As your trip to Spain or Portugal approaches, you may feel a panicky question arise: “What do I pack for Spain and Portugal?”

We get that it can be overwhelming, especially if you’ve never traveled abroad before. It’s important to keep in mind that what to pack for Spain and/or Portugal is dependent on the location, the season of travel (check that weather app!), and your personal needs. Regardless, we’re offering some suggestions based on years of working with hundreds of clients and our own personal travels.

Our biggest tip? Pack light! Packing light can be a lot more pleasant in almost every aspect of traveling, from not having to worry about the weight limits on airlines or hauling bags up stairs, through train stations and luggage racks, especially if you are moving from destination to destination every few days. In other words, you want to limit the stuff you cart around with you.

Heading out soon and organizing your bags? Here’s what to pack for Spain:

Your Handy Trip Plans App

use your travel app for SpainIt goes without saying that you’ll need your phone to snap pictures, get directions, or check in with family while you’re away. But even more important is your handy Trip Plans App which contains your itinerary and other crucial documents like museum tickets, your tour guide’s contact, and reservation confirmation numbers. Our clients (even the more tech-averse ones) rave about Trip Plans and how incredibly helpful it is throughout the entire journey. Don’t forget to download it before you leave.

Personal Documents

a passport is what to pack for Spain

Along with the documents uploaded in the Trip Plans App, don’t forget those other important documents like your passport, driver’s license (especially if you’re renting a car), and copies of each of them in case there are issues.

Travel Insurance

If we’ve learned anything from the past few years, it’s to be prepared for the unexpected. Which is why Spain Savvy partners with Global Rescue for travel insurance. For Global Rescue, CFAR (“cancel for any reason”) insurance must be contracted within 20 days of making the first trip payment.

Debit and Credit Card

credit cards in Spain

We recommend bringing both a debit and credit card on the trip. There are multiple banks that offer debit and credit cards without international fees, which will save you a ton of money while traveling. When you can, a credit card is the best way to pay, as you won’t incur excessive or exchange bank fees. But when you need to take out cash (for small purchases, tipping, traditional shops), we recommend using a debit card rather than exchanging dollars. You can even take out money in the airport when you arrive.

The Right Luggage

suitcases for travel

Airlines have substantially tightened their luggage policies for both carry-on and checked baggage; and their requirements are subject to change without notice. Check with specific airline carriers to determine weight restrictions and fees that might be applicable. Most airlines now charge for checked bags, sometimes even on international flights.

If you’ll be traveling for more than two weeks, a checked bag is probably necessary. However, keep in mind that hauling big bags from trains to taxis, or occasionally up stairs and along cobblestone streets, can be challenging. Again, pack light!

Once you’re in Europe, and if you’ll be taking short flights from Spain to Portugal, you may even be charged for carry-on luggage. And the size requirements are more limited than what you can carry on in the US. It’s best to check with each airline’s requirements ahead of time.

Electrical Power Adapters

adapters and european chargers

The electrical current in Spain and Portugal is 220V, which is not the same as the current in North America (110V). When it comes to bringing items such as a hairdryer, curling iron, or straightener, you simply should refrain from it. The vast majority of accommodations will have at least a hairdryer on-site and, when traveling from the U.S. to Europe, the voltage in the plugs is completely different and you risk completely ruining your devices should you use them, even if you are using an adapter. Your phones are usually fine and work well with adapters. Check out universal adapters which contain plugs for multiple countries across the globe.

The same goes for laptops. Be sure to check the manufacturer’s instructions to see that your device will operate at 220V. If the company makes special plug adapters (i.e. as Apple does for its Macbooks) we recommend that you purchase and use those instead of plugging into a separate converter or adapter. In the case of a power surge you may risk the destruction of your laptop. If using a converter, the wattage of the converter must match the wattage of the appliance. Please make sure that your laptop’s voltage range, found on your power cord, will be compatible with the electrical current.

