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Camino Travel Agent recommendations

D

Deleted member 89517

Guest
Hello, I am interested in having an agency book all my accommodations along the way for my first Camino Frances Sept. 2020. Traveling from the USA, Washington DC area. Thanks for your experience, JoAnna :)
 

trecile

Camino Addict
Camino(s) past & future
Francés (2016 & 2017), Norte (2018), Francés-Salvador-Norte (2019), Portuguese (2019)
Hello, I am interested in having an agency book all my accommodations along the way for my first Camino Frances Sept. 2020. Traveling from the USA, Washington DC area. Thanks for your experience, JoAnna :)
Do you know for sure how far you can/want to walk each day? Do you mind paying a huge premium to have someone else do what you can easily do via booking.com?
Most people on this forum arrange their own accommodations as they go. This gives you greater flexibility on your Camino.
 
D

Deleted member 43780

Guest
Done four Caminos and never used such.
If you want to have them do all your bookings that’s your call.

I see no need for such.

Use alburgues or make your own reservations in private places as you go along. Limit to about two or three days out.

If you have someone make the entire CF room booking, then you are committed to walk regardless.
It may be hard, or impossible , to adjust changes as needed.

possibly others can shed some light on this. Help you decide.

it’s September and I really don’t see a need for you to have someone book for you.

have the alburgues call ahead for you.
Or, you use Booking.com and make reservations yourself as needed.

good luck
 
Camino(s) past & future
First one in 1977 by train. Many since then by foot. Next one ASAP.
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D

Deleted member 43780

Guest
Do you know for sure how far you can/want to walk each day? Do you mind paying a huge premium to have someone else do what you can easily do via booking.com?
Most people on this forum arrange their own accommodations as they go. This gives you greater flexibility on your Camino.
Yep. Exactly
Many times seen folks in a messed up jam doing such.
 

trecile

Camino Addict
Camino(s) past & future
Francés (2016 & 2017), Norte (2018), Francés-Salvador-Norte (2019), Portuguese (2019)
If you decide to do it yourself I highly recommend that you book St Jean Pied de Port through Pamplona, since September is a very popular month to start from St Jean, and there aren't many intermediate stops between the most popular stages. After Pamplona the "crowd" starts to spread out.

I would be more than happy to help you decide where and how to book accommodations, as I'm sure other forum members would be.
 

ginniek

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
frances 2017
Apparently it is not cool to use a travel agent, but if you do not have much time available to source information, learn about the places you're going and what the accommodations will be like, etc. a specialized travel agent can make the whole process easy and relaxing. Three times I have used Follow the Camino/One Step Abroad with considerable satisfaction. It has been for two components of the Camino Frances and once for half of the Canal du Midi in southern France(which includes part of the Chemin d'Arles). It is great arriving to a place you've never been before, late in the afternoon (you probably are not as slow a walker as I am) and gone straight to your pleasant accommodation, and your bag is waiting for you. All you have to do is walk (and maybe think and sing and take pictures) on the Camino. I will probably be asked to leave the Forum because of my attitude, but at least I did answer YOUR question.
 

trecile

Camino Addict
Camino(s) past & future
Francés (2016 & 2017), Norte (2018), Francés-Salvador-Norte (2019), Portuguese (2019)
And just for some background, when I first started thinking about doing the Camino I looked at some of the tour companies, because I had no idea how to do anything! I eventually came across this forum, and as I continued to read the posts from veteran pilgrims I became encouraged that it was something that I could do on my own.
 
D

Deleted member 67185

Guest
Apparently it is not cool to use a travel agent,
Nope.... that's not it at all. :) It really is an unfair assessment.

. . . but if you do not have much time available to source information, learn about the places you're going and what the accommodations will be like, etc. a specialized travel agent can make the whole process easy and relaxing.
The other side of your pronouncement, is that a whole bunch of Forum members have saved a lot of money by being on the Forum, seeking assistance about how to do what you have described, and learned that tools like Booking.com make booking reservations a breeze. That it allows more freedom and flexibility. That it can be fun and fulfilling. Did I mention that it saves money?

The Forum is a place of help, helpers, and enthusiasts who want to provide knowledge to beginners on how to do stuff, be it gear, clothing, transportation, or lodging. It would seem really odd to me if there were NO offers to explain why and how to avoid spending unnecessary money.

Certainly, if someone states that they absolutely and ONLY want to hire someone to use Booking.com for them, then that should end the offers of helping a person to learn how to make their own Camino arrangements.
 
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MisterH

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
2017, 2018 neither successful
The New York Times has several guided trips on the Camono a year. I am sure that there are others.

