Salamanca Packing Tips

Cailey Oehler
May 5, 2014

This is perhaps what I put the most thought into in the days leading up to my departure for Spain, and looking back on what I’ve been glad I brought along, what’s been unnecessary, and what I really wish I’d thought of before (as well as asking friends for their thoughts on the matter) I’m ready to share some packing tips with future IES Abroad Salamanca students.


First, many consider what they won’t be able to purchase in their host country. As far as bringing food items along (peanut butter is often discussed in packing lists) it’s generally better to just wait until you get home to be reunited with your favorites. However, when it comes to food-related products (such as supplements) it’s best to bring more than you need: I discovered that Spain is perhaps the only country in Europe (if online dietary forums are to be believed) that doesn’t sell Lactaid in its pharmacies- there certainly isn’t any in Salamanca. Fortunately I had time while I was in Belgium to pick up a large box of something called “Lactose-Ok”.


Something I’m glad I brought along is a set of various plug adapters to work all around the globe. These can be purchased cheaply on the Internet and when your smartphone is your map and you’re on a weekend excursion you literally are lost without them. I didn’t need a voltage converter as all my tech items are dual-voltage, but this is something important to look into before traveling.


Another key pre-travel step is making several photocopies of all of your important documents (any credit or debit cards you’re bringing with you and, of course, your passport). Keep them in your residence or homestay and pack them for excursions – I carry a folded-up copy of the information page of my passport in my wallet so I can produce identification when necessary without toting around the real thing.


School supplies, I was told before I left for Spain, can be “hard to find and weirdly sized” in Europe. This is true. If you like using lined notebooks and keeping papers in folders, bring these things with you. Spanish students take notes on blank printer paper, and notebooks seem to exist almost exclusively in the graph-paper variety. Printer paper here is indeed size A4.

When it comes to clothing, keep in mind you can buy this where you’re headed, and that you’ll probably want to (those February sales are tempting!), so leave room in your luggage.

Bring comfortable clothes that make you feel great, and don’t forget your weight may fluctuate quite a bit: there’s lots of VERY caloric food in Salamanca, but you’ll be walking much more than most people in the US do, and there are other opportunities for exercise as well : the effects of this new environment on everyone’s body will be different, but it’s something to consider.

Be prepared for all kinds of weather and for a wide range of temperatures if you’re coming to Salamanca in the spring. (and especially if you plan to travel during your time abroad) And good, sturdy shoes really are a must- you’ll be doing a ton of walking and it’s more fun when you’re feet aren’t sore!


Speaking of traveling, bring bags that you can carry on discount airline flights and that won’t be too cumbersome when attempting to navigate unfamiliar places. A packable towel is also a great idea, if you’d like to save the typical 2-euro towel rental fees in hostels and not take up too much space in said bag. I’ve also found locks very useful – hostels offer lockers but when nothing’s keeping them shut they aren’t so useful, and I’ve used a cable-style bicycle lock to attach my pack to a bedframe. Hostels are generally safer than they were in decades past, but extra measures of security never seem to hurt.


Beauty products: bring travel-sized containers for your first few days, so you’ve got time to make it to the supermarket of perfumería, and so you can refill them later for short trips. And it may be wise to cut your hair before you arrive if it’s long- showers need to be short to conserve water, and finding time to go to the peluquería can be a bit of a struggle as they only seem to be open when we’re in class.


Getting packages is expensive with customs fees, and there will probably be something you forget to bring, but it’s all right. Finding where to purchase forgotten items is an adventure and another way to gain more understanding of life in Spain, and just about everything (except Lactaid) is as accessible here as it is at home.

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Cailey Oehler

<p><span style="color: rgb(29, 29, 29); font-family: Arial, Verdana, sans-serif; font-size: 12px; line-height: normal; background-color: rgb(237, 237, 237);">I am a junior at Bowdoin College, where I am majoring in Spanish and minoring in Art History and Teaching. I&#39;m outgoing and inquisitive, and getting to know other people is how I make sense of this mixed-up and beautiful world. My favorite hobbies are baking bread, playing ukulele, and camping. I love exploring new places and am looking forward to getting to know Salamanca as well as the fun and challenges I&#39;ll encounter in my travels around Europe.</span></p>

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Art History
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