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First Camino, throw some advice my way

Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances (2018)
#1
I'm starting the Camino Frances on April 4th (2018) and I feel rather unprepared. If any of you have some tips, warnings, words of wisdom- about literally anything- please share!
 

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Dorpie

Active Member
Donating Member
Camino(s) past & future
Santiago to Finisterre to Muxia 2013
Camino Frances May 2015
Camino Frances July 2017
#2
I think in a way it's good to be underprepared. You've got a whole month to get the hang of this camino thing. I loved the feeling of getting fitter each day I walked, at least that's my excuse for not training ;) . I feel I'd have lost something of the experience if it was easy from the start.

Spain has shops (though not so many big ones until you hit Pamplona), so any kit you decide you need is only three days away.

Get your boots, socks and pack worked out, everything else can be fixed along the way. Just one practical note- cash is king on the camino so make sure you always have some, it's easy to go three or four days without seeing an ATM.
 

HeidiL

Veteran Member
Donating Member
Camino(s) past & future
C. Francés (2004-), C. Portugués, C. de Madrid, 1/2 V. Plata, 1/8 Levante, hospitalera Grado 2016.
#3
Also, start with short distances, don't bring too much stuff, and TAKE CARE OF YOUR FEET AND KNEES.

As long as you don't have (too many) blisters or damage a knee, everything else will be fine.
 
Camino(s) past & future
Via de la Plata
#4
I think in a way it's good to be underprepared. You've got a whole month to get the hang of this camino thing. I loved the feeling of getting fitter each day I walked, at least that's my excuse for not training ;) . I feel I'd have lost something of the experience if it was easy from the start.

Spain has shops (though not so many big ones until you hit Pamplona), so any kit you decide you need is only three days away.

Get your boots, socks and pack worked out, everything else can be fixed along the way. Just one practical note- cash is king on the camino so make sure you always have some, it's easy to go three or four days without seeing an ATM.
Dorpie, that's great advice for the person,
 

falcon269

no commercial interests
Camino(s) past & future
yes
#5
I feel rather unprepared
Then get prepared!!!

Do some extensive training with your footwear and pack. There should be no surprises on the Camino except the people, the scenery, and the food. It is the wrong place to first discover a tight spot in your boots, a backpack that does not fit, or rain gear that does not protect you. Unless you have watched the passengers boarding the morning train out of SJPdP to Bayonne, you do not understand the number who are defeated by the first day! They all were unprepared for the difficulty of your undertaking. Be one of the successful ones by being prepared.
 

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Robo

Veteran Member
Donating Member
Camino(s) past & future
CF SJPdP to SdC
(May 2015)
Alone.
------------------------------
CF Sarria to SdC
(May 2016)
with my wife Pat.
------------------------------
CF SJPDP-SdC
(Apr/May 2018)
together again :-)
#6
Unless you have watched the passengers boarding the morning train out of SJPdP to Bayonne, you do not understand the number who are defeated by the first day! .
Really? :rolleyes:

I never saw anyone walking ‘down’ the hill.....
 

trecile

Veteran Member
Donating Member
Camino(s) past & future
Aug-Sept(2016) SJPDP-Finisterre, July-Aug(2017) SJPDP-Muxia-Finisterre, July-Aug(2018) El Norte
#7
My advice? There's tons of information on this forum. Spend time reading it, and use the search feature to find information on specific questions you might have, like what kind of socks to bring, how to get to your starting point, pro and cons of boots or shoes, etc.
 
#8
I'm starting the Camino Frances on April 4th (2018) and I feel rather unprepared. If any of you have some tips, warnings, words of wisdom- about literally anything- please share!
Relax! it is not a race, listen to your body, if you are tired - stop and rest!! enjoy the walk, don't get so focused that you miss all the things which make the Camino so special, namely the people! Buen Camino
 

fb1

faisalb.com/camino
Camino(s) past & future
frances (mar 2017)
portugues (nov 2017)
#9
i'm in the "relax, just do it, and everything will work out" school of thought. remember that in the end it's walking, which you do every day. there are places to stay, eat, rest, shop very often so you will have all your needs met along the way. keep the weight in your pack down, and start slowly/short distances until your body tells you that you're ready for more. i had a lot of jitters before my first camino last march, but they all disappeared as soon as i started walking and everything figured itself out on the camino. in fact, i think the experience was better because i surrendered and didn't plan every step of the way.
 
