With this list of travelling must haves, you’ll make sure that you pack everything you need for your upcoming trip to Madrid.
So now that you’ve planned your trip to Madrid and the itinerary has been set, it’s time to check the things you need to sort out and your packing list before you travel.
Let’s be honest – packing sucks. I’m sure you agree with me.
You always feel like you’re forgetting something. Or you over-pack and end up using only half of what you brought.
Well, guess what?
Packing for your next Madrid trip doesn’t have to be this way.
As a long time traveler and after loading up my carry-on luggage dozens of times, I’ve learned to bring some essential travel items that keep me organized and play double duty so that I don’t bring stuff I don’t need.
But most importantly, I always check a list of travelling must haves while packing to avoid forgetting something important.
Whether you already have your trip booked or you’re just planning in advance, these are the 14 things you should bring with you on your next vacation.
Travelling must haves: documents
Your passport should be your top priority among the documents that you should take with you when traveling to Madrid. It must be valid until 3 months after the planned date of departure from the Schengen territory, and must have been issued during the 10 years immediately before the date of entry.
So if it’s about to expire some time soon, make sure you renew it.
Before the start of your trip, photocopy or scan your passport. Then, keep the copy in a place that’s easy for you to access while abroad – in the cloud (e.g. iCloud, Google Drive, Dropbox, etc.), on a pen drive or printed out and left in your suitcase. If your passport is mislaid or stolen, it’s much easier to arrange for an emergency passport if you have a copy of the details to hand.
Check if you need a travel Visa for Spain. If that’s the case, make sure you apply for it soon enough before your trip.
3. Flight and/or train tickets
Even in this day of electronic ticketing, it’s helpful to have a paper copy to refer to and show airport and/or train station staff. Just in case your smartphone runs out of battery…
If you’re still researching flights to Spain, use this step by step guide to find very cheap international flights.
And if you need help with your train tickets, read this guide to get yours online.
4. Driving license
Are you planning to drive in Spain? In this case, check whether or not you can use your national driving license.
If yes, make sure that your driving license is in date. Then, take a photo, scan or photocopy it, just like you did with your passport. It will be useful if it gets mislaid or stolen on the trip.
If no, you’ll need to apply for an International Drivers Licence.
5. Hotel reservations
You should have all the details of your hotel booking in Madrid.
If you fly from outside the European Union, you’ll be asked to fill in your first night’s hotel address in your landing card before immigration. And having the accommodation address will be useful to show it to taxi drivers (it easily solves the pronunciation problem!).
Keep it in your carry-on luggage. Or save it on your smartphone so you can always have it with you.
6. Madrid maps
A map is one of the essentials you must have on your visit to Madrid. It helps you design your day-to-day itinerary, gives you insights into how Madrid main attractions are connected and also provides you with well-detailed navigation through the Madrid’s streets and neighborhoods for easy touring.
That’s why I recommend you to have a look at my customized map of Madrid. Since it’s an online map, you can look at it from your computer, tablet or smartphone, regardless of where you are (at home or on the road).
7. Madrid guidebook
Having a real guidebook can be useful in tandem with online information – plus, it’s handy to browse on the plane and get to know more about the facts and culture of your next destination. It’s one of my favorite travelling must haves!
My recommendation is ‘Madrid In 9 Walks’.
I know, I know, I’m biased, because I produced this comprehensive guidebook.
Travelling must haves: financials
8. Credit & debit cards
Banks do whatever they can to protect you from identity theft. So if they spot transactions in an unfamiliar location, your bank may assume your card is being used fraudulently and shut it off.
Notify your bank before using a credit or debit card when traveling so they add a record to your account and share it with their fraud detection system. This prevents your supposedly “abnormal” spending patterns from triggering a block on your card.
VISA and MasterCard are widely accepted in Spain, American Express not so much.
But the best piece of advice I can give you is to get a debit card with no foreign transaction fees. It’s the cheapest, easiest way to get money and make payments while in Madrid.
9. Cash & tipping
You don’t need cash while visiting Madrid. Pay everything with your debit card!
