Packing Essentials: What to bring to Madrid

Ultimate Packing List

Getting ready to jump the pond and not sure what to bring? It’s important to do your research about what things are easily available to you (and what aren’t!) so you’re sure not to forget the essentials. We want to make your transition into your life in Madrid as seamless as possible! Smart Insiders is going to break down everything to keep in mind when packing your suitcase and give you packing tips so you come prepared and ready to explore.
Packing List Madrid
Packing List Madrid
Packing List Madrid

Packing Tip #1: Decide which luggage to bring.

 To decide what suitcase to bring, you need to keep a few things in mind. First, how big is the room you’ll be renting and what storage is available to you? Rooms in the center of Madrid are usually small, so think ahead about where you can store your luggage so that it doesn’t take up a lot of space. Secondly, what are your traveling plans? If you decide to spend most of your weekends traveling around Europe, you want to make sure to bring a carry-on bag or backpack with you for weekend trips. Airlines like RyanAir have a strict weight limit for baggage, so check out their requirements on their website. Finally, you need to consider the absolute essentials to bring and what can wait for you to buy once you’re in Madrid. Things like clothes, shoes and household items are relatively budget-friendly in Spain, so before you pay extra in weight, it might be smarter to save your money to spend once you arrive.

Packing Tip #2: Organize your wardrobe based on weather. 

 Spain is known for its extremely hot summers (up to 40 degrees Celsius), but it isn’t that hot all year round. You need to think seasonally, so keep that in mind when packing your wardrobe. Temperatures start to drop around October/November, so we recommend bringing layers and a winter coat. You’ll want to pack smartly with a variety of clothing options, but don’t over-pack. If you plan on doing different activities (like swimming, hiking or running), consider what gear you want to bring with you. Again, if you’re planning to do some shopping while you’re here, consider what things you might want to buy so you can save room in your suitcase.

Packing Tip #3: Pack all your personal, health, and prescription products.

 Toiletries are cheaper in Madrid than in many other countries. Our recommendation is to only pack important products that you know aren’t available in Madrid. For example, if you prefer powder deodorant, that can be hard to find in Madrid. If you know you want a specific brand, pack it. If not, products like shampoo, conditioner, body wash, lotion and makeup are inexpensive, so we recommend saving space in your suitcase and buying it when you’re here.

If you have carry-on luggage, remember the TSA’s 3-1-1 rule so you know what size bottles you can pack. Any liquids, gels, aerosols, creams, and pastes must be 3.4 ounces (100ml) or less per container and they must be in a 1-quart clear plastic ziplock bag. Click here to read more about TSA rules about what you can and cannot pack. 

IMPORTANT: If you have prescription medications, talk with your doctor in your home country to get the necessary information/documentation to bring to a medical professional in Spain. If you worry that your prescription will be unavailable, you should bring enough to last your entire stay.

Packing Tip #4: Think about your technology.

 The next thing you’ll want to consider is your technology. Spain uses Type C and Type F plugs, so it’s important to bring a travel adaptor if this is different from your home country. Also, Spain operates on a 230V supply voltage and 50Hz, so make sure to check the voltage when you buy your adaptors or pack appliances that use high voltage, like hair dryers or curling irons.

BEWARE: Sometimes elecrical or heating appliances aren’t compatible with the Spanish power supply. If this is the case, you’re going to need an adaptor that also works as a voltage converter.

Packing Tip #5: Don’t forget your travel documents, cash, and credit cards.

 Take all necessary documents with you! Depending on the duration of your stay and your home country, you may need different paperwork to ensure safe travel. Before starting your journey, we recommend preparing an overview of all the forms you need to fill out and their deadlines. Above all, the two most important documents are your visa and health insurance.
  • Visa 
    • Certain countries require a visa for traveling and living abroad. Make sure you find out if you need one before you set off on your journey! You can find all the information about it here: exteriores.gob.es
  • Health Insurance
    • Health insurance is obligatory. 
    • If you come from a country within the EU, don’t forget your European health insurance card.
    • If you come from a non-European country, check with your program to make sure you will have health insurance.

Need additional help? 

Want more information about moving to Madrid? Check out our Settling In page where we have information about housing, metro cards, NIE & TIE, and more!

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