Traveling to Spain enlightened my wanderlust and was a learning experience in traveling smart and happy. Here are seven Spain and travel-related things I learned.
1. Buy the Spanish train pass to save money.
One area we saved a lot of money on was in train transportation between cities. Before we left for Spain, we realized we had’t left enough time for the Europe rail passes to be sent to us, so we had to buy them after we arrived. Instead of buying the Europe rail pass as recommended, we found out there was a special Spain train pass for tourists. This allowed us to save money and gave us the same options of rides. When you’re planning a trip or in the midst of traveling, think of the possibilities and ask.
2. Rick Steves is a great guide.
I’m not sure what we would have done without Rick Steves’ guidebook. Because we wanted to do, see and visit so much in two weeks, we used it to plan out our route, book our hotel rooms, find great restaurants for every meal, find our way around cities, and it even served as an “audio guide” at many sights. The recommendations for affordable and quality hotels and restaurants were stellar and it saved a lot of time and possible unfortunate situations. We even ran into several people along our trip with the same guidebook. If you’re a planner like me and want to get the most bang for your buck on a trip, I’d definitely recommend using it on any European trip. My only criticism is some maps in the book aren’t drawn to scale so in Spanish cities with no grid system, we got off the path a few times.
3. You can get by without knowing Spanish…kind of.
One of our travel mates was somewhat fluent in Spanish, so we lucked out. A lot of times she helped us get where we needed to be or deciphered things on the menu, but when I was off by myself or none of us knew, we found that a lot of Spanish knew enough English or were willing to listen to slow Spanish to help us understand and have a conversation. In the future, I would study languages for basic directions, places and menu items.
4. Have alone time from your travel mates.
Two weeks with the same people 24/7 can be exhausting, and it’s possible you all have different personalities and stressful situations will arise. Making time for yourself to unwind and reflect at the end of the day is so nice, especially if you’re an introvert like me. This helps you start the day fresh and team-focused!
5. It’s fun to get lost when you’re not in a hurry.
When we happened to get lost and were not racing to our next sight or to catch a train, we found that we really enjoyed going off the map and seeing where it took us. Many times we took general directions or neighborhood pointers from our guidebook and explored the area without it.
6. Plan time to relax.
Even though we aimed to squeeze in as many landmarks and sights as we could during our trip, we scheduled a beach day with no set plans except laying under an umbrella and sipping on sangria. Granted, it was a well-known beach town we crossed off the list, but it was so nice to take a break towards the end of our trip and just relax. Even if it’s retiring to your hotel early one night, getting enough rest when traveling is crucial! I would also recommend leisurely dinners.
7. I love Spain.
From the laid-back attitude to the welcoming and helpful encounters, I thought Spain was a very fun place to visit. It’s well-rounded with great food, sights, culture, weather, and easy transportation. I loved traveling to different parts of Spain and experiencing the culture in different parts of the country. The cities are energetic and eclectic and those Spanish countryside views were breath-taking. The country is filled with history, art, and things to discover.
I’ll conclude by saying that Spain is an absolutely delightful, educational and energetic country to visit and I’m looking forward to returning for more tapas, a slower pace of life.