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2019 Camino Guides

Don't worry, about a thing... (top five fears and why they shouldn't be)

Camino(s) past & future
See signature. Too many to list here.
#1
Ok, so getting ready to head out again, I am startled a little by the "worrisome" posts I've seen on this forum. Um, its a walk in the park, or more accurately, a walk across a country... Here is my response to those most prominent fears, hoping to encourage newbies to get into it.

1) I am scared to walk alone.

The best thing about the whole thing, is that you are never really alone. I have met some amazing people along the way, and when one is particularly interesting, I ask them if they'd like to walk together, on occasion we organically just do. Sometimes its not about interesting, but rather about convenience, these other folks walk at my same pace and its cool to see their faces repeatedly. Regardless, friends met are a plenty. I head out alone every year, undeterred by the fear of being alone, because I haven't been yet.

2) Will I know where to go?

Um. There are little yellow arrows that show you exactly how to proceed. Its like a connect the dots game. I made fun of a college student from Florida a few years ago because he got lost. Um, really, just follow the instructions! NOTE: some routes have better arrows than others, but I have never been led astray, or not led.. The Camino Frances and most other major routes have EXCELLENT waymarking.

3) Is it safe?

More dangerous activities before your camino: 1) Driving to the airport, 2) Living in most American cities... Now, I have coworkers who look at me crossly when I describe how safe it is, having heard of last year's great loss. Still tho, I always tell them that there is a great respect for peregrinos on the Camino, some treatment offered from a religious perspective, others from a tourist economic contribution perspective. Either way, pilgrims are treated special and appreciated, and protected.

4) Where will I sleep (will I be boxed out)?

Ok, most of you will be traveling the Frances. This is the most developed Camino infrastructure wise. This route offers the most places to stop, and the most places available within those stops. Very often, very large alburgues are available throughout the entire route. Whether you are an 18K a day walker, or a 30+ k a day walker, there will be a place to settle down. Still though, I think that the best way to do it is to have a credit card in your back pocket, so that when you are tired of sharing a room with 30, you can own a room with its own shower and toilet. Treat yourself 1 or 2 or 3 times if possible. Nowadays, after I've done the alburgue thing regularly, I spend about 50% of my time in hotels, and the rest in the alburgues.

5) Will I be hurt physically?

Yes, unless you prepare. Prepare by: 1) walking a bunch, like with your dog. About 6 months before I head out I step up my dog walks. No equipment, no nothing other than a walk. Buddy loves it. 2) Keep your weight down. There are many many packing lists out there, but I have found the following to work:

35L or less backpack
3 pair underwear
2 Shorts
1 Pant
1 Rain Jacket (as light as possible)
3 Outer socks (Coolmax)
3 Sock Liners
1 Poncho
1 light sleeping bag
4 shirts (I am extravagant on this, 2 long sleeve polyester for walking, 2 smartwool for evenings)
1 Fleece (It gets cold sometimes)
Toiletries (3 oz of shampoo, toothbrush, travel size deodorant, bar of soap)
Sanitary wipes (these are very important...., must be flushable)
Camera, adapters, smartphone, cables

All in all pack weighs about 14 lbs... much less than 10% body weight...

Now about the training... wear your gear for a few or many more weeks before you head out. Some people say, "Just train on the first few days of the camino..." I say to simulate the camino for weeks before so that you can jump in ready to go. Start at like 3-5 miles a day, gradually moving to 10, wearing your stuff. Every other day training offers a chance for joints/feet to heal. Ease into it. But before you head out, try to match your longest day planned, wearing all your stuff. If you can do this ahead of time, the fear of the unknown is knocked down considerably.

I am sometimes given funny looks in my full camino regalia walking about Huntington Beach, CA. But I know I am just making sure when I walk that first day I'll be ready.

Somewhat of a soapbox,

Damien
 

CaminoDebrita

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances SJPP to SdC Oct/Nov 2015
Frances Burgos toSdC March/April 2016
W. Highland Way August 2016
Camino Somewhere September 2017
#3
Ok, so getting ready to head out again, I am startled a little by the "worrisome" posts I've seen on this forum. Um, its a walk in the park, or more accurately, a walk across a country... Here is my response to those most prominent fears, hoping to encourage newbies to get into it.

