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First time questions

Valentine

New Member
Time of past OR future Camino
2021
Hi, I’m planning to walk mid August-September and had a couple questions. I know they are probably covered somewhere but there is an overwhelming amount of information on the site…which is awesome!

1) I would like to do the whole Camino in 30 days or less solo with a +2 days of travel to get there and home. Is 30 days doable? I’m very fit 40yr old male (professional dancer). If so which stops would I skip over? Based on the list of recommended albergues…?

2) what size pack? I’m 5ft 11in 180lbs. Do most people check it for flights?

3) are walking/hiking sticks necessary?

4) how much lodging should I book in advance?

5) I don’t know much Spanish is that a problem? (But I can tango;)
 
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Bradypus

Migratory hermit
Time of past OR future Camino
Too many and too often!
1) I have walked the Frances 3 times. The last time as an unfit overweight 50+ man. I've never taken more than 26 days. For a fit 40 year old I can't see a 30 day limit as being a problem.

2) Your pack size is up to you. August/September will be warm and if you keep your gear to the strictly necessary then there should be no problem getting it all in a carry-on size bag. I've taken a 35 litre day pack for most of my Caminos.
 

domigee

Veteran Member
Time of past OR future Camino
2022 CF
Hi, I’m planning to walk mid August-September and had a couple questions. I know they are probably covered somewhere but there is an overwhelming amount of information on the site…which is awesome!

1) I would like to do the whole Camino in 30 days or less solo with a +2 days of travel to get there and home. Is 30 days doable? I’m very fit 40yr old male (professional dancer). If so which stops would I skip over? Based on the list of recommended albergues…?

2) what size pack? I’m 5ft 11in 180lbs. Do most people check it for flights?

3) are walking/hiking sticks necessary?

4) how much lodging should I book in advance?

5) I don’t know much Spanish is that a problem? (But I can tango;)
Hello and welcome!

1) I usually walk the Camino francés in 31 days (walking a couple or so of half days ie 14 km) and I am much older than you so 30 days sound ok to me 🙂

2) Can’t advise on size pack, you’ll have to try some in a shop to see what fits you. Most people seem to be ok with 38l, I have 48 or 45l backpacks but they’re usually half empty. To me, what matters is the weight.

3) I use walking sticks because I am older and I was told they helped😳 I don’t think younger people need them (but I could be wrong?)

4) If I were you, I’d book the first night - so no stress - and the last (in Santiago) to start with. I think it could be very crowded in Santiago this year. You’ll soon see whether it needs booking ahead, I have no idea.

5) I assume you’re walking the Camino francés? You’ll be fine without any Spanish 🙂
Buen camino
 

Katherine Radeka

Active Member
Time of past OR future Camino
Camino Francés (2022 after failed attempt in 2018)
Hi, I think it’s less likely that you’ll actually skip or double up on a stage. It’s more likely that you will stay in between stage towns.

There are delightful places to stay in the “off stage” villages you pass through.

If you’re on a fixed schedule, I would recommend figuring out how much you need to walk in an average day, and then do some training walks at that distance with a fully loaded pack to see how feasible it is.

If it’s not, or you just don’t want to go that fast, you have a lot of options.

You can always start closer to the end, or come back and finish later. You can rent a bike to cross the Meseta more quickly.

You can send your main bag forward every day via a delivery service so that all you have to carry is a day pack.

Lots of ways to make this your own Camino.
 

henrythedog

Veteran Member
Time of past OR future Camino
X
1. Yes. No problem. I’m built for comfort not for speed, although I do walk a lot, and have comfortably done the CF three times in 28 days.

2. That’s a red herring. You need a pack which fits you and is comfortable. The discipline required is what you put in it!

3. If you still want to be dancing in your 60’s; yes. In my opinion. Practice using them - it’s not necessarily intuitive. YouTube.

4. Don’t take the Brierley stages as mandatory. If you offset a bit you may find accommodation (of which there is plenty) more available.

Depends where you start. If St Jean; book that for sure. I’d also suggest everything up to Pamplona. In fact my recommended starting point is Pamplona, but opinions vary. Book Santiago when you’ve a good idea what night -or nights - you’ll be there. If you gain a day en-route it would be well spent in Santiago. It’s where you’re going, it’s a shame to dash off.

