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Guided vs. Self-Guided Caminos

Discussion in 'Miscellaneous Topics' started by Christine Maske, Nov 13, 2017 at 7:56 PM.

  1. Christine Maske

    Christine Maske New Member

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    Hello! I'm super excited about my very first Camino in 2018! I'm curious, for those more experienced pilgrims, if you've taken your journey on your own, with a guided group (or something in between)? In determining what would be best for me within my alotted time frame, I've read many varying opinions . I've seen some very experienced pilgrims write that using the services of a guided group lessens the experience, while others say each Camino is very personal and the individual person decides what they want it to mean.

    What are your personal experiences/thoughts?
     
  2. Bradypus

    Bradypus Antediluvian Donating Member

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    I have walked a number of caminos in Spain and long-distance routes elsewhere. Because I value solitude very highly when I walk and enjoy the freedom to change my plans at will I would never dream of joining a guided tour. Walking the Spanish Caminos - and most especially the Camino Frances - is such a straightforward business that I cannot see what benefit there is to to justify the extra cost and the restrictions which a pre-arranged guided tour would entail. Unless a person is a very inexperienced and anxious traveller there seems little to gain.
     
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  3. Christine Maske

    Christine Maske New Member

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    Interesting perspective, thank you!
     
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  4. nycwalking

    nycwalking Veteran Member Donating Member

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    This is becoming a hot topic on forum. I was 39 on my first camino and 52 on my last. All were done without tours. I just do not understand the guided tour aspect of pilgrimage. If you have a guide and lodging and transport... Pilgrimage? However, if you need those things then do so.
    Buen camino.
     
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  5. Christine Maske

    Christine Maske New Member

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    Yes, it looks like there is a lot of in between as well. Some just assist with lodging, others are there for your EVERY step of the way. I guess it circles back to whatever an individual's purpose is, but I would not want to sacrifice being able to go at my own pace and being able to explore.
     
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  6. Kitsambler

    Kitsambler Jakobsweg Junkie Donating Member

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    I've travelled extensively in Europe, both as an independent pilgrim and as member of a tour group.

    When one is in a tour group, you don't have control of your schedule or your itinerary, your travel companions, your meal times or (often) places. When things go sideways, you have the tour director to help, or blame, or both. There is a real tendency to transfer responsibility for the travel experience from the individual to the tour director. One tends to not do as much research beforehand, or bother to learn the language. And one generally gets help with handling luggage, so it tends to be bigger.

    When one travels independently, you have greater (but not complete) control over schedule, itinerary, meal times/places/menu. You can elect to associate with travel companions, or not, on this day or that week. When things go sideways, you learn about being vulnerable and not in control, and how to request and receive assistance from others. You are responsible for your own travel experience - there is no one else to blame. So one does the research, and learns some of the language. And since you are carrying your own bags, you pack more lightly.

    These are entirely different modes of travel; and both are legitimate. It depends on what fits you.
     
  7. Christine Maske

    Christine Maske New Member

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    Thanks for the thoughtful response!
     
  8. simeon

    simeon Active Member Donating Member

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    I can understand why on ones first Camino you might want to have a guide. It does mean that you have less anxiety, however after a few days I found that my pre departure anxiety was unfounded and somewhat regretted not just going solo from the start. Going solo on the Camino is a bit of a bad description as if you are anyway sociable you will meet many fellow pilgrims.

    Don't worry about the language. I'm particularly bad at languages and only know two essential words vino tinto which is said like bino Tonto. And thank you gracias which is said like grass e ass with a smile....
    If languages are easy for you it would make life a lot easier but not having it is not an issue either
     
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  9. nycwalking

    nycwalking Veteran Member Donating Member

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    Then, by all means go alone. You will be ok. Even if you walk CF in dead-of-winter you will not be alone. One of the greatest joys of pilgrimage is spontaneity: stopping at will, meeting others on-the-way, etc. Enjoy.
     
    Last edited: Nov 13, 2017 at 10:29 PM
  10. Robo

    Robo Veteran Member Donating Member

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    ------------------------------
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    with my wife Pat.
    ------------------------------
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    (Apr/May 2018)
    together again :-)
    I have done group tours on 'holidays' a couple of times. At the time they were a good choice for us. It allowed us to see a lot of places in a small amount of time without the need to be booking accommodation, transport, wondering where to go etc. And of course having a knowledgeable guide was a great benefit. No need to worry about language...All good stuff when doing the sights of Paris and so on.

    I can understand how someone on their first Camino might think that going on some kind on group tour would offer similar benefits. Think again......

    There is a huge difference between walking a Camino (particularly the Frances) and doing a traditional holiday tour......

    You really can't get lost. You just follow the arrows and all the other Pilgrims.

    You are part of a Group anyway, by default. Unless you walk in winter, you are part of a mobile community moving down the trail together. Why would you pay, just to be part of a fixed group, within that community, whose members you are stuck with even if you don't enjoy their company...

