Travel Guide

The very best Camino de Santiago ideas for planning & strolling

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Strolling the Camino de Santiago is a novel experience that many individuals begin making ready for a very long time beforehand. We’ve walked seven completely different Camino de Santiago routes and understand how overwhelming it may be to plan the Camino. On this put up, we’ve put collectively ideas for planning the pilgrimage and proposals to comply with on the Camino.

Methods to put together for the pilgrimage

Coaching for the Camino

If you happen to’re like us, an outside individual, and used to mountain climbing with a backpack you don’t want any particular coaching for the Camino. The one necessary factor to recollect is to verify your footwear are worn and never model new. As a result of lengthy distances on the Camino blister are a standard drawback for skilled hikers.

Step 1. If strolling with a backpack just isn’t one thing you do typically then performing some coaching is a good suggestion. Begin with doing shorter hikes/walks, 5-10 km (relying in your health stage). If there aren’t any mountain climbing trails close to the place you reside you are able to do a weekend journey to the closest trails, stroll within the park or do a few rounds round your neighborhood. If for some reason you may’t stroll outside strolling on a treadmill is an efficient different. It’s higher should you begin strolling within the footwear you’re planning to put on on the Camino to get used to them and be sure to’re snug.

Step 2. After a few occasions begin rising your distance including 2 km at a time. If you happen to really feel actually snug and strolling is straightforward for you you may add 5 km to your distance. Your common strolling day on the Camino is about 23 km; some days are shorter however there are longer days as nicely. Construct up your coaching distance to 23 km. 

Step 3. Strolling with a completely loaded backpack is considerably tougher. You may begin coaching with none additional weight or with a small day pack carrying water and snacks and progressively add weight. For strolling the Camino attempt to make your backpack as mild as attainable, 5-6kg is an efficient weight. 

Yow will discover packing ideas for women and men for various seasons in our detailed Camino de Santiago packing record put up.

Last end result. By the top of your coaching, you ought to be capable to stroll 20-23 km with a 5-6 kg backpack carrying your Camino footwear with none drawback. I’d extremely suggest strolling for 2 or three consecutive days to mimic your Camino itinerary. Relying on the route you select you’ll need to stroll consecutively for 2-5 weeks. 

Non-obligatory. If throughout the coaching you notice that strolling with an enormous backpack is an excessive amount of for you it’s not an issue. There isn’t a must push and exhaust your self. You may nonetheless stroll the Camino and as a substitute of carrying your backpack use a baggage switch service. On most Camino routes there are corporations providing backpack supply. They choose your backpack up within the morning and drop it off within the afternoon at your subsequent lodging place. You stroll with a small daypack carrying solely necessities and water. 

If you wish to have extra insights into your coaching course of I can extremely suggest shopping for a GPS watch. We use our Garmin Fenix watches rather a lot for coaching, mountain climbing, and strolling the Camino. They provide a variety of info equivalent to distances, complete elevation acquire/loss, energy used, coronary heart fee, route maps, restoration time, and so on. You need to use them for strolling, operating, swimming, biking, work-outs, and so on.

Selecting the best Camino route

There are various Camino routes from the busy Camino Frances to the solitary Through de la Plata. The surroundings and the size of various routes differ quite a bit from the coastal surroundings on the Camino del Norte to the mountainous panorama of the Camino Primitivo. Which one to decide on completely depends upon you. 

There are a number of components that you would be able to base your resolution on. 

  • What month are you going to stroll?
  • How a lot time do you will have?
  • What surroundings do you wish to see?
  • Do you wish to stroll a well-liked or off-the-beaten-track route? 

That can assist you to decide on the proper Camino for you now we have an in depth put up on the principle Camino de Santiago routes with their detailed description, benefits, and downsides of strolling every of them.

The map with the most popular Camino de Santiago routes in Spain and Portugal
The 5 hottest Camino routes: Camino Frances, Camino Portuguese (Coastal & Central routes), Camino Primitivo, Camino del Norte, Camino Finisterre-Muxia

Camino planning sources

There are various on-line sources and apps that you need to use for planning your Camino de Santiago stroll. Most of them are free which makes it straightforward to rearrange the stroll by yourself with none journey company or firm.

Native Camino affiliation

Many nations have native Camino associations that may help you when you’ve got any questions, searching for an organization, wish to get a Credential, and so on. Many associations have particular occasions and conferences devoted to the Camino the place you may talk about completely different subjects, meet folks, inform tales, and so on. It may be very useful when you’ve got some worries and issues concerning the stroll. We all the time get our Credentials on the Confraternity of St.James in South Africa.