Camino(s) past & future
Future, 2018
#10
I'm starting the Camino Frances on April 4th (2018) and I feel rather unprepared. If any of you have some tips, warnings, words of wisdom- about literally anything- please share!
My comment isn’t advice but I am starting 2 April from SJPP. The forums have been heartwarming, reassuring and practical. I continue to read all the advice. For us ‘newbies’ we’ll learn a lot quickly and we too will become the new Pilgrims. Buen Camino
 

zrexer

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
2014, 15 & 16 Camino Frances
2017 Camino Portuguese
2018 Camino Primitivo (Sept.)
#11
I'm starting the Camino Frances on April 4th (2018) and I feel rather unprepared. If any of you have some tips, warnings, words of wisdom- about literally anything- please share!
Lots of good information on this site for starters on all aspects of walking a Camino.

When my wife and I walked our first one in 2014, it was the first time we had ever back packed. There was a learning curve over the first few days, but we quickly got into our own 'Camino Grove.'

Really, it is not rocket science. Get a guide book, I know you can download things and maps, but I still prefer an actual printed guide book like John Brierley's.

If you have not purchased your gear yet, make sure you see a decent outfitter to get properly fitted for a pack. Fit of the pack is the most important thing. Personally I love trekking poles and would not consider walking without them, but as you will find opinions on poles varies greatly.

Footwear is probably the most important thing to get right. Well broken in boots or trail shoes are essential. I prefer trail shoes myself as after two different brands of boots in Year 1 and 2 and blister issues with both, halfway through year 2, I bought a pair of trail shoes and have never gone back to boots.

Next to boots, sock choice is the second most important thing. I have had great success with the 'Wrightsock' brand. They have lined socks which have worked well my wife and I.

Early April is a great time to start as it has been the time of year my wife and I have walked all four times so far.

Keep in mind if you are starting your walk from St. Jean in France, the Napoleon route probably will not be open as it is officially closed to April 1st each year and is weather dependent after that. We started in year 3 on April 8th from St. Jean in 2016 and it was closed, so we walked via Val Carlos. No big deal, the alternate route is interesting as well.

Have a great walk!

Buen Camino
 
Camino(s) past & future
SJPP to Santiago 2017
#12
Great, well fitting boots/shoes and high quality socks. Take care of your feet. Almost everything else you can make up or buy. Use books and this forum to educate yourself, but do it your way. Relax, no reason to stress. John Brierleys book is good, but you dont have to do everything his way. Find your pace and enjoy. You will need less than you think. Fewer high quality clothes are better than more. Listen to your body. Go out of your comfort zone to meet people. They will be one of the best parts of the Camino. Enjoy!
 
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances to Fisterra and Muxia May-June 2017
#13
Is there a particular way in which you feel unprepared? Physically? Mentally? Emotionally? As others have said, there is a lot of great advice on here, so use the search function and check in periodically to see what's new and what others are talking about. Also remember that there is no "right" way to do the Camino. In many ways it's very personal, and no two people have the same journey.

That said, my one bit of advice would be to be strict with yourself when deciding what to take. Remember it will be on your back while you walk for a month. However, allow yourself a luxury item: a piece of jewelry you like to wear, a book (some people thought I was nuts for carrying a 400ish page paperback, but it was great to read after lunch and I left it behind at an albergue when I finished it), or any other item that you enjoy having with you. Also, think about how things in your pack can be multifunctional. I had a wrap that served as a shoulder wrap most of the time in the afternoon, but also could be a pillow case, a scarf on the morning it was 3*C, a back-up towel, and many other things.

Enjoy the experience!
 
