Thursday, 24 March 2016

The Auxiliar Diaries: What To Pack

Before my auxiliar exchange I read a zillion blogs about every aspect of the experience. Some were helpful, and some were really not! So here's my guide on how to be an auxiliar in Spain, based on my experiences.


One of the many things I read about before arriving was how to pack for your year (well, eight months) in Spain, and it all seemed like very sage advice. The result? I got to my new home and went, "What on EARTH was I thinking and why haven't I brought ANYTHING useful??" So - how to pack for Spain according to me...

First things first, it must be noted that I spent six weeks elsewhere in Europe before I actually moseyed on over to Spain, so my packing list was going to be a bit different anyway. I had one small backpack for carry-on, one large backpack as checked baggage and my suitcase. The suitcase, eventually, was shipped to Spain from my arrival point in Europe (well, almost, but that's a whole 'nother story!) and I simply carried my two backpacks around.
First rule of thumb: use all your baggage. The blogs I read all said to pack light, which seemed smart, except that I packed so light that I only had one pair of jeans and all the summer dresses I'd brought for August in Italy, and I can tell you those are less useful in December in Spain. So - if you have the room, use it. Sure, leave a little room for souvenirs coming home, but clothes will wear out and get left behind, and I also brought some presents for people I'd meet in Spain which will leave space in my suitcase on the return trip. As it stands, thanks to my light packing, I left a full wardrobe back in Australia and am paying for a whole new one because I was too stupid to put any of it in my suitcase.
Second rule, in conjunction with the above: if you've got it and you'll wear it, bring it. Since a lot of my clothes needed replacing around the time I left, I figured I'd save myself the luggage space and do my shopping here in Spain, since I'd heard the sales were great. That may be true in the big cities, but in Baza it took me months to find jeans in my size - in fact, I found them in Granada. It would have saved me a lot of time, money and stress to do a shopping trip before I left and bring it all with me. Plus, doing your shopping at home gives you a better idea of your overseas budget instead of blowing it all on clothes as soon as you arrive.

Third rule: pack whole outfits. Bring the tights or leggings you wear with that dress, include the white tank you need with that shirt, pack the belt that stops your jeans from falling down. Otherwise you've just got an outfit you can't wear, which is a waste of the aforementioned luggage space, or more shopping to do - see above note about buying a whole new wardrobe. Also remember that you'll be around mostly for the colder winter months, so do pack your winter wooolies. Gloves, a beanie and two scarves won't take up as much space as you think, and there's another 50€ you don't have to spend replacing things you already have.
Lastly, if there's something you particularly love from home, bring it. Dressing gowns aren't exactly a top packing priority, but since I practically live in mine, I consider it crucial to my mental health. I was also sad when I realised I'd left my entire scarf collection behind - since I accessorise almost every outfit with one, AND they're useful in winter, it would have been helpful to pack a few.

Helpful extra tip: don't forget little things like delicates bags, ladies, which will help you in the long run by extending your bra's shelf life, or local products you use a lot and can't get overseas, like eucalyptus oil, which is my go-to remedy for a blocked nose.

So, that's my packing list for Spain! Auxiliars, any things you wish you had or hadn't packed? Future auxiliars, any things you're not sure if you should or shouldn't bring?

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