To experience being a pilgrim in its entirety, regardless of whether you are alone or as part of a group, when Walking along the Camino de Santiago trial or setting off on the French route from Saint Jean Pied de Port to Pamplona (or any of the points on the Camino de Santiago trail), it is crucial that you take the correct precautions. While traveling to the Santiago de Compostela from the Camino de Santiago is highly exciting, it can be very challenging for anyone irrespective of your level of experience.
When engaging on this trek, you can enjoy nature, undergo self-reflection, experience the beauty of northern Spain, and meet people from different parts of the globe. The time you must walk the trail can greatly influence the experience, which is why the best option is to walk at your own pace and enjoy the trail. This article will provide ten top tips to walking along the Camino de Santiago.
#1: Improve Your Physical Fitness
Preparation is key to an enjoyable walk along the Camino de Santiago, and physical fitness is the first consideration to make. The better your level of physical fitness, the more enjoyable your experience will be. Prepare by going for hikes and walks, then gradually increase the distance being covered in these walks. The further you travel, the more prepared your body will become before the final excursion on the Camino de Santiago.
#2: What You Should Pack
Two words – pack light! It is easiest to travel with as little weight as possible. While many people may feel unprepared without packing many items, you must remember that you can purchase whatever you need along the Camino de Santiago trail. The majority of albergues have washing services, so you can wash your clothes regularly. The ideal pack should include a sleeping bag, towel, flashlight, rain jacket, and minimal amount of clothing – all lightweight, of course.
#3: Planning The Route
It is important to plan your route when plotting a trail. Decide where you will be setting off from and where you are heading to. It is also important to note that the route will be influenced by the time of year, so you should try to start early and plan the stages. For instance, during summer it is recommended that you begin early to avoid traveling during the hotter midday hours. If you plan well, you can reach the albergue by midday, fine a bed, have a shower, wash clothing or explore the town and enjoy a meal with new friends.
It is highly advised that you use all the information available from the Red de Albergues del Camino de Santiago Association. This information provides access to the different albergues allowing you to choose the one most suited to your needs. Remember public albergues do not accept reservations, so if you want to ensure a booking it is necessary to contact a private albergue.
#5: Planning Your Meals
Dependent on your budget, it is important that you plan and discover where you can purchase food or find restaurants to eat meals. Always remember to bring along fresh fruit, nuts, chocolate and, most importantly, water – however, bring along only enough for a single day. Remember, packing light is encouraged and you can purchase more food when stopping for the night.
#6: Prepare Your Documentation
Documentation is crucial when traveling along the Camino de Santiago trial. Be sure you have your national identity card, passport, social security information, and pilgrim’s passport. Furthermore, you need to have your pilgrim’s passport stamped along the route as proof of the distance you have walked. Only with the stamps can you prove that you have completed the trail and ask for the Compostela certificate upon reaching Santiago de Compostela.
#7: Bring A First Aid Kit
While it is important that you pack light, it is vital you have a first aid kit. Of course, you should take only what you require in emergencies as there is assistance along the Camino de Santiago. For instance, you should carry fabric plaster, povidone, gauze, band-aids, bandages, and a topical pain relief gel to help treat blisters or sunburn. Scissors must be included to help cut the gauze. If you are traveling among a group of pilgrims, the group can share the weight of the first aid kit.
#8: Consider Your Shoes
The shoes worn should be lightweight, worn and breathable. Hiking boots are ideal because they offer good ankle support, thus helping avoid sprains.
#9: Use Trekking Poles
Trekking poles can be beneficial when walking long distances. The long staff can help navigate rough terrain and set a walking rhythm.
#10: Consider Your Backpack
The backpack used must be lightweight, have chest and waist straps, and be anatomically appropriate to your body. It is best to pack the bag with heavier items on the bottom and do not leave items hanging outside of the pack.