Packing for Spain: Reflection

I packed for a five-day trip to Spain using only a backpack and my mini-purse.  Everything worked out okay, but I do have some reflections about what I packed.

Things I packed and used:

  • Underwear and socks (I think I used all but one but these are things you want a backup for!)
  • Every shirt/sweater packed (mix and match was a great philosophy)
  • Scarf (used as a blanket, shawl, and scarf throughout the trip)
  • Pants and shoes (worn on plane)
  • Camera, iPhone, laptop, Kindle (and camera cord, iPhone and laptop chargers)
  • Toothbrush and deodorant
  • Water bottle
  • Umbrella
  • Snacks

Things I packed and did not use:

  • Journal/notebook
  • International phone (I just used wifi on my airplane-mode iPhone the whole time)

Things I did not pack but wish I had:

  • Baking soda for hair washing and tooth-brushing (so expensive in Spain – 4.75 euros ~$8ish)
  • Extra pants. One pair would have been fine for leisurely stuff, but running around airports and then walking several miles a day means a backup pair would have been nice. My “I wear the same pair all week for work” argument didn’t hold when I thought about my mostly-sedentary life at work compared to walky walky walky of Spain.  I could have washed them in the tub, but I didn’t want to risk them not being dry when it came time to wear them again.  Next time: backup pants.
  • A different suitcase/bag.  The backpack was convenient but pretty heavy, and I had to pack everything just right to not stab myself awkwardly in the back with stuff.  A backpack with different dimensions for easier packing, or perhaps a rolling carry-on suitcase, would have been a better choice.
  • MORE SNACKS because American Airlines missed the memo when I said “Vegetarian/non-dairy” so my meals on both flights consisted of a small salad and crackers because I couldn’t eat the cheese ravioli, pasta with cream sauce, or cheese pizza (though I did try to remove all the cheese of the pizza, which clearly didn’t work because I had a massive lactose stomachache the rest of the flight).

Things I didn’t pack and didn’t miss:

  • A separate outfit for every day
  • Pajamas (Hey, tee shirt and underwear work just fine)
  • Towel (hotel provided adequate towelage)
  • Liquids (no hassle with security over my shower gel being a secret bomb)

I’ve had a request for talking about how it was eating vegan in Spain.  I will be totally honest and tell you that I allowed my veganism to take a little hiatus in Spain.  There was one restaurant that touted vegetarian and vegan dishes, but unfortunately we didn’t make it to try it out.  I wish we had made a special trip there.  There are not a lot of vegan options in Spain, outside eating fruit  or salad, and I really don’t care for salads and I didn’t want to eat food I didn’t enjoy.  So I was a little lax in my dining decisions.

There was a bit of a language barrier too.  I do speak Spanish, but I’m not entirely fluent, so at best I just asked if something had milk or cheese and if no, I ate it.  I told them I had a milk allergy.  I did eat some chocolate items, which probably had milk.  I definitely had eggs (potato tortilla/omelet is delicious).  I had vegetable paella which, while without meat in the rice, may have been made with a non-vegetarian base (chicken stock, for example).  I am not 100% sure.  I tried Iberian ham (a bite from my mom’s plate, and I didn’t care for it, but I wanted to give the cultural delicacy a try).  I may catch some flack for my indiscretions about my eating choices, which is understandable given my moral opposition to the dairy, egg, and meat industries.  I don’t really have a good excuse other than that it was hard for me to communicate all of my eating preferences in my second language and I didn’t want my vacation to be overly frustrating trying to find the few options that meshed with my preferences.  I’m really happy to be back to the U.S. where I can read all my ingredients and ask all my nitpicky questions in my first language to see if something has a hidden animal ingredient.

11 thoughts on “Packing for Spain: Reflection

  1. Dude, you did your best with the circumstances presented to you. From what I’ve heard, it’s really hard to be vegan in Spain unless you make all your own food. It’s not like you suddenly decided to eat chorizo at every meal. I hope you had a fun time!!!

  2. It sounds like a great trip. I can’t believe how expensive their baking soda is. I wouldn’t worry too much about your diet, I have similar situations here at holiday times. i try not to make a big deal out of it for family and pick and eat what I can.

    1. Thanks! Yeah, I did what I could. I’m feeling better about it. After all, what are rules without exceptions? 🙂 And yeah, their baking soda was ridiculous. Also it had a different texture, it felt more like salt than powder, but it was definitely baking soda.

  3. I definitely think it’s acceptable to eat a bit of stuff you don’t normally eat when you have a language barrier AND it’s a once in a lifetime chance to try something authentic. Sounds like a fun trip ! And you did well with the packing ! Understandable about the pants, it would have been hard to make that conclusion until you were walking a ton and realized.

    1. Live and learn! Always have backup pants. One extra pair would still have been very minimal packing and then I would have been completely covered pants-wise. 🙂 I think I was just on a mission to see how low I could go. My mom checked a bag and had a full carry-on and large purse. The airline misplaced her checked bag on the way there so she had only one outfit for a couple days until they sorted it out! She was slightly frustrated but handled it well 🙂

  4. I would just like to add that any meat in Spain was probably treated better than factory farm, cheap meat you might get here in the states. Granted, I could be totally wrong, but I would think that there might be a better chance of eating quality meat there.

    1. That’s what I sort of thought too, though I didn’t do any research on it before I went (or since). I’d definitely be interested to see which countries raise livestock for meat the most humanely.

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