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12 year olds on the camino...2013

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JeanneA

New Member
Bringing a Child Question

Hello again all, thank you for your help so far!
I have another question. My three daughters (all in their 20s) and myself will be walking together. Two of them and I will be walking from SJPP with the third joining us in (S) for the last week of the walk. She will be bringing my 2 year old grandson. I thought that we might either bring our or purchase a charriot along the way for him. He could then walk, run, ride...whatever. Has anyone brought a child or does anyone have any suggestions/recommendations, or experiences they could share that might be of benefit to us? Our family has recently suffered a tragedy and it is important that we do this pilgrimage together.
Thanks for your consideration again.
JeanneA
 

sillydoll

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
2002 CF: 2004 from Paris: 2006 VF: 2007 CF: 2009 Aragones, Ingles, Finisterre: 2011 X 2 on CF: 2013 'Caracoles': 2014 CF and Ingles 'Caracoles":2015 Logrono-Burgos (Hospitalero San Anton): 2016 La Douay to Aosta/San Gimignano to Rome:
Re: Bringing a Child Question

JeanneA - it looks as though nobody else wants to reply to your query!
I think that it would be wonderful for you four 'girls' to walk the last week of your camino together. Imagine that - 3 generations walking to the tomb of St James! I'm sure it won't be a first, but its not all that common.
Having a 2 year-old on the route will present with challenges that need to be thought out before you go. These are the things you'll need to contend with:

1) The difficulty of the terrain which is sharply undulating through fields, forests and across a couple of rivers. I don't think a wheeled chariot or push chair is the answer. One of those sturdy child carriers would be much more practical. You could buy one at any large outdoor store in Spain and post it ahead to Sarria. Address it to yourself as follows:
Leanne A
Lista de Correos
27600 Sarria (Lugo)

2) Walking with the two-year old. There really aren't many places where he could 'ride' alongside you and even on the small roads it would not be safe to do so. Better to take turns to carry the little one in a carrier when he is tired.

3) Accommodation: The albergues (pilgrim refuges) are not the place for a baby. They can be noisy, cramped, no privacy, lights on until 10h30pm or 11pm with exhausted pilgrims who would not take kindly to a crying toddler when they are trying to sleep. Better to plan ahead and pre-book accommodation before you go. I'm sure Ivar can help you with this. With four adults sharing it won't be very expensive.

4) Backpacks: If you stay in hotels or inns you can have your luggage carted from one place to the next - leaving you three girls with small daypacks to carry the essentials - especially the little one!

You could take 7 days to cover the last 100kms and earn a Compostela. The baby won't qualify for one yet as he has not yet taken his first communion, but they will certainly give him the other certificate.

This is obviously important to you so good planning will make it happen!
Buen suerte,
 
Camino(s) past & future
Nearly every year since 2006, often walking more than one route. 2018 was Camino #14
Re: Bringing a Child Question

When I walked in September of.. 07?... we meet a woman with a young child in a stroller. It was one of those sturdy hiking strollers. She carried her gear on the stroller with the child.

I think it's doable, but will present challenges. Lodging is one. Some tough climbs and rough trail are another.

Good luck! Let us know how it goes!
 

megi

New Member
Re: Bringing a Child Question

My response isn't Camino specific, but when I'm hiking, I quite often see Czech families with very young children in what i assume are the sturdier hiking push-chairs that people are talking about. They are often three wheeled so that they turn more easily. I see people even pretty high up in the hills and a ways from civilization with their kids riding happily along. Obviously the Camino has different challenges, but it certainly seems that the hiking with a push-chair part is possible. Best of luck, and I wish your family peace in healing from your recent tragedy.
 
Camino(s) past & future
2008 2014
Re: Bringing a Child Question

Hi There,
Just noticed your question. There is a story of a couple who took their 2 year old on the Camino in a recent CSJ bulletin ? September 08. I will find the correct one and confirm that.
Regards,
Susanna
 
Camino(s) past & future
2008 2014
Re: Bringing a Child Question

Hi JeanneA,
I found the article it is in the June Edition #102 2008. Robert Sellick wrote the article Martin was the child's name but no mention of Mother's name. It took them 9 weeks and they managed to stay in Albergues mostly. it's a 41/2 page long piece. If you are unable to get it from CSJ I could scan it and send to your regular email.
Regards,
Susanna
 

soulmiles

New Member
Re: Bringing a Child Question

Jeanne!

it is a wonderful experience for a 2-year old to walk on the Camino! My partner Miriam (miriam.colboc@hotmail.fr) did the entire Camino del Norte with my 2-year old daughter Roma Tsé-Wa. She had purchased an off-road buggy (chariot) made by Kettler, I believe.

I know also of pilgrims who have done the Camino Frances with babies in a sling.

So go do it and let the baby discover!

Be Well & Be Blessed!
 

JohnnieWalker

Nunca se camina solo
Re: Bringing a Child Question

Last week I met a family with a less than 1 year old. They had adapted a baby seat inside a rucksack so the child could also enjoy the view whilst being carried!
 

notion900

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
>
Re: Bringing a Child Question

Just bear in mind...
If you are walking for 6 or more hours a day with a small child in a pushchair or baby carrier, that's a long time for a child to be immobile. Sure they can look at things along the way, but is it really fair on them? On a full camino of several weeks I would worry for the child's health in being cooped up so much. :cry:
In refuges, a child would need to be on absolute best behaviour to avoid seriously annoying other pilgrims who need their rest. I never saw children in the refuges at all, and think that anyone walking with children would probably need to stay in private accomodation.
 
Re: Bringing a Child Question

A possible solution might be to do the Camino on by bike rather than on foot and have a tow carriage for the child. When we did the Frances, we met a woman who was doing this with her child. When she had a difficult bit of uphill to do and was struggling with the bike. She pushed the bike uphill and the kid walked.
 

Rebekah Scott

Camino Busybody
Camino(s) past & future
Many, various, and continuing.
Re: Bringing a Child Question

There are a remarkable number of father-son pairs on the camino lately, the boys are usually about 10 years old. All the ones I met were doing just fine, both hikers and bikers. For whatever reason, a preponderance of these are Italian.

We´ve seen a few extended family groups: grandparents and their children and grandchildren, all traveling the camino together. Most have backup vehicles and stay at private accommodation. And a preponderance of them are French.

I´ve not seen many babies or toddlers out there.
REb.
 

Salangoney

New Member
Re: Bringing a Child Question

I am planning to walk el camino with my 12 yr old son in late October for as long as it takes. Would love to hear from anyone who is going at the same time or has suggestions of places to avoid/ or stay off season.

Deb (Somerset, UK)
 

Dynaflow

New Member
Re: Bringing a Child Question

JohnnieWalker said:
Last week I met a family with a less than 1 year old. They had adapted a baby seat inside a rucksack so the child could also enjoy the view whilst being carried!
You may be referring to us. :) We would have been somewhere between León and O Cebreiro the week before you posted, an American couple with a little blond baby.

My then-girlfriend/now-fiancée and I walked the Camino with her one-year-old son, from Roncesvalles to Santiago, over about five weeks this June and July. While there were certainly challenges in taking the baby along, above and beyond what a typical peregrino would expect to face, we still managed to have an immensely rewarding experience, make friends, keep up with the pack, and generally have a good time -- and that goes for all three of us.

