Packing for a trip to Spain? Here is my two cents

Nadia Podrabinek Nadia Podrabinek

Written by Nadia Podrabinek

Spain Packing List

Thinking of a comprehensive packing list for Spain? Well, if only you’re used to packing lists.

Otherwise, just toss in a plug adapter for your devices (the reliable ones make a difference) and stock up on your favorite deodorant (because the European variants might leave you feeling…different) and clothes.

And if you’re a coffee aficionado, Spanish coffee might test your taste buds, so consider packing your preferred blend.

Obviously, strong sunscreen is a must, and layering is key for those unpredictable weather days. And if you swear by sulfate-free shampoo or melatonin, bring them along.

While Spain offers a lot, some comforts from home just hit different.

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Valid passport and medical insurance, two credit cards and an extra id so if you get robbed you’re still on top. Charger cable for your phone. Some sandwiches and a thermos might be a good idea for the flight. As might noise cancelling headphones if you’re sensitive.

I travel light and “multipurpose” and pretty much buy the stuff I need when I need it. Unless you’re staying in hotels a blanket and a towel can be worth while. Rain cover too. I usually put rain cover in my laptop bag together with my liquids for quick passage through security.


From a born and raised in Spain perspective: I️t is going to be cold, specially in Madrid. Granada is a “must see” so don’t miss I️t. Food is incredible and so is the people. I️ wouldn’t spend much time worrying about museums unless you really want to. Getting lost in the downtown areas and enjoying the nightlife is far more rewarding. Dress nicely if going to a nightclub… god forbid a Spaniard with no makeup at night. But jeans and a a nice blouse are the way to go. Definitely no sneakers though… In my opinion the south is where everything happens. Specially this time of the year. Madrid, Sevilla and Granada are big college cities. So it’ll be a lot of fun! In Madrid make sure you check out “La Latina” nice neighborhood after sunset. Most important, don’t wake up too early and be ready to have dinner at 10pm… It’s better to blend in when I️t comes to timing. Oh, and I️ wish I️ didn’t have to say this but keep your purse with you at all times… I️t happens more often in the old continent. Enjoy!


If you’re taking a laptop or anything else with a US plug, you’ll want some plug adaptors. There are a lot to choose from but the cheapest ones are kinda loose and not very good.

Electronics – If you’re planning on upgrading your computer or phone, I would do it before moving because this stuff is more expensive over there, and having anything like this shipped to you could result in having to pay customs taxes on it. I also had 2 portable chargers, a little one and a larger one, that I used very often in Spain. Nice to have a way of charging your phone in your backpack on a long day.

Deodorant – Seconding. It’s just not the same in Europe, definitely stock up on your favorite one. I didn’t really have a problem with any other toiletries I bought though.

Food – Not much of a hot sauce selection if that matters to you. Things like BBQ sauce or Ranch if that matters to you too. If you’re used to drinking good coffee, Spanish coffee will take some getting used to and you may also want to take your own (it’s not awful but look up ‘torrefacto’, it’s not great)

Finally I would caution about taking too much stuff with you. You actually can buy a whole lot of stuff in Spain, especially if you end up in a larger city. I would also browse, it’s not as extensive as the American one but it’s still pretty extensive.


deodorant lol. they have different brands that might not work for you, so best bring your own. same goes for toiletries, i guess, i had to bring my own shampoo because it wasn’t available in Spain. also comfort food. it’s not super absolute essential if you’re packing light, but it’s still nice to have, especially if you get homesick.


What do you need when traveling to Spain?

First off, your passport and let’s not forget about checking visa requirements; for many, a tourist visa isn’t needed for short stays, but always double-check.

Next, I can’t stress enough about getting a good plug adapter. Spain’s outlets are those two-circular-pronged types, and you’ll might need to charge that phone for all those Insta-worthy pics.

Additionally, Spain can be a mixed bag weather-wise. Think layers, a good pair of walking shoes, and a mix of casual and smart-casual clothes. Also, take a compact umbrella or light rain jacket.

I’d also recommend packing your preferred brand of sunscreen.

Lastly, I always keep a small phrasebook or translation app handy. Even though many younger peoepl speak English, especially in tourist areas, some Spanish phrases can really help.

What can you not bring to Spain from non-EU country?

