To fully experience what it’s like to be a pilgrim—whether alone or as a group of pilgrims—, while doing the Camino de Santiago on foot—whether setting off along the French Way of St. James from Saint Jean Pied de Port to Pamplona, or from any other point on the Camino de Santiago, it’s essential to prepare for it. Walking the Camino de Santiago along the French Way to Santiago de Compostela is an exciting challenge for anyone, with or without experience.
Doing so will help you reflect, experience nature, meet people from all over the world and experience the beauty of northern Spain. The time you have available to walk it will greatly affect your experience, which is why the best thing you can do is to walk at your own pace and simply enjoy it.
Here are 10 using tips for walking the Camino de Santiago:
1 Physical fitness
The better prepared you are, the better your overall experience will be. Going out for walks/hikes and gradually increasing the distances you cover will go a long way in getting your body ready.
2 What to bring
Pack light; walking with as little weight as possible is best. Remember that you can buy whatever you need along the Camino. Most albergues have washing facilities, so you don’t have to bring too many clothes. A towel, sleeping bag, flashlight (although smartphones nowadays have this built in), rain jacket are the bare minimum. Make sure they’re as lightweight as possible.
3 Plan your route
Decide where you’re setting off from and where you’re going. Plan the stages and make sure to start out early. In summer, it’s advisable to start out early to walk while it’s cool, so you can get to the albergue by midday (in order to avoid the hottest hours of the day), find a bed, replenish your batteries, get showered, wash your clothes or simply explore the town and enjoy a good meal.
Use the information you can find from the Red de Albergues del Camino de Santiago Association
This way you can see which albergue will be the best option for your stay. Remember that most private albergues accept bookings, while public albergues do not.
5 Plan for meals
If you plan ahead (and depending on your budget), you’ll know when and where you can buy food or eat at a restaurant along the way. Don’t forget to bring water and nuts or fresh fruit, chocolate—but only enough for the day.
Your passport/national identity card, social security card and pilgrim’s passport. Don’t forget to get your pilgrim’s passport stamped along the way as proof of the distance you’ve walked so you can ask for the Compostela certificate once you get to Santiago de Compostela.
7 First aid kit
Bring only what you need; help is available along the Camino. For possible blisters, bring povidone iodine, fabric plaster, sterile gauze, bandages, band-aids, a topical pain relief gel and sunscreen. Bring scissors. If you’re walking the Camino as a group, you can share the first aid kit among you.
Use well-worn shoes. Lightweight, breathable hiking boots that offer ankle support are advisable.
These will help you avoid sprains.
9 Trekking poles
A long staff or technical trekking poles will go a long way in helping you through the terrain and setting a rhythm.
Your backpack should be lightweight, anatomically appropriate and have waist and chest straps. It shouldn’t weigh more than 10% of your weight after putting all your gear in. It’s best to place the heaviest items at the bottom and to leave nothing hanging outside the backpack.
We hope these tips help you enjoy your Camino, turning it into a wonderful memory you’ll remember for the rest of your life.
“May the road rise up to meet you. May the wind always be at your back. May the sun shine warm upon your face, and rains fall soft upon your fields. And until we meet again, may God hold you in the palm of His hand.” -An Old Irish Blessing