Have you ever dreamed about visiting Spain? Many people travel to Spain every year because it is sunny, has beautiful beaches that run for miles and looks really pretty, but it is also a place that can drive you wild if you aren’t prepared. By personal experience and asking my students, I gathered ten very helpful and interesting things that you’ll need to know before visiting Spain.
1. How much money to bring:
It’s extremely easy to withdraw cash from Barcelona cash machines with both debit and credit cards. You should probably tell your banking institutions in advance that you’ll be traveling to Spain, so that they allow the transactions. While it’s good to bring some Euros with you, carrying a lot of cash on you at any one time is not recommended at all in Spain. The pickpockets are professionals, and your wallet can disappear in seconds. Spain has the highest number of tourist-related crimes (mostly stolen wallets in Barcelona).
2. Be on Time:
Spanish society tends to be always on time. When visiting Spain, it will be very important that you get used to the time zone. It seems like a small thing, but this is the standard in Spain, so refresh those punctuality skills!
3. Take a look at some Spanish Phrases:
Whether you just know “Con permiso” or are already completely fluent, make sure you study up some phrases and use them when you arrive. Ordering food and asking for directions are a great place to start using your Spanish vocabulary words.
4. Get Around by Bus or Train
Bus and Train are the easiest ways to get around in Spain. The cheapest is ALSA, the major Spanish bus company which will bring you almost anywhere, and especially if on a student budget, this is where you should check first. If you’d like to experience a train in Spain, your best option is RENFE, the Spanish train company. It is a
bit more comfortable than the bus and offers some high speed options between the big cities in Spain.
5. Don’t Tip (Unless in a Group):
It is very common for people to leave a tip after every meal in Spain, but it is also common for tourist to leave a large amount which is definitely not necessary. The only time you will need to leave a tip is if you are with a large group of people at the table. Even then, you will only need to leave a euro or two.
6. Bring a Jacket:
Weather in Spain changes very often. Sometimes you will find a sunny day, a windy day or a very cold day. The best option for you is to bring a jacket everywhere you go; nights in Spain are cold and you will definitely need it.
7. Cell Phones:
Unlimited plans do not exist in Spain like they do in the United States. Instead of plans, Spanish people use pre-paid minutes. I recommend you buy the cheapest phone you can find when you get to Spain, and then get many minutes. As you make Spanish friends, you will quickly learn the Spanish way of communicating by phone! Spanish people use the phrase “Dar un Toque” when they want someone to call them back. To do this, they call someone, and let the phone ring once, then hang up. That is a free way of communicating with someone. Remember not to answer the phone from a Spanish friend on the first ring.
8. No Pasa Nada:
The Spanish culture is really more laid back than it is in the United States. Even when people are late for an event or they do something wrong, they usually say a phrase that will make them feel better: “No pasa nada!”
9. The Spanish Clock and Mealtimes:
Spanish people usually have breakfast at 10:00 am, while lunch is at 2:00 pm, and is the largest meal of the day. Dinner is no earlier than 8:00 pm, and it is a very light meal. It is very important for you to remember this, because many restaurants usually close after dinner time.
10. Culture Shock:
The differences between cultures are fascinating, exciting and sometimes frustrating. American culture and European culture are very different, and a culture shock will most likely happen to you. But do not worry, it happens to everyone.
Visiting Spain is an adventure that you will never forget; you will discover amazing environments, great food and a friendly society. All what matters is how prepared you are in order to live this experience.