We had a few important factors going in our favor from from the beginning that made the trip (which included not just the Camino itself, but also trans-continental and trans-Atlantic flights and exceptionally long bus rides from and to Madrid at either end) much easier for us than it could have potentially been. The most significant of these was that the baby has a very easygoing, mild, gregarious temperament and was able to graciously tolerate things like the constant changes of scene as we went from albergue to albergue, the incessant and invariably loud attention of rural Spanish women over the age of 60 (especially in Galicia ... hmmm...), and having to spend several hours each day sleeping, sightseeing, or happily babbling to us while strapped into a backpack.

The second and third major factors had to do with how my fiancée had been raising the baby. For the baby's first year, he practically lived on my fiancée's back in an Ergo (http://www.ergobabycarrier.com/), accompanying her when she walked to and from work, school, and everywhere else. He was thus extremely comfortable with being in a backpack for long periods of time (though only when it was actually on somebody's back). You might want to consider using a lighter baby carrier like the Ergo to get a child used to being carried around that way before you take him or her on the Camino.

My fiancée had also practiced Elimination Communication (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Elimination_communication) with the baby from the time he was a newborn, which meant that he rarely soiled his diaper along the trail (and if he did, it was usually our fault for misinterpreting or ignoring his signals that he had to go). This eliminated the need for us to carry large quantities of bulky disposable diapers; the two cloth ones we brought for him to wear on the trail (just to be safe) were usually sufficient to deal with any accidents.

Finally, we had in our favor the fact that human adults are naturally predisposed to find babies cute, and smiling, happy babies doubly so. The baby, far from being "not appreciated" by our fellow peregrinos, became kind of a mascot to the others in our cohort along the Camino. He would spend his afternoons and evenings exploring the albergues, playing with us and the other peregrinos (who were not above competing with each other for the baby's attention), and generally having a grand old time being everybody's friend. In fact, more people knew his name than ours: in one town, we accidentally followed an old, faded arrow onto a side street that the Camino had apparently been rerouted away from. Two Korean peregrinas behind us noticed that we had strayed from the correct path and, in order to call our attention to the matter, they shouted the baby's name; they couldn't recall either of ours. :lol:

As for equipment, we necessarily had to carry heavier than average loads. After all, we were packed for three and carrying one. My fiancée carried the majority of our stuff in a full-sized women's hiking backpack, while I carried the baby and some of our heavier-but-less-bulky items in a specialized, baby-carrier backpack made by Sherpani (a discontinued predecessor to http://sherpani.us/product.aspx?bO3FscouH=1&GQd0EjaqX=6&pmdoXJC4W=149) that we picked up on clearance from REI -- though if I had it to do over again, I would have spent the extra money and bought a Deuter Kid Comfort II (http://www.deuterusa.com/products/productDetail.php?packID=kidcomfortII&sub=family&tert=family). Our average pack load, child included, for me and my fiancée was somewhere in the neighborhood of 15 kilos apiece, and may have been as heavy as 17 kilos on a few occasions (Sundays in the deep countryside mainly) when we had to haul enough food to feed all three of us for the following day.

To help my occasionally-problematic ankles support the rather excessive weight, I walked the Camino in my heavy-duty, military-issue Corcoran jump boots (http://www.uscav.com/Productinfo.aspx?productID=7615&TabID=1), which ended up performing stunningly well. Those parachute boots left my feet in much better condition at the end of the day than much lighter and springier shoes left the feet of many other peregrinos who were carrying lighter loads. I did have some painful but not catastrophic difficulties with my left knee for the last 120km or so, but I would blame sliding around on the the crumbly, slate-strewn hillside trails of western León and Galicia for that long before I would look to load or footwear. My fiancée, who has the constitution of a Sherpa, alternated between a pair of low-top hiking shoes and a pair of Teva sandals and walked the Camino with nary a problem.

Fortunately, we didn't need to carry heavy jars of baby food or anything like that; the baby was more than happy to eat what we were eating -- in fact, he insisted upon it. His beginner's set of teeth was able to handle tortillas, which he loved, and other soft foods with ease, and we would just chew or mash anything he couldn't handle on his own for him. His mother was also still nursing him; and so any nutritional deficiencies of the local diet; which in some areas seemed to consist solely of white bread, coffee, sugar, and ham; could be made up with breast milk.

Albergues were surprisingly tolerant of letting a baby spend the night; we were only given the "there's no room in the inn" treatment once, by an extremely agitated hospitalero who seemed convinced that a baby would somehow "contaminate" his refugio and refused us a place to sleep for the night, despite protests by other peregrinos who knew us that the child wouldn't be a problem (here's looking at you, Refugio Tradicional de Castrojeriz). Oftentimes, we were even given special consideration at albergues, such as being assigned bunks somewhat separated from where the majority of the peregrinos were to sleep so that, if the baby woke up at night crying (which he did from time to time, usually because he had to pee), he wouldn't disturb anyone else.

Even when we were thrown in with the main group, though, the ten or twenty seconds of the baby's crying before my fiancée or I could get up and rush him to the bathroom to take care of his problem was less disturbing to fellow peregrinos' sleep than the near-constant presence of multiple people whose snores could demolish entire city blocks if suitably concentrated, packaged, and deployed.

In the end, when we made it to Santiago, the Pilgrim's Office was nice enough to put the baby's name into an annotation on our Compostelas, so there's a record of him having done the Camino along with us (does riding on my back for 800km count as traveling to Santiago a caballo?).

We're not sure what sort, if any, of a lasting impression the trip has made on the baby, but he seemed to enjoy himself immensely while we were on the road in Spain. There's only one thing that's odd about him now that we can attribute directly to our walk on the Camino. He was starting language acquisition in earnest at the time we hopped on a plane to wing our way to Spain. Even though we're back in the California now, he still gets very insistent, for example, about wanting a drink of "ag'ga" and likes to call our attention to any four-legged "peh'oh" or "gah'oh" that happens to walk by. It seems that, while my fiancée and I brought home Compostelas and seashells for souvenirs of Spain, the baby brought home Spanish words.
 

Bridget and Peter

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Home to Reims 2007
Reims to Limoges 2008
Camino Ingles 2009
Limoges to Gernica 2009
Gernica to San Vicente de la Barquera 2010
San Vicente to La Isla 2012
La Isla to Santiago Sept/Oct 2014
Re: Bringing a Child Question

notion900 said:
In refuges, a child would need to be on absolute best behaviour to avoid seriously annoying other pilgrims who need their rest. I never saw children in the refuges at all, and think that anyone walking with children would probably need to stay in private accommodation.
I am uncomfortable with the suggestion that children should, at best, only be tolerated if they are on their 'best behaviour'. This forum is full of examples of people in refuges who annoy other people - by snoring, getting up early and rustling plastic bags, shining torches in sleepers' eyes when they go to the toilet in the middle of the night, insisting on talking boringly about their particular obsessions, traveling in big groups, etc. Usually someone steps into the thread and suggests that a pilgrimage is a good time to learn to get along with all sorts. Why should children not be accorded the same respect and kindness? And their parents who may feel like pariahs reading the above?