1) I am scared to walk alone.

The best thing about the whole thing, is that you are never really alone. I have met some amazing people along the way, and when one is particularly interesting, I ask them if they'd like to walk together, on occasion we organically just do. Sometimes its not about interesting, but rather about convenience, these other folks walk at my same pace and its cool to see their faces repeatedly. Regardless, friends met are a plenty. I head out alone every year, undeterred by the fear of being alone, because I haven't been yet.

2) Will I know where to go?

Um. There are little yellow arrows that show you exactly how to proceed. Its like a connect the dots game. I made fun of a college student from Florida a few years ago because he got lost. Um, really, just follow the instructions! NOTE: some routes have better arrows than others, but I have never been led astray, or not led.. The Camino Frances and most other major routes have EXCELLENT waymarking.

3) Is it safe?

More dangerous activities before your camino: 1) Driving to the airport, 2) Living in most American cities... Now, I have coworkers who look at me crossly when I describe how safe it is, having heard of last year's great loss. Still tho, I always tell them that there is a great respect for peregrinos on the Camino, some treatment offered from a religious perspective, others from a tourist economic contribution perspective. Either way, pilgrims are treated special and appreciated, and protected.

4) Where will I sleep (will I be boxed out)?

Ok, most of you will be traveling the Frances. This is the most developed Camino infrastructure wise. This route offers the most places to stop, and the most places available within those stops. Very often, very large alburgues are available throughout the entire route. Whether you are an 18K a day walker, or a 30+ k a day walker, there will be a place to settle down. Still though, I think that the best way to do it is to have a credit card in your back pocket, so that when you are tired of sharing a room with 30, you can own a room with its own shower and toilet. Treat yourself 1 or 2 or 3 times if possible. Nowadays, after I've done the alburgue thing regularly, I spend about 50% of my time in hotels, and the rest in the alburgues.

5) Will I be hurt physically?

Yes, unless you prepare. Prepare by: 1) walking a bunch, like with your dog. About 6 months before I head out I step up my dog walks. No equipment, no nothing other than a walk. Buddy loves it. 2) Keep your weight down. There are many many packing lists out there, but I have found the following to work:

35L or less backpack
3 pair underwear
2 Shorts
1 Pant
1 Rain Jacket (as light as possible)
3 Outer socks (Coolmax)
3 Sock Liners
1 Poncho
1 light sleeping bag
4 shirts (I am extravagant on this, 2 long sleeve polyester for walking, 2 smartwool for evenings)
1 Fleece (It gets cold sometimes)
Toiletries (3 oz of shampoo, toothbrush, travel size deodorant, bar of soap)
Sanitary wipes (these are very important...., must be flushable)
Camera, adapters, smartphone, cables

All in all pack weighs about 14 lbs... much less than 10% body weight...

Now about the training... wear your gear for a few or many more weeks before you head out. Some people say, "Just train on the first few days of the camino..." I say to simulate the camino for weeks before so that you can jump in ready to go. Start at like 3-5 miles a day, gradually moving to 10, wearing your stuff. Every other day training offers a chance for joints/feet to heal. Ease into it. But before you head out, try to match your longest day planned, wearing all your stuff. If you can do this ahead of time, the fear of the unknown is knocked down considerably.

I am sometimes given funny looks in my full camino regalia walking about Huntington Beach, CA. But I know I am just making sure when I walk that first day I'll be ready.

Somewhat of a soapbox,

Damien

Buen Camino, Damien!
 
Camino(s) past & future
Completed CF in Oct 2016
#4
Jason, a close neighbor here from Long Beach, do you exclude a pair of sandals or something to walk around in while in a town. No warmer jacket because of the time of year you are traveling
 
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances (2012, 2014, 2015, 2016). Seville-Astorga (Mar 2017). Mozarabe (Apr-May 2018)
#6
Good post.
Sanitary wipes (these are very important...., must be flushable)
Best not to flush them, but dispose as garbage/rubbish. As this Consumer Reports video points out, they don't break down as easily as you might think. Sometimes you will see signs over toilets, asking people to not flush them.
 
Camino(s) past & future
See signature. Too many to list here.
#7
Jason, a close neighbor here from Long Beach, do you exclude a pair of sandals or something to walk around in while in a town. No warmer jacket because of the time of year you are traveling
Darn it I should have included sandals on the list. Yes, I bring flip flops. Some people wear them in the showers too.

