Search 60,048 Camino Questions

A donation to the forum removes ads for you, and supports Ivar in his work running it


Advertisement

I just walked the Frances. Here's what I learned.

Jakesheridan

New Member
Past OR future Camino
April/May 2022
I sure hope you clicked on this because you're set to hike, because the Camino Frances -- which I finished last Sunday -- proved to be one of the most valuable, special experiences of my life.

I looked a bit at this forum before I hiked and got a whole lot of wonderful advice from the kind folks who post here, so I am writing now hoping to share anything I've learned that I might've liked to know before I hiked. A bit about me, before I start listing off thoughts: I am a 23 y/o, physically active man. I hiked from mid-April to mid May and started in St. Jean. Keep all that in mind if you read here -- I am only speaking to my experiences and I'm sure yours will be quite different. I'll also add -- please reach out if there's anything you think I might be able to answer! El Camino provided so much to me, and I'd love to pay it forward if there's any way to help. No question is bad :)

-- How to get to St. Jean --
I spent a few days in Paris before going to St. Jean. I didn't see a ton of super clear and updated advice on this forum describing how to get to SJPP before I got to Paris. I took a TGV train (the French fast train, really your best option) from Paris to Bayonne. It was around $70 when I bought it two days before I left. I could've gone to Biarritz for the same price. From Bayonne, I took a cheap local train that connected with a cheap local bus (those two parts were ~$10, it seemed that plenty of people didn't get tickets ahead of time, and the connections were also possible from Biarritz. All very easy. And if you're on the fence about Paris, I couldn't recommend it more! So different than big Spanish cities and certainly radically different from the experience you'll have on El Camino.

-- How much do you need to plan? --
There is no strict truth on how much you need to plan, and you should do what you are comfortable with and excited about. I chose to plan as little as possible. I didn't buy a guide book and I barely used the planning app I downloaded. I wanted to listen to my body and heart as I hiked and react to the people I walked with and the spaces I walked through. I really think that was the right decision for me. I recognize too that I could do that because I am able-bodied, financially solid and have extremely low standards for food and housing.
The older people I walked with seemed to plan much more, with books and reservations. I think that for many of them that was a great decision. I also loved going to them for advice on which albergues to pick, restaurants to check out, sellos to get, cathedrals to scope out, alternate routes to take, etc. The people who plan hold a wealth of information.
The Buen Camino app was great for scoping out alternative routes and albergues. Gronze was the best site for Albergue reviews, and I had mostly good experiences when I used it. Halfway through, I used the albergue sheet and stage map the officials gave me in SJPP to mark where all of the donativo albergues were -- I strongly preferred staying in them because they had community dinners that I enjoyed and attracted people who, like me, were hoping to talk with others and learn from them. I enjoyed relying on the preferences I developed to do some planning.
The last week I hiked, I stuck with a group. They were calling ahead the night before to book albergues and did so for me. I don't know if it was necessary, but it definitely took stress out -- I didn't think about where I was staying once that week.
I do think that part of the joy of El Camino is that even the plans you have will sometimes fall apart. Love that chaos and learn within it.

-- What gear do you need? --
The answer is less, in my opinion. If you're carrying your pack, pack less. Pack less. Pack less. Pack less. I had three shirts (two athletic tees and one long sleeve cotton shirt), a pair of trail pants, a pair of shorts, a fleece, some disposable plastic ponchos, four underwear and two socks (plus a Kindle, some shower flops, cosmetics, a sleeping bag, and some other odds and ends). I could've done without the compression sack I used for the fleece and sleeping bag. I could've packed one less t-shirt and gone without the kindle. I generally was thought to have a very light bag compared to the people I hiked with. I couldn't really imagine carrying much more -- it would've stunk.
Make sure you bring great ear plugs. The snoring is real.
I would recommend a sleeping bag that isn't too tight / isn't cone-like. I like to move around when I sleep.
I used Brooks Cascadia 16s. I didn't go water proof and heard many complaints from the folks who did (the water can't go out / the shoe can't dry). I only used one pair but they were toast by the end. I went one half size up from my normal size and would have been fine with a full size up too. I really recommend using trail runners instead of hiking boots -- the other trail runner folks seemed to get less blisters (I suspect because the shoes aren't as rigid). I only got two blisters!
I would recommend getting a reusable lightweight plastic poncho. It rained quite a bit (though lightly) when I was in Spain. One day hiking through the snow with a plastic poncho that broke apart in heavy winds stunk.
I used an REI 40L bag. It was more than enough. Anywhere between 35 and 45L is enough. For me, 38 would be perfect. Anything will work. Get a bag that you like the feel of. Doesn't have to be too expensive. Front pockets were a really nice feature, as was a top pocket.
I couldn't recommend hiking sticks more. I got mine in SJPP at 7 am before I started on the day I started. They had clasps, which made them easy to size and also allowed me to pull them apart and put them in my carry-on on the way back home. They cost like $40 total. I recommend cork grips, smooth ties and buying better rubber tips (got some good ones in Pampalona after mine busted in two days).