Travel debit cards are designed to be more than just a regular debit card that can be used for purchases abroad.
It has a unique feature that lets you manage 50+ different currencies in a single account. This means that you can spend or send in virtually any currency you have in your account. There are also no foreign transaction fees, annual fees, and ATM withdrawal charges (for a limited amount).
So use it in any ATM if you need some occasional cash.
And if you have no idea about how tipping works, here’s my handy Madrid tipping guide.
Travelling must haves: health
10. Travel insurance
Even the best planned trips can be impacted by the unexpected. But what’s likely to happen before or during your trip that a travel insurance plan could help you with? Unforeseeable events could throw a wrench in your travel plans and cost you money, time and a lot of stressful situations.
So if you’re wondering “Should I buy travel insurance?”, the answer is yes.
Here are some reasons that justify getting a Spain travel insurance policy:
- Life is unpredictable and it’s impossible to know what might happen between planning a trip and leaving. So if you cancel your trip, you won’t lose any money.
- If you’re injured during your trip, travel insurance will cover your medical expenses, including an ambulance ride. Unfortunately, many health insurance plans don’t cover international travel.
- If you can’t continue your trip as a result of the injury, a good travel coverage could reimburse you for the portion of the trip that you missed and even help you return home.
- Flight delays, flight cancellations, a stolen passport, traffic accident, and many other unexpected events could delay or completely interrupt your trip. A travel insurance plan can cover you in many of those situations, so you can focus on taking care of your needs during an inconvenience like that and not worry so much about what it might cost.
- With travel insurance you can be reimbursed for lost, stolen or damaged baggage or personal items and a good coverage can pay you back for the purchase of necessary items while your bags are delayed.
Whatever insurance you take out, remember to bring your European Health Card, if you are an EU citizen.
If you are on medication, bring it with you! It should be a top priority among your travel essentials.
Make sure you have enough to last the duration with a few extra days just in case there are any last-minute changes in your trip. When packing medication, bring the leaflet that comes with the pills so if you need medical attention, the doctor here knows exactly what you are taking. If you have any medical conditions, consider bringing with you a letter from your doctor outlining your recent medical history.
Remember that if you are struck down with a cold or stomach issue while in Madrid, you may not find the same brand of medicine that you use at home. Thus, if you only trust a particular brand, pack it and bring it with you.
Travelling must haves: entertainment
12. eSIM card
An eSIM card is the easiest, most convenient and usually the most affordable way to get data on your smart phone.
Moreover, it offers many benefits while you travel abroad. It’s more secure than a physical SIM because it can’t be removed if your smartphone is lost or stolen. With an eSIM, you don’t need to obtain, carry, and swap physical SIM cards (which can also be lost), or wait for them to arrive by mail.
All you do is visit the website, download the app, choose your country and the amount of data you need and activate your eSIM.
No need to pre-buy a physical sim card.
Plus, if you’re not sure how much you need, if you run out, you can easily add more with the press of one button.
13. Travel adapters & chargers
Spain uses the standard European two-pin rounded plugs and the voltage is 230V/50hz. So you may need to bring an adapter to power up all your requirements such as your smartphone, tablet, Kindle, camera, etc.
Make sure you fully charge your electronics before you leave. There’s nothing worse than getting on your flight to Madrid and not having any music, books or movies.
But most importantly, don’t forget to pack in your hand luggage the charger of each of these devices of course!
Consider packing an extra external battery for your smartphone if you use it to watch TV, movies or listen to audio. And pack earphones too – they are always handy for the flight and any train journeys.
14. Movies, music, ebooks
Before you hit the road, download ebooks, music, movies, games, and other entertainment that you like.
First, remember to check the storage space on your device. You won’t be able to download anything there if there’s not enough room. So take a little time to get rid of the stuff you no longer need.
Then, take your time a few days before your trip to download everything you want at home.
That way, you’ll have tons of things to do while you’re on the plane. And you’ll use your faster and more reliable internet home connection instead of relying on your cellular data service (get your eSIM to always stay connected!).