As far as no warmer jacket, I use layers... so if it is cold I can be wearing my long sleeve top, and my fleece, and my rain jacket. I have a cheap beanie to keep the ears warm too. But I suppose it is helpful that this is my spring / fall garb. I've never been in winter.
 
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances-(2013/14/18
Camino Salvado Perth -(2015)
West Highland Way (2016)
Lyon France 2017
#8
Very good info here Damien - thankyou for sharing this. I have taken the liberty of sharing this post on my Australian Pilgrims on the Camino Facebook group - spreading the word around.
 

soozansings

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
June 2nd (2016)
#9
Ok, so getting ready to head out again, I am startled a little by the "worrisome" posts I've seen on this forum. Um, its a walk in the park, or more accurately, a walk across a country... Here is my response to those most prominent fears, hoping to encourage newbies to get into it.

1) I am scared to walk alone.

The best thing about the whole thing, is that you are never really alone. I have met some amazing people along the way, and when one is particularly interesting, I ask them if they'd like to walk together, on occasion we organically just do. Sometimes its not about interesting, but rather about convenience, these other folks walk at my same pace and its cool to see their faces repeatedly. Regardless, friends met are a plenty. I head out alone every year, undeterred by the fear of being alone, because I haven't been yet.

2) Will I know where to go?

Um. There are little yellow arrows that show you exactly how to proceed. Its like a connect the dots game. I made fun of a college student from Florida a few years ago because he got lost. Um, really, just follow the instructions! NOTE: some routes have better arrows than others, but I have never been led astray, or not led.. The Camino Frances and most other major routes have EXCELLENT waymarking.

3) Is it safe?

More dangerous activities before your camino: 1) Driving to the airport, 2) Living in most American cities... Now, I have coworkers who look at me crossly when I describe how safe it is, having heard of last year's great loss. Still tho, I always tell them that there is a great respect for peregrinos on the Camino, some treatment offered from a religious perspective, others from a tourist economic contribution perspective. Either way, pilgrims are treated special and appreciated, and protected.

4) Where will I sleep (will I be boxed out)?

Ok, most of you will be traveling the Frances. This is the most developed Camino infrastructure wise. This route offers the most places to stop, and the most places available within those stops. Very often, very large alburgues are available throughout the entire route. Whether you are an 18K a day walker, or a 30+ k a day walker, there will be a place to settle down. Still though, I think that the best way to do it is to have a credit card in your back pocket, so that when you are tired of sharing a room with 30, you can own a room with its own shower and toilet. Treat yourself 1 or 2 or 3 times if possible. Nowadays, after I've done the alburgue thing regularly, I spend about 50% of my time in hotels, and the rest in the alburgues.

5) Will I be hurt physically?

Yes, unless you prepare. Prepare by: 1) walking a bunch, like with your dog. About 6 months before I head out I step up my dog walks. No equipment, no nothing other than a walk. Buddy loves it. 2) Keep your weight down. There are many many packing lists out there, but I have found the following to work:

35L or less backpack
3 pair underwear
2 Shorts
1 Pant
1 Rain Jacket (as light as possible)
3 Outer socks (Coolmax)
3 Sock Liners
1 Poncho
1 light sleeping bag
4 shirts (I am extravagant on this, 2 long sleeve polyester for walking, 2 smartwool for evenings)
1 Fleece (It gets cold sometimes)
Toiletries (3 oz of shampoo, toothbrush, travel size deodorant, bar of soap)
Sanitary wipes (these are very important...., must be flushable)
Camera, adapters, smartphone, cables

All in all pack weighs about 14 lbs... much less than 10% body weight...

Now about the training... wear your gear for a few or many more weeks before you head out. Some people say, "Just train on the first few days of the camino..." I say to simulate the camino for weeks before so that you can jump in ready to go. Start at like 3-5 miles a day, gradually moving to 10, wearing your stuff. Every other day training offers a chance for joints/feet to heal. Ease into it. But before you head out, try to match your longest day planned, wearing all your stuff. If you can do this ahead of time, the fear of the unknown is knocked down considerably.