On my first trip, I used a travel agent to get reservations in Madrid, Bayonne, Saint Jean and Orisson. After that I planned to get reservations each day for the next day.

For my second trip, when I had personality found out how the Camino worked, I used booking.com for reservations the first 3 days and then got day ahead reservations set up by by people wherever I was spending the night.
 

C clearly

Moderator
Staff member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances (2012, 2014, 2015, 2016), VDLP (2017), Mozarabe (2018), Vasco/Bayona (2019)
Apparently it is not cool to use a travel agent,
You are absolutely correct. There is definitely no coolness in using a travel agent for the camino. But here is a secret... the Camino no longer has any coolness score at all! The Cool Kids cite the 500,000 uncool walkers, many of whom are aging boomers. For cool people with excess money, Antarctica might be a better choice, although it has probably lost its cool creds too.
 

P Rat

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino VDLP/Sanábres April 2019
Camino Mozárabe when we can again...(2021?)
All sound advise fellow forum members, but no-one has enquired why JoAnna wants to consider (note the word, it is not a given!) booking through an agent. So really hard to give suitable advice JoAnna.
Having said that, there is no rocket science in finding accommodation along the Camino, locals and fellow pilgrims willing to help out as well. And it is is still possible to send your bag ahead on some or all of the stages.
So read the different answers here, and follow your intuition.
Buen Camino!
 

Anamiri

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
2016, 2017, 2019 Camino Frances
I met up with a woman on my second Camino, who had booked through a Camino company (sorry dont recall the name). She did it because she wasn't confident. She was 10 years younger than me, without the dodgy knee, and arthritic toe.
Once there of course she realised that most of the fun of the Camino is working it out as you go.
She hadn't considered things like having an injury - happens to the best of us, and can really mess up your schedule.
Didn't realise how simple and cheap pack transport was - you can book in advance or day to day.
Didnt realise how good the infrastructure is on the Frances, and how easy it is to book ahead a day or 2 at a time, according to how far you feel you can walk.
Hadn't taken into consideration that she might meet people she would want to keep in step with. She ended up taxiing around to keep with her new found friends. Also taxiing around when her feet and legs were so sore she had to rest them for a few days, but still had to meet her schedule.
She enjoyed the walking, and was planning to walk again the following year, in Portugal, without using a company.

I know it might seem complicated.
After my first Camino I was chatting with a friend who thought I was really intrepid! I never considered myself intrepid, but 4 years ago, I did arrange flights and a train to St Jean and walked off up that hill with no guide book (didnt need one - arrows were enough), no idea that pack transport even existed, or that booking ahead was an option. (Since then I have bought a guide book to learn more about the Camino).
So I can appreciate that some people are anxious about the idea. Last year I finally persuaded my husband to walk from Leon to Santiago with me- there is no way he would have gone if I hadn't made all the arrangements.
But after coming back he wants to help plan the next one - when we start at St Jean and walk the Frances/Invierno.

I would suggest sticking around the forum for a bit, you'll pick up a lot.
Then if your mind still isnt at ease, and you have plenty of money, then use a company.
 

Turga

Camino tortuga
Camino(s) past & future
CF (Aug/Sep 2017)
CF (Aug/Sep 2018)
Don't be discouraged! If using a tour agency to help you plan your first Camino will make you feel confident and secure, then go on and do it. There is nothing wrong with that :)
 

Antonius Vaessen

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
2015-2016 VdlPlata - Sanabres
2016.Primitivo
2017 Salvador
2018 Norte (to Sobrado)
2019 Norte again
I agree with most answers that it is very easy to arrange your camino from day to day. I presume Joanna wants to use an agency for planning because of security reasons. I understand the need for certainty, but using an agency would probably decrease this. On the camino circumstances can change very much, examples you can easily find in other answers. Real certainty you can reach by knowing the means to adapt to new situations. To name a few : gronze.com ( for addresses of accommodations, including telephone numbers and links) booking.com, advise of hospitaleros, hotel-of pensionowners and fellowpelgrims and so on. When you have found your way about the camino you will enjoy the freedom of making your own choices
 

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
@JoAnna Farrell it would be helpful to know what sections of the Camino Francés you intend to walk? And perhaps also why you feel it would be helpful to have an agency book your accommodation?

I suppose most people automatically assume that a trip abroad does involve using some kind of agency, but the Camino is different. For most of us it is very simple; we arrive at our starting point and start walking - booking accommodation ahead for only a day or two (if that) and if we want our packs carried that is arranged on the spot, again day to day - almost all accommodation providers along the route have a daily transfer service.