Dynaflow said:
Finally, we had in our favor the fact that human adults are naturally predisposed to find babies cute, and smiling, happy babies doubly so. The baby, far from being "not appreciated" by our fellow peregrinos, became kind of a mascot to the others in our cohort along the Camino. He would spend his afternoons and evenings exploring the albergues, playing with us and the other peregrinos (who were not above competing with each other for the baby's attention), and generally having a grand old time being everybody's friend. In fact, more people knew his name than ours: in one town, we accidentally followed an old, faded arrow onto a side street that the Camino had apparently been rerouted away from. Two Korean peregrinas behind us noticed that we had strayed from the correct path and, in order to call our attention to the matter, they shouted the baby's name; they couldn't recall either of ours. :lol:
I am delighted to hear that your experience was quite different! Also intrigued by Elimination Communication which I will be sharing with my daughters and daughter-in-law - who are already heavily into attachment parenting, breast-feeding and so forth - in my day we did all this but had to fend off suggestions that we were 'spoiling' them - recent research into the chemistry of the brain suggests quite the opposite!

Sorry to go off thread - to return to the thread - babies and children traveling the Camino with parents who are well tuned into their needs will benefit enormously from the experience and I for one would be ashamed if us older pilgrims spoilt it for them.
 

Dynaflow

New Member
Re: Bringing a Child Question

Just to visually show what we did:


Here we are with 100km to go.


This shows the layout of the babypack fairly well (this was taken in Pamplona).


Here we see the Little Guy enjoying himself on a hiking break on the trail somewhere between Pamplona and Obanos ...


...with the hospitaleros at Nájera...


...and with a group of what I think were Scouts of some sort at the albergue at Monte de Goza.


For the typical sunny, summertime weather we encountered on most of the route, we made sure to put a hat on the baby so he didn't get sunburned. If the morning was cold, we would put a sweater or his fleece jacket on him and then switch it out later for his t-shirt once the day got warmer, as it almost invariably did.

The toy was a gift from a hospitalera in Zubiri. We tied it to one end of a cord and tied the other end of the cord to the frame of the backpack. That prevented the toy from disappearing behind us forever when the baby tired of playing with it and, as babies will do, tossed it over the side. The baby also used the cord for a fun game he invented, using it to whip the toy at my head like a flail, all the while laughing maniacally.


For exceptionally cold mornings (this was coming down from O Cebreiro) we swaddled the baby in a sleeping bag before putting him in the pack.


For rain, we improvised an arrangement with a couple of ponchos that kept both baby and backpack dry (this was taken while we were waiting for the Pilgrim's Office in Santiago to open for the morning). It's hard to see in this picture, but we are using the sun hat to keep the hood of the baby's poncho solidly on his head, which prevented water from dripping down his neck from the higher parts of the pack.
 

KiwiNomad06

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Le Puy-Santiago(2008) Cluny-Conques+prt CF(2012)
Re: Bringing a Child Question

What wonderful photos you have shared, and what a wonderful account of how you walked with your baby.
I met a couple of families in France walking with their children for a week or so, some carrying all their gear and some car-supported so they didn't need to carry much. And I met several families with older children/teens walking from Leon onwards. But I only met one couple with a baby, and sadly they gave up in Estella. There had been quite a bit of rain, and the father had gained a sore back carrying all the gear plus many nappies. I am sure that your account of how you managed the whole situation to walk with your baby will be very useful reference for others thinking of doing the same.
Margaret
 

JohnnieWalker

Nunca se camina solo
Re: Bringing a Child Question

'Twas indeed you! we met in the Pilgrims Office where I gave yo uthe name of the priest in the Cathedral to talk to in answer to your enquiry.

Nice to meet you again and wonderful photographs.
 

Dynaflow

New Member
Re: Bringing a Child Question

JohnnieWalker said:
'Twas indeed you! we met in the Pilgrims Office where I gave yo uthe name of the priest in the Cathedral to talk to in answer to your enquiry.

Nice to meet you again and wonderful photographs.
Ah, I had a feeling you might be the Scottish gentleman with whom we spoke. It's nice to meet you again too, and thank you for your help that morning in the Pilgrim's Office.

Unfortunately, we were not able to accomplish that other mission while we were in Santiago. The priest you recommended sent us to another, apparently higher-ranking priest, who told us that we could not get the baby baptized at the Catedral without presenting some kind of documentation, the Spanish name of which we didn't understand. The priest suggested that we call our home parish in the United States and have them fax this mysterious, lost-in-translation document to him -- even though it would have been the middle of the night on the US west coast.

It wasn't until after we had left Santiago that I realized what he was probably asking for was the Spanish functional equivalent of a copy of the baby's state birth certificate, which we had with us but didn't think to pull out at the time. That small disappointment couldn't mar our sense of accomplishment at having completed the Camino, though, and we left Santiago quite happy.
 

JohnnieWalker

Nunca se camina solo
Re: Bringing a Child Question

Good to meet you again!

I suspect what they were looking for was a copy of the parents' baptism certificate - an almost impossible request given the timing and distances involved.

I well remember your arrival in Santiago and I'm glad to encounter you again. I think your advice will be of great value to other people who are put off taking younger children on pilgrimage. Everything is possible and the people I have spoken to who have done this relay similar stories of albergues generally being welcoming and other pilgrims being accommodating.

Best wishes

John
 

Rebekah Scott

Camino Busybody
Camino(s) past & future
Many, various, and continuing.
Re: Bringing a Child Question

this thread wins the "Most Delightful Photos" prize for the week. So says Me.

This is one lucky baby, to be blessed with such caring and thoughtful parents.

Reb.
 

skilsaw

Veteran Member
Re: Bringing a Child Question

A beautiful account and photos showing it can be done.

I tried a holiday of day-hiking in the Canadian Rockies when my son was 11 months old. He didn't agree with riding in the kiddy carrier for 4 or 5 hours per day. We abandoned the holiday after 3 miserable hikes and sleepless nights in our two man tent. I just didn't have the karma for it.
David, Victoria, Canada
 

ofridar

New Member
Bringing a child and more

Hi,

We are planning to walk the camino for 1 week around Easter (April 2011) with a 14 month-old toddler.
We will fly into Santiago from the UK and take the route from O Cebreiro to Santiago.
Plenty of questions... Maybe some of them have been answered already but it would be handy to have them all in one place:
1. Getting there and away - From the airport in Santiago to the starting point - How? Will we have to get at taxi and if so are we required for a child seat (I wouldn't want to be carrying one with me)
2. We would rather stay in a hotel/b&b, because of the baby - Where can I find a good hotel list for the area? Will I need to book in advance?
3. April weather - Any experience?
4. Evening time... Could anybody share tips about evening time drill? Our son goes to sleep quite early, normally if we're out and about we would have him in a push chair but that won't be relevant in this cas.e Any advice of how to manage the evenings from those of you who have done this with babies?
 

Dynaflow

New Member
Re: Bringing a Child Question

Our little one had such fun at O Cebriero (he was 16 months old by the time we got there).

Make sure to take warm clothes to bundle your little one up, though. It gets chilly up there even at the height of summer, and mornings can be downright cold. The second to last of our pictures above is of our attempt to wrap Elliott in everything we could (sleeping bags, pillows, spare clothes, etc.) before going down the hill at dawn -- in late July!