5. Not a problem - but a few words would be polite.
 
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pepi

Active Member
Time of past OR future Camino
Last: 2021, next: August 22
Hi, I’m planning to walk mid August-September and had a couple questions. I know they are probably covered somewhere but there is an overwhelming amount of information on the site…which is awesome!

1) I would like to do the whole Camino in 30 days or less solo with a +2 days of travel to get there and home. Is 30 days doable? I’m very fit 40yr old male (professional dancer). If so which stops would I skip over? Based on the list of recommended albergues…?

2) what size pack? I’m 5ft 11in 180lbs. Do most people check it for flights?

3) are walking/hiking sticks necessary?

4) how much lodging should I book in advance?

5) I don’t know much Spanish is that a problem? (But I can tango;)

I just finished planning my CF for the same period of time.

1. There is no such thing as "the whole Camino". The Camino is the one that you walk - period. 30 days is doable but very challenging, especially when you plan to tango after the arrivals😎. If pressed for time, consider starting in Pamplona (this is what I do) Consider skipping the etapas (and factories, gas stations etc) before big cities like (Belorado to) Burgos, and (Sahagun to) Leon, which will give you additional time for sightseeing the towns at the same time.

2. 38l should do, total weight w/o water <6kg, carry on board

3. No, but you'll be glad to have them on some stretches.

4. Depends on the type of lodging and on which etapas: Reserve albergues between SJPdP and Pamplona firm; thereafter a day ahead and "play-by-ear". Hostals, hotels, pensions: I booked the whole way for the same period, to have peace of mind.

5. It's OK, a few words make a huge difference

Buen Camino
 

Grousedoctor

Active Member
Time of past OR future Camino
2021
At the age of 65, I walked the CF in 31 days. No rest days which was just fine for me. Could have done it quicker had I wanted to, but 31 was very comfortable.

Keeping in mind that you don’t need much on the Camino, don’t overpack. I have never walked with more than a 36L pack which I have kept at 12-14 pounds. Having just returned from the CP my observation is that people seem to be walking with smaller packs. More important than size is fit. I happen to now walk with an Osprey.

I’ve walked Caminos with and without walking poles. My preference and recommendation is to use poles. Poles add stability, help with pace, and make difficult ups and downs a bit easier.

There are pros and cons to having bed reservations. I’d suggest that you reserve the first few days, up to Pamplona, and then see whether or not you need them. If there are a lot if pilgrims leaving SJPP when you do, reservations for the first few nights might be necessary. If the Camino stays busy, you can always call ahead the day before and usually get a bed. I like reservations from the point of view that I’m not in a bed race. However, if I want to modify my plans then having a reservation leaves me with fewer options. When I walked the CF in a very busy May, I found that if I arrived at my destination early in the afternoon, getting a bed was not a problem.

Don’t worry about not speaking Spanish. You’ll find a great deal of English spoken in the hospitality industry in Spain and particularly along the CF.

I have found that things work out quite well when on the Camino, so just go and enjoy the experience.
 

annealder

New Member
Time of past OR future Camino
(2015)
Hi, I’m planning to walk mid August-September and had a couple questions. I know they are probably covered somewhere but there is an overwhelming amount of information on the site…which is awesome!

1) I would like to do the whole Camino in 30 days or less solo with a +2 days of travel to get there and home. Is 30 days doable? I’m very fit 40yr old male (professional dancer). If so which stops would I skip over? Based on the list of recommended albergues…?

2) what size pack? I’m 5ft 11in 180lbs. Do most people check it for flights?

3) are walking/hiking sticks necessary?

4) how much lodging should I book in advance?

5) I don’t know much Spanish is that a problem? (But I can tango;)
I am sorry you only have 30 days. It is probably doable as you are fit, but you never know what circumstances may occur that would keep you longer and I am not just talking illness or injury. There are awesome opportunities that may come up and you would like to participate. Yes, I carried my pack (smaller the better) on the plane and bought poles in St Jean. There are many options once you get there and being open to the options is part of the magical experience. You don’t need to speak Spanish. The tango may be of great benefit, you never know! It is good to have a few words of Spanish and my guess is you will be good at non-verbal communication.
 