-- What is it like to be a young person on El Camino? --
If you're a young person and aren't sure if you want to hike or not, I want to be very clear in saying that I think you should do it. The vast majority of the people who hike from St. Jean (and who join the trail further along) were much older than me. Most, I found, were between 50 and 70 (though there were plenty 35+ too). Still, it was easy for me to find plenty of young people to spend time with. There were probably around 15 of us between 20 and 35 in my roving band. I had plenty of opportunities to do young people stuff, (reach out for recommendations on where to go out in Pamplona, Leon, Burgos and Santiago, and how to work around albergue closing times, lol).
All that said, the wisdom of the people older than me, made easily accessible by the unique setting that allowed us to talk so intimately, was surely one of the most valuable parts of El Camino. Age doesn't really matter here because everyone exists in this space in a radically equal way, but if it does matter, it gave me the opportunity to learn about life from people who have lived more life, all while I have the space and time to think about how I want to live and what I want to care about before I get started in my career.
You have a lot of power as a young person to shape your own Camino. You have access to phones and such to plan easily with others (get an AirBnB and stay in a city easily!). You can go out more easily and become friends with locals (one of my favorite things to do!). You can maybe more easily walk ahead a stage or two, or wait for others to come. Lean into those strengths to do whatever you want.
Anyways, get ready to have some great food, open space and unlimited wine at the very least. PS -- donativo and municipal albergues tend to attract more young people, and young people tend to leave last to get on the trail.

-- What to do on your Camino? --
I intended to work on my Spanish and reflect on my spirituality on my Camino. Both happened (woohoo!).
I spent the first week or so generally walking and chatting with other folks about whatever. I found that I had more space to listen to audiobooks on spirituality halfway through on the Meseta. It was somewhat hard for me to find time and energy to journal as much as I wanted to, but I finished with 130 pages written, so it all worked out. I listened to 8 books and walked with dozens upon dozens of people -- you can do everything all at once, there's time, lol. The last week I stuck with a group of three young folks who spoke Spanish, and it was a wonderful opportunity for me to practice language (my Spanish is okay... I lived in Argentina for four months but lost a lot of my Spanish since).
I really recommend having a few things you want to think about. There's space and tons of wonderful minds on El Camino. Take advantage of that and follow whatever thought path emerges.
The one thing you must must do is spend time with other people. Ask people to eat with you. Ask to pull up a chair. Ask how someone's hike is going when you pass them on the trail and try hard to start a conversation. Be attentive and kind and thoughtful and loving. You will learn so much about them and life and yourself. The other people are the best part.

You should definitely hike! I feel so much peace and strength and joy because of my Camino. I am so grateful for this time. Reach out if you have any questions!!! Buen Camino :))))))))
 

Attachments

  • Screen Shot 2022-05-21 at 11.32.23 AM.png
    Screen Shot 2022-05-21 at 11.32.23 AM.png
    2.9 MB · Views: 164
Pocket guide that pack a punch
1.4 oz (40g) pocket guides with gems of wisdom to ponder during and after your Camino
Camino Jewellery
A selection of Camino Jewellery

mtp06

New Member
Past OR future Camino
Future Camino - August 2022
Hi Jakesheridan, I plan to walk the Camino this August and though I'm in that average range of 50-70 year olds, it was fun to read your blog being a younger, much younger, pilgrim. I love that you undertook this journey when you are still in your 20s and have your whole life ahead of you - kudos to you for making the time and just doing it.
 