As to your questions:

1. Though most of our trip from Madrid-Barajas to our starting point in Roncesvalles was by bus, we did have to take a couple of cab rides to complete the journey after missing the "pilgrim taxi" in Pamplona. We also took a couple cab rides and accepted lifts here and there when we needed to backtrack towards medical help at the times when Elaine or I got sick or injured. I'm not sure what the law says about child seats in Spain, but we never heard anyone complain about us not having one. Our state law here in California holds the caretaker responsible instead of the cabbie if a child seat violation occurs in a taxi, and Spanish law might have a similar provision. Look it up.

2. We only had trouble once getting lodged in an albergue in our six weeks of walking, and since you're not going to be passing through Castrojeriz, I don't imagine you would find yourself excluded from some of the most wonderful parts of the peregrino experience merely on account of your little one. [my wife, looking over my shoulder, adds] At some albergues, the hospitaleros will go to great lengths to find you a more private place within the albergue, but, from our experience, hearing, "There's no room in the inn," is a rare thing, so long as your baby is reasonably charming. If he or she is having a bad afternoon and shrieking like a banshee about nothing in particular, you might want to delay checking in until your child's inherent cuteness returns. That should minimize any awkwardness.

3. [Graham returns:] Expect temperatures above freezing but below actually comfortable for most of the trip. Also, expect rain. Lots of rain. This is second-hand information, so if anyone else would like to confirm or elaborate, you're more than welcome to.

4. Elliott napped in our pack in the mornings, but we found it valuable to keep him from nodding off into his afternoon nap until we had reached our planned destination for the day. We could then lie down for a rest ourselves for an hour or so without having to watch/entertain the baby.

As for the evenings, Elliott quickly sync'ed himself to the rhythms of the Camino (after getting over eight time zones worth of jet lag), and for most of the sojourn went to sleep when everyone else did. He would, of course, have to wake up to pee at least a couple of times a night, but quick dashes to the bathroom (we did EC -- see above) and an established routine of how to get him back to sleep worked to keep disruption to a minimum.

Fellow peregrinos were amazingly tolerant of us, with, it seems, the sole exception being a retired Italian general who was hiking the Camino at a much faster pace than us anyway. We stayed in the same place for one night, then he outpaced us the next day and we never saw him, or got another complaint, again.
 

wildroverwild

New Member
Re: Bringing a Child Question

We -I, my 2 year old and my 6 month old - are off to St Jean end of this month. I am planning on pushing them in a chariot. The double seater is rather wider than a normal buggy. How much would we have to detour onto roads instead of using the nice trails? Specifically which parts are impossible? THANKS!!!!!!!!
 

samba

Member
Camino(s) past & future
Francesca(2007),de la Plata /Sanabres ( May 2015),Mozarabe ( 2016) Norte (2018)
La Lana((2019)
Re: Bringing a Child Question

thanks everyone for a great response .Its good to know that its possible but also that not too difficult with planning .
 

dazzamac

Active Member
Re: Bringing a Child Question

Wildrover, I would imagine that you'll find yourself detouring quite a bit as many of the the trails narrow quite considerably. Additionally, they may be waterlogged and/or rutted making passage via a wide chariot somewhat difficult. Not to discourage you but sometimes the road route is quite a distance from the walking trail.

If you are coming across the Pyrenees to Roncevalles, I would recommend that you take the longer road route after Col de Lepoeder. The steep descent through the woods is hard enough to negotiate by foot without the added difficulty of safely guiding a chariot too. Also the descent from Alto del Perdón after Pamplona is very steep at points with loose rocks underfoot.

As you're departing at the end of the month, I'm sure you've done a quite a bit of research and on the ground you'll get a much better sense of whether you'll want to tackle the trails.

Hope you enjoy your Camino.
 

cbd

New Member
Re: Bringing a Child Question

Folks, Ideas, thoughts, suggestions or stops along the way to bring the most meaning, fun and involvement to our three tween children. We begin from SJPP June 21st. Deeply appreciate your help. Nenegirl.
 

From A to B

New Member
Re: Bringing a Child Question

My husband and I are taking our 4yr old with us on the Camino from Pamplona in May this year. We have a BabyJogger Summit XC buggy that is designed for off road for her & she of course will walk some part of the days as she pleases. My husband is quite strong so hopefully he can navigate or carry the buggy across any difficult terain. We will be staying in Albergues and hope she will be respected like everyone else as we will be doing our best to respect other travellers as well. We are so excited for this journey and look forward to all the ups and downs along the way. We have unlimited time so can take it at our leisure but would like to make good distances most days. We of course are travelling into the unknown but feel such a strong pull towards this journey that we know it is where we are meant to be. Will definitely update further info as we go along to help other families as it was the previous posts that gave us the confidence to move forward with this journey as a family. Safe travels and hope to meet some of you along the way :)
 

MichaelB10398

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Le Puy to Santiago de Compostela, Lourdes to SdC, SJPP to SdC
Re: Bringing a Child Question

There is a time and a place for all things. At times a child would be a joy to be with, to see, and to have around. At other times, it is simply not appropriate. A Camino is a place where it can work and it will not work. The first question is what is appropriate for the child and knowing when it is not and being able to take the appropriate action.

You may need to go much slower than normal, stay in hotels, plan for better meals along the way. All things are possible if you are willing to plan and adapt as the child needs become apparent.

If it were me, I would leave the child home until they are old enough to provide for themselves. A ten year old can easily do so. However, there will be some places I would not want my ten year old to be; that is when I need to go to a hotel.

Sometimes there are just times when it is adults only. When you can afford to do anything you want, all things are possible. Of course, there are always options.

If I am going on a pilgrimage then a pilgrimage it is. If I am going on a long hike, then more latitude is available for who comes along. It all depends on what the context is.
 

EvaF

New Member
Re: Bringing a Child Question

Wow! What a great story Dynaflow. It definitely encourages us! We have a 12 month old and are thinking, considering, pondering doing El Camino for the third time, and for the first time with a baby, this summer. :)
 

toddlermom

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
May-June 2012
Re: Bringing a Child Question

We just returned from an amazing month on the Camino where we walked from Burgos to Santiago with our 2-year old daughter. It was a true family trip with 3 generations making the pilgrimage together. There isn’t a lot of first-hand information available for people who are thinking about bringing a baby on the Camino, so I’d thought I post a follow-up here.

We had a very positive experience with our daughter, however I do not think bringing a child on the Camino is something that should be considered lightly. Before embarking on such an adventure, you must know yourself and know your child. If your kid cannot sit still and refuses to be confined in a relatively small space for 6+ hours a day, then walking the Camino is probably not a good idea. If you require a lot of alone time to recharge, it equally isn’t a good idea. While the solo peregrino needs to find things to do each afternoon and can choose when to socialize, we always had to be Catie’s parents first. She napped in the cart, so by the time we stopped for the day Catie was ready for the local playground. All we wanted to do was shower, drink a cold beer, and get off our weary feet. Between giving Catie a chance to play, doing laundry, shopping for the next day’s breakfast & snacks, eating, and getting clean, we never had a chance to rest. Even with all the extra hands, we were still busy every day. On top of that, regardless of whether you choose to carry your child in a backpack, baby carrier, or push them in a cart- you will be carrying more weight than the average pilgrim.