Camino(s) past & future
(2017)
#15
Great, well fitting boots/shoes and high quality socks. Take care of your feet. Almost everything else you can make up or buy. Use books and this forum to educate yourself, but do it your way. Relax, no reason to stress. John Brierleys book is good, but you dont have to do everything his way. Find your pace and enjoy. You will need less than you think. Fewer high quality clothes are better than more. Listen to your body. Go out of your comfort zone to meet people. They will be one of the best parts of the Camino. Enjoy!
Yes, this is great advice. Relax, get your gear broken in, take less and just wash it as you go. Also, start early out of SJPP, so you won’t be stressing out getting to Roncevalles. After that, you will have made new friends and the journey unfolds
 

Lance Chambers

Lance Chambers
Camino(s) past & future
Sarria - Sept 2015 test run. St Jean - Aug/Sept 2016. Burgos - Aug/Sept 2017. Leon - Apr/May 2019.
#17
I'm 68 and I did my first Camino when I was 65. I did NO preparation at all. I struggled to get to Roncevaux (French spelling for 'Valley of Thorns') on day 1 but managed. Got tired often but as time went on I got fitter and things ended up really well.

Stupidly carried a 17 kg backpack and a 7 kg front pack and didn't realise that you can get your bag shipped forward every day but once I realise that I shipped the heavy backpack forward every day. Made things a lot easier.
On subsequence Caminos lightened my pack dramatically and then would often simply carry it myself if the days section was flatish.

Can I suggest you check out the 'Resources' section and have a read of anything that appears to be of interest to you.

Have a wonderful time. Buen Camino.
 
Camino(s) past & future
april 4 - 14-6 2014 From perigeux to santiago
18-5- 3-6 2015 from Villa Franca del Biedrzo to santiago
#18
I'm starting the Camino Frances on April 4th (2018) and I feel rather unprepared. If any of you have some tips, warnings, words of wisdom- about literally anything- please share!
The camino gives you the opportunity living day by day with just a few nice simple obligations: eating, drinking,sleeping,visiting the restroom,and listening to what your body tells you. Don't think of the miles to go when you get tired. Fatigue is part of the camino which makes you aware of muscles you never knew having them:D,and maybe is a rare and feel good experience when having a non fysical job. And last but not least, there 'll be many days peregrinos will ask you joining them,some just for a day and the persisting types will look for you the day after. Be aware what's your need because it's your camino, which is more than just walking from A to B . The camino, when walked realy concious will go on after finishing the pilger mass in Santiago. Buen camino.
 

Chacharm

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Via Frances (2012) Vie Del Norte (2015) Via Frances (2016) Le Puy (2017)
#19
Honestly, the biggest deals are your boots and pack. You have to walk, for hours, a couple days (at least) in a row to know if you're going to have issues or if you will want/need sticks. But you'll also find out in time if your pack doesn't fit or your gear isn't protecting you enough from wind and rain. But if you're in good shape you can handle the walking without massive training. I did, at 48. It was tough the first 3 days but certainly not impossible.
Sure, you know you can walk 4-5 miles in an hour of walking - but how fast are you moving at hour 3? Four? Five? Are your feet swollen when you still have 3 hours of walking to do? If so, this is when blisters can be a problem. Do you drink enough water while walking that a bladder is a better idea than bottles? (It definitely is for me.) So find all that out and be prepared.
Otherwise, you're not headed into the wilderness. There are stores. You can buy what you need, even if it isn't what you prefer or are used to having.
Keep it simple. You don't need a stove or dinnerware or emergency food packs. One or two changes of clothes. 3 pairs of good socks - I use Smartwool. Don't take anything that won't dry fast. A Buff and a ball cap and sticks are essential for me.
I read. A lot. I carry my Kindle so I don't run the battery down on my phone. I also have a little iPod Shuffle for days when the walking feels tedious or I just want to go off into my own world.
I asked my son what he missed most about the Camino and he said it was the simple goal of every day - to walk to the next albuergue. That every day, he accomplished his goal. I really liked that answer. But for me, what makes me keep going back - being outside all day every day in a different place. New sights, new faces, new challenges, new conversations.
it is FUN. Buen Camino!
 

Dave Bird

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
I have walked from Roncevalles and Somport, this year I am planning the Portugese route
#20
My partner and I have 3 Camino between us with no blisters. I credit using a very thin polypro sock inside a wool sock, the inner sock takes the abrasion. Take some duct tape for blisters, I wrap some around a lighter or pole, apply the minute your feel a hot spot and leave it on until it falls off. Use sticks, keep the load light and listen to your body. I'm starting at Pamplona on Apr 8 or 9 so we may se each other, look for the old guy with a flute.
 