I am sometimes given funny looks in my full camino regalia walking about Huntington Beach, CA. But I know I am just making sure when I walk that first day I'll be ready.

Somewhat of a soapbox,

Damien
I understand the image thing lol. A 56 year old woman with a bright pink backpack and a boonie hat, doing her best to learn to walk with trekking poles (which I'm going to sell because I hate them), walking every day through the local parks and down to the waterfront. I got a lot of quizzical looks for the first month but now the locals just smile and wave at the crazy lady .
 

Peter Fransiscus

Do good and good will come to you.
Camino(s) past & future
All that we are is the result of what we have thought.
#10
Ok, so getting ready to head out again, I am startled a little by the "worrisome" posts I've seen on this forum. Um, its a walk in the park, or more accurately, a walk across a country... Here is my response to those most prominent fears, hoping to encourage newbies to get into it.

1) I am scared to walk alone.

The best thing about the whole thing, is that you are never really alone. I have met some amazing people along the way, and when one is particularly interesting, I ask them if they'd like to walk together, on occasion we organically just do. Sometimes its not about interesting, but rather about convenience, these other folks walk at my same pace and its cool to see their faces repeatedly. Regardless, friends met are a plenty. I head out alone every year, undeterred by the fear of being alone, because I haven't been yet.

2) Will I know where to go?

Um. There are little yellow arrows that show you exactly how to proceed. Its like a connect the dots game. I made fun of a college student from Florida a few years ago because he got lost. Um, really, just follow the instructions! NOTE: some routes have better arrows than others, but I have never been led astray, or not led.. The Camino Frances and most other major routes have EXCELLENT waymarking.

3) Is it safe?

More dangerous activities before your camino: 1) Driving to the airport, 2) Living in most American cities... Now, I have coworkers who look at me crossly when I describe how safe it is, having heard of last year's great loss. Still tho, I always tell them that there is a great respect for peregrinos on the Camino, some treatment offered from a religious perspective, others from a tourist economic contribution perspective. Either way, pilgrims are treated special and appreciated, and protected.

4) Where will I sleep (will I be boxed out)?

Ok, most of you will be traveling the Frances. This is the most developed Camino infrastructure wise. This route offers the most places to stop, and the most places available within those stops. Very often, very large alburgues are available throughout the entire route. Whether you are an 18K a day walker, or a 30+ k a day walker, there will be a place to settle down. Still though, I think that the best way to do it is to have a credit card in your back pocket, so that when you are tired of sharing a room with 30, you can own a room with its own shower and toilet. Treat yourself 1 or 2 or 3 times if possible. Nowadays, after I've done the alburgue thing regularly, I spend about 50% of my time in hotels, and the rest in the alburgues.

5) Will I be hurt physically?

Yes, unless you prepare. Prepare by: 1) walking a bunch, like with your dog. About 6 months before I head out I step up my dog walks. No equipment, no nothing other than a walk. Buddy loves it. 2) Keep your weight down. There are many many packing lists out there, but I have found the following to work:

35L or less backpack
3 pair underwear
2 Shorts
1 Pant
1 Rain Jacket (as light as possible)
3 Outer socks (Coolmax)
3 Sock Liners
1 Poncho
1 light sleeping bag
4 shirts (I am extravagant on this, 2 long sleeve polyester for walking, 2 smartwool for evenings)
1 Fleece (It gets cold sometimes)
Toiletries (3 oz of shampoo, toothbrush, travel size deodorant, bar of soap)
Sanitary wipes (these are very important...., must be flushable)
Camera, adapters, smartphone, cables

All in all pack weighs about 14 lbs... much less than 10% body weight...

Now about the training... wear your gear for a few or many more weeks before you head out. Some people say, "Just train on the first few days of the camino..." I say to simulate the camino for weeks before so that you can jump in ready to go. Start at like 3-5 miles a day, gradually moving to 10, wearing your stuff. Every other day training offers a chance for joints/feet to heal. Ease into it. But before you head out, try to match your longest day planned, wearing all your stuff. If you can do this ahead of time, the fear of the unknown is knocked down considerably.

I am sometimes given funny looks in my full camino regalia walking about Huntington Beach, CA. But I know I am just making sure when I walk that first day I'll be ready.

