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Camino Frances with 5 Year Old--Am I CRAZY??

e.s.bateman

New Member
The title pretty much says it all, but I have some questions.

I've done the Camino Frances twice in the past 12 years, so I have some knowledge going into this, but I am nervous and excited at the thought of taking my son with me this time. I plan to try to complete the walk in about 60 days. The soonest we can start is about May 10th, so I anticipate walking until about mid-July.

I have read many helpful blogs and threads in this forum about the people that have taken kids, but I also have some more general questions:

-- Snacks: My son eats as much as I do, but he has problems with certain foods. He has a severe allergy to salmon, which I don't expect to be too problematic, but he also struggles with certain textures from past allergies. He won't eat granola bars or nuts, which would be my go-to snacks. Any suggestions for good snacks that I could pick up along the way? I will be carrying the load for both of us, so I tend to want more calorie dense/fatty foods for him instead of, say, oranges.
-- Dogs: On my last trip, I had a couple of uncomfortable dog incidents. Since my son is smaller, I'm scared a dog might go for him. I would rather not carry a stick to fend them off because of the weight issue again. Any recommendations? Would something like a rape whistle work or should I just get a walking stick?
-- Sleeping: I will probably share a bed with him because he will sleep better in albergues when he's close to me. What are the chances that the hospitaleros would give me a two-for-one deal? I don't mind paying more, but I thought it would help me budget if I had an idea.

If you've made it this far, thanks for reading!
 

cher99840

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
2013, 2017 Camino Frances SJPP-Santiago
2015 St. Olav's Way Oslo-Trondheim
2017 VdlP Seville-Merida
Bread, cheese and chocolate are my Camino snacks. They are readily available, easy to pack, and oh so good. Haven't anything to contribute beyond snacks. I hike with poles but never had to use them to defend myself and I've never considered hiking with a young child.
 

Ahhhs

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
SJPdP to Santiago, May 2015
Porto to Santiago, April 2016
Muxia-Finisterre-Santiago, April 2016
Camino Del Norte, April 2017
I'm sure you've considered the personality and stamina of your own child but it does take a special person to walk the Camino. One must be very flexible and able to roll with the inevitable challenges, mishaps, aches and pains, fatigue, unpredictable weather, different food, and strange sleeping environments. It's tough for most adults and I would think even tougher for a young child. Not impossible of course but lots of things to consider.

Buen Camino.
 
Camino(s) past & future
2014 Pamplona to burgos
Please remember you are chosing this for your son so when he is upset or in pain you will have to take on the responsibility for it
Not saying this to judge just saying that it will put extra pressure on you at times
Will he be walking or do you have a transport option for him ?
Would suggest sending your packs ahead to lighten the load for both of you
Personally I would love to walk it with my stepson but it would have to be his decision
 

Eileenlou

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
(2013)
I would take cheese, chocolate, bread, dried meats and peanut butter. Send your bags ahead with the exception of a smaller day pack. Your hiking poles, if well made, should be sturdy and strong enough to discourage dogs. A whistle may come in handy too to alert anyone nearby if you require assistance. When I walked in 2013 there was a young mother with a 2 year old who would take public transit when her child needed a rest day. They managed very well. Good luck and have a wonderful walk.
 

MTtoCamino

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Francis SJPdP to Finnestere April(2014)
I admire your stamina! I met a couple with 3 children ages 6months to 5 yo that walked most of the way from Germany. They kept the distance to around 15k. They had an ultralight cart that had 4 tires & a waist belt to wear while pulling. When the 2 0lder kids got tired they jumped on. The father had a modified frame pack for the infant.
All alburgues seemed to welcome them & they shared bunks.
I know as a grandfather seeing children just made my day!
Buen Camino
Keith
 
Camino(s) past & future
cycled from Pamplona Sep 2015;Frances, walked from St Jean 2017.
I would have to agree with @Ahhhs; if you start in either St Jean or Pamplona and take your planned 60 days it still means your child is walking 12-15 km (8 to 10 miles) per day. I know that small children often appear to have unlimited energy but I doubt a 5 year old will have the stamina necessary to accomplish this feat, day after day.
Dogs in Spain can be a problem - and if you have a fear of them; then it is likely your child will associate with that fear. Accommodation is also an issue - small children may not always be welcome in the Albergues (especially the public ones) (imho).
May I suggest you wait until your child is at least 10 and can more easily manage the challenges of the Camino. Cheers
 

FrankieBallz

Wandering; Not lost.
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances & Camino Ingles -- Oct./Nov. 2016
Maybe because I'm a man; And maybe because I'm North of 60 yrs. old; but I don't see anything enjoyable about an adventure like that. If I were forced to, I could probably make it work. Also the possibility your son could grow resentful about this and it turns into a forced march. Sorry to be so negative, but you need to consider all possibilities. Good luck if you choose to attempt this.
 

e.s.bateman

New Member
I'm sure you've considered the personality and stamina of your own child but it does take a special person to walk the Camino. One must be very flexible and able to roll with the inevitable challenges, mishaps, aches and pains, fatigue, unpredictable weather, different food, and strange sleeping environments. It's tough for most adults and I would think even tougher for a young child. Not impossible of course but lots of things to consider.

Buen Camino.
Thanks for the advice! Yes, I've considered his personality. He's pretty easy-going, and we go on daily walks of about 5-8k now, which he really enjoys. And we tent camp twice a month or so as well. But, of course, both of those things are not the same as walking the Camino, and it's hard to know how not being at home would affect him.

