Packing is always the most stressful thing to do when moving abroad. Most of the time you only will have one suitcase and one carry on so how on earth do you fit your life into two bags to jet set to a new country? Well lucky for you I’ve put together a list of 5 things I wish I packed more of and 5 things I wish I didn’t pack at all. Follow along and maybe this will help you when/if you decide to move to another country for a long period of time!
Five things I wish I packed
1. More flat bottom shoes
Okay so we all can probably agree that the cobblestone streets in Europe are beautiful but have you walked on them in heels? Back home in the USofA that doesn’t even cross our mind. At least for me, I was used to walking around all the time in my high heels so I thought that I’d get the same use out of them here. WRONG. I brought three and I haven’t even worn them once. Bring thick heeled booties, flats, or sneakers. Trust me.
I’m a little bit of a health/nutrition snob so I like specific brands, ingredients, and flavors of my supplements, protein powders etc. So only bringing a month supply was a huge mistake on my part. You can hardly find supplement stores where I live and when you do they are overpriced and not great quality. I did find a GNC in Madrid right in Sol but the selection is super small and way more expensive than back home. Ordering online is an option but be prepared to pay extra fees in taxes and shipping.
I’m not a huge makeup person but I do wear it and let me tell you that the brands that we are used to are a little more expensive here. It’s not a sky-high over-the-top difference but you’re definitely going to be spending more on the high end stuff. Also, pack deodorant…lots. Here in Spain they like the spray on stuff which I don’t agree with personally. I’ve been told that they don’t work as good as the stick variety and I’m not going to argue with that. I have seen the stick kind but of brands that I didn’t recognize and the ones that I did recognize, they were more expensive than what they would be elsewhere. I’d pack three.
4. Coconut oil// your favorite spice mixes//nut butter
This one might sound weird. Spices? Who on earth puts spices in their bag. Buuuut before you judge, I love to cook. Like really, I throw down in the kitchen and there are these two spice mixes from back home that I’d kill to have right now. Mrs. Dash? Watkins? They don’t exist here. This one will probably be easy for most people to live without but hey, I’m just trying to help another wannabe Mario Batali (like me) out. Cocount oil does in fact exist here. You can find it at most specialty food shops (El Corte Ingles food shops and most organic food shops) but holy cow is it pricey. I really wish I packed some. And last but not least…nut butter. I know they’re out here somewhere but unless you have a Taste of America store where you are in Spain you’re not going to get great peanut butter. Actually when I lived in the states I ate almond/hazelnut butter. Ha..good luck finding that one. Care package anyone??
5. Cold weather clothes
When people think of Spain they often think sunshine, warmth, and beaches but unless you’re going to the most southern part of Spain or any of the islands be prepared to freeze your nalgas off. I made this mistake even though I knew I was about to live in the 2nd coldest city in Spain. Bring sweaters..lot’s of sweaters if you’re coming to Europe and planning on spending the fall/winter/or early spring here!
Five things I wish I didn’t pack
1. High heels
I promise you unless you’re a supermodel, or if you plan on going clubbing in the poshest of clubs every weekend, or if you want to break your face you won’t need them. Seriously, no one wears heels out in Castilla y Leon.
2. 10 pounds of camping gear.
I thought that I wasn’t going to be able to find camping gear here in Spain so I brought everything except my tent and sleeping bag. I packed things like fire starters, emergency first aid kit, tent repair kits, stove, pan, utensils, etc. Here in Spain we have Decathlon, a Spanish version of R.E.I. You can find many inexpensive options at this store and they are all over Spain! The one in my town is only a 20 minute walk from my house! Sure it’s nice that I don’t have to buy all that stuff but I haven’t even gone camping yet. I could have easily picked a few things up here and there before Spring when I’ll ACTUALLY be going camping.
3. Every document I have
I’m a firm believer that you should make double copies of things like your passport ID page, your visa page, and your government ID but I got crazy and made 3 copies of everything plus I brought with me copies of my bank account, social security card, work documents, and the list goes on. Not only is all of that unsafe but all that paper can add a lot of weight to your bag. What I wish I would have done instead is scan it all to my email and then printed it if I needed it while I’m here. Now I know that now a days the internet can be an untrustworthy place especially for keeping those types of documents safe so if you’re uneasy about this one have a trusted family member or friend keep all that information in a folder for you back home. When/if you need a specific document they could either scan it to you, your job, or another trustworthy place. If you have any other solutions let me know down below!
4. Straightener, blow dryer, curling iron
The plugs on these appliances are most likely not going to work with the outlet here anyway so you’re going to have to buy an adapter for it. I bought two before coming here but honestly it’s a pain to switch from using it to charge your electronics to your hair appliances back to your phone charger. These things are relatively inexpensive here. I bought my straightener for 20 Euros, my blow dryer for 15, and my curling iron for 12. They all work perfectly and no adapter required. It’ll save A TON of space in your luggage too!
5. So many sporting clothes
Fashion here is huge. People will dress up just for running errands! When I would run errands in Minnesota (especially in the winter) it was sweatpants, boots or tennis shoes, and a sweatshirt. Most people (like 90% rough estimate) wear this kind of style only to the gym. They take their style really seriously here. Now I really like to workout so I figured I’d use all 12 of my different colored sports wear but nope. You will definitely not need that many shirts or 5 different yoga pants/leggings and if you do think you will you can buy all sorts of sportswear at many different retailers for a low price!
Let me know if you have any other tips that will help me out for my next move!
Good luck on your pack!