    The locals have been dealing with and helping Pilgrims for a thousand years. For many we are their livelihood. They will guide you and support you... Language? Learn a couple of dozen basic words just as a courtesy......It's not essential though.

    You will make new friends every day. It's kind of impossible not to! And you will stick with others whose company you enjoy. Everyone helps each other out.

    You are not alone.............kind of ever! You have to try hard to get alone time sometimes........

    Imagine doing a 4 week tour of Europe. The itinerary is already planned out. Eiffel Tower, followed by the Louvre, then on to Munich or wherever. You're going to see all the major sites. On day 1 you set out and find there are 300 other people following the same route. Exact same route. EXACT. Catching the same buses, trains, planes, in fact at every turn there are big signs saying 'this way'......

    Everyone around you is going the same way. Exactly the same way! Following the signs. The only decision you need to make, is when to stop each day, and secure a bed in whatever town or village, you find yourself. And you'll look around for that bed, with others who have also decided to stop in the same place....

    And where ever you decide to stay, there are more travelling companions staying there. In fact all the people staying there are all going the same way as you. So you can join them for dinner......you'll know some of the faces from seeing them that day anyway.

    Getting the idea ;)

    To go on a group tour would be a totally pointless exercise, a waste of money, and actually very limiting.....

    Unless....... Due to some kind of physical limitation or maybe a total lack of self confidence, you need the security of a guide.... But even then..........go with a friend if you have to ;)

    If you can manage to get yourself to a bus stop, and go across town to visit a new shopping mall......you are fully equipped to find your way along the Camino. Same degree of difficulty I reckon...... On reflection, the Camino is easier.
    Except the walking bit.....and the sore feet ...... :oops:

    P.S. One of the greatest joys of walking a Camino is the sense of Freedom.
    Allow yourself to experience that ........
    To not do so IMHO is to miss a core part of the Camino experience.

    Check out these very short video clips.
    On my own, but never really........ 2nd one down the page. Called Isolation.
    Day 2 heading down to Roncesvalles.
    http://robscamino.com/29th-of-april/

    One of the many chance encounters.....
    2nd one down. US Pilgrims. Near Torres Del Rio
    http://robscamino.com/4th-of-may-on-the-road-to-estella-from-uterga-to-estella/

    You don't need to Dine alone....... Look out for Pilgrim Central. Najera.
    http://robscamino.com/8th-of-may-a-day-of-emotion-walking-to-najera/
     
    Last edited: Nov 13, 2017 at 9:52 PM
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  11. Saint Mike II

    Saint Mike II Vetran Member Donating Member Donating Member

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    Hola Christine - I am a two-time pilgrim, once on a bike, last May/June as a walker, so I am in the independent type.
    My question to you is "what type of Camino Experience are you looking for?" If its just an organised holiday then opt for the guided camino experience; but if you are seeking a "true pilgrimage" (such as can be experienced in the 21st C) then I respectfully suggest that a solo self-guided camino is the way to go. Buen Camino:)
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Nov 13, 2017 at 10:24 PM
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  12. domigee

    domigee Veteran Member Donating Member

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    Next camino? I'm thinking......
    I agree with all the above. Wouldn't dream of joining a guided tour as I like/need to make my own decisions/choices... Where I stay, when I stop.... But that's just me of course, everyone is different. :)
    I don't even walk well with my husband - even though we do get on very well in 'normal' life, phew! :D
    Do whatever seems right for you ;)
     
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  13. Christine Maske

    Christine Maske New Member

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    This made me giggle :) I already speak French, which helps with Spanish, but I know more practice is definitely called for!!
     
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  14. Christine Maske

    Christine Maske New Member

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    Thank you, domigee!!
     
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  15. Peter Fransiscus

    Peter Fransiscus Veteran Member Donating Member Donating Member

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    Hi Christine , no guided tour for me . It’s my personal choice to do so ,
    stop when you want , visit places and you can walk with pilgrims from all over the world . And when you want to walk on your one you can do .

    At the end you will make a decission that is best for you .

    Wish you a wonderfull time and a Buen Camino , Peter .
     
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  16. Robo

    Robo Veteran Member Donating Member

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    Alone.
    ------------------------------
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    with my wife Pat.
    ------------------------------
    CF SJPDP-SdC
    (Apr/May 2018)
    together again :-)
    I can relate......So looking forward to 800 kms with my dearly beloved next year........... :eek:
    It will be 'character building' ;)
    I reckon walking a Camino with a spouse must be on a par with teaching them to drive......
    Not for the faint hearted :D
     
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  17. Christine Maske

    Christine Maske New Member

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    Thank you so much, Peter!
     
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  18. domigee

    domigee Veteran Member Donating Member

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    Next camino? I'm thinking......
    Yes, that's a very good comparison! :D
     
  19. trecile

    trecile Veteran Member Donating Member Donating Member

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    Christine, What route and how much time do you have? I see in your profile that you just say (April-May 2018) Madrid, Sarria, Finisterre! Are you planning on walking the Camino from Madrid? Or the Camino Frances, which doesn't go through Madrid? I've walked the Frances twice now, with no tour or prearranged lodging, the same way that it seems that most on this forum have. On the Frances it is definitely not necessary to pre-book or use a tour group.