Thanks for your advice!
 

e.s.bateman

New Member
Maybe because I'm a man; And maybe because I'm North of 60 yrs. old; but I don't see anything enjoyable about an adventure like that. If I were forced to, I could probably make it work. Also the possibility your son could grow resentful about this and it turns into a forced march. Sorry to be so negative, but you need to consider all possibilities. Good luck if you choose to attempt this.
I don't think you sound negative--I appreciate your input. Thanks!
 

e.s.bateman

New Member
I would have to agree with @Ahhhs; if you start in either St Jean or Pamplona and take your planned 60 days it still means your child is walking 12-15 km (8 to 10 miles) per day. I know that small children often appear to have unlimited energy but I doubt a 5 year old will have the stamina necessary to accomplish this feat, day after day.
Dogs in Spain can be a problem - and if you have a fear of them; then it is likely your child will associate with that fear. Accommodation is also an issue - small children may not always be welcome in the Albergues (especially the public ones) (imho).
May I suggest you wait until your child is at least 10 and can more easily manage the challenges of the Camino. Cheers
Thanks for your advice. We are actually more flexible with time than I made it sound in my original post, and we walk a lot now, but if we decide to do great Camino, we will certainly have to up our mileage for many days in a row to 10 miles a day to see if he can do it.

For the dogs, I don't have a general fear of dogs or anything, but on my last trip, there were a couple of incidents that were unsettling. No dog attacks or anything, just aggression, but perhaps it was an aberration to have two incidents?
 

e.s.bateman

New Member
I admire your stamina! I met a couple with 3 children ages 6months to 5 yo that walked most of the way from Germany. They kept the distance to around 15k. They had an ultralight cart that had 4 tires & a waist belt to wear while pulling. When the 2 0lder kids got tired they jumped on. The father had a modified frame pack for the infant.
All alburgues seemed to welcome them & they shared bunks.
I know as a grandfather seeing children just made my day!
Buen Camino
Keith
Thanks! I love the idea of an ultralight cart. I will look that up for sure!
 

e.s.bateman

New Member
Please remember you are chosing this for your son so when he is upset or in pain you will have to take on the responsibility for it
Not saying this to judge just saying that it will put extra pressure on you at times
Will he be walking or do you have a transport option for him ?
Would suggest sending your packs ahead to lighten the load for both of you
Personally I would love to walk it with my stepson but it would have to be his decision
Thanks for the input! I hadn't thought of doing luggage transport since I wanted to be as flexible as possible, I didn't want to lock us into anything. E.g. If we get going and only walk for an hour, and my son isn't feeling it, I would try to just order a cab and get to the next albergue. I wonder how that would work with luggage transport? I've never done it before, but that oils be a good option.

But, yes, to your first point, I've thought that if he falls and breaks his arm or gets bedbugs, that was because of my choice. But at the same time, pretty much everything that happens to him at this time in his life is a consequence of my choices. This would obviously just have more physical risk than some other activities (at least in the short term).
 

e.s.bateman

New Member
Bread, cheese and chocolate are my Camino snacks. They are readily available, easy to pack, and oh so good. Haven't anything to contribute beyond snacks. I hike with poles but never had to use them to defend myself and I've never considered hiking with a young child.
Thanks for the suggestions! all three of the food items are things he loves. I'm pretty sure he would like to eat chocolate for 90% of his daily consumption (and I can't blame him)!
 

amorfati1

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
2014_Caminho Portuguese (Lisboa to Santiago_4 weeks in May)
The title pretty much says it all, but I have some questions.

I've done the Camino Frances twice in the past 12 years, so I have some knowledge going into this, but I am nervous and excited at the thought of taking my son with me this time. I plan to try to complete the walk in about 60 days. The soonest we can start is about May 10th, so I anticipate walking until about mid-July.

I have read many helpful blogs and threads in this forum about the people that have taken kids, but I also have some more general questions:

-- Snacks: My son eats as much as I do, but he has problems with certain foods. He has a severe allergy to salmon, which I don't expect to be too problematic, but he also struggles with certain textures from past allergies. He won't eat granola bars or nuts, which would be my go-to snacks. Any suggestions for good snacks that I could pick up along the way? I will be carrying the load for both of us, so I tend to want more calorie dense/fatty foods for him instead of, say, oranges.
-- Dogs: On my last trip, I had a couple of uncomfortable dog incidents. Since my son is smaller, I'm scared a dog might go for him. I would rather not carry a stick to fend them off because of the weight issue again. Any recommendations? Would something like a rape whistle work or should I just get a walking stick?
-- Sleeping: I will probably share a bed with him because he will sleep better in albergues when he's close to me. What are the chances that the hospitaleros would give me a two-for-one deal? I don't mind paying more, but I thought it would help me budget if I had an idea.

If you've made it this far, thanks for reading!
Has your son been to other countries before? being exposed to other languages and cultures?
I travelled with my two year old to India many moons ago (and also as a 3 yrs old, we were practically living there) and also travel within the country (train, bus, taxi, etc)
My experience was that if I was alright and in good spirits, all was well....and he just went along fine.

Have you considered what is Plan B or Plan C if YOU will fall ill/sick/get injured?
have you prepared something in writing to explain the situation - that you and your 5 year old are pilgrims walking to SdC - (in english/french/spanish etc) that he could hand to the next responsible adult around if you are laid up somewhere and can't get help yourself?
You'll have to assess his temperament in a crisis situation ... his level of maturity for a 5 year old...and then see what is the most wise thing to do. Not always things that can be done should be done.
(at one point, shortly after arriving in the tropics - barely having had a chance to settle into our li'l flat - i got ghastly sick. I don't even remember how I made it through the first few days/week - Another single woman traveling with a young son learned about the predicament and did help out, as well as others did. Pure Grace - i had no preparation for such an event and don't dare to imagine how it could have turned out....
Yes, you might be crazy for that undertaking - you might not. all depends on the level of awareness and preparation you'll bring into this expedition.
And of course - question the intention behind it perhaps if you have doubts already. (the title of the post might point to that?) if it's to proof something to someone your to your self... then it's usually not such a good idea when it involves young children who have little choice in the matter.
And regarding the hiking poles/sticks: highly recommended!
Travelled with those before they were all the rage. Wooden walking sticks in India - to fend off dogs, to be sure. There are some lightweight poles around. Well worth the investments and the carrying.

wishing you a blessed time - off or on the camino!
 