Robi Diaz De Vivar

Active Member
Time of past OR future Camino
Frances (2016), Norte (2017), Portuges (2018), Mozarabe (2019), Primitivo (2019), Via de La Plata (2
Hi, I’m planning to walk mid August-September and had a couple questions. I know they are probably covered somewhere but there is an overwhelming amount of information on the site…which is awesome!

1) I would like to do the whole Camino in 30 days or less solo with a +2 days of travel to get there and home. Is 30 days doable? I’m very fit 40yr old male (professional dancer). If so which stops would I skip over? Based on the list of recommended albergues…?

2) what size pack? I’m 5ft 11in 180lbs. Do most people check it for flights?

3) are walking/hiking sticks necessary?

4) how much lodging should I book in advance?

5) I don’t know much Spanish is that a problem? (But I can tango;)
2. I have used a 40 litre backpack for all of my Caminos and it has been perfect. As has been said in other comments what matters is the weight - no need in Aug/Sept for more than 9 kilos - in my humble opinion.

3. Not necessary but they can be useful.

5. As previously mentioned I assume that you are doing the Frances. Some Spanish would be useful - how to reserve a place in an albergue, some food/drink vocabulary and especially how to ask directions for when (not if) you get lost. A little goes a long way and efforts are SO appreciated by the locals.
 

lt56ny

Veteran Member
Time of past OR future Camino
10/22 Aragones/Frances
Hi, I’m planning to walk mid August-September and had a couple questions. I know they are probably covered somewhere but there is an overwhelming amount of information on the site…which is awesome!

1) I would like to do the whole Camino in 30 days or less solo with a +2 days of travel to get there and home. Is 30 days doable? I’m very fit 40yr old male (professional dancer). If so which stops would I skip over? Based on the list of recommended albergues…?

2) what size pack? I’m 5ft 11in 180lbs. Do most people check it for flights?

3) are walking/hiking sticks necessary?

4) how much lodging should I book in advance?

5) I don’t know much Spanish is that a problem? (But I can tango;)
Here is my 68 year old 6 time camino walker suggestions to you. But remember only you know what feels good and fits correctly and remember one thing that is SUPER important. No matter how fit you are things may happen. Do not listen to your head about when or for how long to stop or go or to push yourself to keep up with new friends. Listen to your body. I am sure you do as you are a professional dancer. Your body and especially your feet are your gateway to your passion of your. profession and your livelihood. NEVER, EVER forget that. I have seen much younger and very physically feet men and women break down because of what I said. As I am sure you know better than me an injury that you exacerbate could have far reaching effects when you return home.
1. Refer to what I said about listening to your body. It is much more important to stop when you need to rather than when you want to. You have just 30 days you can always take a bus to move forward a little if you are behind schedule.
2. Go to REI or another outdoor store that you know has people who know about packs how to fit you and what to buy. You probably will not need anything more than a 40L pack but I do not know if you have to carry anything extra. Remember the old saying people carry their fears in their backpacks. Check alot and look at what you are taking and ask yourself do I REALLY NEED THIS. This is not a walk across the Andes mountains or the Sahara desert you can buy what you may really need in Spain. NEVER check your bag. I have a 45 liter pack (I have this because I take a small pillow and it takes up alot of room). You can fit it in the overhead. What happens if you arrive in Madrid or wherever and the airline has lost your backpack. I have never been hassled or questioned about bringing my pack on the plane,
Walking sticks can definitely help especially on uphills and downhills (but especially downhills) The hills on much of almost any camino can be much steeper than what we are used to in the states. It can really relieve stress on your joints. Remember your dancing! Buy your sticks when you arrive in Spain. Go to a Decathlon if you arrive in a big city or if you are on the Camino Frances there is an outdoor store a few feet from the pilgrim office. You don't need to spend alot on a pair. I pay about $20-25US for a cheap pair that work just fine for me. Most airlines will make you check them.
3. I never walk in summer or high season as it is way to hot and way to many pilgrims for my taste. People all say book the first few days as it can be crowded and then play it by ear. Download the Buen Camino, Wise Pilgrim or Camino Ninja app as well as checking out Gronze.Com. They are all free and will give you lots of choices of albergues and towns to stay in. I think the more the better. They weigh nothing. (Also if you do not have a calling plan that works in Europe or it is expensive. Go to a Vodafone or Orange mobile shop as soon as you arrive in Spain (If you can or have time) You can do it in Pamplona too and get a sim card for 30 days. It is cheap and it is easy so you will have data to use whatsapp or to call to an albergue. You can use it also to call loved ones back in the states just have them download the app too. You will have plenty of data for the whole trip to call even when there is bad or no wifi. Also download the AlertCops app. If you are in trouble, hurt, in a dangerous situation you can call them through your data and they will immediately be talking to an English speaking law enforcement person.
4. Not being able to speak any Spanish on the Camino Frances will not be much of a problem at all. If you were walking the VDLP or another far less traveled route than I would say you need some Spanish.
One other thing do not overpack. Unless you are really someone who hates the cold and can't handle even cool weather you don't need a sleeping bag at all. A silk liner or a sleeping bag liner is all you will need. it will be hot, probably really hot. Have a really good hat that can protect you from the sun.
This is the one I wear even though I walk in late fall and early winter. It may not be pretty. (My daughters ask me never to send them photos with this hat on as they say I look like a complete nerd!)
It covers everything, you can dunk it in cold water to cool your head and dries quickly and is easy to clean.
Finally I would say and of course shoes are a personal choice is you definitely do not need hiking boots unless of course your podiatrist or orthopedist tells you to. Trial runners are perfect. They are lighter and I can say completely unscientifically of course, There are less people with blisters with trail runners from my own observation. Go to REI again because you can try a pair (Get at least a 1/2 size larger as your feet will expand. I go a full size) and use them and if they are not right you can return them and get another pair. Whatever you choose walk with the pair you are taking for at least a week or two before you leave.
Buen Camino
(These are just my suggestions others may strongly disagree with some of them)
 