    You might want to join the Camigas group on Facebook, where you'll find lots of other women who have or will walk the Camino solo. https://www.facebook.com/groups/CaminoBuddySystemForWomen/
     
    Last edited: Nov 14, 2017 at 1:44 AM
  20. Christine Maske

    Christine Maske New Member

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    Thank you, St. Mike!!
     
  21. Rick of Rick and Peg

    Rick of Rick and Peg Veteran Member Donating Member Donating Member

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    Reading the first few posts I was coming up with the same thoughts that Robo expressed so well in his first post. Essentially, if you forego paying for a guide you will get a few dozen for free.

    I also gave Robo a like for his second post above (the one about spouses and with the :eek:).
     
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  22. davebugg

    davebugg Active Member Donating Member Donating Member

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    Millions have walked a Camino pilgrimage over the centuries without the need for a tour company to do the planning. In fact, tour company planning is, in many ways, 180 degrees out of sync with the nature and the basis of a Camino since you are not walking according to your needs, but to those demanded of a tour company schedule.

    There is nothing hard or complicated about gathering the information so that you can walk your own Camino. This forum is a wealth of knowledge, help, and guidance --- all for free :) You will spend a lot more money to have a tour company take responsibility for your camino, than it will be for you to embrace the individual spirit of camino and put together your own personal plan.

    Good to have you here.
     
  23. alexwalker

    alexwalker Forever Pilgrim Donating Member Donating Member

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    (2016) May Pamplona-Moratinos; Sept.:Burgos-SdC
    (2016): August/Sept: Camino San Olav (Burgos-Covarubbias), Burgos-Sarria
    (2017): May: Portuguese; Sept: Pamplona-SdC
    Since you have registered today, I suspect you have a lot of questions but there are many people in here; veterans; and in addition, use the search function exstensively: I believe all possible questions have already been answered before; You will learn a lot! You still have good time to read up before you go. But by all means: Fire your questions if you're missing some info!:)

    As you can tell from my history (left side recordings of my Caminos) I am a veteran. But only in the context of numbers of Caminos; maybe after your first you'll know more than me!...;)

    Since you are a newbie, I will nevertheless try to provide you with some basics. First of all, order a guide as soon as possible and read up. Personally (I take it that you want to walk from Sarria to SdC based on your personal info) I use this guide: It is light and inexpensive: https://www.csj.org.uk/product/camino-de-santiago-pilgrim-guides-camino-frances-2017/

    You can also easily produce a climb plan: Where it is steep and where it is straight: Select your start and ending points, and print it (maybe laminate it, as I do): http://www.godesalco.com/plan/frances . You will see that it contains info about overnight stays etc., as well as the guide I linked to does. All you need to walk across Spain. :)

    It contains all you need, really.

    Going with an operator: Don't, IMHO. I can understand that you, coming from the US, feel far away from home. But so am I, when I go to Spain. As you can see from my profile, I have walked many Caminos. But when I undertook my 1st, I was like you. However, after studying the forum and asking questions here, I was able to set up a plan, and it worked. There are many factors that can influence your adventure, and going with an operator may limit you:
    • You may want to change your plans
    • You may need a rest day
    • You get blisters and need to rest a day or two
    • You may meet people you want to walk with
    • Your group may not be where you want to be
    • Distances may be different from your capabilities/wants
    And so on.

    If you go alone, you are free. Free to stop wherever, join people you'd like to be with, not being restrained to a specific group. Believe me, the sense of freedom is exceptional.

    If you can, do not order a return ticket. You are setting out on an adventure. If however possible, set your return when you're ready. Two times I have had a return ticket; both times I have had to cancel and buy a new one. Many things can happen on the Camino.

    All said in the spirit of helping you to understand that you are embarking on an adventure where you should have control.

    At the end: Learn some Spanish phrases for hello, where is..., directions, and a little more. It will be very helpful to you.

    Finally, I should tell you that at the beginning of my first Camino, I was so thankful, lying in my bed in the albergue in Pamplona, that the forum had provided me with all the information i needed to get there, and I knew that the next day, all I had to do was to get up and get going. It was never a problem: easy going without an organized company, and 50-fold cheaper :)

    Finally, for the Camino: The best plan is to not have a plan... Let whatever happens guide you. :) Be free.

    PS: Sorry for the lenghty post. DS.

    Buen Camino!
     