Kanga

Moderator
Staff member
Camino(s) past & future
Francés x 5, Le Puy x 2, Arles, Tours, Norte, Madrid, Via de la Plata, Portuguese.
I can't see any insurmountable problems with taking a five year old, provided you keep the daily distances down to something close to what you walk with him now. Which means that it would take the full 60 days - but provided that is feasible - go for it! I think the main thing for a 5 year old is boredom and finding him companions with whom to play at the end of each day. I'd be prepared for lots of stopping, whenever something attracted him - water play, animals, constructions sights - you would know as his mother. Other pilgrims will probably make a pet of him and that should help, but I'd also factor in playgrounds and play equipment, whenever possible. Children may be hard to find. Could you take a balance bike, or something similar? That might help with the distances each day.

You also need to consider the weather - it gets very hot in July. Think about an umbrella (Ivar has hands free trekking umbrellas in his forum shop - expensive but worthwhile imo).

For snacks, chocolate and mandarines, hard sweets (yuk! can't believe I'm suggesting this!), cheese, and ice creams whenever they are available.
 

Kiwi-family

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Past: (2012, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2018)-Frances, Baztan, San Salvador, Primitivo, Fisterra,VdlP, Madrid
We took a six year old. There were a few occasions when she stomped and screamed and scuffed her shoes in rebellion. Once was because I put the toothpaste on her toothbrush and she wanted to do it and she didn't get over it for about an hour.
This happens at home too.
It's just a bit more public on the camino!
Most other pilgrims adore kids and give them lots of food and encouragement.
I can give you hints for managing ugly behavior if you like;-)
 

Paul_L

Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Francés Feb-April (2015)
Not crazy at all. We did the francés with our family, then 2,7,10,14,15 year olds. The 2 year old coped beautifully, better than anticipated. I would certainly echo the advice above that kids do crazy stuff, (as do parents!), but all of that is much more public. I remember my son's first Camino tantrum was throwing himself in the snow on the highway walking between Roncesvalles and Zubiri. We did a winter Camino and some moments weren't pleasant, but I dream of returning daily.

Here's a video of my son running across Spain.

For snacks, chocolate is great. We would get through a block every day between us, sometimes 2.

Regarding the beds, experiences varied widely for us. My son slept with my wife every night of the Camino and we would have paid for each of them about half of the time. Some hospitaleros were horrified at the idea that he would pay, others were very straightforward in asking for payment whereas others had no idea what to do, shrugging and asking us what had happened at other albergues.

We had lots of family games when walking, so I think it would be harder doing a Camino with just 1 child. I would also suggest considering contingency planning for injuries/illness.

Also, something my very wise wife said to me on an early day when I wasn't in the best mood with the kids messing about,"You chose your Camino, they didn't, so be understanding if they don't feel like it today."
 
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances, 2015
I admire your stamina! I met a couple with 3 children ages 6months to 5 yo that walked most of the way from Germany. They kept the distance to around 15k. They had an ultralight cart that had 4 tires & a waist belt to wear while pulling.
You have your push carts and baby buggies and then you have carts that you pull. @MTtoCamino mentioned a 4 wheel model but they also come with just 2 wheels.
cart.jpg
 

t2andreo

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
C/F: 2013, 2014
C/M: 2016
C/P: 2015, 2017
C/I: 2018
Voluntario: 2014 to 2018
In addition to the excellent suggestions above, the dog situation can be mitigated if you and your 5-year old are tagging along with others heading in the same direction as you.

During the time period you mentioned for going the Camino there will be plenty of other pilgrims around you. You might even meet another parent with one or more young children.

It will all work out. Carrying two hiking poles is also a good idea.

In four Caminos I have never had to fend off an overly aggressive dog. Perhaps it is because I am bigger than them.

However, I have learned that NOT WAVING your hiking sticks st them, and speaking to them in low friendly voice definitely calms them. Remember, dogs are territorial and you are in their territory, if only for 50 meters or so.

Walk on the far side of the trail or "road" away from them. Do not approach them.

One thing to consider, especially in the very rural areas and on farms is that dogs are considered work animals first and as pets record. They are often treated roughly.

The common commands are shouted and often accompanied by a swinging stick. This is why swinging or waving your hiking poles or shouting at a dog is the OPPOSITE way to deal with them. It just sets their fear and anger off.

Just chill, and speak reassuringly. They may bark, but if you adopt the beta role and let them have the alpha role, you can just walk by.

Should a dog walk up to you or your child slowly, do not panic, run, or show fear. Continue to speak to the dog, Spanish is best...seriously.

Let the dog sniff a hand or foot. Just walk slowly on your way. As soon as the dog realizes you mean it no harm, and are just passing through, you will be fine.

I suggest that you try to condition your 5-year old to meeting strange dogs to learn how to stand still and allow the dog to sniff or lick. Large dogs (retriever / shepard) sized are common, as are larger terrier breeds. As long as the child does not start screaming or try to run away or hit the dog with a stick or stone, you will be fine.

I hope this helps.
 
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peregrina2000

Moderator
Staff member
I love these threads about kids walking. Pretty clear that there is as much variation among children and their stamina, personality, tolerance, etc, as there is among adults. So in the end, you are the one who has the best idea of what your child is capable of. And I personally wouldn't worry too much about all of the "what ifs..." because on the Francés there is always a Plan B option at the ready -- good medical care nearby (almost always); hop a bus, cab, train; check into a hostal for a few days' rest, etc.

The one aspect of what you said that might be an issue is whether you can expect to have hospitaleros cut you a "two for one" deal. There has been a thread on this recently, and the overwhelming consensus is that whether your son shares your bed or has his own, he will pay the going rate.