Here’s a rundown of some key items you should be wary of when packing for Spain:

  1. Meat & Dairy: Generally, you can’t bring meat or meat products, milk, or dairy products into Spain from non-European Union countries.
  2. Plants: This includes seeds, flowers, fruits, and vegetables. They might carry pests or diseases that could be harmful to local agriculture.
  3. Protected Animal and Plant Species: This includes items made from endangered animals or plants. Spain adheres to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES).
  4. Weapons: Guns, ammunition, and certain types of knives are highly regulated. If you need to travel with any kind of weapon (even for sport), ensure you’ve done extensive research and have obtained the necessary permits.
  5. Drugs: Any kind of narcotic or controlled substance can lead to heavy penalties unless you have a proper prescription.
  6. Counterfeit items: Any counterfeit items, especially if they’re intended for sale, can get you in trouble.
  7. Cultural artifacts: You might face restrictions if you try to bring in/out certain cultural goods, especially if they are considered to have significant cultural value for the country of origin.

With some limitations:

  • Currency in cash. If you’re entering or leaving the EU and carrying €10,000 or more (or the equivalent in other currencies or assets like gold), you need to declare it.
  • Prescription medications: While you can bring these for personal use, always have a copy of your prescription and a document from your doctor/clinic explaining your condition and the medication. Also, it’s better to keep the original packaging.
  • Tobacco & alcohol: There are limits on the amount of alcohol and tobacco you can bring into Spain for personal use without paying customs duties.

What is the dress code in Spain?

I’m often asked about the dress code in Spain, and I absolutely love discussing it! Especially when it comes to describing how stylish the elderly people are in Spain!

So, overall, Spanish people value looking put-together. Think smart-casual for most outings – a nice pair of jeans, a crisp shirt or a neat blouse, and some comfy but stylish shoes. When heading to the beach, of course, your swimwear is fine, but always cover up when you’re back in town.

For the religious sites II’d reccommend covering your shoulders and knees with a scarf or a light cardigan.

One more thing – the Spanish absolutely adore their evening walks and dinners, often in heels or smart shoes. So, if you want to blend in during the evening, skip the sneakers and go for something a bit dressier.

Are jeans acceptable in Spain?

Absolutely! When I traveled around Spain, I noticed that jeans are a staple in many locals’ wardrobes. Whether dressed up with a nice blouse or paired with a casual tee, jeans fit right in on the streets of Madrid, Barcelona, and beyond. So, don’t hesitate to pack your favorite pair.

How much money should I bring to Europe for 10 days?

Oh, the age-old question of travel budgets! I find that it really depends on your style of travel. But as a general rule of thumb, I’d suggest budgeting around €100 to €200 per day. This includes accommodations, food, some sightseeing, and maybe a souvenir or two.

If you’re planning on staying in the city center, dining out at upscale restaurants, or diving into every tourist attraction, you might want to bump that up a bit. On the flip side, if you’re hosteling and eating street food, you could get by on less.

And it’s always better to have a little extra stashed away for unexpected expenses.

Should I pay in Euros or US Dollars?

I’ve already covered this topic in a different post, but here is the short answer: : Always pay in the local currency (Euros), which allows your bank to set the exchange rate, and it will always be a better option.

It is also a good idea to bring Euros in cash with you. You never know when the card will not work, and it happens sometimes.

Do I need to carry cash in Spain?

Yes. While credit cards are widely accepted in most urban areas and tourist spots, it’s super handy to have a bit of cash on you. Especially if you’re diving into those charming little mercados or coffee shops (bars) off the beaten path. Some local places still operate the old-school way (and they are also been charged a lot of comissions by credit card issuers). So, while you don’t need tons of euros in cash, having a small amount is always a smart move. 💶🇪🇸👜

Should I tip in Spain?

Contrary to the US, tipping is not required in Spain. Did you like your meal at the restaurant? Now you can leave some extra to show how much you appreciated the service. Or you may not. Not a big deal, absolutely!

This is one of the many satisfying things about Spain—you can choose whether to leave some extra gratuity or not, and it’s very relieving. It also gives you some kind of security and control over the situation—it’s up to you to express your gratitude (otherwise, it shouldn’t be called a “tip” but a “service tax” because the gratitude couldn’t be prepaid, in my opinion).

Can I drink tap water in Spain?

It’s generally safe to drink throughout the country! However, there’s a little catch if you’re heading down south. The tap water in southern Spain has lots of calcium, which not only affects the taste but can also leave you feeling a bit… chalky.

Is it OK to drink in public in Spain?

No, it’s not. Unless you are in the bar, drinking in public spaces is prohibited in Spain and is qualified as a minor infraction. Additionally, the minimum age to legally drink alcohol in Spain is 18, so keep that in mind.

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