So, that said, here are a few ways we dealt with being pilgrim parents. Everything I’m writing here is geared toward traveling with a 1-3 year old. I suspect the experience is quite different for older kids or younger babies.

KID TRANSPORT.
You have the option of carrying or pushing your baby. We tested several methods in the year before we made the trip. Initially we thought that I’d carry her in our baby backpack, but once we discovered that it would weigh ~35lbs fully loaded and that my husband would be carrying even more weight, we opted to push Catie in a Croozer Kid for 1. Not only did it allow us to push, rather than carry Catie’s gear, but pushing Catie in a cart allowed her considerably more freedom of movement than carrying her would have. She was able to sit, stand, lay down to sleep, eat, and play in the cart. Because she could move around so much, we were able to walk longer hours than we ever would have carrying her. The enclosed capsule also provided much better protection against the elements than a carrier would have.

Interestingly, the Croozer appeared to be the vehicle of choice on the Camino this May. Of the 4 families we met or heard about with young children/babies on the trail, 3 were pushing Croozers (the last was using a Chariot- better suspension for the kid, considerably less storage room for gear, much more expensive).

The base Croozer works, but I’d recommend a few modifications. Most importantly, I’d add a hand brake. Adding a brake would really reduce the strain on your back and knees going downhill. My husband built a wooden platform covered with a foam mat that provided a more stable surface for Catie to stand on. We used a padded sheepskin cover to protect her butt and provide her a comfy place to sleep. A rear bike bag provided extra storage as well as easy an easily accessible place for my water bottle, Catie’s sippy cup, and snacks. We added a clip-on stroller sombrilla in Spain since Catie disliked how the Croozer sun shade prevented her ability to stand up. Removable window stickers, books, a magnetic doodle board, and a variety of small toys provided entertainment.

THE TRAIL. The Croozer handled pretty much everything the Camino threw at it. For the most part, we stayed on the Camino or on the roads immediately adjacent to the trail. Occasionally, a former pilgrim would tell us about a particularly rough stretch or a bad descent and we’d opt for the highway. It seemed like bikers had the best knowledge regarding trail conditions. I’d recommend getting a bike guide in addition to the walking trail guide since they are more concerned with trail conditions. We had to carry the Croozer over a few streams, tree roots, and lots of stairs. We also had a tow rope that we used for particularly steep hills. My husband and/or father would pull, while my sister or I pushed. The Camino is doable with a cart or jogging stroller, but again, be aware of the challenges the added weight and width create.

PACKING & GEAR. We each carried our own gear and packed Catie’s stuff in a Deuter Kangakid backpack, which lived in the back of the Croozer. We figured it would serve as a good backup kid carrier and a day bag for afternoon excursions (again, life is different on the Camino with an active 2-year old!). The Kangakid was very useful when our original Croozer was stolen in Leon, however, if I were to do this again, I think I’d opt for a smaller Ergo-like baby carrier and a bunch of waterproof stuff sacks. Smaller bags would fit better and provide a little more flexibility. One woman we met managed to fit all her clothes, camping gear, plus everything for her 2 daughters into the back of a Croozer Kid for 2!

If you’d prefer to carry your kid, but need to reduce your total load, luggage transport service is available along the entire Camino. Jacotrans will deliver your pack to just about any private albergue or hostal for 7 Euros on the meseta and 3 Euros after Sarria.

I’ve seen a couple of questions about diapers and other kid supplies. We had no problem buying diapers and wipes along the Camino. They were easily found in pharmacies or grocery stores in every town. The only bad thing was that we typically could not find packs smaller than 50 diapers. That’s a lot of extra weight if you are carrying them on your back.

LODGING. Catie often has difficulty falling asleep in new places, so we figured sleeping in a different hostal each night was going to pose a challenge. That, combined with the fact that we travelled as a family of 6, made us decide to make reservations for private or semi-private rooms for the entire trip. We stayed in private albergues, hostals, pensiones, and casa rurals. We needed the peace of mind knowing where we were going to stay each night and didn’t want Catie’s presence to upset other tired peregrinos. Making advanced reservations turned out to be a very good thing for us, since we tended to get in a bit later than most pilgrims given the playground breaks, snack stops, diaper changes, etc., and often arrived in town after the main albergues were full. I know of other pilgrim parents who slept in the big albergues and one who camped a lot, so there are other options. If you choose the “normal pilgrim” albergues, just make sure to arrive early and be prepared for a few dirty looks. Not everyone wants to share a bunk room with a toddler, no matter how well behaved they are.

PEOPLE. We met loads of wonderful people along the Way! Most were interested and excited to see our daughter. We often joked that if we charged a Euro for every photo taken of her, we’d have been able to pay for the entire trip! We did run across a few people who disapproved of our having a child on the Camino, but those folks usually were nicer once they realized we were not sharing their bunk room. Others ignored us. But overall, Catie’s reception was very positive. I don’t think she ever got used to getting her head patted and cheeks pinched by every Spaniard she met, but she thoroughly enjoyed the sweets. Catie received more lollipops, candy, and chocolate from strangers along the journey than she’d eaten in her entire life!

Our most negative experience of the trip was having our Croozer stolen from the entry of our hostal in Leon. Everyone had been so wonderful to us, that we’d gotten lax with security. Do not repeat our mistake- if you push a cart, use a bike lock at all times. Luckily, we were able to order a new Croozer from a local bike shop the next morning. With only a 24 hour delay, we were back on the road (thanks, Bicicletas Blanco!).

FOOD. Catie has always been a good eater, however when we arrived in Spain it took us a few days to discover what she wanted to eat. Her typical diet of fruit, fresh veggies, and pasta was hard to come by. Luckily we discovered that she’d eat anything composed primarily of chorizo and beans- easy to come by on the meseta and then as caldo gallego in Galicia. The bigger issue was keeping her hydrated. She really didn’t like Spanish milk or water, the only beverages she drinks at home. Instead, she lived on watered down juice and ‘Bifrutas’ for the entire trip. If your child is a picky eater, I think the Camino would be difficult. The menu del dia/peregrinos menu gets old quickly and there really isn’t a kids menu at most places. Sometimes we’d cook, but often kitchens were not available.
_____________________________________
So, can you bring a kid on the Camino? Yes. It is difficult, but very rewarding! We met so many people because we had Catie with us, and being able to experience a different culture with her was wonderful. Her cheers of “Buen ‘Mino” warmed even the stodgiest peregrino’s heart. We may have explored more playgrounds than churches on our pilgrimage, but the experience was priceless.
 

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CF May-June 2011; Oloron to Fisterra Sept-Oct 2013
Camino(s) past & future
Camino frances-SJPP. Santiago (2011); Oloron to Fisterra (Sept 5-Oct 23 2013)
Re: Bringing a Child Question

Wonderful information...I'll never need it but I think you've covered everything. You have the utmost respect from this pilgrim.
 

wildroverwild

New Member
Re: Bringing a Child Question

Hi Toddlermom!!!!!!!

Its Niki, your pilgim mother friend with Hannah, wee Sophie, Ruby the dog and pink croozer. hi!
It warms my heart to read your post! Oh, the memories. We only got home last monday after a very interesting road trip from Portugal through a lot of europe to Salzburg.