My oldest grandchild is almost 5, and he's skiing, biking, and backpacking, so I think we are almost ready for a grandma/grandson camino. But I am probably going to wait a bit longer. For years I've had kiwi-family's 6 year old in mind. Please report back how it goes -- you can be sure there are some of us who are considering the same thing. Wishing you a beautiful father-son Camino!
 
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances, 2015
Let the dog sniff a hand or foot. Just walk slowly on your way. As soon as the dog realizes you mean it no harm, and are just passing through, you will be fine.
Keep your hand closed in a fist when letting a dog sniff. He will be less likely to want to bite something that big and if he does your fingers will be better off.

When you do meet-and-greet a strange dog from the fist-at-his-nose-to-smell-you position do not go to the open-hand-to-the-top-of-head-for-petting position. That can scare dogs. Drop your hand a bit and scratch their chins instead.
 

scruffy1

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Holy Year from Pamplona 2010, SJPP 2011, Lisbon 2012, Le Puy 2013, Vezelay (partial watch this space!) 2014; 2015 Toulouse-Puenta la Reina (Arles)
A five year old on the Camino, are you crazy, perhaps. What do you yourself remember from when you were 5? The Camino offers incredible joy, comradship, trust, beauty both natural and architectural, spirituality, and self-discovery. It also offers pain, frustration, at times tension, and agony. What can your five year old take in from all this? The Camino has been here for a thousand years, it will still be here in another ten. Wait until your child can actually perceive what is happening.
 

Ahhhs

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
SJPdP to Santiago, May 2015
Porto to Santiago, April 2016
Muxia-Finisterre-Santiago, April 2016
Camino Del Norte, April 2017
Agree with scruffy1. You will likely be spending all your time trying to make your child secure and comfortable and not bored. A 5 year old cannot fully appreciate all the history, culture, architecture, or even the beautiful scenery. If you have the option, waiting a few years could make a big difference.

Buen Camino
 

MTtoCamino

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Francis SJPdP to Finnestere April(2014)
Not crazy at all. We did the francés with our family, then 2,7,10,14,15 year olds. The 2 year old coped beautifully, better than anticipated. I would certainly echo the advice above that kids do crazy stuff, (as do parents!), but all of that is much more public. I remember my son's first Camino tantrum was throwing himself in the snow on the highway walking between Roncesvalles and Zubiri. We did a winter Camino and some moments weren't pleasant, but I dream of returning daily.

Here's a video of my son running across Spain.

For snacks, chocolate is great. We would get through a block every day between us, sometimes 2.

Regarding the beds, experiences varied widely for us. My son slept with my wife every night of the Camino and we would have paid for each of them about half of the time. Some hospitaleros were horrified at the idea that he would pay, others were very straightforward in asking for payment whereas others had no idea what to do, shrugging and asking us what had happened at other albergues.

We had lots of family games when walking, so I think it would be harder doing a Camino with just 1 child. I would also suggest considering contingency planning for injuries/illness.

Also, something my very wise wife said to me on an early day when I wasn't in the best mood with the kids messing about,"You chose your Camino, they didn't, so be understanding if they don't feel like it today."
Every time I see this it is fun but like watching my own grand kids it just wears me out!
 

Kiwi-family

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Past: (2012, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2018)-Frances, Baztan, San Salvador, Primitivo, Fisterra,VdlP, Madrid
A five year old can't benefit from a camino? I recall the day we turned off the Frances onto the San Salvador and got to some mountains. My youngest declared "This is the kind of walking I like". A couple of days later it took us All Day to cover the mere 15km because the kids were so busy scrambling over the rocks pretending to be medieval crusaders (for some reason) and then spent an hour catching little tadpoles in a pond.
Same Youngest Child still remembers horse riding in Mongolia when she was two.
Most importantly our kids have done stuff with us (with eight kids there's never an ideal time for everyone) and we have created a family identity that among other things (like service and learning - they are two biggies for us) includes hiking and adventuring and appreciating beauty.
Our kids love looking at their travel journals - even the two year old kept one! In it she scribbled, splashed watercolour, asked Daddy to draw a particular something, and we wrote our observations of her experience and sometimes wrote her dictated narratives.
A five year old may not have the same experience as a 15 year old, but it doesn't make it any less valid.
All that said, I would think carefully about taking a lone 5yo. We had the advantage of having siblings to kick a ball round with or play cards with. If you only walk 10-15km in a day (advisable) you have a LOT of down time. Definitely worth taking journals - watercolours were a non-negotiable essential item for us. My kids really really missed reading so some books on your phone might be good. Or even one (maybe a children's Don Quixote to read aloud to your little one - that was a success on our second camino). Let your child help cook and do dishes - that whiles away time. And do their own washing.
I've just been called for dinner so gotta go!
 

Paul_L

Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Francés Feb-April (2015)
I completely agree with Kiwi-family. My daughter who was 8 talks about wanting to do the Camino again almost as much as I check the forum. She talks about when we walked through the mountains, fields and snow. However, more importantly she talks about it as the best time being together as a family with nothing else in the way. She also asks questions like what did the pilgrimage mean to me, and I can discuss what it means to her. We can look at maps and hug looking at elevation profiles, photos and laugh about accidents (she still loves her scar from a fall).

My two year old remembers the cold, and that is his main recollection. However I think there is affective memory too which he doesn't articulate, like how it felt to run through the mountains kicking pine cones, or sword fighting with the walking sticks giggling all the way, chasing his siblings. The bond shared in our family is forged through shared experiences, deep loving experiences. Those experiences aren't recalled as being directly caused by some explicit reflection or logical conclusion, but rather the build up of feelings based on shared experiences.