Bradypus

Migratory hermit
Past OR future Camino
Too many and too often!
If you're a young person and aren't sure if you want to hike or not, I want to be very clear in saying that I think you should do it. The vast majority of the people who hike from St. Jean (and who join the trail further along) were much older than me. Most, I found, were between 50 and 70 (though there were plenty 35+ too).
When I walked my first Camino the majority of pilgrims were in their teens and twenties. Over the years the average age seems to have increased a lot. From the 2019 statistics (the last full year before Covid) it seems that most are now in the 30-60 range. As someone looking forward to a senior citizens bus pass in the next few weeks it's a relief to think that even hitting the 60 year milestone doesn't rule me out completely :cool:
Screenshot_2022-05-21-18-20-12-963.jpg
 
Last edited:

JabbaPapa

"True Pilgrim"
Past OR future Camino
100 characters or fewer : see signature details
I am a 23 y/o, physically active man.
Hooray !! Fond memories !!
I spent a few days in Paris before going to St. Jean.
Wisdom beyond your years ...
I chose to plan as little as possible. I didn't buy a guide book
Ditto.
listen to my body and heart as I hiked and react to the people I walked with and the spaces I walked through.
Tritto ? Oh no, that's not a real word !!
I do think that part of the joy of El Camino is that even the plans you have will sometimes fall apart.
This OTOH is just preaching to the converted.
Make sure you bring great ear plugs. The snoring is real.
eh ... or just not be bothered by snoring. A LOT easier.
I really recommend using trail runners instead of hiking boots
This is a contentious and diverse affair -- absolutely need boots personally, and not just hiking, but army.

Real advice here is find what works for you personally, and the right size.
I would recommend getting a reusable lightweight plastic poncho.
Personally, I use a great big black woollen traditional pilgrim's cape.

Far more important here though would be a good, sturdy, wide-brimmed cotton hiking/rambling hat.
I couldn't recommend hiking sticks more.
I prefer my ash hiking staff. No manner of "correction", just stating an alternative. And a personal preference.

But staves are harder to learn than poles ...
All that said, the wisdom of the people older than me, made easily accessible by the unique setting that allowed us to talk so intimately, was surely one of the most valuable parts of El Camino. Age doesn't really matter here because everyone exists in this space in a radically equal way, but if it does matter, it gave me the opportunity to learn about life from people who have lived more life, all while I have the space and time to think
Hooray !!!
The one thing you must must do is spend time with other people. Ask people to eat with you.
I wouldn't say the one thing, but yes, this is a very important one.
Buen Camino :))))))))
Great stuff !!
 
Donation to the Forum
A donation to this forum helps it continue to exists and also removes all ads for you.
Pocket guide that pack a punch
1.4 oz (40g) pocket guides with gems of wisdom to ponder during and after your Camino

henrythedog

Veteran Member
Past OR future Camino
X
I sure hope you clicked on this because you're set to hike, because the Camino Frances -- which I finished last Sunday -- proved to be one of the most valuable, special experiences of my life.

I looked a bit at this forum before I hiked and got a whole lot of wonderful advice from the kind folks who post here, so I am writing now hoping to share anything I've learned that I might've liked to know before I hiked. A bit about me, before I start listing off thoughts: I am a 23 y/o, physically active man. I hiked from mid-April to mid May and started in St. Jean. Keep all that in mind if you read here -- I am only speaking to my experiences and I'm sure yours will be quite different. I'll also add -- please reach out if there's anything you think I might be able to answer! El Camino provided so much to me, and I'd love to pay it forward if there's any way to help. No question is bad :)

-- How to get to St. Jean --
I spent a few days in Paris before going to St. Jean. I didn't see a ton of super clear and updated advice on this forum describing how to get to SJPP before I got to Paris. I took a TGV train (the French fast train, really your best option) from Paris to Bayonne. It was around $70 when I bought it two days before I left. I could've gone to Biarritz for the same price. From Bayonne, I took a cheap local train that connected with a cheap local bus (those two parts were ~$10, it seemed that plenty of people didn't get tickets ahead of time, and the connections were also possible from Biarritz. All very easy. And if you're on the fence about Paris, I couldn't recommend it more! So different than big Spanish cities and certainly radically different from the experience you'll have on El Camino.