    Last edited: Nov 14, 2017 at 12:25 AM
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  24. zrexer

    zrexer Active Member

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    Have been on the Camino Frances Route 3 times. 2014 Ponferrada to Santiago. 2015 Burgos to Ponferrada and 2016 St.Jean to Burgos and then bus to Sarria and walk into Santiago but with different overnight stops.
    Camino Portugal from Porto - April 2017
    My wife and although fit for our ages, were complete rookies hitting the Camino for the first time in 2014. We were avid walkers and cyclists, but had never back packed before. We did do a lot of research before going, but ultimately hit the ground in Spain and figured out the rest as we walked each day. The first time for anything is always the best. I guess the fact we have been back to Spain and Portugal in 2015, 2016 and 2017 would be an indication of how things went on our first year of walking a pilgrimage.
     
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  25. Christine Maske

    Christine Maske New Member

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    Thanks! Actually, I have traveled quite extensively internationally for work. Certainly no concerns there :) I do, however, have a limited time period so it' a strong consideration to have everything taken care of. Again, it seems everyone has their personal reasons for their respective journey. Interesting to see both sides to take into consideration!
     
  26. Robo

    Robo Veteran Member Donating Member

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    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 :-)
    Probably even more reason to 'go it alone'. Much more flexibility........ ;)

    It might seem like everyone is pushing you towards 'self guided'. We are :D

    Only through wanting to help you have a great experience though.....
     
    Last edited: Nov 14, 2017 at 4:52 AM
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  27. C clearly

    C clearly Veteran Member Donating Member Donating Member

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    Best explanation I've seen yet, to explain why an organized group is not necessary for most people!
    I don't understand this reason. What takes the time on the Camino is the walking, not the "arrangements" on the ground! Which route, how much time and what month are you thinking about?
     
  28. davebugg

    davebugg Active Member Donating Member Donating Member

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    Basically, the time it takes is about the same amount of planning whether you walk for 5 days or for 40 days. Figure out how many days that you want to walk, then decide where you want to either start your Camino or where you want to end your Camino. Based on how many miles per day you feel you can walk you can then decide where you will start point A in order to go to point B. There are lots of free tools to help you with that type of logistic; from what places there are to stay in any given city, town, or village, to what landmarks or cultural sites that you might want to visit. Places to eat, places to sleep, things to do, and what to see..... these things are so individual in taste, physical ability, and desire that I could not imagine turning that responsibility over to a tour company.

    Oh, and did someone else mention that there is nothing special about a tour company planning a camino itinerary? Anything the tour company will arrange is something that you can arrange to better suit your needs, and it will be far less expensive. The time invested in your own planning is part of what will make the Camino a much, much richer experience for you. Remember, you are not alone either in planning your Camino or walking your Camino... unless that is what you wish to do. :)
     
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  29. Robo

    Robo Veteran Member Donating Member

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    Alone.
    ------------------------------
    CF Sarria to SdC
    (May 2016)
    with my wife Pat.
    ------------------------------
    CF SJPDP-SdC
    (Apr/May 2018)
    together again :-)
    Lots of avid planners here who love to provide feedback on what you plan to do......
    Not to forget of course, the packing list 'nerds' who love to give feedback on your packing list, what to leave out, what you missed etc....... :rolleyes:
     
  30. HedaP

    HedaP Veteran Member Donating Member Donating Member

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    I can appreciate all of the above comments but when the camino calls sometimes the only way to do it is with the support of a tour. In which case it is for many the best option.
    Almost every pilgrim I met who was on a tour asked me where I had started which to me was always an odd question because my pilgrimage is for far more personal reasons than distance. The usual response to my answer was that they were “not a real pilgrim” with the implication that I was a ‘real pilgrim’ BUT I am not even catholic! This always made me feel both sad and humble, especially as many of these pilgrims on tour were catholics.
    For me pilgrimage is about a state of mind and a state of heart. It is a leap of faith (in the universal sense of the phrase) and about answering a call. It is about connecting with people of multiple races who have the same goal. It is about kindness and looking out for each other. It is about laughter and cherishing a strong sense of the ridiculous. It is about the physical challenge and that very much depends on ability, experience and age. It has nothing to do with tourism but in no way excludes enjoying local culture, sites, architecture, views, food, language and above all, the people.
    IMO being on a tour does not mean that you are a tourist and not a pilgrim. We all do what we need to do for a whole range of reasons and buen camino.
    Now I will dismount from my high horse. o_O:p:p:p
    BTW don’t ask my why I walk the camino because there is a snow balls chance in hell that I will tell you. :p:p:p
    And @Christine Maske may you have a very buen and independent camino.
     
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  31. Seamus68

    Seamus68 New Member

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    Definitely not guided unless elderly or time restraint.
    The experience varies a lot, from the Pyrenees to the Meseta to Galicia, it’s fantastic.
    Strange bu I hope it doesn’t become too touristy.
     
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  32. trecile

    trecile Veteran Member Donating Member Donating Member

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    I don't see how a guided tour helps someone with a time restraint at all.
     
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  33. Mack

    Mack New Member

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    I have done one Camino - in April this year, Sarria to Santiago. It was a guided camino but I don't think I saw or spoke with our guide more than twice in the 6 days. I didn't need to.

    The group was 18 in number and I walked with various members but always at my own pace. I never felt any restriction.