A five year old probably won't want to discuss that impressive gothic architecture, or compare the depiction of Saint James in different locations, or discuss the purpose of pilgrimage. You will get anyone two people of other ages who equally disagree on what they want to get out of a Camino.

A child will however feel ever bit as deeply as adults do though, and I feel so deeply blessed to have been able to share such a profound experience with my children, one that they will most likely repeat in the future due to the warmth (metaphoric, certainly not physical during the winter camino!) and love they felt. I know that they will experience the Camino in a completely different way next time, and perhaps in many years time they too will understand the gift of walking with their children and reflect of how the meaning of pilgrimage has continued to evolve for them over time.

I would struggle with just one child though; ours entertained each other with fights against giants, counting, treasure hunts, word games, reading, making up stories, and hundreds of other games. That let us as parents duck into town to get food, make meals (boiling a dozen eggs worked a treat for snacks), wash clothes or heaven forbid, have a break!
 

J F Gregory

Portugal Central - October 2019
Camino(s) past & future
Frances (March-April,2016) finished, (October 2019) Portuguese Central Route.
We were walking during Holy week last year when many of the Spanish have the week off. and saw many families walking the Camino and shared some albergues with them
 

PlutseligPilegrim

Rota Vicentina, fisherman’s trail, is sweet...
Camino(s) past & future
St Olav’s way Novgorod - Åbo
- Stiklestad - Nidaros (2019)
Via del a plata from Cadiz (2019)
Met mother/daughter in May....the little one could have been 2-2,5 years old She used a three wheeled sports trolley. You know....the one's you can do jogging with.

That could serve as resting nest, and/or trolley for rucksack...

Go for it!
 

heatherrnw

Member
Camino(s) past & future
Past: April 2012; Future: June/July 2017
Good for you!! We will be walking around the same time and I will also be walking with a child, so I LOVE that I came across your post!!

Here are my plans:

Walking from the beginning of June and giving myself 6 weeks. You are starting before me, and longer it sounds like. I wish I would have booked more time, but I'm alright with alternative transportation at times if I get behind on time. I will be walking with my daughter (18) and pushing my youngest daughter (16 months) in a chariot stroller. I'm starting in Pamplona. Decided it was hard enough to get myself up the Pyrenees when I walked alone and didn't want to push a stroller up it. And this will help with my time.

After asking a question on the American Pilgrims group and getting some not so positive responses, I have spent the last couple of days pouring over the map and what accommodations are in every town along the way. I will be getting private rooms as much as possible and making reservations ahead of time. With all that I've read on other people's experiences of walking with children, it sounds like the albergue's will want to put those with children in separate/private rooms. These are more expensive than just a single/bunk. What I am finding is around 30-50 euros and usually has two twins or a double bed. In some places you can find a pension or an airbnb for this same prices. I also will be staying at pensions, casa rural and airbnb's at times. I was really worried about how I would find albergues with private rooms (which is why I started pouring over Brierley's book) and came across a phone app that shows accommodations in each village and lists if they have private rooms or not. So helpful! It's by Wise Pilgrim and has a guide for each "way".

If you plan to ship your luggage ahead, I also found an app called "Pilbeo" that lets you schedule where you want it picked up and dropped off and pay for it online. I will have a stroller, so don't think I will be using this, but you never know. I played with it a little and it seems really easy and useful if one were to want to use this service.

I have worried about dogs as well and haven't come to a conclusion yet of what precautions I will take for this. When I walked previously I didn't have a problem, but it was always a fear and certainly entered my mind having a baby with me.

If you want to chat or vent or get some anxiety out, don't be afraid to contact me! There doesn't seem to be too many of us crazy people taking kids on their camino! We need to support each other! :) I started a FB page to keep our journey on, if you are interested in looking at it, you are welcome to. (If you are a FB person) https://www.facebook.com/wrightgirls/

Buen Camino!
 

Jeff Crawley

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Contemplating yet another "final" Camino
but 2019?
I'd ask yourself whether you wanted to do it for yourself or your child.

Yesterday I was in the Museum of London with my (29 year old) daughter and we saw a Spanish family - parents and four children, a teenage daughter and three younger sons. The children spoke no English (a guide was talking us through 1000 years of London's history) and were bored stiff to the point where they went off and sat things out. The English speaking parents had a great time.

Afterward we talked about similar times she and her sister had been dragged off to some 'significant' event or venue and how much she remembered of them. She said that a couple of years ago her mother had mentioned the night we'd all driven up to London to see the flowers laid out in memory of Princess Diana. It was a hot, August night and we were surrounded by hundreds possibly thousands of people at midnight. Their mother said it was a night they'd remember for the rest of their lives. Katherine was 10, her sister Philippa 8. Neither can even remember going there but it was important to their mother.

So, again, do you want to do it for you or your five year old?

Looking back even the thought of coaxing a five year old Philippa (a roughtie-toughtie, never mind if she got dirty child if ever there was one) for a month on foot across Spain fills me with dread.
 

Pckelkins

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
Planning on doing my first camino this year, 2017, By hiking the CF with my kids. 21, 18 and 12 years old.
I'm taking my 11 yr old boy this summer. It has helped to make Spain relevant to him as he is a huge soccer fan and Barcelona is his favorite team. He will take a soccer ball that I hope helps him feel connected to being in Spain and I hope that local kids may include him in playing. Maybe teach him a thing or two.

His 2 older sisters are going ages 18 & 21. We are planning to have rest days if needed and take a ride to the next location id needed. I don't think he will need them. One of his sisters might take that options more than others.

I read a personal account of an American pioneer family who was traveling west by wagon in the mid 1800's who had their cow wander off over night. They sent their 9 year old son to find it. He returned 3 days later with the cow. I'm not suggesting that this is a good optiin this day and age since we have better options. On the other hand, we don't expect much of our children anymore either.