Somewhat of a soapbox,

Damien
Hi Damien, wish you well and a Buen Camino, Peter.
 

Kiwi Suz

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino del Norte, 2016
#11
Ok, so getting ready to head out again, I am startled a little by the "worrisome" posts I've seen on this forum. Um, its a walk in the park, or more accurately, a walk across a country... Here is my response to those most prominent fears, hoping to encourage newbies to get into it.

1) I am scared to walk alone.

The best thing about the whole thing, is that you are never really alone. I have met some amazing people along the way, and when one is particularly interesting, I ask them if they'd like to walk together, on occasion we organically just do. Sometimes its not about interesting, but rather about convenience, these other folks walk at my same pace and its cool to see their faces repeatedly. Regardless, friends met are a plenty. I head out alone every year, undeterred by the fear of being alone, because I haven't been yet.

2) Will I know where to go?

Um. There are little yellow arrows that show you exactly how to proceed. Its like a connect the dots game. I made fun of a college student from Florida a few years ago because he got lost. Um, really, just follow the instructions! NOTE: some routes have better arrows than others, but I have never been led astray, or not led.. The Camino Frances and most other major routes have EXCELLENT waymarking.

3) Is it safe?

More dangerous activities before your camino: 1) Driving to the airport, 2) Living in most American cities... Now, I have coworkers who look at me crossly when I describe how safe it is, having heard of last year's great loss. Still tho, I always tell them that there is a great respect for peregrinos on the Camino, some treatment offered from a religious perspective, others from a tourist economic contribution perspective. Either way, pilgrims are treated special and appreciated, and protected.

4) Where will I sleep (will I be boxed out)?

Ok, most of you will be traveling the Frances. This is the most developed Camino infrastructure wise. This route offers the most places to stop, and the most places available within those stops. Very often, very large alburgues are available throughout the entire route. Whether you are an 18K a day walker, or a 30+ k a day walker, there will be a place to settle down. Still though, I think that the best way to do it is to have a credit card in your back pocket, so that when you are tired of sharing a room with 30, you can own a room with its own shower and toilet. Treat yourself 1 or 2 or 3 times if possible. Nowadays, after I've done the alburgue thing regularly, I spend about 50% of my time in hotels, and the rest in the alburgues.

5) Will I be hurt physically?

Yes, unless you prepare. Prepare by: 1) walking a bunch, like with your dog. About 6 months before I head out I step up my dog walks. No equipment, no nothing other than a walk. Buddy loves it. 2) Keep your weight down. There are many many packing lists out there, but I have found the following to work:

35L or less backpack
3 pair underwear
2 Shorts
1 Pant
1 Rain Jacket (as light as possible)
3 Outer socks (Coolmax)
3 Sock Liners
1 Poncho
1 light sleeping bag
4 shirts (I am extravagant on this, 2 long sleeve polyester for walking, 2 smartwool for evenings)
1 Fleece (It gets cold sometimes)
Toiletries (3 oz of shampoo, toothbrush, travel size deodorant, bar of soap)
Sanitary wipes (these are very important...., must be flushable)
Camera, adapters, smartphone, cables

All in all pack weighs about 14 lbs... much less than 10% body weight...

Now about the training... wear your gear for a few or many more weeks before you head out. Some people say, "Just train on the first few days of the camino..." I say to simulate the camino for weeks before so that you can jump in ready to go. Start at like 3-5 miles a day, gradually moving to 10, wearing your stuff. Every other day training offers a chance for joints/feet to heal. Ease into it. But before you head out, try to match your longest day planned, wearing all your stuff. If you can do this ahead of time, the fear of the unknown is knocked down considerably.

I am sometimes given funny looks in my full camino regalia walking about Huntington Beach, CA. But I know I am just making sure when I walk that first day I'll be ready.

Somewhat of a soapbox,

Damien
Thanks you so much, great to read a nice positive post. Can I ask...can I get away with just bringing a sleep sheet and hiring blankets at albergues? I am a bit worried about bringing bed bugs home, so want to avoid the whole bag thing. Thanks again for a great post!
 
