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Advice for a family

2020 Camino Guides

guerro13

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
Sarria-Santiago de Compostela 2004
St Jean Pied de Port - Santiago 2020 (planned)
My wife, kids (13 and 10) and I are planning to hike the Camino Frances this summer. We will start roughly June 13th and have about 35 days to spend in Spain. We are a physically fit and active family. We are from the States, but live abroad and travel regularly so adapting to albergues, culture, food will not be a challenge. My question is should we attempt the "full" Camino or are we pushing it by starting in SJDP? My inclination is to do the whole thing and just make it work starting a bit slower at the beginning and then hitting 25k or so a day after that. We dont want to take transportation and would like to finish in Santiago. I also do see the benefit of starting farther down the camino and having shorter days or the benefit of taking things more as they come. Does 35 days give us that flexibility from SJDP? I've read accounts on the forum, but it seems like such a broad range for families. Any advice would be appreciated.
Cheers
 

Michael; Camino-addicted

Take your time to enjoy a beautiful moment
Camino(s) past & future
A few Caminos
Next plan - Camino de Baztan
Hallo guerro13,

When I walked the Camino Frances from SJPdP in 2012, it took me 31 days and I had an average of 25 km per day - so it could work from SJPdP.

I was lucky that I did not get any health problems (knees, blisters etc.). Since you are on the road as a group, the possibility is of course 4 times higher, that you need a rest day as a group because one of you gets health problems.

I could imagine that your children would like to walk to Cape Finisterre for 3-4 days after arrival in Santiago. After weeks of hiking a (few) day(s) on the beach and the end of the day with sunset at the lighthouse are not unattractive for children as a "reward" for all the effort.

In order not to get into stress with the 35 days, in this case a start in Pamplona would not be a bad idea. And the first days would be much more relaxt without crossing der Pyrenees. In case of an unlucky start, the children could quickly lose interest in the whole adventure.

This plan would save you 3 days at the beginning, and if everything goes well, you would be in Santiago after four weeks and could then go further to the sea.

Could this be something for you?
 

rorerich

CaminoLifer
Camino(s) past & future
2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, (2019)
I think you are asking if 35 days is a reasonable amount of time to walk from St. Jean to Santiago. I am a senior - not athletic but sturdy - and did that Camino in exactly 35 walking days. Take into account that I was slowed by a minor health situation. So, yes, 35 days could be fine.
I also traveled from St. Jean for a couple weeks with my 15 year old grandson. We had an awesome time! I believe a teenager is probably capable of doing long days but I think it's wise to be realistic about each youth's disposition. One might thrive on long physical days and another might enjoy a slower pace.
As always - do some planning, but be open to the journey!
 

jefferyonthecamino

http://www.barrerabooks.com/ - Guidebooks
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Francés (1994) & (2013 - 2019)
Camino Portugués (2015 - 2019)
Camino de Madrid (2019)
roughly 800 kms/35 days (assuming you do not lose any days on arrival, travel and departure) = 23 kms/day
you may be pushing your kids a bit at that rate, just because you/they can comfortably walk that, and longer distances, at home does not mean you/they can day after day, hill after hill and blister after blister. if is a family experience you are looking for, i personally would do all i can to keep it a fun family event and not be too concerned about the distance.

in any case, this is a personal opinion
good luck and Buen Camino
 

David Tallan

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances (1989 and 2016), Portugues - from Porto (2018)
You may find it interesting to watch the vlogs of the "Worldtowning" family camino. In the summer of 2018, the Sueiro family (mother and father and two kids, one aged 10, the other 12 or 13) walked the Camino and shared their experience through video blogs. Watching the videos can give an idea of what it was like for at least one family with similar aged children to walk the Camino (although, of course, no two families are the same).


I think they took 45 days from SJPP to Finisterre, but they took several days off at various points en route for the parents to catch up on their work.

When I walked with my 15/16 year old son (his birthday was on the Camino), we took 37 days from Roncesvalles to Santiago and then another 4 to Finisterre. We found that when we did two many days in a row of 25-30+ km/day he would end up with terrible blisters.