Camino associations in several nations

Most associations provide Credentials (pilgrim’s passports) that you simply buy, the value is normally 2-3US$. If you happen to can’t get it in your nation don’t fear about it you will get it at the beginning of essentially the most Camino routes at albergues, Cathedrals, or pilgrims’ info workplaces.

A Credential and some other pilgrim's attributes for the Camino de Santiago
A pilgrim’s bundle from the Confraternity of Saint James in South Africa. When you’ve got a neighborhood Camino affiliation I’d suggest contacting them when you’ve got any questions or issues

Helpful apps for strolling the Camino

All of the steered apps can be found for Android and iPhone except different is specified.

  • Camino Pilgrim – Frances. A private scheduler for the Camino Frances. Free. For Android solely.
  • Camino de Santiago companion (Camino Frances). Free.
  • Free Camino de Santiago Information (Camino Frances). Free.
  • Camino de Santiago Information (Camino Frances & Camino Finisterre-Muxia). US$3.
  • Approach of St.James (Buen Camino) with a number of Camino routes. Free.
  • Reserving.com, a helpful app for reserving lodging, many personal albergues, and motels could be booked via this app.
  • Maps.me, free offline maps (need to obtain earlier than utilizing) with strolling routes we frequently use it after we go mountain climbing.
  • Google translate, it really works nicely with English-Spanish translation in case you will have some communication difficulties or want some assist with understanding indicators and bulletins.
  • XE forex trade, an important app for forex conversion.
  • Netflix app (should you use it), it permits you to obtain motion pictures in your cellphone/pill and watch them later even should you don’t have Web entry.

Advisable Camino books

If you happen to like studying I can recommend shopping for a Kindle (should you don’t have one but) for the stroll. If you happen to be a part of Amazon Kindle Limitless Program you’ll be capable to obtain hundreds of books and audiobooks on any system (cellphone, Kindle, or pill) and all the time have one thing to learn on the Camino.

Our video on strolling the Camino Frances, Pamplona to Logroño half

Attending to the Camino

Relying on the place you’re coming out of your worldwide flight may be your greatest expense. If you happen to come from abroad e.g. the US, Australia, Canada, South Africa I’d recommend beginning searching for tickets a number of months earlier than the journey. Use Skyscanner or another flight search engine to search out out the most cost effective worth and to see what airways function between your nation/metropolis and Spain, Portugal, or France (relying on the chosen Camino). Subscribe to their publication to be sure to received’t miss their particular provides and offers.

If you happen to’re going to make use of native flights with one of many European funds airways examine their baggage allowance. Normally, they’re completely different for worldwide and native flights. The most affordable native flights normally embrace solely hand baggage when you’ve got check-in baggage you’ll need to pay additional. 

When you’ve got some additional baggage that you simply received’t want on the Camino however may want later you may ship it to Santiago de Compostela with one of many baggage switch corporations (Correos, Camino Facil, and so on.) and maintain it in storage until you arrive. 

Last preparations

Make a check-list of stuff you need or need to do earlier than you permit. It helps to maintain observe and to be sure to received’t neglect something.

Define your Camino itinerary to have a normal concept of your stroll. You may change and alter it later.

Let your financial institution know that you simply’re going to make use of your playing cards overseas. It depends upon your financial institution typically it’s not needed however I’d suggest ensuring earlier than you permit.

Get your financial institution’s contact quantity for worldwide calls (typically it’s a toll-free quantity) to have the ability to contact them when you’ve got any points along with your financial institution playing cards.

Be certain that your cellphone is in roaming to be able to obtain SMS (financial institution notifications, and so on.) and cellphone calls (if it’s needed) whereas overseas. 

Purchase journey insurance coverage that covers journey cancellation, delays, baggage loss, and medical help. Although strolling the Camino just isn’t an excessive sport small accidents and traumas aren’t uncommon. If you happen to don’t have an insurance coverage firm you’re employed with we will suggest World Nomads. They concentrate on overlaying outside actions.

If you happen to come from the US, Australia, Canada, the UK, Eire, and another nations you may want an influence adapter. In Spain and Portugal, they’ve Kind F plugs like in most European nations.