If you know that, but still feel you need an agency, then I am sure there are members who can advise.
 

TatiLie

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Portugues Variante Espiritual July 2019
Finisterre next!
I used a famous and expensive agency because I didn't have the time to organise it myself but I deeply regret it as they made a few mistakes that haven't I caught them on time it would have cost me my Compostela. Furthermore, it ties you to a strict timeframe and structure that won't allow you to spend extra time on a place you enjoy.
 

MyDestinationGalicia

Mark Auchincloss
Camino(s) past & future
Camino de Invierno,Portuguese Ways x15 French Way Sarria x5, Silver Way Ourense, Santiago-Muxia x2..
Hello, I am interested in having an agency book all my accommodations along the way for my first Camino Frances Sept. 2020. Traveling from the USA, Washington DC area. Thanks for your experience, JoAnna :)
I can recommend a number of them:

Camino Ways
Santiago Ways
Ultreya Tours
EATourSpecialist
Mystic Tours
All have American clients and are local experts here in Spain.
 
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Camino(s) past & future
(2015) Frances
(2018) Portuguese
(2019) VdP Seville to Salamanca
(2020) VdP Salamanca to Santiago
To answer the question, I use www.walkthecamino.com. Smart people, who tailor the walk to your individual goals and requirements, tend to put you up in very cost effective but great accommodations, and provide 24 hour support if needed.

Please, please, please stop giving an opinion as to whether you think a travel agent is correct. I think the question would have been asked differently if she wanted opinions rather than simple company recommendations. Is a travel agent necessary, no. But that's not for anyone here to decide.

Whether you want to book ahead to avoid worrying about where you're going to lay your head or prefer to wing it and enjoy the freedom that detachment from rigidity provides is a choice which we all can make.

Our individual circumstances are not automatically true for the rest of the known world.
 

Antonius Vaessen

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
2015-2016 VdlPlata - Sanabres
2016.Primitivo
2017 Salvador
2018 Norte (to Sobrado)
2019 Norte again
To answer the question, I use www.walkthecamino.com. Smart people, who tailor the walk to your individual goals and requirements, tend to put you up in very cost effective but great accommodations, and provide 24 hour support if needed.

Please, please, please stop giving an opinion as to whether you think a travel agent is correct. I think the question would have been asked differently if she wanted opinions rather than simple company recommendations. Is a travel agent necessary, no. But that's not for anyone here to decide.

Whether you want to book ahead to avoid worrying about where you're going to lay your head or prefer to wing it and enjoy the freedom that detachment from rigidity provides is a choice which we all can make.

Our individual circumstances are not automatically true for the rest of the known world.
Of course you are right in this but.....It would be nice if Joanna would have made it clear why she makes this choice. She could have done this in a second post, seeing the direction the discussion was taking. Of course people start guessing about her motives and wish to point out the obvious disadvantages of arranging a camino beforehand. ( Presuming she is a "newbie" who is not aware of these possible disadvantages) Asking this question in this forum where the great majority of people arrange things from day to day will result in this kind of answers. It is up to Joanna to make up her mind. It would be nice to hear what choice she will make. To her concrete question she has received some concrete advices, a.o. others from you.
 
Camino(s) past & future
Sarria to Santiago 2014
Pamplona to Santiago 2017
Norte. 2018
I can recommend a number of them:

Camino Ways
Santiago Ways
Ultreya Tours
EATourSpecialist
Mystic Tours
All have satisfied American and are local experts here in Spain.
Thank you for answering her question. She asked for recommendations not opinions.
 

MyDestinationGalicia

Mark Auchincloss
Camino(s) past & future
Camino de Invierno,Portuguese Ways x15 French Way Sarria x5, Silver Way Ourense, Santiago-Muxia x2..
Thanks for spotting an error I've corrected only facts there!
 
Camino(s) past & future
(2015) Frances
(2018) Portuguese
(2019) VdP Seville to Salamanca
(2020) VdP Salamanca to Santiago
Of course you are right in this but.....It would be nice if Joanna would have made it clear why she makes this choice. She could have done this in a second post, seeing the direction the discussion was taking. Of course people start guessing about her motives and wish to point out the obvious disadvantages of arranging a camino beforehand. ( Presuming she is a "newbie" who is not aware of these possible disadvantages) Asking this question in this forum where the great majority of people arrange things from day to day will result in this kind of answers. It is up to Joanna to make up her mind. It would be nice to hear what choice she will make. To her concrete question she has received some concrete advices, a.o. others from you.
I would agree but the first order of business should always be to answer the question. I trust her to ask the question. It's none of our business beyond that. Answer the question first, and then supply an editorial. :)
 

alexwalker

Forever Pilgrim
Camino(s) past & future
(2009): Camino Frances
(2011): Sevilla-Salamanca, VdlP
(2012): Salamanca-SdC, VdlP
(2014): SJpdP-Astorga
(2015): Astorga-SdC
(2016) May Pamplona-Moratinos; Sept.:Burgos-SdC
(2016): August/Sept: Camino San Olav (Burgos-Covarubbias), Burgos-Sarria
(2017): May: Portuguese; Sept: Pamplona-SdC
I can recommend a number of them:

Camino Ways
Santiago Ways
Ultreya Tours
EATourSpecialist
Mystic Tours
All have American clients and are local experts here in Spain.
Finally someone could answer a first-timer question.
 

peregrina2000

Moderator
Staff member
I totally agree that we should generally answer questions, not debate their underlying premises. But with this particular question about tour companies, especially if you are from the US, I think it is totally reasonable to think that maybe the OP hasn't even considered the possibility of walking without having an agency arrange it all for her. Any time I am asked about my caminos, one of the questions inevitably is -- Who did you go with? This question is not asking me who my walking buddy is, it is asking me what travel company I used. For many people in the US, it would no more occur to them to strike out on their own to Europe than to go to the moon. So I think it is totally fair to to give additional information that shows that there are many alternatives to the tour company route.

This one particular topic seems to always get people's feathers ruffled when forum members politely suggest that there are other ways to walk the camino -- ways that are less constraining, less expensive, and more self-affirming, at least in their opinion and experience. But I do this all the time on other threads -- someone asks about trains from Leon to Oviedo to transition from the Frances to the Primitivo, for instance. My response is inevitably going to be, do you know you can walk the Camino Salvador from Leon to Oviedo? I am not answering the OP's question, but I am just trying to broaden the discussion. And lots of people had no idea and wind up being diehard Salvador aficionados.

And another thing to keep in mind is that these threads are there as resources for lots of people, not just the OP, and the more newbies that see and hear that there is a much broader range of options that they may have not considered, the better, IMO.

Buen camino, Laurie
 

trecile

Camino Addict
Camino(s) past & future
Francés (2016 & 2017), Norte (2018), Francés-Salvador-Norte (2019), Portuguese (2019)
I totally agree that we should generally answer questions, not debate their underlying premises. But with this particular question about tour companies, especially if you are from the US, I think it is totally reasonable to think that maybe the OP hasn't even considered the possibility of walking without having an agency arrange it all for her. Any time I am asked about my caminos, one of the questions inevitably is -- Who did you go with? This question is not asking me who my walking buddy is, it is asking me what travel company I used. For many people in the US, it would no more occur to them to strike out on their own to Europe than to go to the moon. So I think it is totally fair to to give additional information that shows that there are many alternatives to the tour company route.

This one particular topic seems to always get people's feathers ruffled when forum members politely suggest that there are other ways to walk the camino -- ways that are less constraining, less expensive, and more self-affirming, at least in their opinion and experience. But I do this all the time on other threads -- someone asks about trains from Leon to Oviedo to transition from the Frances to the Primitivo, for instance. My response is inevitably going to be, do you know you can walk the Camino Salvador from Leon to Oviedo? I am not answering the OP's question, but I am just trying to broaden the discussion. And lots of people had no idea and wind up being diehard Salvador aficionados.

And another thing to keep in mind is that these threads are there as resources for lots of people, not just the OP, and the more newbies that see and hear that there is a much broader range of options that they may have not considered, the better, IMO.

Buen camino, Laurie
Thank you Laurie. That's what I had in mind when I made my posts - that perhaps @JoAnna Farrell wasn't aware that it's very simple to book accommodations oneself, as it wasn't something that I knew when I first got interested in doing the Camino. If I hadn't found the encouragement and support of this forum I may have gone with a tour company, and spent a lot more money.
 

TatiLie

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Portugues Variante Espiritual July 2019
Finisterre next!
I totally agree that we should generally answer questions, not debate their underlying premises. But with this particular question about tour companies, especially if you are from the US, I think it is totally reasonable to think that maybe the OP hasn't even considered the possibility of walking without having an agency arrange it all for her. Any time I am asked about my caminos, one of the questions inevitably is -- Who did you go with? This question is not asking me who my walking buddy is, it is asking me what travel company I used. For many people in the US, it would no more occur to them to strike out on their own to Europe than to go to the moon. So I think it is totally fair to to give additional information that shows that there are many alternatives to the tour company route.
Thank you, Laurie! Having done my first Camino using an agency that screwed up so badly I cannot turn my myself away from a question like this without warning about possible complications!
 
