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Beginner needing any/all the advice she can get

Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances (2018)
#1
Is there anything you wish someone would've told you or anything you wish you would've known before walking the Camino for your first time?

So I'm taking the French Way. Are there different paths to take along the way to get to Santiago? If so, how do I go about choosing them and should I have them decided before leaving for my trip? Should I get a Map and familiarize myself with the route/villages along the way, before leaving? Does anybody know of any good websites or books that I should read to prepare myself and to explain everything that I need to know, before leaving for my trip?

Also, I've read all over that July is the most popular month for the Camino de Santiago but people tell me that May actually is. Does anybody know which one is actually correct? (specifically for the Camino Frances)

Any other tips are greatly appreciated!

Thanks!
 

Kanga

Moderator
Staff member
Camino(s) past & future
Francés x 5, Le Puy x 2, Arles, Tours, Norte, Madrid, Via de la Plata.
#2
Welcome to the forum @VeronicaEspo. If you can't find everything you need to know on this forum, then you are not looking! Browse through the threads, and use the search function at the top. Or ask a specific question here. Don't overlook the resources section. For a quick overview of the stages and village on the Camino Francés, try Gronze here.

"most popular month" - it depends on where along the trail. May and September are the two most popular months for starting in SJPDP. July is probably the most popular month for arriving in Santiago; many people time their walks to arrive so they can be in Santiago to celebrate the Feast day on 25 July.
 
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances (2018)
#3
Welcome to the forum @VeronicaEspo. If you can't find everything you need to know on this forum, then you are not looking! Browse through the threads, and use the search function at the top. Or ask a specific question here. Don't overlook the resources section. For a quick overview of the stages and village on the Camino Francés, try Gronze here.

"most popular month" - it depends on where along the trail. May and September are the two most popular months for starting in SJPDP. July is probably the most popular month for arriving in Santiago; many people time their walks to arrive so they can be in Santiago to celebrate the Feast day on 25 July.
Ok, thank you! I will explore this site a little more and see what I can find.
 
Camino(s) past & future
(2003) Francés, (2014) Francés, (2016) Portugués , (2016) Aragonés, (2018) del Norte
#5
There are several "Alternativos" on the Camino Francés. You haven't said where you are starting from, but, if you start from St Jean Pied de Port, there are two alternative routes immediately -- the Napoleon or the Valcarlos. From Triacastela there are two routes to Sarria -- San Xil or Samos. Other places where there are alternatives: Villafranca del Bierzo, San Juan de Ortega, La Virgen del Camino. Any decent guide to the CF will show the alternatives and give recommendations. Planning is generally a good idea -- fail to prepare, prepare to fail. But planning can go out of the window when you are there. Weather, injuries, time can affect the route you choose on the day. It's hardly possible to give here all the information you need to make your choice. Yes, get maps and/or books, or books with maps. There are dozens available.
 

Momonne

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances, Norte, Primtivo, Portuguese, VDLP
#6
Get one of the many guidebooks and just start walking. No need to plan, beyond where you will spend your first night upon arrival, just walk. Espcially on the Frances where there are so many albergues sprinkled along the way. As you meet people, as you read through your guidebook in the evwning, you can learn about the next day and make decisions.

Carry a light backpack, don’t give into your fears of « this may be handy », make sure you have walked a few long walks with your sock/shoe combo to see if they work for you.
 

Marbe2

Active member
Camino(s) past & future
2015 SJPD to Burgos
2017 Leon to Santiago
Pamplona to Santiago Mar. 2018
Burgos - SCDC (Oct 18)
#7
Know thy self! Whether to book ahead depends upon many factors, IMO. How far do you think you can walk each day? Do you plan to carry your backpack, or send it ahead by a service? If you send it ahead, you need a destination to send it to. If you are traveling at peak times such as September you may be competing for a bed at an Albergue unless you are comfortable wandering around town after a long days walk. How comfortable are you with arriving in a town with no availability? It does happen!
John Brierley has a guide which has all the maps. Kanga recommended Gronze which is a great source of info on stages and possible accommodations, including some private ones.

Recommend you do some training ahead. When you can walk a distance of 10K or more on several consecutive days without issues you will know better what you can initially tolerate. there is lots of advice on training on this website. If you plan on starting from St Jean and doing the Napolean route do some training on hills as well!

Get really good hiking shoes or training shoes. Go to a store like REI if you need help and walk on various surfaces, including streets, uneven paths, and up and down hills. Your feet will swell with distance so discuss how much extra room you may need with the professional helping you. Are you prone to blisters when walking long distances or with the added weight of a pack? Socks are very important. Get good wicking socks. I also use an additional sock but walk in winter and use hiking goo on my feet. Lots of folks use vasoline to lubricate their feet and cut down on possible blistering.