I have done many challenging activities with young teens and they have much more enduance and strength than we offer give them credit for. If you can make this a meaningful, spiritually, physically, and emotionally, you will have done a wonderful service you your young one.

Crossroads
He stood at the crossroads all alone,
The sunlight in his face.
He had no thought for the world unknown—
He was set for a manly race.
But the roads stretched east, and the roads stretched west,
And the lad knew not which road was best;
So he chose the road that led him down,
And he lost the race and victor’s crown.
He was caught at last in an angry snare
Because no one stood at the crossroads there
To show him the better road.


Another day, at the self-same place,
A boy with high hopes stood.
He, too, was set for a manly race;
He, too, was seeking the things that were good;
But one was there who the roads did know,
And that one showed him which way to go.
So he turned from the road that would lead him down,
And he won the race and the victor’s crown.
He walks today the highway fair
Because one stood at the crossroads there
To show him the better way.


This post got long but thanks for being an engaged parent to your child. He is and will be truly blessed.

Buen Camino
 

J Willhaus

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
24 May- 14 July (2016)CF
Hospitalera, Zamora Dec 15-31, (2017), Hospitalera Grañón Dec 15-31 (2018)
Last summer we met a family on day out of SLPDP who had a five year old. Mom was also pregnant. Dad carried a large heavy pack. They spent some lot of time examining snails, climbing rocks, etc. They went at the child's speed but often took buses when they got behind the schedule. After Saria we met lots of families with children but very few prior to that point. I think if you have adjusted your plan to meet both your needs this will work out fine. I recall going on many trips as a youngster where I had no say in the matter. My parents made all the plans. Some of those memories are great and others not pleasant.
 

heatherrnw

Member
Camino(s) past & future
Past: April 2012; Future: June/July 2017
Good luck pulling a five-year-old!
Not something I would personally try to do, but not impossible. I have seen photos of a couple who took their two children with one of these and pulled it. The children were older than five though, and were probably able to pull it at times themselves. Can't see a five year old pulling! lol
 

M. Oliver

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
2016
Thanks for the advice! Yes, I've considered his personality. He's pretty easy-going, and we go on daily walks of about 5-8k now, which he really enjoys. And we tent camp twice a month or so as well. But, of course, both of those things are not the same as walking the Camino, and it's hard to know how not being at home would affect him.

Thanks for your advice!
When I hiked the Camino Frances route last summer I saw people hiking with little kids and even with babies. I wondered why anyone would do this. The Camino is difficult enough -- both physically and mentally -- for a consenting adult. Why not wait until your child is older? And as far as hostels giving you a 2-for-1 deal, why should they? Your child will be using shower and toilet facilities just like you. That costs money.
 

sempervivum

Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances, Finisterre, Muxia (2013)
Camino Portuguese (2018)
I don't think you are crazy, e.s. bateman. You are a mother who wants to be a good mother. We all have read your questions - about food and eating, sleeping, and safety issues - and many of the members have offer you good advice.I hope you read all the posts.
It might sound like a good idea to take your 5-years old son with you in a adventure like that one. It is not. He will be away from his home and his known and predictable environment, for 60+ days, moving from one place to another almost every single day, walking for hours no matter the weather..., and I can keep writing. At 5, a child could be partially autonomous, but he cannot handle the challenges of an enterprise like that. And, above all, he will not at all benefit from his and your efforts. Not for his social, emotional or physical development, nor for his culture or intelligence level. You will not enhance bonding, nor increasing his stamina. Not at this age, because his brain is not ready yet. His body might be, even though I strongly doubt it.
I repeat myself, I believe you are a really good mother. So, go, walk your Camino and return to your loved child happier and stronger.

s
 

SabineP

Camino = Empathy + Compassion.
Camino(s) past & future
some and then more. see my signature.
Well all I can say is that I wished my parents knew about the Camino when I was five years old and had the means and opportunity to take me on this pilgrimage.

Kiwi family here on this forum is the best example showing how walking with children is very much possible...
 

waveprof

Enthusiast
Camino(s) past & future
May-June 2013, Camino Frances
As someone who did it with a 13 month old, no you aren't crazy. Still, 5 is a rough in between age for this. Too big to carry, to small to walk 25km day in and day out. But my little 4 year old guy did rough sections of the Norte a couple of days last summer, so who knows. Training, training, training. And snacks, snacks, snacks.
 

Joyisstrength

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
April-May 2019
Hey, I am planning a trip with my whole family in two years. By that time our oldest son will be 6, our daughter will be 5, and the baby boy who's still in my belly at the moment will then be around a year and a half. I think yes we have to be slightly crazy to do something so against the norm, but in no way is that bad or damaging to our children. We're friends with two different families that have taken their young children on the Mt. Rainier 95 mile hike, which is shorter than the Camino but more difficult physically and mostly tent camping, not the comfort of a bed and roof over their heads. All children loved it. Yes there were hard times, but any parent can attest to there being hard days in our normal routines anyway!! Please keep us updated as to your plans. I would love to hear more about your gear choices and... well everything! Buen Camino!!
 

notion900

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
>
Is your son an 'only' child? 60 days is a long time in a 5 year old's development and 'only' children already spend a lot of time with adults. To spend 2 months with little or no regular exposure to meaningful play with children near his own age seems potentially detrimental to me. You could take him to a playground - but a different playground every day, to play with 60 new sets of children he doesn't know and can't speak to? You might want him to become more adventurous but he could end up more clingy, as you will be the only fixed point in his world. I think you should wait a couple of years at least, or do 2 weeks only, or find another parent with a similar age child.
 

Kathryn Albright

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
2016 Camino Frances - SJPdP to SdC
The title pretty much says it all, but I have some questions.

I've done the Camino Frances twice in the past 12 years, so I have some knowledge going into this, but I am nervous and excited at the thought of taking my son with me this time. I plan to try to complete the walk in about 60 days. The soonest we can start is about May 10th, so I anticipate walking until about mid-July.

