To Pack or Not to Pack for Studying Abroad in Spain over the summer

A guy trying to pack a full suitcase

This summer I spent 6 weeks in Salamanca Spain. I over packed while I also forgot things. So I will compile a handy list of what I brought that I didn’t need, and things I am so happy to have made the journey.

What I didn’t need:

  • 18 different scarves. I could’ve worked with one, because Spain happens to be extremely hot in the summer. And they are also pretty fashionable and have scarves.
  • a sweatshirt. I would say a cardigan was sufficient, because sometimes the train got a little chilly.
  • an umbrella. I did not see a single drop of rain the entire time I was there.
  • my running shoes– I ran 3 times. Those babies are heavy. Although I am kind of glad I brought them, they were helpful with the running of the bulls, if you are not an exerciser in America, you won’t be one abroad either.
  • multiple pairs of jeans. Stick with one. See the hint about it being super hot.
  • huge bottles of shampoo. I have long hair, and I only used the travel bottles that I filled from Target for my entire 6 weeks. I was shocked. I still showered every day, and I didn’t actually use that much soap. Also, those are heavy items, so don’t bother bringing the grande size.

What I am SO GLAD I had: 

  • a travel lock– I didn’t have to rent one or buy one at the hostels I stayed at, because you want to lock up your stuff at night.
  • sun tan lotion– that stuff is super expensive abroad. Think $20 for a normal sized bottle expensive. Trust me, pack it with you.
  • contact solution– same type of thing as above.
  • English books– yes, I am super proud of myself that I read an entire 577 page Spanish novel while I was abroad to help myself immerse in the culture. However, it was nice to read to relax as well, where these books came in handy. I would suggest buying them at Half Price Books, and then leaving them abroad. You’ll lose maybe $4 and save weight in your luggage home.
  • good walking shoes– invest in them people, because all Europeans do is walk.
  • a small wallet that held only a little cash- going to night time activities is much safer when you don’t have to worry about losing a credit card.
  • a simple black dress that could be dressed up or down and look like two completely different outfits. I don’t know how men would substitute this, but it’s helpful to bring clothes that can be worn different ways.
  • a Spanish cell phone. I bought this there. But it was a nice thing to have. Some of my friends went without, and they lived too, so it depends on how well you travel.
  • a bottle opener– in case you want to save money and buy nice wine for at home to share with your host family.
  • a camera– take pictures. Just do it.
  • CHARLES SCHWAB DEBIT CARD. This was basically the best decision I made before I went abroad. I took the money I budgeted to go abroad and put it in a Charles Schwab bank account and got myself a debit card. Why is this so special? Well, with this firm, there are no ATM fees internationally. Or at all. This made my life so much easier. I didn’t have to worry about how many times I went to the ATM, or if they said they would charge me fees, because Schwab refunds it. I strongly encourage this.

That’s about all I can think of for now.  I found this website to be pretty helpful too!

Good luck!

Me, wishing you the best of luck from my school in Salamanca.

Me, wishing you the best of luck from my school in Salamanca.

Michaella Beatty

Psych Major, AGD, IUDM Marketing, Volunteer, Artist

I am a senior studying Psychology at Indiana University, with a minor in studio art and Spanish. I am looking at going into School Counseling. I am involved in so many things on campus! I am on the Marathon Relations Committee for Indiana University Dance Marathon (nation's 2nd larget student run philanthrophy, ndb). I am an initiated sister of Alpha Gamma Delta (shoutout to my squirrels!). I am also an initiated member of Alpha Phi Omega, which is a service fraternity I am on the Swim Club, I volunteer at the Boys and Girls Club in the art room, and a blogger for I am a very active member of our campus, and am excited to share some of my experiences with you!