Think layers for clothing. Keep weight to a minimum. We travel in winter and will carry our packs which we keep to Six lbs in Osprey 30l bag. I also carry a small fanny pack with an IPad mini, a local phone and other credentials which weighs abt two lbs. Make sure whatever backback you choose has good hip support..again REI can help you with this.

Get a good waterproof rain jacket or Poncho. Also a cover for your backback!

Hope this helps some. Knowing your self, stamina, and tolerances and needs, IMO is key!

DO not carry too much cash. there are ATMs in the major towns but there are a few areas you may go a couple of days without one so plan accordingly.

There are so many seasoned and helpful and supportive pilgrims on this site. Keep your questions coming.
 
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martyseville

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
a/a
#9
Kanga pointed it out very well.

Read on this forum. Make notes (copy and paste). Make a page or two of the best of the best on here.
Read the packing lists posted by others and good advice.

Pack then re pack. Carry it. Even to places you go i.e. stores, cafes, etc. Hey you will most likely be wearing your pack every where you go on the Camino. Get used to it.

I have a very thin light weight cable and a small pad lock. I pad lock my pack to a chair, pole etc when I stop. It just may keep my pack from growing feet and running off. Especially nice when at a cafe/bar and going back to the counter to pick up something/order. Gives me sense of security that pack won't go away.

All valuables are on me.

Reading is one thing. Actually doing it yourself and learning is what matters.

Prepare yourself by walking. Then lagging your bag with you. Make sure shoes are for you. Your pack and all your pack junk is right.

It is a fine balance between packing light not taking it vs really need it.

IMHO, the best experience I got was just doing it.

I never used a lag van to carry my junk. I took it. I dragged it.

Done three Caminos. Each one improved.

Good luck. More important, enjoy.

Blessings
 
Last edited:

PlutseligPilegrim

Frances-Norte-Levante-Sanabres-Portugues-Gudbrands
Camino(s) past & future
St Olav’s way - Åbo - Stiklestad - Nidaros
(2018)
#10
Is there anything you wish someone would've told you or anything you wish you would've known before walking the Camino for your first time?

So I'm taking the French Way. Are there different paths to take along the way to get to Santiago? If so, how do I go about choosing them and should I have them decided before leaving for my trip? Should I get a Map and familiarize myself with the route/villages along the way, before leaving? Does anybody know of any good websites or books that I should read to prepare myself and to explain everything that I need to know, before leaving for my trip?

Also, I've read all over that July is the most popular month for the Camino de Santiago but people tell me that May actually is. Does anybody know which one is actually correct? (specifically for the Camino Frances)

Any other tips are greatly appreciated!

Thanks!
Hey!

My only advice is end of april aaaand at least four weeks free as a bird....you will meet so many nice and supportive fellow walkers....video from my first camino gives you insight in my struggles....to much, to fast, to hard......resolved by amazing peregrinos close to my heart...

Buen Camino!!
 

aliwalks

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
(2014)
#12
Is there anything you wish someone would've told you or anything you wish you would've known before walking the Camino for your first time?

So I'm taking the French Way. Are there different paths to take along the way to get to Santiago? If so, how do I go about choosing them and should I have them decided before leaving for my trip? Should I get a Map and familiarize myself with the route/villages along the way, before leaving? Does anybody know of any good websites or books that I should read to prepare myself and to explain everything that I need to know, before leaving for my trip?

Also, I've read all over that July is the most popular month for the Camino de Santiago but people tell me that May actually is. Does anybody know which one is actually correct? (specifically for the Camino Frances)

Any other tips are greatly appreciated!

Thanks!
 

aliwalks

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
(2014)
#13
Lots of great advice, for a solo walker, I am very glad I used the backpack service! Only plan first few nights, then do a couple at a time, watch for festival dates as can be difficult for hostals. I am also glad I used hostals vs albergues but that's just my preference, buen Camino!
 
Camino(s) past & future
SJPP to Santiago 2017
#14
Is there anything you wish someone would've told you or anything you wish you would've known before walking the Camino for your first time?
This forum and the guidebooks are full of detail. Leverage them. You will get lots of ideas and advice. Stuff I would tell any first timer:

1. Find your own pace. Take it as it comes.
2. The people you meet are the most important part of the experience. Be open and approachable.
3. You need very little.
4. Choose quality over quantity.
5. When you hurt or have a hard day, just rest. Everything feels better the next day.
6. There is no right or wrong way. Do it your way.