-- How much do you need to plan? --
There is no strict truth on how much you need to plan, and you should do what you are comfortable with and excited about. I chose to plan as little as possible. I didn't buy a guide book and I barely used the planning app I downloaded. I wanted to listen to my body and heart as I hiked and react to the people I walked with and the spaces I walked through. I really think that was the right decision for me. I recognize too that I could do that because I am able-bodied, financially solid and have extremely low standards for food and housing.
The older people I walked with seemed to plan much more, with books and reservations. I think that for many of them that was a great decision. I also loved going to them for advice on which albergues to pick, restaurants to check out, sellos to get, cathedrals to scope out, alternate routes to take, etc. The people who plan hold a wealth of information.
The Buen Camino app was great for scoping out alternative routes and albergues. Gronze was the best site for Albergue reviews, and I had mostly good experiences when I used it. Halfway through, I used the albergue sheet and stage map the officials gave me in SJPP to mark where all of the donativo albergues were -- I strongly preferred staying in them because they had community dinners that I enjoyed and attracted people who, like me, were hoping to talk with others and learn from them. I enjoyed relying on the preferences I developed to do some planning.
The last week I hiked, I stuck with a group. They were calling ahead the night before to book albergues and did so for me. I don't know if it was necessary, but it definitely took stress out -- I didn't think about where I was staying once that week.
I do think that part of the joy of El Camino is that even the plans you have will sometimes fall apart. Love that chaos and learn within it.

-- What gear do you need? --
The answer is less, in my opinion. If you're carrying your pack, pack less. Pack less. Pack less. Pack less. I had three shirts (two athletic tees and one long sleeve cotton shirt), a pair of trail pants, a pair of shorts, a fleece, some disposable plastic ponchos, four underwear and two socks (plus a Kindle, some shower flops, cosmetics, a sleeping bag, and some other odds and ends). I could've done without the compression sack I used for the fleece and sleeping bag. I could've packed one less t-shirt and gone without the kindle. I generally was thought to have a very light bag compared to the people I hiked with. I couldn't really imagine carrying much more -- it would've stunk.
Make sure you bring great ear plugs. The snoring is real.
I would recommend a sleeping bag that isn't too tight / isn't cone-like. I like to move around when I sleep.
I used Brooks Cascadia 16s. I didn't go water proof and heard many complaints from the folks who did (the water can't go out / the shoe can't dry). I only used one pair but they were toast by the end. I went one half size up from my normal size and would have been fine with a full size up too. I really recommend using trail runners instead of hiking boots -- the other trail runner folks seemed to get less blisters (I suspect because the shoes aren't as rigid). I only got two blisters!
I would recommend getting a reusable lightweight plastic poncho. It rained quite a bit (though lightly) when I was in Spain. One day hiking through the snow with a plastic poncho that broke apart in heavy winds stunk.
I used an REI 40L bag. It was more than enough. Anywhere between 35 and 45L is enough. For me, 38 would be perfect. Anything will work. Get a bag that you like the feel of. Doesn't have to be too expensive. Front pockets were a really nice feature, as was a top pocket.
I couldn't recommend hiking sticks more. I got mine in SJPP at 7 am before I started on the day I started. They had clasps, which made them easy to size and also allowed me to pull them apart and put them in my carry-on on the way back home. They cost like $40 total. I recommend cork grips, smooth ties and buying better rubber tips (got some good ones in Pampalona after mine busted in two days).