D

Deleted member 89517

Guest
Hello everybody! Thank you for all the responses. It was my first time posting a question and I am surprised at all of the helpful information I received back. Everybody touched on a few of my concerns. I asked for travel agencies because I am a solo traveler going to a foreign country by myself. I am excited about the trip for one minute and then wake up at 2 am afraid. Mostly with the lingering questions of what if I get lost sick or injured. I am uncertain and I am looking for some feeling of safety. I do fear being tied down to a schedule and I fear that I might not have a place to stay. Anyway, I do appreciate the travel agency suggestions and I also appreciated the additional information that was shared because it gave me some hope and actually eased my mind. Thank you! JoAnna
 

trecile

Camino Addict
Camino(s) past & future
Francés (2016 & 2017), Norte (2018), Francés-Salvador-Norte (2019), Portuguese (2019)
On the Camino Francés you need to make an effort to get lost. 😂
I'm not saying that it doesn't happen, but there are so many arrows/markers and other pilgrims to follow that it isn't really a problem. You can also use an app that uses GPS such as the Wise Pilgrim apps, so that you always know exactly where the Camino is - and if you stray off of it it's easy to check the app to see how to get back on. Plus the Spanish people are very helpful in keeping pilgrims on track! As far as getting injured, make sure that you have good travel insurance in place. I use InsureMyTrip.com to compare and purchase travel insurance. Make sure that you buy it as soon as you book your plane tickets.
There is also a very good app called AlertCops, which you can use to summon help on the Camino. Fortunately, you will usually have pilgrims not far from you that can help. It's available on IOS and Android.

We were all nervous beginners once, and we are here to support you. 😊

I recommend that you connect with your local American Pilgrims on the Camino chapter if there is one in your area. It looks like there are three in Virginia.


Buen Camino - You can do this!!
 

trecile

Camino Addict
Camino(s) past & future
Francés (2016 & 2017), Norte (2018), Francés-Salvador-Norte (2019), Portuguese (2019)
Also, if you are on Facebook, there is a FB group called Camigas, just for women on the Camino. It's a great place for support, but I prefer this forum for nuts and bolts information.

 
Camino(s) past & future
cycled from Pamplona Sep 2015;Frances, walked from St Jean May/June 2017. Plans to walk Porto 2020
Hello, I am interested in having an agency book all my accommodations along the way for my first Camino Frances Sept. 2020. Traveling from the USA, Washington DC area. Thanks for your experience, JoAnna :)
Hola @JoAnna Farrell , whilst its not a "travel agent" as such there is a cooperative/collective of albergues across the length of the Camino Frances. Although I do not recall any before Pamplona. If you keep your eyes open you will see their brouchure in a participating albergue. All you need do is ask the hospitalero/a to book ahead at your next overnight stop. Being privately owned/operated they do accept reservations and also backpack transports. I used some of these places back in 2015 and 2017. Cheers
 

David Tallan

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances (1989 and 2016), Portugues - from Porto (2018)
Hello everybody! Thank you for all the responses. It was my first time posting a question and I am surprised at all of the helpful information I received back. Everybody touched on a few of my concerns. I asked for travel agencies because I am a solo traveler going to a foreign country by myself. I am excited about the trip for one minute and then wake up at 2 am afraid. Mostly with the lingering questions of what if I get lost sick or injured. I am uncertain and I am looking for some feeling of safety. I do fear being tied down to a schedule and I fear that I might not have a place to stay. Anyway, I do appreciate the travel agency suggestions and I also appreciated the additional information that was shared because it gave me some hope and actually eased my mind. Thank you! JoAnna
"What if I get lost or sick or injured?"

A good question indeed from someone contemplating their first Camino. I can see why you would look to a travel agency to provide some security. And in many places that security would be a wonderful thing. But having done a few Caminos, I can (re)assure you that on the Camino Frances you will have a much better source of security in these instances - the community of your fellow pilgrims.

Many who walk the Camino find that this community is one of the most wonderful parts of their experience. The help and support that pilgrims give each other on the Camino is nothing short of astounding. And their ability to provide support in the case of your being lost or sick or injured is immensely greater than that of a travel agency due to one simple fact: they are there with you in Spain on the Camino. They (or a local) can call out if you are going in the wrong direction and walk you back to the Camino. That is difficult for a travel agency to do. If you injure yourself, they can give you a shoulder to lean on or help you with your backpack. They can call a taxi and get you taken to a medical center. They can sit with you in an albergue if you are sick and bring you a hot drink or snack or go to the pharmacy for you. All of these are very challenging for a travel agency. But they are all things I've seen pilgrims do for each other.

