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backpack safety while leaving for dinner/shopping?


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When we leave the alberque for dinner/shopping, are our backpacks safe? Do you just leave them on or by your bed? I'm sure most pilgrims are good people, but there are always a few...
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The answer is... it depends.

Some people did regularly with no problems.
Others had items stolen.
Others carried the pack everywhere.

It depends on you, where you're staying and it depends on if they provide lockers. It depends on how devastated you'd be if it were stolen.

But even if you have a locker with a lock, NEVER leave cash, ATM card, cameras, or other "valuables" behind. That should be in a money belt and belly/fanny pack.

Also, as sad as it seems, I cannot suggest you trust "nice fellow pilgrims." In Pamplona, we knew of three three young people who had their entire bundles stolen. A nice fellow pilgrim they met there offered to watch their packs while they showered. They naively left their credit cards and cash with this stranger, who then disappeared into the night. Their Camino ended there.

I generally took my pack along with me. Occasionally, if there were lockers, I stored it. But never with anything valuable in it.
I edited my post after reading the following two. They're right, really. You don't need to be paranoid. Just use your head.
Yes, just leave your backpack by your bed....but make sure you take any valuables like passport and camera etc with you- as you should also do when you have a shower etc. Putting backpacks on beds is usually discouraged as that can spread bedbugs. There are occasional reports on the forum of people losing things, but I think in the main, people in the albergues are very trustworthy, and I never met anyone who lost anything by theft while I walked.
Your rucksack will be safe on or near your bed. Often you will leave it outside a cafe or bar to go in for coffee or whatever. However, your valuables should never be left in your rucksack. Keep them on your person at all times either in a bumbag or some other small bag.

I had a bumbag (fannypack in the USA) for my passport, camera, móvil, money and ATM card. It even goes to the shower. For sleeping, I kept my arm through it and it was under my pillow or in my sleeping bag. Given the numbers of pilgrims, the incidences of theft are small, but you don't want to be careless and become a statistic.

Buen Camino,
If you can't afford to lose it, it should be on your person at all times. Camera, credit/debit cards, money, passport. And yes, that stuff comes into the shower with me (in closed plastic bags of course). :) Clothes etc while a pain to lose, can easily be replaced.

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KiwiNomad06 said:
Yes, just leave your backpack by your bed....Putting backpacks on beds is usually discouraged as that can spread bedbugs.
Good Margaret that you mentioned this! The temptation is great to dump your pack on the bed (especially when you are unloading it and again when you pack it up in the morning). However just think of all the other places this pack has been put down - and what it has collected along the way! I admit that I, for one, was very guilty of this. I never thought of the consequences...but...forwarned is forarmed. I will try in future to reserve my bed with something else than my backpack and to find somewhere else to unpack, pack and store this most essential belonging of my Camino when I am in the albergues. Anne
You do not have to put a pack on a bed to get or leave bedbugs!! They are more likely to be nesting in a wall than a mattress.
I agree with falcon here. If there are bedbugs, you're going to get them in your sleeping bag and pack no matter where you put it, more likely on the walls and around the floor. Personally, I'd hang mine off the floor.

Maybe Rebecca has suggestions about this - I think she runs an albergue - I bet she knows about the little buggers!
I wasn't thinking only about bedbugs. Our packs are put down everywhere - outside or inside bars, fields, lined up on the street to get a place in an albergue, etc. It's a question of hygiene too.Anne
The 2024 Camino guides will be coming out little by little. Here is a collection of the ones that are out so far.
I pretty much gave up on hygiene when that dog, impolite cur that he was, sniffed my pack, then raised a leg.

If there is one thing that unites pilgrims it is the nagging thoughts on security. It probably colors (colours, for the non-English speaking) every dropping of the pack -- "will my wet pack be OK if I leave it just outside the door to the bar?"

There is no solution, just useful tips on mitigation. The world, modern and medieval, is a perilous place. My tip: Don't let security spoil your pilgrimage.

First, do all the prudent things as you travel. You know what they are.

Next, do a disaster drill in your mind: What if I lose everything? If you know you can survive that, then you know there really is nothing to worry about. You will be OK even in the worst case. Move back one step and decide what would be the most inconvenient to lose, and protect that the most. Taking wallet, watch, passport, credential, camera, and credit/debit cards into the shower (and sleeping bag) is probably worth it. Taking your pack may not be. Spreading money, cards, and documents around your person and pack may reduce the threat of robbers and pickpockets. If you cannot stand losing something, maybe it should be left at home.

In the end, you simply need to live in, and enjoy, the moment, or you can lose what you hoped to find.
I echo what most of you said. I found people on and off the trail very helpful and trustworthy and did not have any bad experienced except for one guy just before Estella, who tried to pick up women. I travelled with minimalist gear in a day pack and had valuables in a belt next to my body under clothes and a bumbag with money for the day and camera, tissues, sunglasses. I left my pack on a chair if poss/hygene, bedbug prevention and also outside of cafes and bars, with some nervousness, but never had a problem. The 2 bags I took with me always.
A friend had a watch stolen which she left lying on her bed, I did not bother with a watch at all and someone else had a T shirt taken, she had left it lying on a set of drawers and may be someone picked it up by mistake in the dark. On one occasion I purposely left behing a pair of socks and a nightie, because I did not want to carry them any more and a kind fellow pilgrim who thought I had forgotten these things carried them all day in the hope he might see me somewhere to return them to me, which he did. It was amazing.
Regards, Gitti
I don´t run an albergue, but I have pilgrims stay at my house sometimes. I only run albergues when I´m a volunteer hospitalera. In both cases, I simply echo the suggestions made above. Use common sense. Don´t leave your camera/phone/GPS/MP3 player plugged into the wall and walk away from it -- these are favorite targets for the few thieves that float around. Be wary when you leave expensive or attractive garments on community clotheslines, as those tend to walk away, too.