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Suzanne A

Peregrina desde 2015
Time of past OR future Camino
2015 CF, 2016 CP, 2018 Le Puy, 2019 CF,
2022 Prim
Here is my 68 year old 6 time camino walker suggestions to you. But remember only you know what feels good and fits correctly and remember one thing that is SUPER important. No matter how fit you are things may happen. Do not listen to your head about when or for how long to stop or go or to push yourself to keep up with new friends. Listen to your body. I am sure you do as you are a professional dancer. Your body and especially your feet are your gateway to your passion of your. profession and your livelihood. NEVER, EVER forget that. I have seen much younger and very physically feet men and women break down because of what I said. As I am sure you know better than me an injury that you exacerbate could have far reaching effects when you return home.
1. Refer to what I said about listening to your body. It is much more important to stop when you need to rather than when you want to. You have just 30 days you can always take a bus to move forward a little if you are behind schedule.
2. Go to REI or another outdoor store that you know has people who know about packs how to fit you and what to buy. You probably will not need anything more than a 40L pack but I do not know if you have to carry anything extra. Remember the old saying people carry their fears in their backpacks. Check alot and look at what you are taking and ask yourself do I REALLY NEED THIS. This is not a walk across the Andes mountains or the Sahara desert you can buy what you may really need in Spain. NEVER check your bag. I have a 45 liter pack (I have this because I take a small pillow and it takes up alot of room). You can fit it in the overhead. What happens if you arrive in Madrid or wherever and the airline has lost your backpack. I have never been hassled or questioned about bringing my pack on the plane,
Walking sticks can definitely help especially on uphills and downhills (but especially downhills) The hills on much of almost any camino can be much steeper than what we are used to in the states. It can really relieve stress on your joints. Remember your dancing! Buy your sticks when you arrive in Spain. Go to a Decathlon if you arrive in a big city or if you are on the Camino Frances there is an outdoor store a few feet from the pilgrim office. You don't need to spend alot on a pair. I pay about $20-25US for a cheap pair that work just fine for me. Most airlines will make you check them.
3. I never walk in summer or high season as it is way to hot and way to many pilgrims for my taste. People all say book the first few days as it can be crowded and then play it by ear. Download the Buen Camino, Wise Pilgrim or Camino Ninja app as well as checking out Gronze.Com. They are all free and will give you lots of choices of albergues and towns to stay in. I think the more the better. They weigh nothing. (Also if you do not have a calling plan that works in Europe or it is expensive. Go to a Vodafone or Orange mobile shop as soon as you arrive in Spain (If you can or have time) You can do it in Pamplona too and get a sim card for 30 days. It is cheap and it is easy so you will have data to use whatsapp or to call to an albergue. You can use it also to call loved ones back in the states just have them download the app too. You will have plenty of data for the whole trip to call even when there is bad or no wifi. Also download the AlertCops app. If you are in trouble, hurt, in a dangerous situation you can call them through your data and they will immediately be talking to an English speaking law enforcement person.
4. Not being able to speak any Spanish on the Camino Frances will not be much of a problem at all. If you were walking the VDLP or another far less traveled route than I would say you need some Spanish.
One other thing do not overpack. Unless you are really someone who hates the cold and can't handle even cool weather you don't need a sleeping bag at all. A silk liner or a sleeping bag liner is all you will need. it will be hot, probably really hot. Have a really good hat that can protect you from the sun.
This is the one I wear even though I walk in late fall and early winter. It may not be pretty. (My daughters ask me never to send them photos with this hat on as they say I look like a complete nerd!)
It covers everything, you can dunk it in cold water to cool your head and dries quickly and is easy to clean.
Finally I would say and of course shoes are a personal choice is you definitely do not need hiking boots unless of course your podiatrist or orthopedist tells you to. Trial runners are perfect. They are lighter and I can say completely unscientifically of course, There are less people with blisters with trail runners from my own observation. Go to REI again because you can try a pair (Get at least a 1/2 size larger as your feet will expand. I go a full size) and use them and if they are not right you can return them and get another pair. Whatever you choose walk with the pair you are taking for at least a week or two before you leave.
Buen Camino
(These are just my suggestions others may strongly disagree with some of them)
You totally summed up what I would recommend as well.
 