A travel agency can book accommodations but if you are sick or injured you may not be able to keep to that schedule. That's where the freedom that comes with not pre-booking everything before you go may come in really handy.

I liked all of the answers that gave travel agency suggestions to your original question because I really believe in answering the question that was asked as a minimum. I couldn't answer it myself because I've never used one. But in this follow up post you asked different questions that I thought I could answer. And I'm not sure that the answer is a travel agency.
 

C clearly

Moderator
Staff member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances (2012, 2014, 2015, 2016), VDLP (2017), Mozarabe (2018), Vasco/Bayona (2019)
Hello, I am interested in having an agency book all my accommodations along the way for my first Camino Frances Sept. 2020. Traveling from the USA, Washington DC area.
Hi, and welcome to the forum! Where do you plan to start walking, and how much time do you have? That will make a difference in the advice we can offer. Have you booked your flights? If not, do you have flexibility in the dates - for example, late September or early September?
 

MisterH

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
2017, 2018 neither successful
It is important to remember that Spain is a civilized country. This means that almost everything you are used to is in Spain, but many parts are in Spanish, with various levels of english.
 

Antonius Vaessen

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
2015-2016 VdlPlata - Sanabres
2016.Primitivo
2017 Salvador
2018 Norte (to Sobrado)
2019 Norte again
I totally agree that we should generally answer questions, not debate their underlying premises. But with this particular question about tour companies, especially if you are from the US, I think it is totally reasonable to think that maybe the OP hasn't even considered the possibility of walking without having an agency arrange it all for her. Any time I am asked about my caminos, one of the questions inevitably is -- Who did you go with? This question is not asking me who my walking buddy is, it is asking me what travel company I used. For many people in the US, it would no more occur to them to strike out on their own to Europe than to go to the moon. So I think it is totally fair to to give additional information that shows that there are many alternatives to the tour company route.

This one particular topic seems to always get people's feathers ruffled when forum members politely suggest that there are other ways to walk the camino -- ways that are less constraining, less expensive, and more self-affirming, at least in their opinion and experience. But I do this all the time on other threads -- someone asks about trains from Leon to Oviedo to transition from the Frances to the Primitivo, for instance. My response is inevitably going to be, do you know you can walk the Camino Salvador from Leon to Oviedo? I am not answering the OP's question, but I am just trying to broaden the discussion. And lots of people had no idea and wind up being diehard Salvador aficionados.

And another thing to keep in mind is that these threads are there as resources for lots of people, not just the OP, and the more newbies that see and hear that there is a much broader range of options that they may have not considered, the better, IMO.

Buen camino, Laurie
Thanks for this wonderfull post, it sums up my feelings in this matter very well and draws attention to other aspects then read in other posts and to the character of this forum
 

Turga

Camino tortuga
Camino(s) past & future
CF (Aug/Sep 2017)
CF (Aug/Sep 2018)
I totally agree that we should generally answer questions, not debate their underlying premises. But with this particular question about tour companies, especially if you are from the US, I think it is totally reasonable to think that maybe the OP hasn't even considered the possibility of walking without having an agency arrange it all for her. Any time I am asked about my caminos, one of the questions inevitably is -- Who did you go with? This question is not asking me who my walking buddy is, it is asking me what travel company I used. For many people in the US, it would no more occur to them to strike out on their own to Europe than to go to the moon. So I think it is totally fair to to give additional information that shows that there are many alternatives to the tour company route.

This one particular topic seems to always get people's feathers ruffled when forum members politely suggest that there are other ways to walk the camino -- ways that are less constraining, less expensive, and more self-affirming, at least in their opinion and experience. But I do this all the time on other threads -- someone asks about trains from Leon to Oviedo to transition from the Frances to the Primitivo, for instance. My response is inevitably going to be, do you know you can walk the Camino Salvador from Leon to Oviedo? I am not answering the OP's question, but I am just trying to broaden the discussion. And lots of people had no idea and wind up being diehard Salvador aficionados.

And another thing to keep in mind is that these threads are there as resources for lots of people, not just the OP, and the more newbies that see and hear that there is a much broader range of options that they may have not considered, the better, IMO.

Buen camino, Laurie
Very good points and I agree that broadening the context can be useful.