I don´t want to cause any alarm or rumor, but there does seem to be an increase these days in the number of "hard-luck" pilgrims on the trail -- people who are out of work and down on their luck, who are depending on the Camino (i.e. other people) to provide their daily needs. Most are not dishonest or evil, but some of them are desperate. You know what that does to people.

Be kind, be generous, and be careful.

And don´t throw your pack on the bed. Someone´s going to sleep there, and your pack is dirty.

...As already mentioned many times here. Just don't leave behind you values.

I have done the Camino 4 times... never had anything stolen besides a pair of socks which was mistakenly taken from the dryline by another pilgrim and given back to me later on.

When in the albergue keep your values on you at all times. When in the shower, when doing your laundry for the day, when sitting outside with other pilgrims... At night I kept my values inside my sleepingbag... and if I had go go to the toilet during the night I would bring the values.

When you go into bars (they won't always let you bring your backpack) take your values.

I have often left my backpack behind to go into a church, to go into a bar, to go into a "supermarked" or a "foodshop"

Also as mentioned. If you loose your backpack it can be replaced... if you loose your passport and creditcards because you left them behind you are f**ked...

I used a moneybelt with I actually never wore as I didn't like to wear it... but I always kept it in the toppocket of my backpack so it was easy for me to get everytime I put down the pack.

Don't worry... as long as you keep your values on you.
I don't mean to be paranoid, but I just have to say this.

I WATCHED a man walk up behind a woman, slit the top pocket of her backpack, and take her passport, credit cards, and cash while she walked and she never even knew he was there!

It happened so fast that by the time we (and some others) yelled, he was into her pack, had her things, and had disappeared into the crowds. He had apparently watched her put her money into the top of the pack.

I personally can't afford to lose all those items, so for me, the money belt stays on, no matter how uncomfortable. I also realize this could be a one-time thing, but I doubt it. He knew right where to go with his razor knife.

So... just know there is risk in keeping those items anyplace except around your waist.
The 2024 Camino guides will be coming out little by little. Here is a collection of the ones that are out so far.
Valuables Tip.

First of all everything I've read so far makes sense.

During my first Camino I brought along a Rubbermaid container large enough for my passport, camera, cash and other valuables and paperwork (including my credentiales!) so that I could bring them into the shower with me and avoid soaking them or having them "walk away". The added weight is minimal given the added security and protection provided by the container.

Buen Camino

I've said it before & I'll say it again: Money/credit cards/passport stay on your person at all times. The top of your back pack is not your person. I have a neck wallet, so all that is around my neck & under a couple layers of clothes. I like the Rubbermaid containter idea for the shower.

I agree with everyone's good advice. I also carry my valuables (credit card, passport, cash) with me in one of those "neck" or little "cloth" purses that goes under your garments - at ALL times. But first, I put each item in an individual zip-log plastic bag (sandwich size) and then into this little purse. The small plastic bags are light weight and keep items from getting wet while on the trail or the shower. Also, I keep some small amount of money accesible to pay when food shopping, etc. -and thus avoid attracting attention by disclosing my hidden cloth purse.

I have also been blessed of having nothing stolen while on the Camino. However, I must admit to be guitly of forgetting my beloved mobile charging while taking a shower or doing laundry.
buen camino,

falcon269 said:
It probably colors (colours, for the non-English speaking)

Ahem, Falcon269, or were you trying to wind up us English English speakers (and the Australians and the New Zealanders and the Scots and the Irish and the South Africans etc...)?

Also what is Rubbermaid? In English English that could have interesting connotations. :oops:

Rubbermaid is the generic term (also a proper name) for hard plastic containers with tightly fitting lids. Something like Tupperware?
Down bag (90/10 duvet) of 700 fills with 180 g (6.34 ounces) of filling. Mummy-shaped structure, ideal when you are looking for lightness with great heating performance.
Rubbermaid is a brand of plastic container available in North America in most food stores. It has air tight closures and offers quite a lot more protection and durability than plastic sandwich bags, although the bags are much preferrable to nothing at all. I found the container's durability outstanding especially with the wear and tear of the frequent access required to the contents.

I had a waist belt (of course) that I always wore except while in the shower.

While walking the Napoleon Route through the Pyrenees last year I faced a cloudburst that, despite some very loud guarantees from equipment manufacturers, saw everything in my rain cover protected backpack get soaked except the articles in the container. To be fair the rain was probably the worst downpour I have ever seen.

This time I will bring my clothes rolled into waterproof stuff sacks. These are relatively expensive but light in weight and have varying capacities. I use them for wilderness camping in Canada and they have proven very effective in keeping dry clothes dry or isolating wet articles from dry ones.

Buen Camino

Hi THere,
I can agree with everything said here. I used a waist band inside my clothes ( the passport got rather soggy with sweat!) and had a bum bag to carry camera, credit card, & cash when I went off to dinner occasionally I would leave my camera still in my pack whilst I was at dinner, fortunately it was still there when i got back to my pack. Took these things to the shower also and slept with valuables tied to the bunk or in my sleeping bag I never took them to the bathroom in the middle of the night ( too sleepy to remember) Nothing missing my whole trip, I did buy a cheap watch in case that went missing, left my good one at home.
Susanna :

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