-- What is it like to be a young person on El Camino? --
If you're a young person and aren't sure if you want to hike or not, I want to be very clear in saying that I think you should do it. The vast majority of the people who hike from St. Jean (and who join the trail further along) were much older than me. Most, I found, were between 50 and 70 (though there were plenty 35+ too). Still, it was easy for me to find plenty of young people to spend time with. There were probably around 15 of us between 20 and 35 in my roving band. I had plenty of opportunities to do young people stuff, (reach out for recommendations on where to go out in Pamplona, Leon, Burgos and Santiago, and how to work around albergue closing times, lol).
All that said, the wisdom of the people older than me, made easily accessible by the unique setting that allowed us to talk so intimately, was surely one of the most valuable parts of El Camino. Age doesn't really matter here because everyone exists in this space in a radically equal way, but if it does matter, it gave me the opportunity to learn about life from people who have lived more life, all while I have the space and time to think about how I want to live and what I want to care about before I get started in my career.
You have a lot of power as a young person to shape your own Camino. You have access to phones and such to plan easily with others (get an AirBnB and stay in a city easily!). You can go out more easily and become friends with locals (one of my favorite things to do!). You can maybe more easily walk ahead a stage or two, or wait for others to come. Lean into those strengths to do whatever you want.
Anyways, get ready to have some great food, open space and unlimited wine at the very least. PS -- donativo and municipal albergues tend to attract more young people, and young people tend to leave last to get on the trail.

-- What to do on your Camino? --
I intended to work on my Spanish and reflect on my spirituality on my Camino. Both happened (woohoo!).
I spent the first week or so generally walking and chatting with other folks about whatever. I found that I had more space to listen to audiobooks on spirituality halfway through on the Meseta. It was somewhat hard for me to find time and energy to journal as much as I wanted to, but I finished with 130 pages written, so it all worked out. I listened to 8 books and walked with dozens upon dozens of people -- you can do everything all at once, there's time, lol. The last week I stuck with a group of three young folks who spoke Spanish, and it was a wonderful opportunity for me to practice language (my Spanish is okay... I lived in Argentina for four months but lost a lot of my Spanish since).
I really recommend having a few things you want to think about. There's space and tons of wonderful minds on El Camino. Take advantage of that and follow whatever thought path emerges.
The one thing you must must do is spend time with other people. Ask people to eat with you. Ask to pull up a chair. Ask how someone's hike is going when you pass them on the trail and try hard to start a conversation. Be attentive and kind and thoughtful and loving. You will learn so much about them and life and yourself. The other people are the best part.

You should definitely hike! I feel so much peace and strength and joy because of my Camino. I am so grateful for this time. Reach out if you have any questions!!! Buen Camino :))))))))
Excellent summary - thanks for posting .
 

Jakesheridan

New Member
Past OR future Camino
April/May 2022
When I walked my first Camino the majority of pilgrims were in their teens and twenties. Over the years the average age seems to have increased a lot. From the 2019 statistics (the last full year before Covid) it seems that most are now in the 30-60 range. As someone looking forward to a senior citizens bus pass in the next few weeks it's a relief to think that even hitting the 60 year milestone doesn't rule me out completely :cool:
View attachment 125974
Haha - seemed that way to me too, looks like you got to get back out there!
 

Jakesheridan

New Member
Past OR future Camino
April/May 2022
It depends a little on when you walk. There tends to be more twenties people walking during university holiday times but as @Jakesheridan found, there are always some young people walking.
Really good point -- there were more young people hiking around the Easter / Pasqua holidays. Some were university students and many were teachers. I would imagine in summer when school is out quite a few university students get on the trail.
 

Jakesheridan

New Member
Past OR future Camino
April/May 2022
Hooray !! Fond memories !!

Wisdom beyond your years ...

Ditto.

Tritto ? Oh no, that's not a real word !!

This OTOH is just preaching to the converted.

eh ... or just not be bothered by snoring. A LOT easier.

This is a contentious and diverse affair -- absolutely need boots personally, and not just hiking, but army.

Real advice here is find what works for you personally, and the right size.

Personally, I use a great big black woollen traditional pilgrim's cape.

Far more important here though would be a good, sturdy, wide-brimmed cotton hiking/rambling hat.

I prefer my ash hiking staff. No manner of "correction", just stating an alternative. And a personal preference.