Was great, wasnt it!

Love xoxoxoxo
 

From A to B

New Member
Re: Bringing a Child Question

We just completed 700kms on the Camino with our 4 year old and she loved it. We asked her everyday how she was liking it and she always replied "I love it mummy!". Most parents wouldn't choose to do this and I am sure most that do don't take it lightly and decide based on them and their child. It is a great effort not selfishness to share a spiritual journey with ones family and my daughter now has a relationship with Jesus that she founded herself after her many church visits during this time and as a non practicing Christian I must say her openness made me see God in a new light as well. I think that we will all be judged for our choices someday but knowing how disappointed my daughter was when we finished the Camino leaves that decision one I know in my heart was spot on. I am very proud of her, myself and my husband for the great achievement, new friends and wonderful life experience we shared together.
Oh and I worked with abused children for many years and calling my husband and I and the other families here "child abusers" is a most offensive and untrue statement. We are the complete opposite of abusive parents and i would have thought a veteran Camino poster should have more wisdom and compassion for the variety of people and circumstances in this world or should be banned for abusive and derogatory posts.
 

tindora

New Member
Re: Bringing a Child Question

I have been following the posts here and am inspired by your journeys with the little ones.

My partner, myself and our 13-month-old daughter will be doing the Camino Portugues (haven’t decided whether to do inland or coastal) in September. I have a few logistical questions and would love to hear from anyone’s experience.

Sleeping:
She will be sleeping in the bed with us, since we plan to stay in hostels and I doubt that they have infant cots. However, she is an acrobatic sleeper at times, and would be safest between us. This would mean either pushing two singles together or putting two single mattresses on the floor. Dynaflow, if you are around, what did you do for sleeping arrangements at hostels? Would they be amenable to having their furniture moved around like this? I am assuming that there were no double beds… Also, did people go to bed at the same time as their children since there isn’t really any way to leave them in a bed unattended?

Diapers:
Thus far, every time we have been on a trip, we have taken our own washable diapers with us. They are bulky and heavy, and only get bulkier and heavier when they are wet :) , which means that if we did bring them it would only be one or two days worth. I would consider taking them with us if I knew that I would be able to wash them (in a washing machine) every day. Are there Laundromats along the Camino, or do most people wash by hand?

Eating:
Actually, sitting down to eat, since she eats pretty much anything. We have noticed that our meal time experience is more relaxed and enjoyable if we don’t have a squirming baby on our laps trying to grab our cutlery etc. Do most restaurants in Spain/Portugal have highchairs? I have heard about something called a “tie-chair” that slips over the back of a normal chair and ties around the child’s waist. It is fabric, so not heavy. Once again, any wisdom and experience would be much appreciated.

I am sure I will think of other issues as the time draws nearer…
 

toddlermom

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
May-June 2012
Re: Bringing a Child Question

Tindora-

Sleeping.
In my experience going to bed at the same time as your toddler is not a problem! Chances are good that you will be exhausted and if anything, your baby will have more energy than you will by bedtime :) We were (unfortunately) the last ones to bed in a hostel on more than one occasion simply because our two-year old was not interested in going to sleep.

Our daughter slept with us, or at least me, every night. We pushed beds together or simply used extra blankets/pillows/packs to create a barrier or safe cushion if she were to fall off the bed. Lots of albergues have extra mattresses they use for overflow, so you might be able to request those and sleep on the floor. I read a blog by someone who used a Kidco PeaPod for their child to sleep in. We actually bought one and tried to get Catie used to it before our pilgrimage, but she didn’t like it and is used to co-sleeping anyway. Saved me from carrying the extra weight!

Diapers.
Albergues typically have laundry facilities, but they are not the greatest. We ended up hand washing at least 75% of the time. One of the bigger problems is having enough time and space for your clothes to dry. You’ll already be doing twice as much laundry as everyone else, so drying can be an issue. In my experience, diapers take a long time to dry. If you have enough to hang the damp ones on your pack all day to dry, you might stand a change with cloth. We used disposables that we purchased along the way. They were available everywhere in EITHER a pharmacy OR a grocery store. I have no idea why it was only one or the other, but that seemed to be the case in almost every town. The only difficulty was that the smallest pack you could purchase contained 50+ diapers! This took up a lot of space and added a lot of weight. If you can find someone to split a pack with you on the road (thanks, Niki!) it really helps.

Eating while sitting down…
I understand that having your toddler contained while eating makes a meal more enjoyable! The only places we saw highchairs were in Madrid or a few of the family owned casa rurales we rented. I think it is unlikely that you can count on reliable child seating on the Camino. Therefore, if you have something small and very lightweight, you could bring it. Alternatively, just do not worry about it. We ate outside the majority of the time and meals were often a nice chance for our daughter to stretch her legs. She’d typically sit/kneel at the table or on the ground next to us and play with her toys or color. So much of the camino is rural with lovely patio or sidewalk cafes, there were very few places where we had to worry about her getting into trouble while we ate. Given all of the extra gear you have to carry for a child (toys, diapers, books, etc), I’d put highchair way, way down on the list.

Good luck with your planning and your pilgrimage!
Shannon
 

TrishAlexSage

Member
Camino(s) past & future
March-April 2013
Re: Bringing a Child Question

What a great thread! My daughters and I plan on hiking the Camino Frances route next spring. My kids will be 10 and 8 -- they are growing up hiking mountains every week in the White Mountains of New Hampshire and they've been happily doing 10-13 "mountain miles" (with 4000 to 5000 feet of elevation gain) since they were each 5 years old. They're excited for this walk and they look forward to the public albergues, and they're hoping to meet folks who treat them with respect and who don't judge them based on their ages (they're very mature, adventurous, and well-behaved). I'm hoping they experience more positive than negative attitudes from other pilgrims. The vast majority of posts I've read on this site are supportive of kid hikers (as long as the kid's happy and willing, of course), so I have hope that this will be a wonderful cultural and spiritual experience for them.

Toddlermom -- kudos to you and your crew!
 

toddlermom

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
May-June 2012
Re: Bringing a Child Question

TrishAlexSage-

I think it's great that you will be walking next year! I suspect that you and your daughters will find it considerably easier terrain that what you are used to in the Whites. Think more walking, less hiking. The folks you will encounter in the albergues are similar to those you might find at one of the AMC huts, albeit fewer children and considerably more international! Who knows, you might even meet some pilgrims from close to home- my sister & I walked with a man from Lincoln, NH our last morning on the Camino :) We also saw a family from Austria on and off for a few days. They had 2 children, ages 9 and 11, with them and the kids were having a wonderful experience. They had acquired an entourage of "Camino aunts, uncles, and grandparents" who were perhaps even more watchful of them than their own parents! I wish you the best!

Buen Camino!
 

CaminanteQuixote

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
Walking with kids 2012
Re: Bringing a Child Question

First, I want to give a shout out to Dynaflow and Toddlermom, who helped us prepare for our journey. Honestly, I should have read their posts a little more closely.

We are currently walking the Camino de Santiago with our two children, two and seven.
it is a wonderful experience. I do not want to give a blanket statement of "go", it is important for each family to read the information, know our children's temperament, be realistic about our own limitations as adults both physical and emotional. I have been surprised by the level if struggle I have seen in the adults on the Camino, but also impressed by how well our own children are doing. Thriving and bringing joy!

