Spain is at the top of the list for any international student who plans to spend a year or semester abroad. Studying abroad stories usually include exciting activities and experiences that exceed the educational advantages. The locals’ way of living invites internationals to join the vibrant community, learn new things about Spain, and create wonderful memories.
Depending on the length of your stay and your daily schedule, you should pack for both comfort and fun. One thing you should keep in mind when packing is to not overdo it. International students will most likely want to see the fascinating places around Spain, where shopping for personal pieces or souvenirs is one of the most common activities.
Summer Study Abroad Program Packing List
Summer in Spain can mean a lot of things: swimming, beach tanning, outdoor activities, restaurants, or visiting cultural attractions. The summer heat results in changing clothes more often than in other seasons. The most important packing items are tops and sunscreen.
Below you can find a few recommended lists of things to pack for Spain in summer:
The summer weather in Spain can usually get as high as 35°C, so it is advisable to pack light clothes that you can wear throughout the day without having to change. Layers of clothing can be a plus in cities like Valencia, where nights can get cooler.
Here are a few must-have pieces of clothing.
- A couple of dresses and/or skirts.
- Dressy clothes for clubbing (dress code).
- Athletic wear (workout clothes).
- Overshirts, jackets.
- Hoodies and/or sweaters.
- Rain boots.
- Flip flops.
- Sunglasses and sun hats.
- Comfortable shoes for walking/running/workout.
Planning your entire stay before your arrival can be beneficial when packing your clothing. Depending on how you are going to spend your time, you should do your best to match the culture and energy of Spaniards. If you are planning to go dancing or fancy restaurants, it is recommended to dress up. Otherwise, a cute pair of jeans and a nice top are more than acceptable.
If you’re moving away from home, regardless of the duration of your stay, it is important to pack all your belongings (including essentials). Assuming you already have a daily routine, things such as toiletries should be the first thing to prepare when packing. Although necessary, some toiletry items are sold anywhere. Pack things you are certain that cannot be found elsewhere and can be more expensive than in your home country.
Toiletries for a summer abroad in Spain:
- Travel-sized toiletries (shampoo, toothbrush, toothpaste, etc.).
- Cosmetics (light makeup, lip balm, etc.).
- Skincare products (sunscreen, creams, oils, serums, face masks, burn aftercare ointments, etc.)
- Deodorant and soap.
- Shaving supplies.
- Feminine care products.
- Nail clippers.
- Haircare products (anti-heat and frizz products).
Note: Most of the items listed above can be secured in hotels or other accommodation options. However, make sure you have one month’s worth of supplies just in case.
Winter Study Abroad Program Packing List
Traveling in winter can mean bigger suitcases, and a more organized packing list to fit everything you need. Since winter lasts longer, it is recommended that you pack the amount of clothing needed for the entire trip. Another thing to keep in mind is that, usually, winter clothing is more expensive, so pack the outerwear and leave the little things for shopping sprees upon arrival.
Spain is known to reach cold temperatures in Winter – no higher than 23 °C. The indoors are usually heated, so layering is useful in winter as well. Spain is considered the best place to visit during winter because the sun never really disappears. Depending on the region and city you are staying in, winter in Spain can be unpredictable.
Winter packing list for studying abroad in Spain:
- A big coat that matches everything.
- A couple of jackets.
- A couple of t-shirts to wear underneath.
- Three or more pairs of jeans and pants.
- Thick underwear and socks to last for at least an entire month.
- Thick or snow boots.
- A pair of comfortable shoes/sneakers.
- Warm pajamas and sweatpants for everyday wear.
During the winter, both skin and hair tend to dry out, and clothing can sometimes be the cause of different allergies. It is important to get all the personal care products packed first because the interchangeable winter weather can cause major damage to your skin barrier. Also, the change in climate for international students can result in getting sick and needing medical assistance.
Here is a list of toiletries you might need for studying in Spain during winter:
- Medicaments (vitamins, precautions for seasonal flu viruses).
- Creams and body lotions.
- Hair dryer and styling tools (if you are staying in private apartments).
- First-aid kit (for skiing or other outdoor activities).
- Makeup (depending on your preferences).
Aside from the essential items listed in the summer list above, these items are the most important when it comes to traveling in winter.
Year-Round Study Abroad Program Packing List
Studying abroad for a whole year requires a lot more packing, including a few household items along with clothing for all four seasons in Spain. If one suitcase is enough for one semester, a year-long study program asks for a lengthier packing list and additional bags. You can never be too sure of what to expect from an entire academic year abroad, so you must start packing at least two weeks before.
Staying in Spain for an entire academic year means you will probably experience at least three seasons, or more if you decide to prolong your stay until the end of summer. Throughout the year, the weather can be unpredictable and it can reach extreme highs and lows. You have to pack warmer clothes and snow boots for winter and lighter clothes for summer. As such, the list of clothing to pack can be endless, so it is a good idea to go on a shopping spree upon arrival as you would back in your home country.
Here is what you should pack for a year-round study program in Spain:
- Your favorite outfits and pieces of clothing for all seasons.
- One or two winter jackets/coats (wear one if traveling by plane during the winter).
- One month’s worth of underwear (buy the rest in Spain).
- Your favorite sleeping attire.
- A pair of thick socks.
- Comfortable sneakers/shoes and a pair of boots.
- At least two going-out outfits (buy more if needed).
Seeing as clothes will take up most of your packing space, you should only pack small items of toiletries that you can fit in the carry-on bag. The rest of the things you may need for your daily routine, you can buy throughout the year (depending on what you need).
Other Essential Extras to Pack
Depending on the length of your stay when studying abroad in Spain, it is important to research the things you need, might need, or additional items just to be safe. Assuming you have never been to Spain before, getting informed on the safety measures in Spain is crucial especially for international students who do not know the language.
Here is a list of extra things to pack for international students in Spain:
- Extra money for last-minute purchases.
- A regular and digital map.
- Portable charger/s.
- Cameras aside from your phone for pictures.
- Music devices and headphones.
- Small bags and/or purses for day trips.
- Several accessories to make your outfits stand out.
- Sustainable water bottles (easier for airport security).
School Supplies Checklist
Traveling as an international student requires all the preparations for the school year or semester depending on your study abroad program. You can buy most of the school supplies when you arrive in Spain, however, it is always safe to pack a few items from back home.
Here is a list of school supplies to pack for a study abroad trip in Spain:
- A laptop or tablet depending on the study program.
- A few notebooks (smaller/larger) for the first few weeks of school.
- Your favorite pen/pencil case, depending on the courses.
- School ID (if you have received one).
- Printed curriculum and timetable for classes.
- A map of the campus.
- Names of professors/academic staff.
Sentimental Souvenirs Checklist
Regardless of the length of your study abroad program, it is recommended that you bring souvenirs from back home in cases when you get homesick. Below is a list of examples that you might find useful.
- Photographs of family members and friends.
- Photographs of pets (if any).
- Journals filled with pictures and memories.
- Heartfelt souvenirs.
- Certain blankets or pillows that you cannot sleep without.
- Passports and visas (if needed).
- Travel insurance (medical if required).
- IDs and driver’s license (if any).
- Plane/train/bus tickets.
- Baggage identification locks or tags.
- A gift or souvenir for host families (if applicable).
- Small dictionary (if you do not speak the language).
- Other important identifications.
Last but not least, make sure you bookmark this helpful article on words and phrases you should know when traveling to Spain.