Suggestions for strolling the Camino de Santiago

The golden rule of the Camino

The primary rule is to stroll the Camino the way in which that fits you the most effective. There isn’t a proper or fallacious manner. It’s your Camino and solely you may determine the way to stroll it. You may run it in every week or two or take your time and full the route in two months. You may carry your personal backpack or use a baggage switch service. You may keep in public albergues or in personal lodge rooms. Whichever manner you’re feeling snug is the proper manner for you.

There may be one rule it’s a must to comply with if you wish to get the Compostela after finishing the Camino. You must stroll at the very least the final 100 km to Santiago (or cycle 200 km) accumulating 2 stamps per day. Don’t chase different folks or guidebooks’ itineraries, stroll so far as you need, take relaxation days, and benefit from the stroll. 

Camino well being ideas

To remain robust and wholesome on the Camino hearken to your physique, relaxation should you want it, drink sufficient water, and don’t stress an excessive amount of about something.

If it’s worthwhile to purchase drugs (for instance antibiotics should you get flue) with a prescription you may contact your physician again residence and ask to ship the prescription by way of e-mail. You then print this prescription and present it to the pharmacist. We did it a few occasions in Spain and Portugal and by no means had any drawback.

Blisters

It’s the principle well being challenge on the Camino that may have an effect on anyone no matter age or health stage. As I discussed above, be sure the footwear you’re going to stroll the Camino in are worn, not model new. 

We discover Merino wool socks work actually good for safeguarding your toes and stopping blisters. 

If it’s actually sizzling and your toes sweat it’s really helpful to cease each 2-Three hours and alter your socks to verify your toes keep dry. Moist toes usually tend to get blisters.

Some folks apply vaseline on their toes earlier than they begin strolling. We by no means do it however should you are likely to get blisters typically it may be an excellent resolution at the very least at first whereas your toes are getting used to strolling rather a lot. Another choice is to make use of blister preventive bandages that you would be able to apply to the areas the place you normally get blisters to forestall chafing.

In case you do get blisters, be sure to carry in your first-aid equipment needed gadgets for treating blisters equivalent to antibiotic ointment and blister care plaster-cushions.

Gathered tiredness

Strolling the Camino may appear to be a straightforward enterprise however it’s not. It’s bodily and psychologically tough to rise up each day, pack your backpack, stroll for 5-6 hours on common, check-in to a brand new place, and so forth for weeks. Even skilled walkers get drained. If you happen to really feel you want relaxation, take a day without work, sleep late, spend a day studying a ebook, watching motion pictures, and so on. Don’t fear about your itinerary even should you begin falling behind you may all the time catch a bus or a practice to make up the space.

Drained legs

Strolling each day for hours particularly in sizzling climate makes your legs very drained. It’s necessary to let your legs and toes relaxation and breath. Listed below are some ideas that can assist to do it.

Carry a pair of flip flops or another open snug footwear that you would be able to turn into after you end strolling. Taking off my footwear and placing on flip flops is considered one of my highlights after an extended day of strolling.

Soak your toes in chilly water works nice for cooling down after a troublesome strolling day. It may be a pool, a bucket with chilly water, or only a chilly bathe.

If you relaxation attempt to maintain your legs elevated to enhance blood movement.

If you happen to stroll one of many coastal routes e.g. the Northern Approach or the Portuguese Coastal Camino don’t miss the chance to stroll barefoot on the seashore. Comfortable sand and funky water assist rather a lot in case your toes are drained, sizzling, or swollen.

Pilgrims having dinner at an albergue on the Camino Frances
The Camino just isn’t solely a pilgrimage, it’s a spot the place you meed superb folks

Security ideas

Strolling the Camino isn’t any extra harmful than simply touring in Spain or Portugal although there are some points that may spoil your experience so it’s all the time higher to comply with some precautions.

Cash & valuables

My primary tip right here is by no means to go away your beneficial stuff unattended. At all times take your pockets, cellphone, passport, and so on. with you or lock it if there’s a locker. We’ve by no means had any points on the Camino however we met folks whose cash, cellphone, and even Credential had been stolen. I all the time carry a neck bag the place I put my passport, cash, bank cards, and Credential. Even after I go to the lavatory I take it with me except there’s a locker. A pouch or a small backpack will work as nicely. It’s helpful to hold a small mixture lock. Some albergues have lockers however no locks.