I have read many helpful blogs and threads in this forum about the people that have taken kids, but I also have some more general questions:

-- Snacks: My son eats as much as I do, but he has problems with certain foods. He has a severe allergy to salmon, which I don't expect to be too problematic, but he also struggles with certain textures from past allergies. He won't eat granola bars or nuts, which would be my go-to snacks. Any suggestions for good snacks that I could pick up along the way? I will be carrying the load for both of us, so I tend to want more calorie dense/fatty foods for him instead of, say, oranges.
-- Dogs: On my last trip, I had a couple of uncomfortable dog incidents. Since my son is smaller, I'm scared a dog might go for him. I would rather not carry a stick to fend them off because of the weight issue again. Any recommendations? Would something like a rape whistle work or should I just get a walking stick?
-- Sleeping: I will probably share a bed with him because he will sleep better in albergues when he's close to me. What are the chances that the hospitaleros would give me a two-for-one deal? I don't mind paying more, but I thought it would help me budget if I had an idea.

If you've made it this far, thanks for reading!
Hello!! I hiked the Camino Frances last year with my husband and 5 year old son. Best experience ever. Obviously there were some moments that were not so wonderful, but it was amazing. I'm sorry to hear some negative voices in your comment feed. Our son Callan adapted wonderfully. He was able to walk himself about 10-15km per day depending on the day and the terrain, but we also had a Thule stroller that we pushed him in when he was tired so most days we were able to walk around 25km. We did stop often and local people and pilgrims loved him and spoiled him with treats and their conversation. He developed friendships with other pilgrims and would sometimes prefer to walk with them than with his mom and dad. This was perfectly fine with us and we used his absence from the stroller to give our backs a break and threw our backpacks inside it.

Our son played with other children and pilgrims all the time. Whenever we stopped at an albergue, Callan knew the routine and many of the other pilgrims knew him. They all treated him like their adopted son or little brother. I teach French and Spanish at home in Canada and he is in French immersion at school here so it was also an excellent language experience for him. In Zalbaldika, he got to ring the church bells, help make the communal dinner, and other pilgrims taught him to play chess. He loved sleeping on the bunk beds and getting ice cream treats from locals everywhere! He met his best friend, Hugo, from the Netherlands and they walked together all the time. I brought water wings and goggles with us and he would spend hours post-walking swimming in rivers and pools wherever we stopped. He was always eager to catch up with his friends along the way so we could motivate him by saying that Hugo, Kimma, or Jennifer were stopping in the next place so we have to keep going to meet them there. Above all though, we spent the most amazing family time together walking along the way. I wouldn't let other pilgrims discourage you from doing the way with your son. It is an experience that he will never forget. My son always talks about it.
 

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Last edited:

Camino-family

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
july12 Sjpdp 3,5 weeks
july15, Pamplona-Leon
june17, Najera-Santiago
july17 Burgos-Leon
Hi, we walked with our 4 children in 2012 and 2015 and are going again this year. The 3 eldest ones are big children but our youngest is now 6 years. On his fist Camino he was only 1.5 years and he was doing great. Children that age is normally happy as long as their loved ones are around. in 2015 when our boy was 4 he needed a lot more entertainment. When we arrived a new place, where tired after a long days walk, he was ready to play. Its not so many children at the camino, but sure we met some locals. We limited the walk to 3 weeks this year.
I think that 60 days on the camino is far to long time for a 5 year old. It gets boring! Our plan this year is to walk from Sjpdp to Santiago and spend about 34 days. That means that our 6 year old can not walk that whole way. We will use a stroller called baby jogger performance, as we did last camino. Sure he will walk a lot, but sure he don't have to if he is tired. And.... its important to know that we might have to go home earlier if needed. We try to bring some toys, low in weight for him to play with. Movies on our iPhones for evenings, games, and a light football to play with.
You will sure have a wonderful time if you plan well. I love the camino and to have this journey as a family is great. The kids talk about the camino often :) Buen Camino
 

Mamama13

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
Future (Sept 2019)
Thule makes a chariot buggy that has an attachment to do this.

View attachment 31656
I plan on walking the Camino with my soon to be 6 year old son. He’s rather small maybe 40lbs and 42 inches by September when we'll be walking. I’m trying to decide if a Bob sport utility stroller or a Thule chariot will serve us best. I plan on using it for long level stretches and having my son hike on inclines. So on days we’ll be doing significant climbing I would send stroller or chariot ahead using transport service. Any feedback or suggestions from your experience would be appreciated.
 

Mamama13

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
Future (Sept 2019)
Hello!! I hiked the Camino Frances last year with my husband and 5 year old son. Best experience ever. Obviously there were some moments that were not so wonderful, but it was amazing. I'm sorry to hear some negative voices in your comment feed. Our son Callan adapted wonderfully. He was able to walk himself about 10-15km per day depending on the day and the terrain, but we also had a Thule stroller that we pushed him in when he was tired so most days we were able to walk around 25km. We did stop often and local people and pilgrims loved him and spoiled him with treats and their conversation. He developed friendships with other pilgrims and would sometimes prefer to walk with them than with his mom and dad. This was perfectly fine with us and we used his absence from the stroller to give our backs a break and threw our backpacks inside it.

