We'll be leaving for Spain on Thursday! Our itinerary includes first 5 days in Spain + next 6 days in Gibraltar + last 4 days back in Spain, before flying home.
Since we’ll be travelling independently, I’ve been researching, booking, and packing the essentials. Let’s see what I've got so far...
Trains in Spain: We plan to travel by train while in Spain. Since we know our dates at each city, and it is advisable to reserve train tickets in advance in the summer, I booked online with Trainline and RENFE (the main rail company in Spain), and received our tickets in PDF via email. The RENFE train tickets are in Spanish only so I find it helpful to see the tickets and figure out what they mean in advance. Rail Europe web site has a page that explains how to read your RENFE print-at-home ticket.
Free walking tours: We prefer to walk when we visit a new town or city. We usually pick up a map from the local tourist office or the hotel and explore on our own. In a city where the first language is not English, going on an English-speaking walking tour led by a local resident is helpful, informative, and can be quite fun. Again since we know our dates at each city in Spain, and it is summer (tourist season) when we visit, I booked free walking tours online and received prompt email confirmations.
Mobile device, WiFi, and SIM card: On this trip, the hotels that I booked all offer free WiFi. We plan to bring one unlocked mobile phone with us. The main mobile carriers in Spain include Movistar, Vodafone, Orange, and Yoigo. After doing some research, I ordered a pre-paid SIM card for Spain for local calls and internet usage when we are not at our hotel, or in case the WiFi at the hotel is not strong enough for our needs.
I ordered from SIM Card Spain and received the SIM card in five calendar days. The company was very good at sending email notifications confirming the order and when it was shipped. The SIM card comes in different sizes, with a promotional, pre-loaded 10 euros credit, and free shipping.
Adapters, Chargers, and Converters: We’re bring two of each to charge our devices. The voltage in Canada is 110V, in Spain and Gibraltar is 220V/ 240V. The prongs for power outlets are different from what we have in Canada.
Maps.me: I downloaded a number of maps of the cities we’re visiting using Maps.me to my mobile phone. Maps.me offers free, fast, detailed, and entirely offline maps with navigation and directions for travellers. I’m playing with the maps to familiarize myself.
Food: Our hotel room rates include breakfasts. This leaves us to figure out where to go for lunch and dinner. We’re usually on the go during the day and will grab a quick lunch wherever we happen to be at that time. One adjustment that we’ll have to make, as I’ve learned this when I visited Barcelona, is that people eat much later in Spain, especially dinner! I plan to use Trip Advisor or ask the hotel staff for recommended dinner places close to our hotel.
Other essentials: Passports, e-tickets, hotel confirmations, contact information, travel insurance, some euros (for Spain), some pounds (for Gibraltar), small snacks, first aid kit, and summer clothing.
We'll fly non-stop from Toronto to Madrid on Thursday. We'll likely be sleepy and tired from the 7-hour overnight flight and the time difference. Still...So excited to think that we’ll be landing in Madrid, Spain on Friday morning!
I may be able to do quick posts while in Spain and Gibraltar. Stay tuned for my updates.
Have I missed anything? What are your must-have travel items? What other travel tips can you share?