Not that I want to take this thread further away from it’s original subject, but that seems to have already happened, so…

This one particular topic seems to always get people's feathers ruffled when forum members politely suggest that there are other ways to walk the camino
I think part of the issue is, that some posts on this matter (not necessarily on this particular thread) seems to suggest, that there is one “proper way” to do the Camino and if you choose otherwise, like using a travel agency, you will be missing out on some essential aspects, your experience will be more constrained, less self-affirming, less spiritual, less “adventurous”, etc. It seems to suggest there are only cons and no pros to alternative arrangements. There are several members of this forum who have used travel agencies to a greater or lesser extend and who have had good experiences – obviously, some have also had bad experiences, but as we all know, s*** happens occasionally. I used a travel agency for my first Camino and I was very happy with the arrangement: easy and convenient but of course a bit pricy; it gave me the confidence to plan my next Camino on my own –and that was quite satisfying. I am now in the process of planning my 2020 Camino and I will do that myself, but I do not regret that I started out with some help from an agency – we were all “rookies” at some point.

I guess all I’m trying to say is, that perhaps we would not get so much into this “feather ruffling” if we were a little more open and supportive to those, who, for various reasons, are trying to find out about other ways to do the Camino than the totally self-reliant way.
 
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Camino(s) past & future
First one in 1977 by train. Many since then by foot. Next one ASAP.
Part of what I just shared with the OP via PM, but think might add to the open discussion....

I'm not much of a risk taker. When first I decided to walk the Camino I found a middle ground between the die-hard don't-book-ahead crowd, and the pricey commercial book-everything-ahead firms like Macadventures, Camino Ways, and etc....

A Camino Forum regular, anniesantiago, advertised escorted small-group walks; sounded 'safe' and the price was right. So I walked with Annie in 2012. Can't find words to describe how much fun I had! That led me to escorted small group walks led by a lovely South African Camino Forum regular, sillydoll. So I did several walks with her. Both still offer group walks, and I can recommend both of them. Their walks fill up quickly....

www.anniewalkers.com

www.amawalkerscamino.com

But my group walk experiences, my familiarity with Spanish history and culture, and my almost-adequate Spanish, eventually led me into the realm of entirely solo walks. I've now walked the whole length of the Frances twice, the Finisterre, and the Aragones. Last September I walked the Meseta solo, from Logrono to Leon. This coming September I'm planning to solo walk the Portugues from Tui to Santiago, and then carry on to Finisterre again.

I very rarely stay in the super-low-cost dormitory-style albergues anymore, but admit that they have an almost cult-like status in the eyes of many.... It's whatever floats your boat, OK?.... I'm 65+, snore, an introvert who likes his privacy, and who doesn't have to prove anything to anybody..... I can afford cheap private rooms, and so that's where I stay. Works for me! Never had any trouble finding good company when I wanted it.

Now, if I'm walking a section that I've walked before, I know the specific places I want to stay and I book those places myself, well ahead, using booking.com. It's very easy.... If I'm walking a section I have not walked before, I have Wiktoria @ Camino Travel Center book places for me.
 
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Debz

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
Planning a trip April 2020
Also, if you are on Facebook, there is a FB group called Camigas, just for women on the Camino. It's a great place for support, but I prefer this forum for nuts and bolts information.

I'm so glad I found this post. It looks as though my friend is going to drop out of our Camino but it's important to me to go ahead with it. I would be terrified to do it alone (I know, I'm just not as brave as so many of you) and this is the exact type of thing I've been searching for. Thank you.
 

joey byrne

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
walked 500km in 2019 and am planning on doing whold thing May/June 2020
Hello, I am interested in having an agency book all my accommodations along the way for my first Camino Frances Sept. 2020. Traveling from the USA, Washington DC area. Thanks for your experience, JoAnna :)
I used an agency on my first stint on the route as I was nervous about plotting the route and ensuring a certain level of accommodation and found Santiagoways very pleasant to deal with-this year I have prebooked everything myself which takes a little time but is worth it and also gives you more freedom in terms of distances
 

David with new Kit!

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
CF September (2019) SJPP to Logrono
CF May/June (2020) Logrono to ? (Delayed).
Debz - Don’t drop out, you will be amazed at how many single people are “doing the Camino”, especially the number of single women. (My experience of the CF so far).

you are never alone, wait two minutes and someone will come along. ( I know, a nightmare for some:))
 

susanawee

susanawee
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances-(2013/14/18
Camino Salvado Perth -(2015)
West Highland Way (2016)
Lyon France 2017
Thank you for answering her question. She asked for recommendations not opinions.
I SO agree with this and a couple of other answers to Joanna's question as it answers exactly what she is asking. We are all so fond of the saying, 'Its your Camino-do it your own way'. It is not up to any of us to try to force our own ideas of what is the best way to do the Camino....it is up to us, to actually answer the question she asked, not to question her 'motives'...that is not our role and is nothing to do with us......just saying here from my observation of so many of the responses.
 