Our son played with other children and pilgrims all the time. Whenever we stopped at an albergue, Callan knew the routine and many of the other pilgrims knew him. They all treated him like their adopted son or little brother. I teach French and Spanish at home in Canada and he is in French immersion at school here so it was also an excellent language experience for him. In Zalbaldika, he got to ring the church bells, help make the communal dinner, and other pilgrims taught him to play chess. He loved sleeping on the bunk beds and getting ice cream treats from locals everywhere! He met his best friend, Hugo, from the Netherlands and they walked together all the time. I brought water wings and goggles with us and he would spend hours post-walking swimming in rivers and pools wherever we stopped. He was always eager to catch up with his friends along the way so we could motivate him by saying that Hugo, Kimma, or Jennifer were stopping in the next place so we have to keep going to meet them there. Above all though, we spent the most amazing family time together walking along the way. I wouldn't let other pilgrims discourage you from doing the way with your son. It is an experience that he will never forget. My son always talks about it.
I plan on walking with my 6 year year old son. Any advice would be helpful. How did your Thule stroller hold up? Which model did you use? We’re flats a problem?
 

Delphinoula

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino PdC 2018 Finisterre Muxía 2018
C Franconia 2019
Camino desde Algeciras Sevillia (2019)
What I always tell a new mother and you are hardly new at this.
Happy Mama happy Baby. My advise on traveling with kids of any age, they don’t like to be bored. I always when walking made story out of the day and the adventures to come.
They did their part in carrying planning and so on.
I remember When I was five I had a map with pictures on the sights to be seen so I could that point out to my parents.
Scavenger hunts work well too especially if they fill a need. Like you are in charge of the breaks this how far will have to go please spot a bar for us and so on.
Take a Nintendo as a reward or such things. Rest days Kid funday. Or I would love to walk with my kids again alas they are on their own Camino in life. So enjoy with all the hard times that will come on your road. And praise praise praise.
 

Delphinoula

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino PdC 2018 Finisterre Muxía 2018
C Franconia 2019
Camino desde Algeciras Sevillia (2019)
I don't think you are crazy, e.s. bateman. You are a mother who wants to be a good mother. We all have read your questions - about food and eating, sleeping, and safety issues - and many of the members have offer you good advice.I hope you read all the posts.
It might sound like a good idea to take your 5-years old son with you in a adventure like that one. It is not. He will be away from his home and his known and predictable environment, for 60+ days, moving from one place to another almost every single day, walking for hours no matter the weather..., and I can keep writing. At 5, a child could be partially autonomous, but he cannot handle the challenges of an enterprise like that. And, above all, he will not at all benefit from his and your efforts. Not for his social, emotional or physical development, nor for his culture or intelligence level. You will not enhance bonding, nor increasing his stamina. Not at this age, because his brain is not ready yet. His body might be, even though I strongly doubt it.
I repeat myself, I believe you are a really good mother. So, go, walk your Camino and return to your loved child happier and stronger.

s
Semper my own live time story is so much contrail to your post. Until I was ten I was always on the go. And I loved it. Important is a loving family not a place at least for me as far I can remember to my memory forming years of three.
Travelers are the best example or Roma or Sinti.
A child can handle anything with a secure loving mom, who explain things to him and takes care of his and her needs.
 

Mamama13

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
Future (Sept 2019)
What I always tell a new mother and you are hardly new at this.
Happy Mama happy Baby. My advise on traveling with kids of any age, they don’t like to be bored. I always when walking made story out of the day and the adventures to come.
They did their part in carrying planning and so on.
I remember When I was five I had a map with pictures on the sights to be seen so I could that point out to my parents.
Scavenger hunts work well too especially if they fill a need. Like you are in charge of the breaks this how far will have to go please spot a bar for us and so on.
Take a Nintendo as a reward or such things. Rest days Kid funday. Or I would love to walk with my kids again alas they are on their own Camino in life. So enjoy with all the hard times that will come on your road. And praise praise praise.
Great incentive! ! He’s been trying to negotiate getting a Nintendo for almost a year now. As we get on the airplane to Europe would be the perfect place to present him with one! 😃 he’d be motivated on a daily. Haha!
 

Anamiri

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances
I plan on walking the Camino with my soon to be 6 year old son. He’s rather small maybe 40lbs and 42 inches by September when we'll be walking. I’m trying to decide if a Bob sport utility stroller or a Thule chariot will serve us best. I plan on using it for long level stretches and having my son hike on inclines. So on days we’ll be doing significant climbing I would send stroller or chariot ahead using transport service. Any feedback or suggestions from your experience would be appreciated.
I suggest for you to watch the DVD, 'the Camino, 6 ways to Santiago' (sold in the Forum shop) as one of the pilgrims is a mum walking with her 4 year old son. Watch the extra commentary which goes with the DVD as it goes into more detail about her and the trip with the child.
She takes a stroller, and he does walk a bit. She gets help from other pilgrims sometimes. She was a tough cookie, at one point she walks all through the night.
However her son was mainly happy for the whole trip, no tantrums but lots of exuberant energy to deal with.
 

Mamama13

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
Future (Sept 2019)
Thanks. I’ve enjoyed the movie but it wasn’t followed by the commentary I’ll have to look for it.
 

David Tallan

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances (1989 and 2016), Portugues - from Porto (2018)
What I always tell a new mother and you are hardly new at this.
Happy Mama happy Baby. My advise on traveling with kids of any age, they don’t like to be bored. I always when walking made story out of the day and the adventures to come.
They did their part in carrying planning and so on.
I remember When I was five I had a map with pictures on the sights to be seen so I could that point out to my parents.
Scavenger hunts work well too especially if they fill a need. Like you are in charge of the breaks this how far will have to go please spot a bar for us and so on.
Take a Nintendo as a reward or such things. Rest days Kid funday. Or I would love to walk with my kids again alas they are on their own Camino in life. So enjoy with all the hard times that will come on your road. And praise praise praise.
There are also a number of geocaches on the Camino. A kid might enjoy helping hunt for them.
 

David Tallan

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances (1989 and 2016), Portugues - from Porto (2018)
I like that addition to our adventure!! I’ll have to look into it and maybe find an app.
The app I used was Geocaching Classic. You will need to create an account on geocaching.com. The basic membership is free. If you spring for a premium membership for while you are walking, you will have access to more geocaches.
 

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