Monday, December 3, 2012

spain: practically.

having taken a handful of trips {both together and solo}, j and i consider ourselves more or less seasoned...you know, like a good cast iron skillet.

we certainly don't know everything and lord knows we've made some mistakes {remind me to tell you sometime about trying to fly on a friend's ticket: not recommended}, but over the years we have developed some tips and tricks that seem to make travel work for us.

as always, take this with a grain of salt: what we do might not be your cup of tea...and also, please let me know if you have any specific tips of your own, or if you have any questions!



the destination or destinations {lucky duck} are what is set about your trip.  
*for this post, i'm focusing on spain, however a more comprehensive travel post is in the works!


this part can get a little tricky.  most places you will visit will have a "high season", a "low" or "off season", and something that for whatever reason is called a "shoulder season".  unless you're going somewhere like paris which only knows the high season, ha.  the trick is figuring out when the seasons "change" for your destination.  generally speaking {for europe} november through april is the off season, october and may are the shoulders.  june through september are hopping, and note: europe as a whole just about closes down in august, so keep that in mind.

we have made a point to travel within the shoulder/off seasons for our past few trips.  true: not all of the shops will be open, but you also won't have to fight for space with a million other people.  it's more manageable, and in a lot of cases, cheaper.  we got about a 20% discount off of our apartments since we got there after 1-november.   not bad.


unless you're taking a cruise, getting to spain involves some type of air travel.   skyscanner has been my go-to for finding the cheapest flights, and this is what i used to find our tickets for spain.  other good sites which i belong to are kayak and airfarewatchdog.  both of these sites send you updates throughout the week, and you can receive alerts when a saved route goes on sale.

skyscanner offers domestic and international flights, is very easy to use, and you do not have to purchase through them to receive the advertised price.   

NOTE: flights go quickly on this site and that "too good to be true" price probably is, so after i search, i go to the website of the host carrier and order directly from them.  this way should anything happen with my flight, i won't have the hassle of working through a third party.  

i also do recommend travel insurance.  this is something i scoffed at when i was in college {mainly b/c who could afford it?}, but now it gives me that extra feeling of security.  i know, i'm getting so old!

how else?

what else do you plan to do in spain?   

spain has one of the best run train systems i've used.  the trains are on time, extremely clean, and ticket purchasing is very straightforward.  also, the rail company of spain {renfe} offers a special promo for non-spanish citizens...the Spain Pass!  passes can be purchased at the stations {the online purchase did not work for me}...just know that once you have your pass, you will still need to "reserve" your place on the train of your choice.  you will of course not pay for a this reservation {you've already paid for the pass (: }, but seats are assigned, so you will need a record of your place on the intended train.  again, this is easy and there are plenty of signs in the stations to direct you to the proper ticket counter.

NOTE: if you're thinking about seeing more of europe, easyjet and ryanair are great for cheap inter-european travel, however be advised: these are seriously no-frill airlines. 


i briefly mentioned way to stay in a previous post.

 this site offers apartment rentals in major european cities, and we loved it.  we decided to get an apartment since there were 5 of us traveling, and we wanted the option of more space, a kitchen, and the best part: a washing machine.  yes! we brought half of the amount of clothes we usually would since we knew we would be able to wash clothes while we were over there.   we booked both of our apartments through waytostay {barcelona & madrid} and were very happy with the accommodations both times.

NOTE: spain does have an energy crisis, and thus does not have clothes dryers, however most every place that offers a washer has a drying rack.  

 little extras

cell phones: j and i have our phones from when we lived abroad, so for us it was as easy as buying a new sim card {20 euro} and plugging it in.  however, if you don't have a phone no worries.  you can usually find a kiosk in the larger rail stations {i would advise not to buy from the lady hawking them at the airports}, or otherwise cell phone stores are plentiful on the streets.  if you don't want or need a cell phone, definitely get a skype account- it's always good to stay connected. 

metro systems: use them.  often, it's very easy and economical to buy a 10-pass ticket, for example.  you can usually share this between people, and the cost works out to be less than 10 individual tickets.  win-win. 

anything else?

yes, i'm sure i've overlooked something interesting, but bear with me, i still have medicine-head (:

please let me know your feedback or any question you have.

i am happy to help!

happy travels! 



  1. Ooh I love that picture of you and J! I want a copy! Haha, yes I can tell you still have medicine head, you were just a little spacey at the beginning, but you brought it back around :) Thanks for passing your tips along, cause who says, "Hey, let's go on a trip and make it as difficult as possible for us! Yay!?" Nobody. That's who. Love you!

  2. You guys look fabulous! If I ever get to travel internationally, I'll be calling you to pick your brain. :)

  3. love these tips! thanks for those. and i love spain. oh i love spain! excited that i found your blog today :) new follower xox

    1. thanks denise! i'm glad you found your way here as well (:


it's always great to hear from you!