    I'm hoping to do a self-guided camino next year, SJPdP to Sarria. Self guided means accommodation is arranged (therefore a schedule, which suits me) and luggage transfer. I will have a large suitcase as, coming from Australia, I plan to go on elsewhere after my camino and need clothes etc. for that.

    I'm aware I can change my stops by using a 24/7 phone number to the tour company in Ireland.

    So what do I get? Accommodation (which includes breakfast each day and most dinners) and luggage transfer plus a lot of logistical documentation and support. OK, it costs more than doing the organisation myself but as I'm unfamiliar with that part of the world, am in my senior years and like privacy for showering and sleeping (use a CPAP machine) I'm comfortable with what I'm planning and still believe I'm on a pilgrimage.
     
  34. stgcph

    stgcph Active Member Donating Member

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    Maybe it is a high horse, but I like it for not being a one-sided horse :)
     
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  35. VNwalking

    VNwalking Veteran Member Donating Member

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    Like everyone else, I'm firmly on the side of going solo - for all the reasons people have pointed to.
    However, there is a middle ground between a guided tour and doing it yourself.
    I did my first camino with a friend, who for various reasons had a camino travel company work out the stages and make all the bookings in hotels or casa rurales. After that we were on our own.
    It wasn't cheap as guiding ourselves, of course. But it wasn't ridiculously expensive either.
    That said, neither of us has or would do that again. There's no need: It's ridiculously easy to do for yourself. Get the body to a start point, and walk for as long as you have time for. You know how to walk, and there's no huge learning curve.
     
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  36. GPeachy

    GPeachy Member Donating Member

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    I did the camino with a friend. However, in many towns in Italy, there are walking / hiking clubs, and every so often they get a group together to walk el Camino de Santiago. If you are interested in waling with a group, or just want to find a few other people to walk with and help with planning etc, you could look for a similar type of group / organization in your area.
     
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  37. stgcph

    stgcph Active Member Donating Member

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    My approach to my Camino was what I guess you may call an in-between approach. Not the total free improvising way and not the group and guide-led way.

    I had my accommodations pre-booked all the way in hotels or casa rurales and as I didn’t want to contact all the places myself, I had a local (Galician) travel agent do that for me on the condition, that I decided the length of the daily stretches (as far as possible). And that was all they did. Of course, I had to pay for that service –everything comes at a price. But I was not part of any group, I walked by myself and I carried my own backpack all the way.

    So I guess I sacrificed flexibility, at least to a certain extent. On the other hand I did not have to get up at s**t o’clock in the morning and be at the destination shortly after noon to secure a position in the bed-race; I can do without that kind of flexibility. I could walk steadily through the afternoon (I don’t mind the heat) knowing that here was a (private) bath and a bed waiting for me. It didn’t happen, but if at some point I would have had problems walking the planned distance, I could have jumped on a bus or a taxi. If I had wanted to stop short of a planned accommodation, I could just have phoned and cancelled the reservation and the next day I could take a bus to catch up on the planned stages. That would have been waste of money, of course, but everything comes at a price. So I don’t think the pre-planned approach is quite so inflexible as it is sometimes made out to be.

    Then there is the question of being able to stay together with people you meet on the way. That could be a problem, but I met the same people again and again during the days and in the evenings, so I didn’t really feel I was missing much on “the social side”. I lost them in Sarria where I had a rest-day and they moved on. But hello’s and good bye’s are a part of all travelling.

    Anyway, the pre-booking approach suits me well, and on my next camino (hopefully next summer) I will use it again -and it will not make me feel less of a pilgrim.
     
  38. Robo

    Robo Veteran Member Donating Member

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    with my wife Pat.
    ------------------------------
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    together again :-)
    You most certainly are on a Pilgrimage Mack. ;)
    Thanks for providing another perspective.
     
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  39. Camino Chris

    Camino Chris Veteran Member Donating Member

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    Another helpful comment from you, Kitsambler, as always! I've done both modes of travel, too, and you have described the style of each so perfectly.
     
  40. m108

    m108 Member Donating Member

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    exactly ! that's why I do not even want to be "guided" by someone else's system ;)! Now, quite seriously: I really can not imagine being part of a guided group. For me, 90% of all the beauty of such pilgrimage would have been lost. If it's pilgrimage, of course. For me, I repeat. It's probably important why someone goes to Camino: pilgrimage, sports achievement, getting to know new people, holidays, ...The most beautiful things happen when you go out of the comfort zone and let yourself be surprised
     
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  41. Camino Chris

    Camino Chris Veteran Member Donating Member

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    Hi Robo, Lots of great points you've made. I'm a little off topic here, but I'd like to add this point....My husband and I sometimes have different ideas regarding travel, noticed more as we age and unfortunately have become somewhat more "unequally yoked" in this area. He is not nearly as enamored with overseas travel as I have been, but he's been willing to accompany me on a few European bus tours and various cruises, as they are easier to arrange. Would I have seen many of these amazing places without organized tours? Probably not, so for me they have had a positive impact on my life totally unrelated to the Caminos I've walked with our sons. Next up will be the Le Puy route with two Camino friends come June.
     