It seems to me that, if your time allotment is fixed, where you start will depend on what is most important to you. If what is most important is that you start in one place and walk from there and never bus or taxi any sections, then by starting somewhere like Pamplona you significantly increase your odds of achieving that, at the cost or not really experiencing the Pyrenees. On the other hand, if you priority is to experience all of the regions of the Camino Frances in Spain, then by all means start at SJPP or Roncesvalles, but know that you are accepting the risk that you may need to bus or taxi stages at some points along the Camino to get you to Santiago by your deadline.

Personally, I like to book more time than I could possibly need for my Caminos. If I don't have enough time for a fair amount of cushion around my walk, I pick a shorter Camino. I accept the risk that I will probably be left with some time at the end that I could have spent walking had I picked a longer Camino. I haven't run out of things to do in Iberia with that extra time yet.
 

Anamiri

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances
In 2017 we met a family who had walked from Le Puy. The girl was 8, and boy 12.
We walked with our 13 year old grandson last year, not from St Jean, but kids are resilient, I think he would have had no trouble if we had. He didnt get a single blister or any other injury. He ate as much as both of us.
 

domigee

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
2020? Hopefully Via de Bayona/Burgos to Ponferrada/Camino de Invierno
My wife, kids (13 and 10) and I are planning to hike the Camino Frances this summer. We will start roughly June 13th and have about 35 days to spend in Spain. We are a physically fit and active family. We are from the States, but live abroad and travel regularly so adapting to albergues, culture, food will not be a challenge. My question is should we attempt the "full" Camino or are we pushing it by starting in SJDP? My inclination is to do the whole thing and just make it work starting a bit slower at the beginning and then hitting 25k or so a day after that. We dont want to take transportation and would like to finish in Santiago. I also do see the benefit of starting farther down the camino and having shorter days or the benefit of taking things more as they come. Does 35 days give us that flexibility from SJDP? I've read accounts on the forum, but it seems like such a broad range for families. Any advice would be appreciated.
Cheers
Hi! As already mentioned, there is no such thing as a ‘full‘ Camino: originally, that would have meant leaving from your doorstep, reaching Santiago and walking back again to your home - hopefully in one piece 😁
I cannot possibly advise how long it’ll take you to reach SdC since I have no idea how your children
will fare walking every day, nor you for that matter. Only you can tell. How about going on long walks with them (if you haven’t already done it), starting say at 15km, then 20, see if 25 are comfortable? Of course you can’t replicate the exact conditions of the Camino (the repetiton, day after day, the weather....) but that should give you a fair idea.

Just for information, I walked from SJean pdeP with an 11 yr old and we did it comfortably in 31 days - but there was no jet lag involved.
On the VdlP, I met a family with 3 teen-agers who were after a few days refusing to get out of bed 😳 They hated it.

To play it safe, I’d start in Pamplona myself (already suggested above) but it’ll only work if you don’t feel you haven’t done ‘the whole thing’ 😉

Whatever you choose, enjoy and buen Camino.
 

rorerich

CaminoLifer
Camino(s) past & future
2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, (2019)
I totally understand that people would suggest Pamplona as a start.

As an alternative viewpoint, my grandson and I stayed at Orisson the first night and then over the Pyrenees to Roncesvalles. When we arrived in Pamplona he told me that he much preferred the countryside! To this day he will tell anyone who asks - the Pyrenees were by far his favorite part!

Our pace was determined by my grandson. I told him that I would get him to St. Jean and after that he was in charge. Of course we worked together, but ultimately he had final say. That worked out very well for us, perhaps because I wasn't imposing the schedule on him.

He would go with me again in a heartbeat.
 

c0484

Member
Camino(s) past & future
2013
My wife, kids (13 and 10) and I are planning to hike the Camino Frances this summer. We will start roughly June 13th and have about 35 days to spend in Spain. We are a physically fit and active family. We are from the States, but live abroad and travel regularly so adapting to albergues, culture, food will not be a challenge. My question is should we attempt the "full" Camino or are we pushing it by starting in SJDP? My inclination is to do the whole thing and just make it work starting a bit slower at the beginning and then hitting 25k or so a day after that. We dont want to take transportation and would like to finish in Santiago. I also do see the benefit of starting farther down the camino and having shorter days or the benefit of taking things more as they come. Does 35 days give us that flexibility from SJDP? I've read accounts on the forum, but it seems like such a broad range for families. Any advice would be appreciated.
Cheers
At 74 I complete the Camino (all 482 miles) in 30 days and rarely go more than 17 km per day.
 

