auxiliar program, Spain, travel

So, I Made It To Spain

Well hola, my friends. I have officially arrived in Spain! It’s been a little quiet around here the last few weeks, but in real life, it’s been anything but quiet. I’ve gone from west coast to east coast to Madrid, Santander, San Sebastian, and Bilbao, all in two weeks’ time. I’ve been through the whole “holy #*&$, what am I doing with my life” thought process a few times, which has now transitioned into the “OMG, my life is incredible” thought process. Obviously I’ve done and seen a lot of amazing things, and I’ll write more in depth about my experiences soon.  I’ve got a lot of mental sorting out to do, and a lot of photos to organize. For now, these are my photo montages of Madrid and Santander. As you can see, a lot of wine and food was consumed, and there was abundant sunshine.

madrid spain vacation

santander spain vacation

santander spain vacation

A lot of bloggers have been writing lately about how to pack your life neatly into a small amount of luggage. They’re immensely helpful and have provided a lot of suggestions. I followed many of their suggestions and found myself much more organized. After enduring the packing process, the airport process, and the traveling to four cities in a week process, I’m now on the other side and can offer a few tips of my own.

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1. Buy (or borrow) a luggage scale. The bathroom scale just won’t do. I was cheap and opted to not buy one, and it would have been extremely helpful. I have no idea how bathroom scales are so different from airport baggage scales, but somehow they are.

2. Try to have as few rolling suitcases as possible. I had two – a large one and a carry-on, plus a personal item (camera/other stuff bag) and I still felt this was too much, by the end of all my travels. Fortunately I had a friend traveling with me and she helped me with my carry-on while I maneuvered big Bessie around on the bumpy sidewalks. Next time around, I’d like to try using a big backpack rather than a carry-on suitcase.

3. Space saver bags: a good idea, however, they’ll trick you into overfilling your large suitcase and you’ll most likely have too much weight. Still very useful for separating clothes and making better use of space. I opted to not roll anything, just fold and stuff. Wrinkles weren’t too big of a problem. I bought the Ziploc roll-up travel bags ($20 at Bed Bath & Beyond) so I wouldn’t have to use a vacuum.

4. Be prepared to toss a few items at the airport to leave with family or friends if (when?) your bag is actually overweight, even though you checked the weight at home. Just in case. I didn’t think a bathroom scale would be SO off that my bag would be 15 pounds overweight. I had some frantic moments at the check-in counter, even though I knew what I could leave behind. I ended up having to leave quite a bit more than I expected. Honestly, now that I’m here, I can see that I did NOT bring very much stuff, and most of it was not heavy at all (or if it was, I put it in my carry-on). I left behind all large bottles of shower products, all food items including peanut butter, and even my one pair of boots. And I only brought one coat and a few lightweight pairs of shoes. Therefore, my suspicion is that I got screwed over somehow by the airport scales. I wouldn’t put it past ’em. But do not under any circumstance pay the overweight baggage fee: it averages at least $90. I wasn’t about to drag a third suitcase around, though now I’m thinking it would have been cheaper than having my mom ship things to me. Crossing my fingers that my stuff actually arrives!

5. Flash some bills (maybe). Apparently sometimes the curbside check-in guys will let things (like overweight bags) slide, if you tip them well.  Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to end up using curbside check-in and it just got awkward once the guy realized I wasn’t going to tip him after all. Bribery? Perhaps. Disclaimer: I don’t advocate bribery. 🙂

So yeah, there are a few things I would have done differently, but I’m here now and I have enough to live on for a while. Carrefour is nearby, so I can pick up things I need in the meantime or if my stuff never arrives. And now that I’ve arrived, I basically never want to look at or pack a suitcase again. Good luck getting me out of here ever. Especially now that I live in a city with Mango and Stradivarius right next to each other, walking distance from my piso.

Animate y buena suerte, auxiliares! Hasta pronto!

cat suitcase how to pack for travel spain