Camino(s) past & future
Full Camino, St Jean Pied de Port - Santiago de Compostela and on to Finisterre, planning now from Friday 25 August 2017 to Monday 2 October 2017
Hello, I am interested in having an agency book all my accommodations along the way for my first Camino Frances Sept. 2020. Traveling from the USA, Washington DC area. Thanks for your experience, JoAnna :)
 
Camino(s) past & future
Full Camino, St Jean Pied de Port - Santiago de Compostela and on to Finisterre, planning now from Friday 25 August 2017 to Monday 2 October 2017
JoAnna, I have walked the French Way 5 times, three times the full Camino. Each time I have booked with a Spanish Agent;- Juan Gutierrez who can be contacted at juanv@caminosyrutas.com All accommodation, bags, and support along the way given. He made my life easier for very enjoyable Pilgrimage Walks. I have booked with again this year for the full Camino del Norte.
My local Parish always use him for a weeks pilgrimage from Sarria to Santiago, this is for a group of 30 plus pilgrims. I have always compared prices and services provided with other Agents. He is the best.
 

Opa Theo

Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Francais to Santiago
Hello, I am interested in having an agency book all my accommodations along the way for my first Camino Frances Sept. 2020. Traveling from the USA, Washington DC area. Thanks for your experience, JoAnna :)
October 2018 we walked the last 90 miles of the Camino Frances. We had Gary from Spanish Adventures make arrangements for us. He was very helpful arranging luggage transfers and accommodations. The costs were very reasonable. He suggested several detours to see religious or historical sites.
 

Vince Lee

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances (2017)
JoAnna, as you will have seen, a good proportion on this forum will advise against pre-booking but it is entirely your choice. We did pre-book the whole route in advance.

We were a group of 6 joined by a further 6 family and friends at various points along the route. Despite having to keep to our pre-booked schedule might have meant we did not have full flexibility, that is what we preferred. We wanted to guarantee a certain standard of accommodation and stayed primarily in small hotels and guest houses with our en-suite bathing facilities. It also meant we knew our whole group could be accommodated in the same place each night. In addition, heresy of heresy ( to some), we had our luggage transported each day.

I would recommend www.thewayexperiences.com. I initially requested quotes from 3 companies. Their prices were all very close but The Way Experiences were the most helpful in helping us plan, including the extra night’s rest stops we built in every 7-9 days. They are a company based in Madrid (think the company name is Cumbres travel).

Again, go with what works for you.
 

Vince Lee

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances (2017)
I should add, we met several individuals walking on their own who did the same as us. The fact that they weren’t staying in municipal albergues or other communal accommodation did not seem to mean they were having less of a Camino experience or not socialising along the way. We are still in touch with some of those individuals.
 

Dojo

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
CF (SJDP to SDC) Aug - Oct 2019
CP (Porto to SDC) May 2021
Joanna - lots of good information here. As I am 60+, walking solo, first camino, I booked the entire Camino Frances with Walk the Camino - private room with bath, breakfast and luggage transfer. It took me 43 days - 39 days walking and 4 rest days. Could I have gone further on some days - yes. Did it cost me extra money - yes, but I saved in time spent on a computer or phone booking accommodations. I saw many pilgrims running to the next city to get a bed or sitting at cafes frantically searching booking.com for a room within the next 20km. I had 24/7 hr support - which I never needed. Hotels were vetted, I never had an issue. All I had to do each day is walk and enjoy the company of fellow pilgrims. It is your Camino! Do what makes you feel comfortable. I am planning to do the Portuguese Coastal Camino in May 2021 and have booked with WTC again. Because of my good experience with them, I have 4 other women coming with me. Whatever option you choose, the Camino will provide the experience. Buen Camino.
 

JillGat

la tierra encantada
Camino(s) past & future
C. Frances SJPP - Finisterre - Muxia (May 2016)
C. Frances (Sept 2017)
Camino Portugues (June 2019)
If you get a couple of good guide books, they list and review accommodations along the way. If you book the first few nights ahead of time, I think you will be surprised at how easy it is - and how helpful other pilgrims and locals are - to decide as you go. And by then you will know what features are important to you to look for.
 
D

Deleted member 89517

Guest
Juan gutierrez was referred to me from this forum , juanv@caminosyrutas.com
Juan just finished helping me personalize my Camino Frances trip in Sept. 2020. I am very happy with him!
Buen Camino!
JoAnna
 

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