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Checked backpack question - US to Porto

BROWNCOUNTYBOB

Active Member
Time of past OR future Camino
Camino Frances: 2015, 2017, 2019, 2021
My wife and I have hiked Camino Frances four times. Each time we've travelled from the US to Spain and each time we've carried on our backpacks. We only checked on a duffle bag that contained our trekking poles, swiss army knife and scissors. In each case, our landing destination was Madrid (3 times) or Barcelona (once). We were concerned about the risk of checking on our backpacks and not having them make the plane to Spain. This would have been a big issue since we spent one night in Madrid, took a train to Pamplona, took a bus to St Jean. So if our backpacks missed a connecting flight, how would the backpacks reconnect with us prior to starting our camino?

This fall, I am hiking alone, in part to allow Cindi's stress fracture from our 2021 camino heal further. And because we brought another beagle puppy (named Leche!) into our household last September, and because Cindi's mother will soon turn 90. For the first time, I am planning to check on my backpack. I've decided to hike Camino Portuguese, starting in Porto. I will fly from Indpls through a US airport to Madrid, then to Porto. I will hike Porto to Santiago, then from Santiago to the US.

So my question is with my initial trip from Indpls to Madrid, to Porto, will the airline check my backpack all the way to Porto for me to retrieve, and check through customs and passport control at Porto? I'm hoping this is the case. Or will I need to retrieve the backpack in Madrid, bring through customs, then send onward to Porto the final destination. BTW, I don't need to send a duffle bag along as I don't plan to bring my trekking poles on CP since the route is fairly flat and only 14 stages.

Thanks for any info! Bob
 
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If you are flying on one through ticket you will go through Passport control/Immigration in Madrid, but you will not pick up your luggage until your final destination.

Is there a reason why you aren't going to carry it on the plane?
 
My wife and I have hiked Camino Frances four times. Each time we've travelled from the US to Spain and each time we've carried on our backpacks. We only checked on a duffle bag that contained our trekking poles, swiss army knife and scissors. In each case, our landing destination was Madrid (3 times) or Barcelona (once). We were concerned about the risk of checking on our backpacks and not having them make the plane to Spain. This would have been a big issue since we spent one night in Madrid, took a train to Pamplona, took a bus to St Jean. So if our backpacks missed a connecting flight, how would the backpacks reconnect with us prior to starting our camino?

This fall, I am hiking alone, in part to allow Cindi's stress fracture from our 2021 camino heal further. And because we brought another beagle puppy (named Leche!) into our household last September, and because Cindi's mother will soon turn 90. For the first time, I am planning to check on my backpack. I've decided to hike Camino Portuguese, starting in Porto. I will fly from Indpls through a US airport to Madrid, then to Porto. I will hike Porto to Santiago, then from Santiago to the US.

So my question is with my initial trip from Indpls to Madrid, to Porto, will the airline check my backpack all the way to Porto for me to retrieve, and check through customs and passport control at Porto? I'm hoping this is the case. Or will I need to retrieve the backpack in Madrid, bring through customs, then send onward to Porto the final destination. BTW, I don't need to send a duffle bag along as I don't plan to bring my trekking poles on CP since the route is fairly flat and only 14 stages.

Thanks for any info! Bob
Do check the tag on your bag when you check in. The destination shown on that is definitive.

Only went wrong for me once when flying into Geneva then taking a train within Switzerland. I assumed that my bag would be collected at the airport, not believing that any country on the planet had an integrated transport system so efficient that my bag would go straight to my final destination.

Spoiler alert: this doesn’t happen in Spain.
 
I don’t have any info on your checked backpack because we always carry ours on the plane but there are direct flights from Newark to Porto. We’ve flown this route several times. We fly out of Raleigh, NC. After your Camino take the bus from SDC back to Porto. The bus stops at the airport. We’ve done 3 caminos and always fly back from Porto. Also, we’ve done the Camino Portuguese and it’s our favorite. We stayed on the coast as much as we could. Bom Caminho!!
 
If I were you I would do what you always do and carry your backpack with you. You are walking hundreds of kilometers with it what is another 1 or 2 airport kilometers. I know others have different opinions but I would NEVER check my backpack.
 
John Brierley 2023 Camino Guide
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My wife and I have hiked Camino Frances four times. Each time we've travelled from the US to Spain and each time we've carried on our backpacks. We only checked on a duffle bag that contained our trekking poles, swiss army knife and scissors. In each case, our landing destination was Madrid (3 times) or Barcelona (once). We were concerned about the risk of checking on our backpacks and not having them make the plane to Spain. This would have been a big issue since we spent one night in Madrid, took a train to Pamplona, took a bus to St Jean. So if our backpacks missed a connecting flight, how would the backpacks reconnect with us prior to starting our camino?

This fall, I am hiking alone, in part to allow Cindi's stress fracture from our 2021 camino heal further. And because we brought another beagle puppy (named Leche!) into our household last September, and because Cindi's mother will soon turn 90. For the first time, I am planning to check on my backpack. I've decided to hike Camino Portuguese, starting in Porto. I will fly from Indpls through a US airport to Madrid, then to Porto. I will hike Porto to Santiago, then from Santiago to the US.

So my question is with my initial trip from Indpls to Madrid, to Porto, will the airline check my backpack all the way to Porto for me to retrieve, and check through customs and passport control at Porto? I'm hoping this is the case. Or will I need to retrieve the backpack in Madrid, bring through customs, then send onward to Porto the final destination. BTW, I don't need to send a duffle bag along as I don't plan to bring my trekking poles on CP since the route is fairly flat and only 14 stages.

