Keep these things in mind as you pack:
- You, and you alone, must be able to pick up and carry all of your luggage by yourself.
- Airlines charge for baggage. Inform yourself of your airline’s baggage allowances.
- You may have very little storage space abroad;
- A backpack is a useful piece of luggage for short weekend trips.
- Toiletries: You will find that you can survive the academic year using what is available abroad. After all, when in Rome…. However, if you have specific toiletries that you must have, pack enough for the year.
- Remember to pack “everything” you might need for a couple days in a carry-on bag in case your luggage is lost in transit.
What size bags should I pack in?
The first thing to do is to check the regulations listed by your airline for international flights. Many companies have updated their baggage restrictions for checked and carry-on luggage, so make sure you follow their guidelines for the size, weight, number, and contents of bags to avoid extra fees.
It’s a good idea to also have a backpack or small suitcase to travel with while you’re abroad. Many of the more economical airlines (such as EasyJet and RyanAir) have much stricter size requirements for carry-on luggage and will require you to check any bag larger than this size for a fee that often costs more than the flight itself. You can check the dimensions for carry-on luggage on their websites.
And don’t forget that while you’re abroad you’ll probably buy a few things to take back to the States, so don’t overpack beforehand or there won’t be room to bring them back! If you do wind up needing to ship items home, please consult the “Shipping Things Home” section on the Post Office page of our website.
What type of weather should I pack for?
Madrid’s high altitude and relatively dry climate mean the weather is usually much milder than in the States. From late spring into early fall, temperatures are usually in the 70s and 80s, though it can get as hot as 100ºF in the summertime. During winter the highs are usually in the 40s, though there are some days that are much colder.
It would be smart to have at least one pair of gloves, a scarf, and a hat with you. Snow is rare in Madrid although it does happen, and rain is more common in cooler months than in the summer. The key to Madrid is layers, because often there is a significant difference between temperatures during the day and those in the morning or evening.
Finally, keep in mind that places you travel to may be much warmer or cooler than Madrid depending on their location and the timing of your visit.
Should I pack medicine in my checked bags or in my carry-on?
Since there’s always a chance of checked bags getting lost or delayed in transit, we strongly recommend that all prescription medication be packed in your carry-on luggage. Bring a copy of the prescription as well. Regarding non-prescription medicine, Madrid has many pharmacies where you can purchase whatever you might need during your time here. However, medicines abroad often differ a bit from those in the States, so if you feel better bringing the basics such as aspirin and decongestants with you, that may be easier.