Are you worried about the train baggage allowance on most Spanish trains?
Well, the good news is that one of the benefits of traveling by train in Spain is that Renfe offers a higher baggage allowances than most airlines.
However, a handful of trains do now have luggage limits and fees. This is particularly the case of the low cost train operators pretending to be budget airlines, such as Avlo, OUIGO and iryo. But they’re the exception, not the rule.
“Have you said low cost trains?” That’s right.
In addition to this, the luggage space in each car is extremely limited. And this is something that applies to all railway operators in Spain.
So before you start packing, take a moment to read through this guide. It includes:
- 3 packing tips to travel hassle-free and to avoid exceeding the train baggage allowance.
- 4 luggage hacks when boarding the train to easily store your luggage.
3 packing tips to comply with the train baggage allowance
Packing for a trip can be an absolute nightmare. Even with plenty of travel experience, you may still somehow can’t fit everything in your suitcase, forget things at home, or completely overpack…
1. Respect the maximum train baggage allowance
Make sure you comply with the maximum allowance set by the rail operator you’re traveling with:
2. Pack light
The forever tip of packing light is a must even for short trips, whatever the mode of transportation.
Here are some ideas that could be helpful:
- Roll clothes and use packing cubes. Rolled clothes take up less space and are less likely to wrinkle.Packing cubes can also help compress your items so they take up less space, and they keep everything in your bag organized so you can quickly find what you need.
- Stuff your shoes. In order to fit as many things inside your suitcase as possible, consider stuffing every single empty space. And the interior of your shoes is a good place to put your socks or even underwear.
- Wear your bulkiest and heaviest items. It not only saves space in your suitcase but also saves on weight allowance.
- Buy toiletries when you get there. There surely is a convenience store or pharmacy near where you’re staying so you can pick up toiletries there.
- Wash clothes as you go. Even if you aren’t staying at a place with a washing machine, you have options such as coin-operated laundries or your hotel’s laundry service.
As for trains, it’s better to have just one piece of luggage. Avoid the big ones because you’ll have to carry your luggage yourself, and there won’t be a lot of space on the train.
I also recommend you to have a smaller bag or backpack that you can keep on the seat with you and where you can put all your valuables.
3. Split your luggage
My preferred option is always one item of luggage (a carry on if possible!) and a backpack. It’s ideal to avoid exceeding the train baggage allowance.
But if need to pack more stuff than that, two smaller (carry on size) bags or suitcases is usually a better option than one medium bag. And a smaller bag plus 1 medium sized bag is definitely a better option than one large bag, suitcase or backpack etc.
Large bags, particularly suitcases, won’t fit easily on the luggage storage shelves which are available on some trains.
And if you’re thinking “how am I supposed to wheel two or more bags around a station?”, just travel with bags that can be stacked.
4 luggage hacks when boarding the train
As a rule of thumb, there’s a very limited amount of space on most Spanish trains to store luggage.
In addition to this, you need to be able to carry your luggage and lift it on and off the train. So packing light is paramount.
Having said that, here are some hacks that will help you make the most of your train’s on-board luggage storage.
1. Board the train as soon as possible
Doing your utmost to ensure that you’re among the first to board can seem a tad extreme.
But if your luggage is too large or heavy to be placed in the above seat luggage racks on a train, you’ll be competing with your fellow passengers for the easiest storage space.
So get to the train station in advance, and pay attention to the train information board. Get in line to board the train as soon as your train’s track is announced.
2. Be smart when boarding
My golden rule is to look for space in the luggage storage area first, and then find your assigned seat, or an available seat.
The majority of the storage space for larger items of luggage is by the entrance to the seating area, usually on the other side of the sliding door. So if you have a medium or large sized bag with you, make your initial priority checking whether you can find space on the luggage racks/shelves by these doors.
3. Don’t overestimate overhead racks
There are luggage racks at the ends of each car for large luggage pieces, and smaller hand luggage and backpacker packs easily fit in the overhead racks above the seating.
As the overhead luggage racks are the easier option, don’t underestimate the weight of your luggage.
Before leaving home test to see if you can easily lift it above your head. If you can’t, then think about splitting it into smaller bags to lighten the load per bag.
4. Be careful with your luggage
When you take luggage on board a train with you, I suggest you always put the luggage in the overhead rack across the aisle from you – so you always have direct eye contact with your bags. Don’t put it on the rack over your head – you can’t see it there.
However, I have to confess that after many many years traveling by train around Spain, my luggage has never been stolen from the dedicated shelves at the entrance of the car. So there’s no real need to worry and padlocking your bags to the racks is a bit extreme.
Even though it may sound obvious, you should always keep your passport, wallet, tickets and electronic devices (e.g. laptop, smartphone, camera) with you in your day pack at your seat. Don’t leave them in your larger bags on a luggage rack.
If necessary, take your day pack with you to the toilet or bar car, unless you’re traveling with someone who can keep an eye on it for you while you go.
This article is part of a complete tutorial about train travel in Spain where you can read all the information you need to organize your train journeys around the country.
Here is a complete summary of all the guide:
1. Spain trains: everything you need to know
2. How to purchase Renfe train tickets online
3. 7 tricks to get cheap train tickets in Spain
4. Renfe: Spain’s state-owned railway company
5. AVE trains: Renfe high-speed trains in Spain
6. The Combinado Cercanías ticket
7. The Renfe Spain Pass
8. Avlo: Renfe’s high speed low cost trains
9. OUIGO trains: SNCF’s high speed low cost company
10. iryo: Spain’s low cost high-speed rail operator
11. 7 packing tips to comply with your train baggage allowance