod

(“Do it or suffer” was one comment we heard.) You can buy speakers abroad if you get tired of earphones  Be prepared to go through a lot of batteries. They’re expensive in Spain, so you may want to stock up before leaving or think about getting rechargeable batteries and a battery recharger

Backpack and book bag

You’ll need a small bag for books and a larger backpack with frame for weekend and vacation trips. Backpacks with internal frames seem to be more popular. Remember, larger backpacks will count as one piece of luggage on the flight (you’re allowed two pieces); they’re too large to carry on.


Don’t invest in a brand new set of luggage for the trip. A sturdy suitcase or duffel bag and one backpack will do. Duffel bags are practical and easy to store as long as they’re a reasonable size. If your duffel bag is bigger than you are, it’s too big. Whatever luggage you do choose, be sure to put your name and home address on a luggage tag on the outside and on a piece of paper in an inside pocket.

Camera and film

A camera will help you to capture your overseas experience. One word of caution, though, cameras disappear. If you have an expensive camera, have it insured. Many students bring film from home and wait until they get back to have it developed. You can ask to have cameras and film hand-inspected in this country, but you may be required to put it through the x-ray machine in Spain. (Most airport machines won’t affect film under 1000 ASA). Also, remember to write down what you take pictures of, or you’ll be faced with 20 sets of prints of unidentified monuments, cities and sunsets. Those who bought film and/or developed it overseas were generally pleased with the results and agreed that the cost of film was more expensive, but developing was comparable to the US.


You can get just about everything you will need in Spain. Some students do complain about not having the same selection of deodorants/anti-perspirants in Spain.


If you take a prescription medication, make sure you have enough to last your entire stay abroad. Don’t assume that you can get the same medication abroad. A prescription from home will NOT be filled in Spain. You’ll need a new one from a Spanish doctor.

Alarm clock

Pack the small, battery-operated, travel kind. The wind-up kind tick incessantly.


Bring along your favorite photos of your family and friends. You can also decorate your room with them.

Academic papers, fax and phone numbers, e-mail addresses

Pack a copy of your college’s undergraduate catalog and any papers you were given with instructions about credit transfer. Also remember to pack the course descriptions you received for your program and anything else you received from us. You’ll need to refer to these materials overseas. Your study abroad advisor’s/home school’s fax and phone numbers, as well as the e-mail address, will prove to be helpful too, especially if you have to contact your advisor for course approval.

Security and Insurance

A little common sense goes a long way Do not bring any valuables which promote theft and cannot be easily replaced. Put identification labels inside each of your bags (not just on the outside). Leave a list of your travelers check numbers with your family. We also recommend that you leave a photocopy of the data page of your passport (passport number, the date and place of issue) at home and keep a copy with your belongings in case it is lost or stolen. To insure your baggage and personal effects inexpensively, investigate adding a rider to your family’s homeowners’ policy. Arcadia University does not insure your possessions against loss or theft, but you can and should. Some other valuable tips to protect yourself include:

  • Leave irreplaceable items of high monetary or sentimental value at home.
  • Do not carry a lot of cash.
  • Use safes in hotels and hostels.
  • Wear a neckpouch with your money and passport in it inside your coat or clothing.
  • Pickpockets and petty thieves sometimes target tourists and other unsuspecting newcomers. Be very careful to protect your belongings, especially during the your first few days in the country.
  • Rent a safety deposit box, either through the Residence or a bank. Speak with a member of our overseas staff once abroad for more information.

Shipping and Storing Personal Effects Overseas

If you pack carefully, you’ll manage on the airline baggage allowance (2 checked pieces and 1 carry-on). Please remember, we cannot store anything for you. Customs declarations must be made on all packages sent overseas. To avoid duty charges on your belongings, be sure that everything has been used and mark the declaration Used: (item names), Property of Addressee.

Whatever you do, do not send a trunk. Even if you can find a freight forwarder to ship it and clear it through customs, it will be difficult to handle once you get it, a problem to store and even more troublesome and expensive to send back home. . . . .”


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