Before we left, I could not find a blog to give us an idea of daily life, we just jumped in after some research on the forum; we had also walked one time before, as young adults. Having done backpacking trips we were pretty confident in our children and our own abilities (though we have since learned there are major difference between a two week backcountry trip and a two month several hundred mile journey...)

So, we are keeping a blog. It will be rough while we are actually walking, and I will add to it and clean it up later--especially adding ways to just search for posts that deal with children, homeschooling, etc. Both my husband and I are educators, and We hope to share more about schooling and supporting children's developmental needs during extended travel when we are not trying to beat the snow to Santiago!

I hope the blog highlights the joys and the challenges of walking the Camino with children. I think that it is such a beautiful and accessible journey to share and that many people shy away for lack of information. Several people with children our ages stated that they never even considered taking their kids, but seeing ours they are excited to think about it. The blog started out with the intention to be an addition to the info on traveling and walking with children. It has expanded in scope, as the Camino has lead us down some interesting paths.

The harder parts may not what you might think going in (difficulties in the Alburques) but sometimes the more intangible struggles--which is what the Camino is all about anyway.

Caminantequixote.wordpress.com documents our adventures (and misadventures).

We hope to see more families on the way!
 

Douglas A

New Member
Re: Bringing a Child Question

I'd finished walking my Camino four weeks ago, I walked from Astorga to Santiago, in the 13 days it took me to complete my walk I did not see any one with such a young child, I did see a young teenager or maybe even a pre-teen, and several high school age boys on the Camino. Maybe this was because of the time frame I was walking early September when most kids are back or going back to school. My impression is that neither a stroller nor carriage is a good method to transport a toddler. There are luggage taxis that take pack packs from albergue to albergue, you may want to consider walking with the child for a time and then riding to the next town. Good luck and buen Camino.
 

WalkieTalkie

New Member
Re: Bringing a Child Question

Lots of really useful info on this strain, thanks guys...

We are 3. Mummy, Daddy and 15 month old. We are doing the Camino Frances in May and June this year and want to camp as much as possible. We are just slightly concerned re: night and early morning temperatures. We will stay in hostals, or private albergues whenever the weather or the forecast is bad. For the most part, if we have our little one wrapped up between us in our tent, do you think this will suffice?
 

falcon269

no commercial interests
Camino(s) past & future
yes
Re: Bringing a Child Question

We are doing the Camino Frances in May and June
Temperature probably won't be a problem most places. Rain is more likely than cold except at a few high elevations. Tent and hostales should work well. Albergues also will welcome you. Toddlers are quite popular, though that popularity can be tested if the child is really fussy!

Buen camino.
 

max44

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
13th April 2013 leaving. SJPDP via Rome
Re: Bringing a Child Question

CaminanteQuixote said:
it is important for each family to read the information, know our children's temperament, be realistic about our own limitations as adults both physical and emotional. I have been surprised by the level if struggle I have seen in the adults on the Camino, but also impressed by how well our own children are doing. Thriving and bringing joy!

Good point. Also consider other people who may not be used to the disruption in shared areas. Adults are grumpy when tired also.

I have seen some unpleasant interactions as well.
I have 3 kids myself. I do remember the "terrible two's"
May I suggest, they take the 2 year old as part of their training before the walk, and let them decide. If they can do long walks and carry the child and other goods between them...then i should work. As everyone says, train well before you go. Training with a 2 year old would be what I would do.
Long trips didnt work with my kids, but everyone is different. I was lucky to have well behaved and polite kids. When they get tired....another story


As the original post is a few years old. I wonder how they went?
 

toddlermom

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
May-June 2012
Re: Bringing a Child Question

It can certainly be cold at night that time of year, especially in the higher elevations. We often stuffed our daughter into a sleeping bag within her cart when we started out in the mornings. We'd strip down and pack up the bag by mid-morning and would be downright HOT by mid-afternoon. Lots of layers!

I think you could be fine in a tent provided you carry actual sleeping bags and not the little summer weight bags you tend to see on the Camino. We have camped in freezing temperatures with our 2-yr old without any trouble. However, we did use much heavier gear than anything we would have wanted to pack on the Camino. You'll need to come up with a good balance between warmth and weight/bulk. As others have mentioned, I think the best thing to do is try a few trial walking and camping runs with your family and all your gear. That's really the only way to figure out what will work best for your family.

Buen Camino!
Shannon
 

falcon269

no commercial interests
Camino(s) past & future
yes
Re: Bringing a Child Question

As the original post is a few years old. I wonder how they went?
She has not logged into the Forum since 17 July 2009, so I suspect you won't get an answer!
 

yolandamak

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
Plan to walk with 12 year olds 2013
Hello, I would like to know the best route to take two 12 year olds on for the last 3/4 days of the camino, ending in Santiago. We could walk 20 K per day. We are not carrying back packs. It will be the end of July. I am looking for a route with more nature than city/town. Do you have any suggestions as to which route to take? Thanks
 

Kiwi-family

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Past: (2012, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2018)-Frances, Baztan, San Salvador, Primitivo, Fisterra,VdlP, Madrid
If you could wangle a couple more days you could start at Sarria, do the full 100km and get a Compostela.
Or you could do the Camino Ingles.
Or you could START in Santiago and walk to Finisterre or Muxia.
or or or

take a look at the gronze site, find Santiago and work backwards from there

http://www.gronze.com/camino-de-santiag ... erales.htm
 

Joe Query

Member
Camino(s) past & future
Plan to walk Camino del Norte (possibly) in June/July 2018 with family of four.
Re: Bringing a Child Question

We just returned from an amazing month on the Camino where we walked from Burgos to Santiago with our 2-year old daughter. It was a true family trip with 3 generations making the pilgrimage together. There isn’t a lot of first-hand information available for people who are thinking about bringing a baby on the Camino, so I’d thought I post a follow-up here.

We had a very positive experience with our daughter, however I do not think bringing a child on the Camino is something that should be considered lightly. Before embarking on such an adventure, you must know yourself and know your child. If your kid cannot sit still and refuses to be confined in a relatively small space for 6+ hours a day, then walking the Camino is probably not a good idea. If you require a lot of alone time to recharge, it equally isn’t a good idea. While the solo peregrino needs to find things to do each afternoon and can choose when to socialize, we always had to be Catie’s parents first. She napped in the cart, so by the time we stopped for the day Catie was ready for the local playground. All we wanted to do was shower, drink a cold beer, and get off our weary feet. Between giving Catie a chance to play, doing laundry, shopping for the next day’s breakfast & snacks, eating, and getting clean, we never had a chance to rest. Even with all the extra hands, we were still busy every day. On top of that, regardless of whether you choose to carry your child in a backpack, baby carrier, or push them in a cart- you will be carrying more weight than the average pilgrim.

So, that said, here are a few ways we dealt with being pilgrim parents. Everything I’m writing here is geared toward traveling with a 1-3 year old. I suspect the experience is quite different for older kids or younger babies.