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  42. Dorpie

    Dorpie Member Donating Member

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    Hi Christine,

    I've been reading this thread with interest and like most have been leaning towards the go it alone side of the argument, but realise I've been very much neglecting a key question- what is it that you hope to get from the Camino?

    I think the answer to this question will go a long way towards answering your initial question. For me the Camino was a test of what I could do in all sorts ways; physical, emotional, social, logistical and more and as such it was obvious I should go it alone. But had my priority been for instance historical interest or gastronomy a tour with a knowledgable guide may well have proven invaluable in getting the most from my time on the camino.

    Whatever you decide I wish you a fantastic trip.
     
    Last edited: Nov 14, 2017 at 3:01 PM
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  43. Christine Maske

    Christine Maske New Member

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    Yes, excellent points. I like the "pre-booking" aspect, but I still like being able to walk on my own.
     
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  44. RJM

    RJM New Member

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    soon I hope....
    Unless there some type of physical limitations that require a guide, I would say no, do not walk the Camino with a tour/guided group. No way. That would be so restricting. Also, there is really nothing that a guide tour could do for you that a good guidebook and the internet couldn't.
     
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  45. davebugg

    davebugg Active Member Donating Member Donating Member

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    Pre-booking is easily done with apps like Booking.com, or by doing so online since wifi is extremely wide spread in Spain. It is amazingly easy to find any type of accomodation (alburgue, hostal, casa rural, hotel) with the amenities that you would like (private room with bathroom, room with shared bath, room with a few beds, breakfast or dinner or both included, location in the town, etc). You can use a Booking.com to pre-book the day before each stage of your walk, or pre-book all the stages before you start.

    It really is exceedingly simple. :)
     
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  46. stgcph

    stgcph Active Member Donating Member

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    Threads like this sometimes makes me feel a little sad. Not because people are telling other people about their personal experiences and preferences – that is what this forum is all about (I think?). The problem is people telling other people, that their way of doing things is the only right one. There is no only right way; there is only The Way.
     
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  47. Christine Maske

    Christine Maske New Member

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    Well, I did open it up to opinion, so there's that lol, but I agree with you. It seems like there is a lot of criticism; however, I do what I want to do and what suits me. I'm making my trip one to remember- the way I want to remember it...not the way someone else chooses to. No judgement on others. I feel incredibly fortunate to be able to take such a wonderful adventure and will enjoy it wholeheartedly!
     
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  48. trecile

    trecile Veteran Member Donating Member Donating Member

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    I met with a woman who pre-booked all of her accommodations ahead using the Gronze website: https://www.gronze.com/camino-frances

    Personally, I didn't want to be locked in to walking predetermined distances, but Your Mileage May Vary (pun intended:p)

    I usually just got a bed in a hostel or private room when I got to town, but towards the end when it was very busy in August I booked a day ahead, using booking.com or phoning directly.
     
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  49. stgcph

    stgcph Active Member Donating Member

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    That's the spirit! :):)
     
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  50. RJM

    RJM New Member

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    I don't see it that way. I may be mistaken, but I believe the member who inquired asked for members "thoughts" about guided pilgrimages. I take that to mean an opinion....no?
    Same as you describe..."preference". Is not a preference an opinion?
    I don't believe anyone is "telling" anyone anything in such a forceful manner as you describe. Almost like a micro-aggression. No?
     
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  51. stgcph

    stgcph Active Member Donating Member

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    No!
     
  52. Doogman

    Doogman Active Member Donating Member Donating Member

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    I have never taken a guided tour, as it is just not for me, but over the years I have walked completely independently and have also used tour companies for self-guided tours. I would not say that I have enjoyed the independent walks any more or any less than the self-guided tours. They have all been very good. I find that the self-guided tours provide easy one-stop shopping, in that they arrange accommodation, arrange luggage transfer (if desired), and provide maps, guidebooks or route notes. It is obviously not necessary to have those items provided to you, and there is obviously a cost involved, but if you have done your research and some comparative shopping, and you are comfortable paying what they are asking for those services, then I would not hesitate to use those services if desired.

    Due to my employment, I have primarily been limited to fairly short trips (i.e. 14 days of walking or less), so I have found that a self-guided tour works well for trips of that length. I doubt they would work as well for trips of longer duration, as there are just too many variables. I would not want to commit myself to a 35-day itinerary, but I would have little reservation committing to a 12 or 14 day trip.
     
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  53. Christine Maske

    Christine Maske New Member

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    Excellent points, thank you. Due to my employment, my schedule for timeframe is 10 days. Not a lot, but a good start. I'm planning it to coincide with my 40th birthday month!!!
     