Peligro

I walk between cafe breaks
Camino(s) past & future
St. Jean to SdC the slow way (Aug'15, Aug'17, Jan'18, Aug'18, Jan'19, Jul'19) Primitivo (May'20)
You may find it interesting to watch the vlogs of the "Worldtowning" family camino. In the summer of 2018, the Sueiro family (mother and father and two kids, one aged 10, the other 12 or 13) walked the Camino and shared their experience through video blogs. Watching the videos can give an idea of what it was like for at least one family with similar aged children to walk the Camino (although, of course, no two families are the same).


I think they took 45 days from SJPP to Finisterre, but they took several days off at various points en route for the parents to catch up on their work.

When I walked with my 15/16 year old son (his birthday was on the Camino), we took 37 days from Roncesvalles to Santiago and then another 4 to Finisterre. We found that when we did two many days in a row of 25-30+ km/day he would end up with terrible blisters.

It seems to me that, if your time allotment is fixed, where you start will depend on what is most important to you. If what is most important is that you start in one place and walk from there and never bus or taxi any sections, then by starting somewhere like Pamplona you significantly increase your odds of achieving that, at the cost or not really experiencing the Pyrenees. On the other hand, if you priority is to experience all of the regions of the Camino Frances in Spain, then by all means start at SJPP or Roncesvalles, but know that you are accepting the risk that you may need to bus or taxi stages at some points along the Camino to get you to Santiago by your deadline.

Personally, I like to book more time than I could possibly need for my Caminos. If I don't have enough time for a fair amount of cushion around my walk, I pick a shorter Camino. I accept the risk that I will probably be left with some time at the end that I could have spent walking had I picked a longer Camino. I haven't run out of things to do in Iberia with that extra time yet.
I second the Worldtowning Vlog recommendation- I watched a half dozen or so episodes and really got into it. I emailed them randomly just to tell them how much I enjoyed it and they wrote back. The dad has a drone with a fantastic camera and he and the mom and two kids are pretty cool.
 

AlwynWellington

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
please see signature
@Guerrero, hi and two thoughts.

1) have a talk with @Kiwi-family

2) think of a rest day at Burgos to visit the Museum of human evolution, and possibly the Cathedral.

Kia kaha (take care, be strong, get going)
 

rometimed

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
(SJPdP: 2015, June2020!) (Eng Way: 2015)
If you are all fit it's very doable. In 2015 I did Saint Jean to Santiago from May 16th - June 15th and I took 3 days off in that time (1 in Lagrono and 2 in Leon). I averaged over 25 KM's/day but in the middle it's all very flat and farm like for about 3 weeks.
 

Kanga

Moderator
Staff member
Camino(s) past & future
Francés x 5, Le Puy x 2, Arles, Tours, Norte, Madrid, Via de la Plata, Portuguese, Primitivo
It is going to depend on the children. Like adults, some will love the experience, others might not. You say you are a physically active family, so hopefully your kids will fall into the category of those who love the experience.

If you have a total of 35 days in Spain, I guess you have to take off a day to get to your starting point, and also you will definitely want to spend a couple of days in Santiago at the finish. That means you probably only have about 32 days to actually walk. It is possible to do it, assuming no-one breaks down or is injured, but it leaves little time to see things along the way and it does put a strain on things having to keep to a timetable - the antithesis of pilgrimage. Worth thinking about, especially as often we go to a lot of trouble to walk the route Napoleon from SJPDP only to find the views are covered in mist or it is raining.

Also, you comment that you intend to start "a bit slower at the beginning" - which is not really easy if you start in SJPDP. Unless you take taxis or stay in Orisson the first day from SJPDP to Roncesvalles is 25km pretty much all uphill. The second day is also quite arduous, particularly if it rains, with a difficult descent into Zubriri.

I don't want to completely put you off starting in SJPDP - it is great fun and if you are lucky the views from the Napoleon are spectacular. But it is one day only, and not worth spoiling the whole trip for a (possible) view!