KID TRANSPORT. You have the option of carrying or pushing your baby. We tested several methods in the year before we made the trip. Initially we thought that I’d carry her in our baby backpack, but once we discovered that it would weigh ~35lbs fully loaded and that my husband would be carrying even more weight, we opted to push Catie in a Croozer Kid for 1. Not only did it allow us to push, rather than carry Catie’s gear, but pushing Catie in a cart allowed her considerably more freedom of movement than carrying her would have. She was able to sit, stand, lay down to sleep, eat, and play in the cart. Because she could move around so much, we were able to walk longer hours than we ever would have carrying her. The enclosed capsule also provided much better protection against the elements than a carrier would have.

Interestingly, the Croozer appeared to be the vehicle of choice on the Camino this May. Of the 4 families we met or heard about with young children/babies on the trail, 3 were pushing Croozers (the last was using a Chariot- better suspension for the kid, considerably less storage room for gear, much more expensive).

The base Croozer works, but I’d recommend a few modifications. Most importantly, I’d add a hand brake. Adding a brake would really reduce the strain on your back and knees going downhill. My husband built a wooden platform covered with a foam mat that provided a more stable surface for Catie to stand on. We used a padded sheepskin cover to protect her butt and provide her a comfy place to sleep. A rear bike bag provided extra storage as well as easy an easily accessible place for my water bottle, Catie’s sippy cup, and snacks. We added a clip-on stroller sombrilla in Spain since Catie disliked how the Croozer sun shade prevented her ability to stand up. Removable window stickers, books, a magnetic doodle board, and a variety of small toys provided entertainment.

THE TRAIL. The Croozer handled pretty much everything the Camino threw at it. For the most part, we stayed on the Camino or on the roads immediately adjacent to the trail. Occasionally, a former pilgrim would tell us about a particularly rough stretch or a bad descent and we’d opt for the highway. It seemed like bikers had the best knowledge regarding trail conditions. I’d recommend getting a bike guide in addition to the walking trail guide since they are more concerned with trail conditions. We had to carry the Croozer over a few streams, tree roots, and lots of stairs. We also had a tow rope that we used for particularly steep hills. My husband and/or father would pull, while my sister or I pushed. The Camino is doable with a cart or jogging stroller, but again, be aware of the challenges the added weight and width create.

PACKING & GEAR. We each carried our own gear and packed Catie’s stuff in a Deuter Kangakid backpack, which lived in the back of the Croozer. We figured it would serve as a good backup kid carrier and a day bag for afternoon excursions (again, life is different on the Camino with an active 2-year old!). The Kangakid was very useful when our original Croozer was stolen in Leon, however, if I were to do this again, I think I’d opt for a smaller Ergo-like baby carrier and a bunch of waterproof stuff sacks. Smaller bags would fit better and provide a little more flexibility. One woman we met managed to fit all her clothes, camping gear, plus everything for her 2 daughters into the back of a Croozer Kid for 2!

If you’d prefer to carry your kid, but need to reduce your total load, luggage transport service is available along the entire Camino. Jacotrans will deliver your pack to just about any private albergue or hostal for 7 Euros on the meseta and 3 Euros after Sarria.

I’ve seen a couple of questions about diapers and other kid supplies. We had no problem buying diapers and wipes along the Camino. They were easily found in pharmacies or grocery stores in every town. The only bad thing was that we typically could not find packs smaller than 50 diapers. That’s a lot of extra weight if you are carrying them on your back.

LODGING. Catie often has difficulty falling asleep in new places, so we figured sleeping in a different hostal each night was going to pose a challenge. That, combined with the fact that we travelled as a family of 6, made us decide to make reservations for private or semi-private rooms for the entire trip. We stayed in private albergues, hostals, pensiones, and casa rurals. We needed the peace of mind knowing where we were going to stay each night and didn’t want Catie’s presence to upset other tired peregrinos. Making advanced reservations turned out to be a very good thing for us, since we tended to get in a bit later than most pilgrims given the playground breaks, snack stops, diaper changes, etc., and often arrived in town after the main albergues were full. I know of other pilgrim parents who slept in the big albergues and one who camped a lot, so there are other options. If you choose the “normal pilgrim” albergues, just make sure to arrive early and be prepared for a few dirty looks. Not everyone wants to share a bunk room with a toddler, no matter how well behaved they are.

PEOPLE. We met loads of wonderful people along the Way! Most were interested and excited to see our daughter. We often joked that if we charged a Euro for every photo taken of her, we’d have been able to pay for the entire trip! We did run across a few people who disapproved of our having a child on the Camino, but those folks usually were nicer once they realized we were not sharing their bunk room. Others ignored us. But overall, Catie’s reception was very positive. I don’t think she ever got used to getting her head patted and cheeks pinched by every Spaniard she met, but she thoroughly enjoyed the sweets. Catie received more lollipops, candy, and chocolate from strangers along the journey than she’d eaten in her entire life!

Our most negative experience of the trip was having our Croozer stolen from the entry of our hostal in Leon. Everyone had been so wonderful to us, that we’d gotten lax with security. Do not repeat our mistake- if you push a cart, use a bike lock at all times. Luckily, we were able to order a new Croozer from a local bike shop the next morning. With only a 24 hour delay, we were back on the road (thanks, Bicicletas Blanco!).

FOOD. Catie has always been a good eater, however when we arrived in Spain it took us a few days to discover what she wanted to eat. Her typical diet of fruit, fresh veggies, and pasta was hard to come by. Luckily we discovered that she’d eat anything composed primarily of chorizo and beans- easy to come by on the meseta and then as caldo gallego in Galicia. The bigger issue was keeping her hydrated. She really didn’t like Spanish milk or water, the only beverages she drinks at home. Instead, she lived on watered down juice and ‘Bifrutas’ for the entire trip. If your child is a picky eater, I think the Camino would be difficult. The menu del dia/peregrinos menu gets old quickly and there really isn’t a kids menu at most places. Sometimes we’d cook, but often kitchens were not available.
_____________________________________
So, can you bring a kid on the Camino? Yes. It is difficult, but very rewarding! We met so many people because we had Catie with us, and being able to experience a different culture with her was wonderful. Her cheers of “Buen ‘Mino” warmed even the stodgiest peregrino’s heart. We may have explored more playgrounds than churches on our pilgrimage, but the experience was priceless.

Hello! I hope you are still checking this. We are planning on 30 days on the Norte this June with our then 2 and 4 year old children. Our mode of transport will be the Thule Chariot Cougar 2, and a bicycle for our 4 year old as she is keen to ride daily. We have similar thoughts on the baby carrier, thinking we'll bring a Tula, which is similar to an Ergo. This will give us the flexibility to carry our 2-year old when he needs some time out of the chariot. As we are avid runners, we plan to run the flats and downhills while our daughter rides her bike or sits in the chariot. We're hoping this will cut down our total time on the road each day.
How was it booking accommodation in advance? How much ground did you cover each day? Did you ever need to hop a bus? Rest days? Would you recommend spending the money for a new buggy? Ours is getting a bit ragged. Was the rope a necessity to pull the buggy? Our double will be much heavier, but it has ample handle space for both of us to push. As we live in Doha, Qatar, we don't really have the hills to test it out:)
So far, we have been able to train with 3-4 hour days, stopping every 3 miles or so for snacks and play. It seems to be working out well.
Any advice you might have would be greatly appreciated:)
Cheers,

Joe
 

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