Thinking of going to Portugal? Of course you are! And you’re going to have a fantastic time there if you remember to pack these key items. And no, I’m not talking about your passport or a camera for those Instagram-able and Facebook-able moments…
1. Footwear. This is important for men… but crucial for women. If you’re going to the beach, flips flops or sandals are fine. But if you plan to do any sightseeing, make sure you wear comfortable walking shoes or sneakers. Portugal’s beautiful sidewalks, calçada, may be a pleasure to look at but a nightmare to walk on. Not only is it a very real stiletto hazard (heels easily get stuck between the stones) but the stones themselves can sometimes be very slippery. Shoes that will give you a good grip will be your best friends!
2. Sunglasses. The Algarve has more sun days per year than Florida. But even when it isn’t particularly sunny in Portugal, sunglasses are still a good idea. The calçada is responsible for this, to some degree. As sidewalks tend to be (mostly) white, they reflect the sun rays directly into your eyes. Sometimes you can’t look up because the sky is too bright, but when you look down, the ground you’re walking on reflects the light. There’s nowhere to hide, except behind sunglasses.
3. Euros. Even though most places accept credit and debit cards, some places only accept what we call “multibanco” cards, which require different card readers to the ones Visa and MasterCard use. Or maybe the card reader for your card isn’t connecting properly. Or maybe you just stumbled upon a little street vendor (those stands on the side of the road that sell fruit, for example) that only takes cash. Either way, always make sure to have €100 or so on you at all times (and some of it in €10 notes). Tourists are often caught off-guard as many taxis don’t accept card payments.
4. Sunscreen. It may be obvious, but you really need this. Are you really going to be that tourist flaunting the lobster look? You may also want to invest in a hat while you’re there – fortunately, we make excellent hats in Portugal!
5. A roaming plan… if you can’t cope without constant connectivity. Ok, so this isn’t exactly an item you pack. Whilst most mid-range to good hotels will have wifi, you won’t necessarily find wifi at every single café or restaurant or tourist attraction. You’re on vacation so it’s up to you whether you wanna be connected or not, but if you really need internet at all times, invest in a roaming plan and don’t rely solely on wifi.
6. A light jacket in the summer (or a winter coat in winter). Tourists think Portugal is warm all the time. And to some degree, Portuguese people do too because houses are built for the heat… so when the weather cools, it can actually be colder inside than out. Even if you’re there in the summer, the temperatures vary greatly from day to night and, if all you brought with you were t-shirts, you’ll definitely feel the chill at night!
And finally… make sure to leave plenty of space for souvenirs. I have friends who bought an extra suitcase so they could take back all the souvenirs they had bought in Portugal. Whether it’s a couple of bottles of your new favorite wine, some cork fashion accessories, or a new pair of Portuguese shoes, you’re bound to bring home something you weren’t expecting. Preparation is key: if you pack right, you’ll vacation right!