Thanks for any info! Bob

I recommend packing an Apple AirTag or similar device so you can track your pack’s location.
 
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We only checked on a duffle bag that contained our trekking poles, swiss army knife and scissors. In each case, our landing destination was Madrid (3 times) or Barcelona (once). We were concerned about the risk of checking on our backpacks and not having them make the plane to Spain.
Is this the only reason why you are checking your bag? If so - you could always keep your backpack with you and put the other items in a small bag to be checked. That way - if it is lost - you aren't losing your whole pack. Alternatively - do you really need to bring all of those items with you? You could always buy some inexpensive poles and swiss army knife when you arrive if you feel you need them. And you could get a swiss army knife that has built in scissors. OR - I have a pair of nail clippers that has a built in scissors and it is allowed on carry on. I personally go out of my way to avoid checking a bag on the way to any trip because of potential lost luggage and also because I hate waiting around for my bags when I could be starting my vacation. On the way home I don't care so much.

But sorry - I don't have the answer for your specific route. I know on some international flights with connections (same ticket) passengers do have to pick up their checked luggage to go through customs and then have to recheck bags for the connecting flight. But not sure which airports. I know my daughter has had to do this a couple of times.
 
Thanks for all the comments. I may rethink checking on my backpack (thanks for the push back comments!). My brother and his wife hiked CP last fall and he said I don't need to bring my trekking poles. And I'm sure I can find a nice swiss army knife in Porto.

My backpack is Osprey 50 L Atmos and I'm sure I can reduce the items I carry compared to past caminos. I have pre-booked private room reservations for every night, so don't need to carry sleeping bag / liner, travel towel, and can downsize the medical kit and laundry kit Cindi and I have used before. Can also downsize the rain gear which last camino consisted of gore tex jacket, poncho, rain pants and gaiters. During our first camino we only had the jackets and if it rained, we hiked in our shorts which dried quickly. Unfortunately during our third camino, we hiked several days in monsoon type weather all day long and were soaked to the bone, so we geared up for our last camino in 2021.

And I've made backpack transport reservations with Jacotrans every stage, so I'll just carry a few items in my daypack. I already have my pilgrim's passport. I just applied for a new US passport. Good to go on flights. I did purchase an Apple air tag and will attach to my backpack in the plane and for Jacotrans.

I plan on hiking the coastal route to Viana do Castelo (4 stages), then will head inland to Ponte de Lima. My brother hiked the Central Route and convinced me to not miss Ponte de Lima. Then two stages to Tui, and 7 stages to Santiago. Along the way, I will stay in the paradores in Tui and Pontevedra. Average stage 18 kms so will be less demanding vs CF. After four Camino Frances, I'm looking forward to this new adventure! Bob
 
Sounds like a great opportunity to downsize your gear. And if you do leave behind a lot of your rain gear and find you needed it afterall - you could always pick up a cheap poncho. As long as you have at least a rain jacket you will probably be good!
 
Do check the tag on your bag when you check in. The destination shown on that is definitive.
I can think of at least two Australian airports where this isn't so. They both involve transiting from an international flight to a domestic flight, when customs clearance is done at the transit airport, even if your checked baggage is booked through to your final destination.

I understand that in Europe, only immigration checks are done at the first arrival airport, and customs clearance is then done at the destination airport. I am crossing my fingers that this is so as my wife and I are flying to Portugal through Paris and Madrid, and we are expecting to go through immigration at CDG and customs at MAD. That is in addition to two other airports that involve changes in the aircraft we will travelling on. This will be a real test of my faith in the airlines keeping passengers and their baggage together.
 
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Thanks for posting this question and everyone’s comments.

I haven’t checked my luggage in nearly 15years after repeated airlines losing my bags. I’m leaving for Porto in 40 days. I am nervous and excited all rolled into one. 😊

I’ve got a rather large Deuter 60 +10 backpack that I’ve had for years. Obviously too big for this kind of walk, but it is what I have and it is amazingly comfortable. I’m looking at the pack, I’ve realized that it is highly likely too big for carry on. I do have to take 4 flights (19 hours of flying) to get to Porto from western Canada.

From the conversation so far, it looks like I should go get a smaller pack that I can carry on.
 
I take it that the main reason to check the backpack is to transport tracking poles and knifes? Has anyone ever been allowed to carry on their trekking poles?
 
I take it that the main reason to check the backpack is to transport tracking poles and knifes?
I would be much more comfortable carrying on my pack and checking my poles and knife in their own package. Based on an N of 2 (my own experience and one other forum member’s experience), I think it is a much better idea to check your poles in a duffel bag with padding rather than in a cylindrical tube. I have now heard from someone on the forum that their cardboard tube went missing, and the same thing happened to me.

So, my scattered comments/advice/ideas about getting your stuff over to Spain, at least from the US

— never check a backpack
— if you want to try to carry on your poles, have a Plan B (I always carry mine on in a duffel, so I can quickly go down and check the whole thing if they won’t let them through, though that hasn’t yet happened to me).
— if you do check your poles, put them in a duffel rather than in a tube. Tubes are “irregular luggage”, and I think that feature takes them out of the normal airport routine.
— knives must always be checked, so it may be easier to just buy a cheap pocket knife in Spain(France/Portugal.

From Spain back home, I just check everything and hope for the best. Going home, nothing stands or falls on whether my poles and my pack arrive when I do.
 

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