Traveling comes with its challenges, so we decided to give a few tips on how to have a stress- free vacation in Spain. There are some minor differences when traveling to Spain, including cell phone plans, banking difficulties, tipping, and various cultural differences that may surprise you if you don’t plan ahead.
Since our world is so connected, traveling without a cell phone plan can pose its challenges. If you get a temporary SIM from T-Mobile, the plans cost $35 for one month with FREE international data and 20 cent per minute roaming calls. Other companies offer Passport Plans or International Plans, which are much better options than roaming charges! You can also purchase a local Spanish SIM card, to put into your American phone (if it is unlocked) and plans here are quite cheap, at around 15-20€ total for all the data and calling you would need.
Another very important detail to remember is that Spain uses different plugs and voltages. Be sure to use an adapter or voltage converter when charging or plugging in devices. Voltage converters are needed with any device with a motor, including your curling iron, and hair dryer. If you forget a converter, you can purchase cheap hair products at most Bazaars (Similar to 5 Below or other Dollar Stores).
When it comes to getting Euros, we recommend taking out money at the following trusted bank locations, Santander, Bankia, BBVA, Caja Rural, La Caixa. Try to stay away from ATM’s that are not connected to banks, to avoid the machine taking your card and not returning it. Although this doesn’t put you at risk, it is extremely difficult to get a new bank card in Spain on short notice.
For someone who has never been to Europe, ordering coffee can be a little different as well. Most local cafes are much cheaper than the Starbucks, and Costa chains, and they tend to have better coffee as well. Cafe con Leche, means literally coffee with milk, but is essentially a strong latte and is my personal favorite. Cafe Solo, is a cup of espresso and may be a little strong for someone who is used to American coffee. Cortado, is a shot of espresso which is cut with a splash of steamed milk. The closest option to American coffee, is a Cafe Americano, which is water and espresso. If you would like your coffee to-go, you must ask for it “ para llevar” , as the Spanish love to stay and enjoy their coffee.
When it comes to gratuity in Spain, the culture is very different than North America. If you have good service in cabs or cafes, we recommend rounding up to the nearest euro. If you are spending more than 15 euros per person on a meal and you had great service the maximum you should tip is 5-7% on the bill. We don't leave anything after ordering a round of drinks so remember these tips and you will be sure to blend in with the locals.
If you prepare for these differences, adapting to Spanish life will be a lot easier! If you have any questions about Spanish customs or culture send us an email and we will be sure to help.