Camino(s) past & future
See signature. Too many to list here.
#12
Thanks you so much, great to read a nice positive post. Can I ask...can I get away with just bringing a sleep sheet and hiring blankets at albergues? I am a bit worried about bringing bed bugs home, so want to avoid the whole bag thing. Thanks again for a great post!
Hmmm... This one may require some input from others. In my 7 previous Caminos, I have encountered bed bugs only twice, and been bitten just once (this was before I took any precautions). I always bring a sleeping bag, a very light one like this... http://www.montbell.us/products/disp.php?p_id=2321185... Its only rated to 50 Degrees F, or 10 Degrees C, which means its perfect for the indoor confines of Alburgues but is intended to be used with a higher weight sleeping bag if one is truly backpacking or sleeping outdoors in colder weather. Now before I go I treat the "sleeping bag" with Permethrin for a bit of peace of mind against the dreaded Cinches. I also inspect the mattresses at every Alburgue, and hotel for that matter, before I choose to settle down from the day's walk. I inspect the mattresses by looking for dark spots, little bed bug poops, especially along the seams and nooks and crevices.

Now, consensus it seems is that bed bugs transport themselves not necessarily through the sleeping bag, but rather through one's backpack! So forgoing a sleeping bag might not help much. Because of this, I also treat my pack, inside and out, with the same Permethrin.

There are numerous threads about bedbugs on this forum, including about how to make sure you don't bring them home. None of them, to my recollection, suggest not taking a sleeping bag.

I also would prefer to use my own sleeping bag for warmth, rather than some random alburgue's blankets, just because, well, who knows where that blanket has been or the last time it was washed.

Damien
 

Kiwi Suz

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino del Norte, 2016
#13
Hmmm... This one may require some input from others. In my 7 previous Caminos, I have encountered bed bugs only twice, and been bitten just once (this was before I took any precautions). I always bring a sleeping bag, a very light one like this... http://www.montbell.us/products/disp.php?p_id=2321185... Its only rated to 50 Degrees F, or 10 Degrees C, which means its perfect for the indoor confines of Alburgues but is intended to be used with a higher weight sleeping bag if one is truly backpacking or sleeping outdoors in colder weather. Now before I go I treat the "sleeping bag" with Permethrin for a bit of peace of mind against the dreaded Cinches. I also inspect the mattresses at every Alburgue, and hotel for that matter, before I choose to settle down from the day's walk. I inspect the mattresses by looking for dark spots, little bed bug poops, especially along the seams and nooks and crevices.

Now, consensus it seems is that bed bugs transport themselves not necessarily through the sleeping bag, but rather through one's backpack! So forgoing a sleeping bag might not help much. Because of this, I also treat my pack, inside and out, with the same Permethrin.

There are numerous threads about bedbugs on this forum, including about how to make sure you don't bring them home. None of them, to my recollection, suggest not taking a sleeping bag.

I also would prefer to use my own sleeping bag for warmth, rather than some random alburgue's blankets, just because, well, who knows where that blanket has been or the last time it was washed.

Damien
Thanks so much for taking the time to respond, and all the great advice. I am going to way it all up, but good to know there are blankets in alburgues. I like the idea of of a sleep sheet, takes less space, and for cleanliness , like you say. Also easier to check for bugs before you move on.
I have encountered bbs before, so now as super weary. But not to the point of ruining my travels!
Thanks again for the advice.
 

Tacitus

Mary Kate
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances
(May 2015)
Chemin Le Puy
(2018?)
#14
Thanks you so much, great to read a nice positive post. Can I ask...can I get away with just bringing a sleep sheet and hiring blankets at albergues? I am a bit worried about bringing bed bugs home, so want to avoid the whole bag thing. Thanks again for a great post!
I don't know a whole lot about bedbugs (I hear that silk is good though), but I didn't bring a sleeping bag on my camino and I was fine! I brought a sleeping bag liner instead (which was a lot smaller) I also went in May/June and only used blankets from the albergues when I was just to lazy to fully unpack my stuff. Hope this was helpful! Buen Camino!
 

bunnymac

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
CF 2012 SJPP-Logrono, 2013 Logrono-Burgos, 2014 Burgos-Leon
CF August/September 2016 SJPP- Santiago
#15
Ok, so getting ready to head out again, I am startled a little by the "worrisome" posts I've seen on this forum. Um, its a walk in the park, or more accurately, a walk across a country... Here is my response to those most prominent fears, hoping to encourage newbies to get into it.