The alternative to my mind is to start in Pamplona. A lovely city, with a great vibe. If you are flying into Madrid it makes sense to start in Pamplona. With a whole bunch of others who will also be starting in Pamplona.
 

David Tallan

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances (1989 and 2016), Portugues - from Porto (2018)
At 74 I complete the Camino (all 482 miles) in 30 days and rarely go more than 17 km per day.
I guess my math is different then yours. If one uses a conservative estimate of 780 km, then that averages to 26 km a day over 30 days. Your 482 miles gives roughly the same average (25.7). I'm not sure how you could have walked that distance in that time while rarely going more than 17 km per day. Perhaps you meant 17 miles (27 km) per day.
 
Camino(s) past & future
Leon to Santiago (July 2018)
SJPdP to Leon followed by Primitivo (June 2019)
Planning next one...
An option could be starting in SJPP and renting bikes to cross the meseta (Burgos to Leon or the like) if you are running out of days. Regardless what you decide, it will be an awesome experience for you all! Buen camino!
 

Gumba

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
CF March 2018
CF Dec 2019/2020
Hi, we walked in 2018 with our boys aged 9 and 11 years, starting in SJPdP and again just now (we have been home for3 days!) with our boys now aged 11 and 13 starting at Roncesvalles.

We started this time around in Roncesvalles as we were delayed due to train strike action and only had a certain number of days to walk.

Both times our boys walked ahead of us, yes, WE slowed THEM down! My advice to you is that our boys needed rest days and we wanted to see things in towns so this was another reason for rest days. Think about adding a few extra days for rest and/or think about starting a little further down the track ie Roncesvalles or Pamplona.

While we walked in winter both times therefore not as many pilgrims, we were generally the last to arrive in the town each day. This is because we stopped a lot to observe things or play. One time we stopped for 15 minutes to watch a really pretty beetle trying to cross a little stream of water. Another day the boys had to stop at every frozen puddle to smash the ice/film the ice in slow mo as they picked the ice up and threw it on the ground. Yup, every puddle! Another time.... well, you get the idea.

2) think of a rest day at Burgos to visit the Museum of human evolution, and possibly the Cathedral.
I was also going to suggest this and HIGHLY recommend it. We saw it the first time and boys requested we go back for a second visit. Its written in Spanish and English

Like another poster mentioned, we gave the boys control. We gave them an out so they new they had a safety blanket if it got too much. This was quite powerful for them. If we could not make it to our daily destination (keep in mind that a lot of albergues are closed in winter so did not have the option of staying in the next village) then we would get a taxi; we didnt do it very often, maybe 2-3 times. Just knowing this helped. Other times we needed to give them extra encouragement to make it. You said this was not something you would do so you could managed this by revising the distance for that day. As I said, this was not an option for us.

Many alburges have rooms with 4 beds (2 bunks) and often had their own bathroom. Sheer luxury for us! This might require some advanced booking though.

Because we had more rest days than planned and we had a clear required finish date, we ended up skipping a couple of stages and caught a train, hence, my suggestion to add a few extra days if needed.

If you have any specific questions, I would be happy to answer them.
 

pjacobi

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
2015, St. Jean Pied de Port to Burgos
2016, Burgos to Ponferrada
2017, Ponferrada to Atlantic Ocean
I suggest walking with the family at a local park and gradually work up to 25Km. This will give you a good idea if all members can walk the distance. Don't wait until Spain to start walking and endangering yourself and your family.


-Paul
 

Gumba

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
CF March 2018
CF Dec 2019/2020
:oops: we didn't manage to do a lot of training despite our best laid plans. If they have had enough then encourage them to go to the next town/x kms or have a rest break. Or if they need to, stop for the day. For our kids, the most important thing for them was that they were heard and that their feelings were valid. When they knew that their thoughts were heard/acknowledged/taken seriouslu, it was amazing how much more motivated they were to cary on - if only to the next town
 

Gumba

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
CF March 2018
CF Dec 2019/2020
... also, they HATED training. Their ability and motivation to train (and whinge) did not match their ability to walk (and enjoy)
 

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