I’ve been in Granada, Spain for a little more than 2 months and if there’s one thing I’ve learned from travelling, you do not know what you do not know until you are in a situation which requires such knowledge. Here are some of the insights I have acquired:
A few weeks ago, I went on an ISA excursion to Alpujarra, a mountainous region with small villages and amazing hiking trails, and I will always bring an extra pair of socks on future adventures as someone is bound to fall, or rather step into the river.
When I was in Malaga, a sunny city with more beaches than you’ll have the chance to visit, I realized that bringing things to pass the time, such as a card game or a hacky sack ball, will be life saving when you’re at the bus or train station. Something small that you always keep in your backpack or purse as you never know when you’ll need it; a gift that keeps on giving.
When I travelled to Ronda, a small city nestled in the mountains, I learned the value of packing light. We checked out of our Airbnb, but spent the day exploring the city, or rather lugging around our suitcases as we tried to sightsee. Anything that doesn’t fit the category absolutely necessary, such as extra socks and underwear, should be left behind. You may think that you need all your makeup and hair care supplies and 4 different outfits just in case you want to go out at night, but it turns out that you can just pick one beforehand and save a lot of energy. Now, be careful because being underprepared is a huge bummer, so make sure you check the weather forecast before you leave. When packing, I try to bring just what is necessary, and then forget about the rest. Trust me, your back, your feet, and your friends will thank you.
I will conclude with one final story that is advice for travelling yet has nothing to do with packing. One time I was hiking, at Los Cahorros, a gorge with fantastic views and interesting rock formations, and after a long beautiful day alongside the river, we planned to return to Granada by bus, a journey of about an hour. We went to a restaurant to pass the time while waiting for the bus. Before leaving, some people used the bathroom to prepare for the hour or so on the bus. However, in my ignorance, I decided against utilizing the facilities. Here is where I disclose the advice: try to use the restroom, even if you don’t think it necessary. In this case, it is much better to be safe than sorry, and you will be much more comfortable for the duration of the drive.
In conclusion, remember the essentials, but only the realistic essentials. You’re not going to get attacked by a bear in a big city or change outfits 4 times on an overnight trip. Be prepared for a wide variety of situations, but find a healthy balance between having all of your bases covered and overpacking. A small game or activity can provide needed entertainment, something to pass the time as you wait. And finally, always use the bathroom when the opportunity provides itself. It might be a long time until the next restroom, and trust me, your future self will thank you.
Danna Lopez-Flores is a college student at Arizona State University. She is an ISA Identity & Inclusion Blogger and is studying abroad with ISA in Granada, Spain.