Packing Cubes

packing cubes are what to pack for SpainLiving out of a suitcase can be one of the most uncomfortable parts of travel. Which is why we LOVE packing cubes. They keep all your clothes, shoes, and toiletries organized into individual blocks, making it way easier to find that favorite shirt you were hoping to wear on your tapas tour. Our favorite brand? Bag-All. Not only are they functional, they also come in different colors and you can even get them monogramed.

Good Walking Shoes

shoes for travel

When our clients ask us what to pack for Spain and Portugal or anywhere else Europe or Morocco, “comfortable shoes!” is always our first response. Unlike most cities in the US, European cities and towns require lots of walking! And that means you’ll need extra-comfy shoes to get around. A good pair of casual walking shoes, as well as another pair of slightly dressier shoes you can wear to a nice dinner that are still comfy (leave the stilettos at home), are really all you need. If hiking is a part of your itinerary, hiking shoes or good tennis shoes are also a great idea. And if you’re planning on visiting one of Spain’s incredible beaches or lounging by the pool, throw in some lightweight flip-flops too.

Comfortable, Weather-Appropriate Clothes

comfortable in Spain

International travel has become much more casual than it used to be. There are exceptions, of course, when more formal attire is required, but the first rule is to dress for comfort.

Once you’ve done your destination research, determined the weather in the regions you plan to visit, and thought about the activities you plan to do, go through your closet and select items that you feel will work for your trip.

Insider Tips for What Clothing to Pack for Spain and Portugal

  • Layering is the way to go in Europe year-round.
  • A shawl, pashmina, scarf, or other wrap can serve as an accessory as well as a blanket for the plane or a chilly museum.
  • Special travel clothing is available in many wrinkle-resistant and light-weight materials, making packing easier than ever.
  • Rolling rather than folding your clothes in your suitcase results in less wrinkles.
  • Consider the capsule wardrobe. Color coordinate your clothes for maximum utility with limited pieces. Use one main color and one or two accent colors to mix and match for maximum flexibility.
  • Bring a rain jacket. No matter the region or season, a rain jacket is always a good idea, as you can get caught out in a storm regardless of where and when you are traveling.
  • Pack a swimsuit. Regardless of whether or not you’re traveling in winter or summer, or going to the north or south, we always recommend you pack a swimsuit. Many of your hotels will have pools, or you may want to enjoy the hotel’s spa, sauna, or book a session at the Arabic baths in cities like Barcelona or Seville.

Reusable Water Bottle

pack your water bottle for Spain

A reusable water bottle is ideal for staying hydrated throughout your travel (staying hydrated on the plane is crucial!). All the walking is bound to leave you thirsty, and a ready-to-use bottle will remind you to drink water and keep you energized. Barcelona is one of the few cities where locals don’t recommend drinking the tap water, but many cities around Spain and Portugal have refillable water stations or drinking fountains. While you can easily purchase plastic water bottles while in country, a reusable one will save you a few bucks and is much better for the environment.

Extra Space for Souvenirs

souvenir woven baskets in Spain

Don’t fill your suitcase to the brim! It’s always a good idea to leave a little space in your luggage for fun Portuguese and Spanish souvenirs you find along the way, be it gifts, clothes, bottles of wine, or artisan goods. Knowing you have some room will give you the freedom to take back whatever treats you fancy.


pack your travel patience in Spain

If you have traveled with us before, you know we always remind folks to “pack their patience.” After all, this is a vacation! Spain and Portugal move at a different pace than the US, meaning you may have to wait a little longer to order tapas or catch a taxi. While things may not always go perfectly, it’s all part of the travel experience. Be a responsible tourist and embrace the waiting! It’s a time to revel in the culture and be present in such a privileged place. We love this quote from the editorial director of Condé Nast Traveler, Jesse Ashlock:

“There will be lines, and there could be meltdowns. You can save yourself a lot of grief by planning smartly and getting to the airport early, but sometimes the headaches are impossible to avoid. When they come, remember how worth it is…Even when travel isn’t perfect, we’re all so lucky that we get to be travelers.”

Ready to get your bags packed and head to Spain? Reach out to us and we’ll help you plan the trip of a lifetime.