AlwynWellington

Veteran Member
Donating Member
Camino(s) past & future
Sarria 10
Le Puy 16
Thames Path 16
Southwark-Canterbury 16
Estella 17
Paisley-Whithorn 17
#21
Echoing what others have said, but more explicitly, on your training walks I recommend you work up to:

1) 30 km (or more) each time
2) 15 km before stopping for breakfast
3) a cumulative 700 metres of elevation most trips
4) carrying all your gear each trip
5) a two day trip, preferably away from home
6) keep a log of your training trips

The purpose is to train your mind as well as your body. When training near your home you will know the routes and not much will pique an interest causing a wish to stop. So the focus of these trips is almost soley on preparation.

Kia kaha (take care, be strong, get going)
 

tomnorth

Active Member
Donating Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances: September 24 - October 31 (2015); March/April (2019)
#22
Five things:
  1. Shoes: Make sure they fit and are broken in. Walk a long distance in them (7 miles/12km) and see how your feet are fairing.
  2. Socks: Get 3 pair of good Merino wool socks (I use Smartwool PhD Socks with a medium cushion). Try out liner socks as well. I use Smartwool liners. Whatever else, remember that cotton is your enemy when hiking. Avoid cotton socks and clothing at all costs.
  3. Backpack: From your profile photo I'm guessing you're not a big person like me. I'd look for a max 32L backpack. Make sure it fits well...get it fitted at a good outdoors store.
  4. Pack light: <10 kilos/22 pounds total backpack weight, including water.
  5. Trekking poles: Get them and learn how to use them (YouTube videos are good for this).
 
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Portuguese Coastal Route(2016), Del Norte (2017) Camino Portuguese Litoral Senda (2018)
#23
It's not just your footwear you want to break in, it's your feet as well. I recommend wearing your choice of footwear a lot. Every day for a couple of weeks would not be too much. Don't worry, you'll do fine. The camino provides.
Buen Camino
 

trecile

Veteran Member
Donating Member
Camino(s) past & future
Aug-Sept(2016) SJPDP-Finisterre, July-Aug(2017) SJPDP-Muxia-Finisterre, July-Aug(2018) El Norte
#24
My trail runners didn't require breaking in. I wore one pair to train in, and a new pair of the same model for the Camino.
 
Camino(s) past & future
2016 Sept- Oct SJPdP-SdC
#25
Just take your time enjoy the scenery it is not a race. Some tips I have picked up on CF and CdN . Shoes/hiking boots always 11/2 2 sizes big . Poncho 2.5x1.5 (400g) ,keep yr pak lite 6-7kg. Enjoy
 

Seamus68

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino St James Apr 2017
#26
I'm starting the Camino Frances on April 4th (2018) and I feel rather unprepared. If any of you have some tips, warnings, words of wisdom- about literally anything- please share!
Hi if u take day off in city stay in cheap hotel first day next day in Hostel ..this is because Albergue expect u to leave at 7 ish in morning....also on meseta have face net for black flies n plenty of water ....good luck Jim Camino st James April 2017
 

Greg Petropoulos

Thunder1
Donating Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances (2014), Camino Mozarabe, Via de la Plata, Sanabres (2016)
#29
Hiking the Camino really began to be fun when I realized the exciting & liberating feeling of having only just a few things to do each day while I was exsisting as a carefree vagabond!

Do the best you can to prepare. You've gotten plenty of great advice from some incredible people here, and the resources available to are endless. Trust yourself and your Camino friends, all will be well.

Buen Camino
 
Camino(s) past & future
Northern Way (2017)
#30
Echoing what others have said, but more explicitly, on your training walks I recommend you work up to:

1) 30 km (or more) each time
2) 15 km before stopping for breakfast
3) a cumulative 700 metres of elevation most trips
4) carrying all your gear each trip
5) a two day trip, preferably away from home
6) keep a log of your training trips
And if you can't train this hard - don't worry. You can still do a Camino if you only walk 10 to 15km in training because you don't have time for more. You'd be surprised what your body can do if you give it time.
 
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances (2018)
#31
My comment isn’t advice but I am starting 2 April from SJPP. The forums have been heartwarming, reassuring and practical. I continue to read all the advice. For us ‘newbies’ we’ll learn a lot quickly and we too will become the new Pilgrims. Buen Camino
Maybe we will bump into each other :) Buen Camino
 

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