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  54. Doogman

    Doogman Active Member Donating Member Donating Member

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    That's great. I hope you enjoy your trip. I started out on the Le Puy route in 2011 walking for 10 days. It really whet my appetite, so I returned in 2014 and again in 2015 to finally finish it off. Whatever route you are doing, 10 days should be enough to get a good feel for it, and then once you are hooked, you will spend the rest of your free time at home planning to go back. Enjoy!
     
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  55. Robo

    Robo Veteran Member Donating Member

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    Alone.
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    with my wife Pat.
    ------------------------------
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    together again :-)
    Very good point, for us all to remember.
    People who are passionate about a topic can sometimes come across as 'pushy.
    I think in this instance though, it's not a case of this way is the right way, but more a desire to help a Newbie realise that it's not hard to go it alone, and that there are some negative aspects of guided tours that might not have been considered.

    Someone mentioned the 'mid' option of pre booking.
    I actually did that last year as it was my wife's first short Camino, she couldn't carry much (injury) and did not want to worry about where to sleep at night.
    We used a very good service (no commercial connection).
    He generally does guided tours though and may not still provide the booking only option.
    And to be fair, it is a business, so we let him book our accommodation, baggage transfer, trains etc. All of which he obviously makes a small margin on (to make it worth his time)
    http://doncamino.com/
    I stress again, this is not just an accommodation booking service. They don't do just that (won't).
    They prefer to pre book everything for you.
    But at least you get everything booked, and he sends maps, guides etc. Recommends places to eat....


    Regarding the use of online apps, booking.com etc, obviously not all options are available on the apps. Though many are. So I'm learning a bit of Spanish so as to be able to make a phone booing if I have to.

    I'm not quite in the 'free wheeling' camp of just arriving in a place hoping for a bed.
    I prefer knowing I have a bed for the night and it causes less drama with my walking buddy.
    She can relax more ;)

    It's all about 'horses for courses' isn't it ?

    After Pat's experience last year with everything pre-booked, (on a short 10 day Camino) she is now happy to just 'go for it'. To a degree......
    We'll generally book a day ahead when we can (we use casa rurals, small hotels)
    But she is even toting a lightweight sleeping bag to try the occasional Albergue!

    Not bad for a City girl who does not like uncertainty in any shape or form :D
     
    Last edited: Nov 14, 2017 at 11:07 PM
  56. WGroleau

    WGroleau Wandering Weirdo Donating Member

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    On Camino Frances, you will meet them even if you aren't sociable!
     
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  57. Gillean

    Gillean Active Member Donating Member

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    Everyone walks their own walk. But this is what I would recommend. Before worrying about a guided or unguided pilgrimage work out a plan to prepare yourself before the walk. Walk a bunch of km with a backpack. Maybe 250 or so. Work yourself up to walks of 15 - 20 km at a go. If you do this you've got a good chance of physically enjoying the camino. If you don't, it's a crap shoot. I've seen folks who run half-marathons each weekend hobbled up with blisters after two days on the camino. Be gentle with yourself the first few days. Don't overdo the mileage. If you are doing the last 10 days into Santiago you will be in some pretty hilly countryside - do some hill training if you can in Iowa. If you're physically prepared and want to be a pilgrim, walk your own plan in your own time. If you have physical or psychological limitations and are happy being a tourist, consider a package tour. You'll earn the same compostela either way. That's my two cents.
     
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  58. SYates

    SYates Camino Fossil AD 1999 Donating Member

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    ...
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    Now: http://egeria.house/
    Unless you have very specific requirements/problems that really NEED the help of a guided tour there is no reason in my opinion to spend so much money on something that you can do perfectly yourself. Buen Camino, SY
     
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  59. Jenny267

    Jenny267 Member Donating Member

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    I have been on guided tours in countries where logistics and language made independent travel seem to me to be too hard - Morocco, Cambodia and Peru. I didn't regret it, I saw more than I would have independently and in a shorter timeframe.
    However, when I cycled the Camino earlier this year I went independently and didn't regret that either. I wanted to be sure of a bed each night so I booked ahead day by day using booking.com or a friend with more Spanish language skills than me rang ahead. The route and destination was very clear and transport organised - bike or feet lol so no organisation was needed there, food and drink readily available, and friendly people well used to pilgrims everywhere.
    Have a great time whatever you decide to do!
     
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  60. stgcph

    stgcph Active Member Donating Member

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    You are right. That's another good point that I/we should remember: That people are generally giving their contributions with the best of intentions.
    Sorry if my previous post came out as judgemental.
     
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  61. Robo

    Robo Veteran Member Donating Member

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    ------------------------------
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    with my wife Pat.
    ------------------------------
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    together again :-)
    It didn't ;)
     
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  62. domigee

    domigee Veteran Member Donating Member

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    Next camino? I'm thinking......
    No, it didn't :)
     
  63. docpam

    docpam Pam Donating Member Donating Member

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    San Salvador 2017
    I will be doing my 5th or 6th Camino next year. I have done non-guided caminos, the 'normal' Caminos up until now.

