Can I just wing it?

The question was:

I’ve wanted to hike el camino for many years but every time I begin to research, I get overwhelmed with all the information I find. If I just arrive in Irun, can I start hiking without much prior research? I have a hard time wanting to read about the route. I just want to walk it. I speak fluent Spanish and I’m not shy to ask my way around. I also already have the CSJ guides for the entire ruta del norte.
Any simple suggestions or bare basic things that I shouldn’t forget or must do before I come?

Read the good advice on walking the Camino with no or little planning.


20 Replies to “Can I just wing it?”

  1.  I walked in 2010 without a penny in my pocket, any spanish or detailed knowledge. Live the dream, go for it! If you forget anything it’s ok, the camino provides.

  2. With my first Camino I did not take a guide.  I had read things in the forum but other than that, nothing else but moving along as I desired.  I think the only thing I wish I had done is to go slower yet and learn more historical things along the way.  But I was swept up with the magic of it.  Going a second time might make it mellower I think.  

  3. Ivar (Can I just wing it?) — the answer to that question is YES! 

    I know there is a lot to be said for being prepared (for anything you do these days) and in today’s world with all the research facilities, that seems to be what is expected. However, when it comes to the camino I think the less you know the more every moment will surprise and pleasure you — not only about the Way and what you will discover there, but even more so about yourself and what you will discover there!
    The more you prepare, the more you have expectations — and if you have expectations on the camino you are going to either disappointed – if they do not materialise, or left feeling jaded when they do and are nothing like you expected them to be, or prevent you from being open and ready for all the surprises and opportunities and revelations that await you.

    I am a 60 year old woman who wears high heels,  who has never been fit, never walked further than ten kilometres – for fun, never owned a backpack — never mind carried one! or a pair of hiking shoes or a sleeping bag, never slept in a dormitory with strangers (not even friends), likes my steaming hot bath every morning, my fluffy white towels, my crisp cotton sheets. I did not prepare at all other than buy the little guidebook in St Jean which gave me an idea what one can do in a day, of where the refuges are and a little nutshell history of each place I walked through. I walked in the middle of winter, so most of the refuges were closed — but I still managed to find a bed — even if it meant walking a few hours more than was comfortable;  there were very very few fellow pilgrims around, but those that were there were helpful, respectful of your space and solitude, interesting to catch up with occasionally at various refuges along the way. I know if you should walk in the middle of summer it will be a completely different experience — and that the crowds may make finding accommodation difficult but you will always fndn something  — the people on the Way are special. They all share the Camino spirit.  The yellow arrows and the shells will show you the way. There are many signs along the Way — and you will learn to read and understand them.

    I loved every second of the camino, every experience, every challenge, every success — and the rewards are HUGE. At least once a day I yearn to be back on that dusty little path. At least once a month I wonder whether that is not exactly what I should be doing.  

    Buen Camino to you!

  4. That’s the way I did it. I took a night train from Paris to Irun, another quick ride to Pamplona and I got off the train, asked “Camino”? and was pointed a direction.  Took it, asked again “Camino”?  A sweet lady took me by the arm (as I must have looked and sounded Pathetic) and showed me the yellow arrows. What an amazing, self-discovering adventure.  Be willing to use what ever Spanish you have and enjoy the Beautiful people of Spain.  You may not always know exactly where you are at the moment but it is impossible to ever be “lost” on the Camino. I agree with Ivar below.  The less you know, the more you will be surprised and delighted!  Buen Camino!

  5. Yes! Just wear the best walking boots you can afford and wear sunscreen and a hat so you dont pass out / get blisters and miss out on the camino!
    I hated reading about it too, enjoy.

  6. Go with the basic information and forget everything else.
    Entered my first camino( Frances) only wondering if I could make the 824 km from St Jean Pied the Port to Santiago. Never walked that far before. Ended up staying 5 month on various other Camino routes.
    Coming home I started reading books about other Pilgrims adventures and was glad I had started the Camino without all that knowledge. I recognized all the situations others experienced like Albergues being full. Queing up for showers at times and snoring and was glad I learned about those things while on the Camino because it would have scarred me to the point that I would have ever left home. The people on the Camino are so helpful that you are never in a situation you can not handle. It’s a great way to discover yourself. Hence the words “Buen Camino” (Everyone wants you to have the best experience EVER…!!!!)
    Stop reading an GO….

  7. Just go!
    The way will find u!
    And like Shannon said: “If you forget anything it’s ok, the camino provides.” It looks incredible, but it happens like this.
    Enjoy it!

  8. Just make sure you remember to take yourself, and don’t forget, there’s no miracle on the Camino. If you feel hungry, eat; if you feel thirsty, drink; if you feel exhausted; rest and if you feel like taking a day or two off just to wander around and discover some towns, do it.

  9. That’s what I did. I read “Walk in a Relaxed Manner” and the next thing I knew I was in St Jean Pied de Port and on the Camino. It was terrific. Bon Chemin! Buen Camino!

  10. Like everyone else said, go with the flow. Just please don’t wear fancy new boots. Blister city.

  11. Go with an open heart, be respectful and try to put more in than you take out.

  12. I think it’s better to go without prior research. Your experience will be different anyway than that of other people who have gone before you. I’d recommend taking earplugs and compede and comfortable walking shoes and you’ll need a silk or cotton sleeping bag liner for the hostels, but apart from that just follow the yellow arrows and you’ll be fine!

  13. Look just do it – get a decent set of boots a 50 liter rucksack and start on your way – it will be the best thing you have ever done

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