Security ideas for solo feminine pilgrims

I, personally, have by no means had any detrimental experience in Spain that I’ve traveled fairly extensively alone. As for the Camino, I’ve walked just one route alone with out Campbell – the Camino Frances. I didn’t have any disagreeable moments on the route. I’ve learn in some Fb teams about single feminine pilgrims being bothered by males although it’s not widespread on the Camino. Normally, these are stocking, inappropriate habits (Exhibitionistic dysfunction), obscene language. Most feminine pilgrims who’ve walked the Camino declare they didn’t have any points. You may learn extra concerning the feminine experience on the Camino discussion board.

Within the peak season on the principle Camino routes, it’s most unlikely you’ll be on their own normally you may see pilgrims in entrance of you or behind which reduces probabilities of being molested. If you happen to stroll low season or select one of many much less standard routes and really feel involved I can suggest teaming up with different pilgrims. If you happen to’re two or extra folks strolling collectively you’ll be 100% superb.

If you happen to’re going to stroll alone I can suggest shopping for a neighborhood SIM card. In Spain and Portugal, it’s not costly, for 15 Euro you get a SIM card with 200 minutes, 2Gb information, and lots of of messages legitimate for 30 days. This manner you may all the time keep linked and name the police or emergency service if wanted. The quickest and simplest way is to name 112 in each Spain and Portugal in case of any emergency. The operators communicate Spanish/Portuguese and English.

Security on the highway

This tip is extra relevant to cyclists although pilgrims on foot typically need to stroll subsequent to or alongside the highway as nicely. It’s not an enormous deal should you stroll within the daylight however should you begin very early within the morning it’s extremely really helpful to have reflectors in your garments and/or backpack in order that drivers can see you at nighttime.

Three pilgrims on the Camino de Santiago
Even on a misty day like this on the Camino Frances in season you may see different pilgrims

Methods to reduce stress on the Camino?

Strolling the Camino is meant to be a liberating experience; whenever you disconnect out of your each day worries and have a while for reflection. Generally the pilgrimage may grow to be a nerve-racking experience for a number of causes particularly should you stroll one of many standard routes within the peak season.

Discovering lodging

One of many primary issues for a lot of pilgrims is discovering lodging on the finish of the day. I’ve seen this strolling the French Camino (the busiest route) firstly of September (the height season). Folks begin strolling earlier than 5 am to start out strolling to verify they arrive early sufficient to get a spot in a public albergue. This type of fear you get provided that you stroll one of many standard Camino routes such because the Camino Frances or the Camino Portuguese within the peak season (summer season months).

I’ve by no means had an issue of not getting a spot at public albergues as a result of I stroll quick and normally arrive one of many first however even I used to be getting uninterested in the chase. After about 2 weeks into the Camino Frances, I began reserving lodging a few days forward. You may solely ebook personal albergues and motels public albergues work on a primary come first serve precept however I made a decision quite spend 3-Four Euro extra on lodging than worrying about discovering a spot. A lot of the personal locations could be booked on-line or over the cellphone. Figuring out that you’ve got a spot to remain you may take your time, begin strolling later, cease for lunch, and so on. 

Privateness

If you happen to stroll one of many longer routes I’d extremely suggest every so often staying in a non-public room. Staying each day in a dormitory with sharing services and occasional snorers can get an excessive amount of after some time even should you’re an skilled backpacker. I attempt to keep at the very least as soon as every week in personal. It’s costlier than staying in a dormitory however it’s completely value it particularly after spending a few nights with a snorer in your room. A funds personal room for 2 folks prices 30 Euro, for one individual – 25 Euro.

Companionship

Many folks come to stroll the Camino alone for various causes, some couldn’t discover someone to stroll with, some want some lonesome time, some identical to solitude. It’s straightforward to discover a firm on the Camino however should you stroll with an individual for a day or two it doesn’t imply it’s a must to stick collectively until the top of the pilgrimage. I’ve met folks that felt obliged to stroll with someone after they truly wished to be on their very own. Don’t be afraid of expressing your wants if you wish to be alone simply clarify it in a pleasant manner. Don’t power your self, don’t get aggravated, and so on. bear in mind the golden rule and stroll your Camino the way in which it fits you the most effective.



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Hey! A bit about us - we’re John & Maria and we're a couple that loves to travel the world and document our adventures! We enjoy writing, blogging, exploring and sharing our adventures. We’re always embarking on new journeys and here you’ll find articles covering many travel destinations, and topics, such as culture, history, art and cuisine. Our goal and mission is to present compelling stories, photography and personal opinions, as well as serve as an online resource for anyone who wishes to plan their own trips and visit the destinations we've been to. We genuinely love meeting new people, mingling with locals, listening to their amazing stories and trying new travel experiences.

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