Roland49

Active Member
Time of past OR future Camino
CF2019, CP2022?
Hi, I’m planning to walk mid August-September and had a couple questions. I know they are probably covered somewhere but there is an overwhelming amount of information on the site…which is awesome!

1) I would like to do the whole Camino in 30 days or less solo with a +2 days of travel to get there and home. Is 30 days doable? I’m very fit 40yr old male (professional dancer). If so which stops would I skip over? Based on the list of recommended albergues…?
Yes, doable. I was 49years old, work as school administrator and play league-tabletennis, so not as fit as you are! Made the CF in 27 days. 30 days plus travelling is a very pleasant walk.
2) what size pack? I’m 5ft 11in 180lbs. Do most people check it for flights?
Had an 35+l (max 42l, but it never was totally filled). I did took it into the cabin. Had to change airports in Paris. For a walk in fall that should be ok, too.
3) are walking/hiking sticks necessary?
I didn't need them, but they are helpful. But they need training before you walk. Crossed the Alps last year, there they are obligatory.
4) how much lodging should I book in advance?
In 2019 I booked ahead only once, but now it is more usual to book ahead.
5) I don’t know much Spanish is that a problem? (But I can tango;)
I speak only few words spanish, but can read and understand signs (took french in school). In most Albergue and many businesses on the Caminos you may speak english and get what you want. No problem there.

All in all: to walk the Camino francès was one of the best decisions I ever made.

Hope you'll have fun, be open minded, have many insights and make great friends on the way.
 
Last edited:
Time of past OR future Camino
Latest: Rota Vicentina '19; Portuguese '19.
This is the one I wear even though I walk in late fall and early winter. It may not be pretty. (My daughters ask me never to send them photos with this hat on as they say I look like a complete nerd!)
My son also has used this same hat in the khaki color on all of his long distance summer hikes as it protects the neck and cheeks so well. It easily converts back to a standard ball cap.
BTW...Nerds are usually very smart people.🙂
 

lt56ny

Veteran Member
Time of past OR future Camino
10/22 Aragones/Frances
My son also has used this same hat in the khaki color on all of his long distance summer hikes as it protects the neck and cheeks so well. It easily converts back to a standard ball cap.
BTW...Nerds are usually very smart people.🙂
Muchas gracias amiga! Your son must be a genius!!!!!
 
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pjacobi

Active Member
Time of past OR future Camino
2015, St. Jean Pied de Port to Burgos
2016, Burgos to Ponferrada
2017, Ponferrada to Atlantic Ocean
Regardless of your physical ability, the only way to prepare for the Camino is to start walking at home! Work up to where you can comfortably walk 6-8 hours in full pack. Do long walks on weekends and shorter walks during the week. If you have problems, see your local doctor. Training will greatly reduce possibility of injury on the Camino.


-Paul
 

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