1) I am scared to walk alone.

The best thing about the whole thing, is that you are never really alone. I have met some amazing people along the way, and when one is particularly interesting, I ask them if they'd like to walk together, on occasion we organically just do. Sometimes its not about interesting, but rather about convenience, these other folks walk at my same pace and its cool to see their faces repeatedly. Regardless, friends met are a plenty. I head out alone every year, undeterred by the fear of being alone, because I haven't been yet.

2) Will I know where to go?

Um. There are little yellow arrows that show you exactly how to proceed. Its like a connect the dots game. I made fun of a college student from Florida a few years ago because he got lost. Um, really, just follow the instructions! NOTE: some routes have better arrows than others, but I have never been led astray, or not led.. The Camino Frances and most other major routes have EXCELLENT waymarking.

3) Is it safe?

More dangerous activities before your camino: 1) Driving to the airport, 2) Living in most American cities... Now, I have coworkers who look at me crossly when I describe how safe it is, having heard of last year's great loss. Still tho, I always tell them that there is a great respect for peregrinos on the Camino, some treatment offered from a religious perspective, others from a tourist economic contribution perspective. Either way, pilgrims are treated special and appreciated, and protected.

4) Where will I sleep (will I be boxed out)?

Ok, most of you will be traveling the Frances. This is the most developed Camino infrastructure wise. This route offers the most places to stop, and the most places available within those stops. Very often, very large alburgues are available throughout the entire route. Whether you are an 18K a day walker, or a 30+ k a day walker, there will be a place to settle down. Still though, I think that the best way to do it is to have a credit card in your back pocket, so that when you are tired of sharing a room with 30, you can own a room with its own shower and toilet. Treat yourself 1 or 2 or 3 times if possible. Nowadays, after I've done the alburgue thing regularly, I spend about 50% of my time in hotels, and the rest in the alburgues.

5) Will I be hurt physically?

Yes, unless you prepare. Prepare by: 1) walking a bunch, like with your dog. About 6 months before I head out I step up my dog walks. No equipment, no nothing other than a walk. Buddy loves it. 2) Keep your weight down. There are many many packing lists out there, but I have found the following to work:

35L or less backpack
3 pair underwear
2 Shorts
1 Pant
1 Rain Jacket (as light as possible)
3 Outer socks (Coolmax)
3 Sock Liners
1 Poncho
1 light sleeping bag
4 shirts (I am extravagant on this, 2 long sleeve polyester for walking, 2 smartwool for evenings)
1 Fleece (It gets cold sometimes)
Toiletries (3 oz of shampoo, toothbrush, travel size deodorant, bar of soap)
Sanitary wipes (these are very important...., must be flushable)
Camera, adapters, smartphone, cables

All in all pack weighs about 14 lbs... much less than 10% body weight...

Now about the training... wear your gear for a few or many more weeks before you head out. Some people say, "Just train on the first few days of the camino..." I say to simulate the camino for weeks before so that you can jump in ready to go. Start at like 3-5 miles a day, gradually moving to 10, wearing your stuff. Every other day training offers a chance for joints/feet to heal. Ease into it. But before you head out, try to match your longest day planned, wearing all your stuff. If you can do this ahead of time, the fear of the unknown is knocked down considerably.

I am sometimes given funny looks in my full camino regalia walking about Huntington Beach, CA. But I know I am just making sure when I walk that first day I'll be ready.

Somewhat of a soapbox,

Damien
That's really solid advice - most importantly - don't overthink it :)
 
Camino(s) past & future
(1983 - 1985-1990-1995-1999-2003-2008-2012-2013-2014-2015-2016-2017) CF, etc.
#17
To the person that said they hated their trekking poles, you may want to reconsider taking them with you. They not only aid you in going up and down the steep sections ,but also provide you with a little more balance in the rougher trails. The trail up to La Faba can be a bit challenging with the mud,rocks ,roots, etc. Don,t worry about technique,you will find your own natural way of walking with them. Trekking poles are the one piece of gear that I never travel with out. Also good to poke with along the way. Don,t worry about getting lost either. The discarded Kleenex every 100 meters or so will mark the way,all the way to SDC, Duh! Buen Camino, keep walking,and keep smiling.
 

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