    In the last two, on the Primitivo (2015) and San Salvador (2017) I was part of a 'family', the first time on a Camino as part of any group. It was so nice to meet the same people some time during the day and at most of the albergues in the evening. The families were in flux and changed about 50% over the time of the route. I realised the benefit of a 'family'.

    These days on the busy French route having a tour with booked accommodation I guess is very useful!

    Next year I will be doing a guided tour of the Aragonese route, accommodation pre-booked, breakfast and dinner for you to organise. This seems the best of two worlds, accommodation organised and a 'family' if you so wish.
     
  64. Phil W

    Phil W Member Donating Member

    Joined:
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    Location:
    Boise, Idaho
    Camino(s) past & future:
    Camino Frances to Melide, May-early July 2016,
    Back to the Camino, 2017
    Well said and Buen Camino!
     
  65. josephmcclain

    josephmcclain New Member

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    I definitely hope you do it on your own. There is really no need for a tour company. I also feel that it will take away a lot of the experience that is essential to the Camino. The logistics are SO easy. Take a backpack that is good and that is packed with as little as possible. Good shoes. Good socks. Learn to use trekking poles and off you go. The infrastructure of the CAmino Frances makes it always possible to find somewhere to sleep, eat, get great coffee.
     
    trecile likes this.
  66. andreak58

    andreak58 New Member

    Joined:
    Sep 2, 2016
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    Location:
    Victoria, BC, Canada
    Camino(s) past & future:
    Santiago/Muxia/Finisterre-Sept 2016
    A little over a year ago I walked from Santiago to Fisterra. I joined a guided group because an old friend from high school invited me to join. At that time (I had done very little research on the Camino and though there was only one route and you had to do it all) I took the opportunity that was present.
    The day we met our guide, she looked at me and said “you don’t belong in a guided group” and I laughed.
    However there I was, and I made use of the luggage transport and truly enjoyed the family owned inns that we stayed at.
    I had the most profound experiences while walking, many epiphanies and magical moments. I attribute this to intention, openness to all experiences, and feeling like a pilgrim inside. It pretty much changed my life and I only walked 6 days. Pilgrimage is an inside job.
    Next Sept I am taking my two kids and we will be walking a portion of the Portugal route.
    Good luck in your decision[/QUOTE]
     
    Dorpie likes this.
  67. Thornley

    Thornley Veteran Member Donating Member

    Joined:
    Aug 30, 2008
    Messages:
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    Location:
    Melbourne/Australia
    Camino(s) past & future:
    Frances [08 ]Portuguese [09 ]Le Puy[10] Norte[ 11] Madrid [12] Figeac - Pamplona [13] Mont Saint Michel - Bordeaux / St Palais - Pamplona [14] Moissac -Burgos [15] , Norte to Oviedo and then Primitivo [16]
    Le Puy to Moissac and Dax to Santo Domingo
    I would not go for 10 days to coincide with a memorable birthday just for a bit of paper.
    I think you had already made up your mind CM when you posed the question.
    There is no way you could organise 10 days , not from StJPP or Roncesvalles
    However the last 200km is a different matter,
    Join the tribe mate and enjoy.
     
  68. Busybody

    Busybody New Member

    Joined:
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    Camino(s) past & future:
    Now french Way
    Hi Christine
    I have just finished the Camino on a self guided tour and can see the pros and cons. I wanted my own accommodation and I liked the fact I did not have to worry about where I was staying. Quite often others were panicking about finding a room. But as I was getting closer to the end I was more confident and could have organized the accommodation but andaspain knew the best places to stay.
    But the best thing was when I had a medical issue, they arranged an English speaking doctor for me at the hospital and a taxi to get me there. Self guided tours seem the best of both worlds. But be careful which company you go with. Some give no support once they have your money. With andaspain the cost was not that much more than if I had arranged the trip myself through booking.com.
     
  69. Marbe2

    Marbe2 Active member Donating Member

    Joined:
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    Camino(s) past & future:
    2015 SJPD to Burgos
    2017 Leon to Santiago
    Pamplona to Santiago de Compostela planned for March 2018
    Above all, whichever option you decided upon, tour, or independent, you need to know what your capabilities are? IF you book the last section Sarria to Santiago you will need to decide how many days you will need to complete these approximate 60miles. IF you do 10 miles a day then you will need six days. AS others suggested you need to have a sense of how far you can walk each day. A tour guide can not help you with that..
    IF you allow yourself a couple of extra days on your own you can take a day off when you need it. TOurs prebook normally. I met folks this past year who were on tours and some of them had to take cabs to catch up with the group each day?
    IF you plan on doing the Camino Frances during peak times....especially starting in Sarria, this includes, June, September and early Oct as well as Holy and Easter Week you may want to book a day ahead. You can also use Booking.com for private albergues and hotels. I almost fell over when I looked at the price of a private tour and knew I have stayed at similar places and ate the menu del Dia or ate alacart off the menu and did it for one fourth of what the tour changed. Have a great Camino whichever option you decide upon!
     

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