Have a wonderful time.
 

long trails

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances June 2016
Portugues April 2017
#15
Don't listen to people who try and dictate how much weight you should carry. We are all different. I know small females who can trek with 20kgs on their back quite comfortably and on much tougher terrain.

Make sure you have everything you need. You can always leave stuff behind or donate gear if it's too heavy. You will soon become use to the weight too so give it a few days before you ditch stuff.

Also realise that forums like these attract the entire range of pilgrims, from those who have their bags transported and stay in expensive hotels, to those who carry camping gear and do hikes on a budget. Therefore take some of the advice with a pinch of salt or two :)
 
Camino(s) past & future
I walked the Camino France last year 2015, in may/june
#16
Is there anything you wish someone would've told you or anything you wish you would've known before walking the Camino for your first time?

So I'm taking the French Way. Are there different paths to take along the way to get to Santiago? If so, how do I go about choosing them and should I have them decided before leaving for my trip? Should I get a Map and familiarize myself with the route/villages along the way, before leaving? Does anybody know of any good websites or books that I should read to prepare myself and to explain everything that I need to know, before leaving for my trip?

Also, I've read all over that July is the most popular month for the Camino de Santiago but people tell me that May actually is. Does anybody know which one is actually correct? (specifically for the Camino Frances)

Any other tips are greatly appreciated!

Thanks!
July and August are too hot for many so may is usually more popular, I have done both times and can tell you this is usual. There are different routes on the way, you should decide as you get to them as you may end up wanting to travel with friends you have made, and they may wish to travel a different route than one you may have planned. A certain amount of planning is advisable, though you should let the Camino take you as it will, it is sure to surprise you, and hopefully in a very pleasant way, enjoy.
 

jefferyonthecamino

http://www.barrerabooks.com/ - Guidebooks
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Francés (1994)
Camino Francés (2013 - 2017)
Camino Portugués (2015 - 2017)
#17
Is there anything you wish someone would've told you or anything you wish you would've known before walking the Camino for your first time?

So I'm taking the French Way. Are there different paths to take along the way to get to Santiago? If so, how do I go about choosing them and should I have them decided before leaving for my trip? Should I get a Map and familiarize myself with the route/villages along the way, before leaving? Does anybody know of any good websites or books that I should read to prepare myself and to explain everything that I need to know, before leaving for my trip?

Also, I've read all over that July is the most popular month for the Camino de Santiago but people tell me that May actually is. Does anybody know which one is actually correct? (specifically for the Camino Frances)

Any other tips are greatly appreciated!

Thanks!
1. get a data plan for your cell, download the google/route maps to your phone's cache, make sure your atm card works here, indulge and give yourself some nights away from the snorers, prepare yourself for crazy spanish business hours, same applies for our crazy eating times...

2. if you are taking the french Camino, then just follow the arrows to santiago and don't stray. there are other routes/ways, but they are not the french one, or even close to it.

3. i would. i like maps. i like making notes on maps too. i also like to know where i am walking.

4. this forum is great place for info and preparation. brierly's guide is the unofficial Camino bible for many. he has a map booklet too. if you read spanish, i like http://caminodesantiago.consumer.es/ and/or https://vivecamino.com/

5. august gets the biggest influx and with the most spaniards. may is the most popular month for non-spanish pilgrims (this i believe applies for all the Caminos)

6. good luck and Buen Camino!
 

wrarney

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
portugues (2014)
#18
Is there anything you wish someone would've told you or anything you wish you would've known before walking the Camino for your first time?

So I'm taking the French Way. Are there different paths to take along the way to get to Santiago? If so, how do I go about choosing them and should I have them decided before leaving for my trip? Should I get a Map and familiarize myself with the route/villages along the way, before leaving? Does anybody know of any good websites or books that I should read to prepare myself and to explain everything that I need to know, before leaving for my trip?

Also, I've read all over that July is the most popular month for the Camino de Santiago but people tell me that May actually is. Does anybody know which one is actually correct? (specifically for the Camino Frances)

Any other tips are greatly appreciated!

Thanks!
 

wrarney

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
portugues (2014)
#19
There are lots and lots of sites and YouTubes to get you started. I'd go first to American Pilgrims on Camino (http://www.americanpilgrims.org/); lots of good info and you can request your credencial (free). I am teaching a two-quarter program on the Camino at The Evergreen State College. I put together a site for introductory info. It's open: https://sites.evergreen.edu/camino2018/ See especially the Logistics, Practical Matters and Resources pages.
Bill Arney
 

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