Preparing For My Annual Trip to Spain

Posted by on Feb 17, 2017 in Blog | 0 comments


Preparing for my annual trip to Spain is pretty easy these days. I’ve been doing it long enough that I actually reference a checklist. Here’s that list in no particular order …

  • place travel alerts on ATM and credit cards
  • set up PO Box for transfer of all personal mail
  • order euros
  • make paper copies of all airline tickets and hotel reservations
  • Get my cell phone international call plan set up
  • make sure passport and wall plugs for foreign outlets are packed
  • set up online bill pay for all incoming bills
  • file taxes before I leave
  • pack and then repack until I’m traveling as light as possible.

It’s not a long list as you can see, but any one of those items if left undone could cause quite a headache for me. Most are probably standard procedure for travelers, but I”m going to explain a couple of them in a little greater detail.

My well-equipped little kitchen

Why use a PO Box?

Traveling longterm presents a few problems that are unique. My husband and I prefer long international trips of two to three months at a time. On a few occasions, we’ve been out of the country for as long as eight months. That’s a totally different ball game than the traditional vacation time of a week or two. What do we do with our mail, for example? That was often a big headache for us. Since we’ve rented a PO Box at our local post office, things have been less stressful. We keep it rented year round and use it whenever we’re going to be gone for more than thirty days. The post office will hold mail for only thirty days.  After that you’re on your own. We hate involving a neighbor or a relative so renting a PO Box became the easiest way to solve this problem. Our son actually picks up our mail every other week from the post office but it’s not necessary. We’re not dependent on him doing that for us. This little decision has really alleviated a big headache all the way around.

Timing a longterm trip during tax season is a big headache, but it turns out we are always winding up the winter and starting spring in Spain during tax season, so we try to have everything filed before March. This year we met our goal as early as the first week of February. Scratch that pesky annual chore off the list!

What about those long distance phone calls?

I don’t buy an actual international cell phone plan because my apartment comes with secure wifi and I’m able to use Skype whenever I want to text or call friends and family back home. I even purchased a Skype stateside telephone number, so that anyone can call me and I can receive the call as though I’m sitting in my living room back home. That has been very helpful for people like my mom who has never mastered the Internet and doesn’t have Skype. However, for those times that I am away from wifi, I can purchase a one day pass for $10 through my phone company, AT&T, that allows me to use my stateside plan for a 24-hour time period. I’ve never had to do it, but it’s comforting to know that I can. Normally, however, if the need arises for a local phone call or an occasional text, I pay the fifty cent charge per text or the two dollar a minute charge for a quick phone call. It rarely happens, but I know I can do it if I need to do so.

One of many beach restaurants called a chiringuito.

I’m picky about packing?

Packing light has become an obsession with me, a serious obsession. I like to try and beat my own record every year. I carry a cross body purse made by Travelon that is designed to be difficult to slash with a knife, both strap and body of purse. It also has locking zippers, making it hard for a pickpocket to avail themselves of its contents. In addition to the purse, I have a small 21-inch carryon suitcase. That’s it! My computer fits in the front pocket and about four changes of clothes plus personal items in the body of the bag. I tend not to carry products like shampoo and such. I buy what I need after I arrive. I wear my sneakers, Clarks, and pack my sandals, Tevas, and I wear my warmer coat but pack a lightweight jacket according to seasonal requirements. My little backpack folds into its self-contained zippered bag and fits neatly in the suitcase. I will be making a number of trips from my apartment in Spain this year, eight days in Portugal and four days to Galicia. The little backpack will be all that I carry on these trips. I’ll write more about that later.

So there you have it! Some of the practicalities of preparing for a two-month trip abroad. I’ll be leaving very soon so the next time you hear from me, it’ll be from the other side of the big pond.

Until then, cheers and happy trails…..

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