But staves are harder to learn than poles ...

Hooray !!!

I wouldn't say the one thing, but yes, this is a very important one.

Great stuff !!
loved all of your thoughts :)
 

Jakesheridan

New Member
Past OR future Camino
April/May 2022
Hi Jakesheridan, I plan to walk the Camino this August and though I'm in that average range of 50-70 year olds, it was fun to read your blog being a younger, much younger, pilgrim. I love that you undertook this journey when you are still in your 20s and have your whole life ahead of you - kudos to you for making the time and just doing it.
Thank you! You're going to have a wonderful time -- excited for you!
 
how to successfully prepare for your Camino
This book's focus is on reducing the risk of failure through being well prepared.
Camino Maps
A collection of Camino Maps from the Camino Forum Store

Debora

Beautiful Burgos
Past OR future Camino
SJPdP to Santiago May (2016)
SJPdP to Belorado May (2019)
That sounds like a fantastic trip. Thanks for all the info. I'm curious what your covid testing experience was when traveling. Did you have to test when landing in Paris before you could leave the airport?
 
Past OR future Camino
Have recently learned about the Camino. I am attracted to the spiritual pilgrimage. Looking at 2020.
I sure hope you clicked on this because you're set to hike, because the Camino Frances -- which I finished last Sunday -- proved to be one of the most valuable, special experiences of my life.

I looked a bit at this forum before I hiked and got a whole lot of wonderful advice from the kind folks who post here, so I am writing now hoping to share anything I've learned that I might've liked to know before I hiked. A bit about me, before I start listing off thoughts: I am a 23 y/o, physically active man. I hiked from mid-April to mid May and started in St. Jean. Keep all that in mind if you read here -- I am only speaking to my experiences and I'm sure yours will be quite different. I'll also add -- please reach out if there's anything you think I might be able to answer! El Camino provided so much to me, and I'd love to pay it forward if there's any way to help. No question is bad :)

-- How to get to St. Jean --
I spent a few days in Paris before going to St. Jean. I didn't see a ton of super clear and updated advice on this forum describing how to get to SJPP before I got to Paris. I took a TGV train (the French fast train, really your best option) from Paris to Bayonne. It was around $70 when I bought it two days before I left. I could've gone to Biarritz for the same price. From Bayonne, I took a cheap local train that connected with a cheap local bus (those two parts were ~$10, it seemed that plenty of people didn't get tickets ahead of time, and the connections were also possible from Biarritz. All very easy. And if you're on the fence about Paris, I couldn't recommend it more! So different than big Spanish cities and certainly radically different from the experience you'll have on El Camino.

-- How much do you need to plan? --
There is no strict truth on how much you need to plan, and you should do what you are comfortable with and excited about. I chose to plan as little as possible. I didn't buy a guide book and I barely used the planning app I downloaded. I wanted to listen to my body and heart as I hiked and react to the people I walked with and the spaces I walked through. I really think that was the right decision for me. I recognize too that I could do that because I am able-bodied, financially solid and have extremely low standards for food and housing.
The older people I walked with seemed to plan much more, with books and reservations. I think that for many of them that was a great decision. I also loved going to them for advice on which albergues to pick, restaurants to check out, sellos to get, cathedrals to scope out, alternate routes to take, etc. The people who plan hold a wealth of information.
The Buen Camino app was great for scoping out alternative routes and albergues. Gronze was the best site for Albergue reviews, and I had mostly good experiences when I used it. Halfway through, I used the albergue sheet and stage map the officials gave me in SJPP to mark where all of the donativo albergues were -- I strongly preferred staying in them because they had community dinners that I enjoyed and attracted people who, like me, were hoping to talk with others and learn from them. I enjoyed relying on the preferences I developed to do some planning.
The last week I hiked, I stuck with a group. They were calling ahead the night before to book albergues and did so for me. I don't know if it was necessary, but it definitely took stress out -- I didn't think about where I was staying once that week.
I do think that part of the joy of El Camino is that even the plans you have will sometimes fall apart. Love that chaos and learn within it.

-- What gear do you need? --
The answer is less, in my opinion. If you're carrying your pack, pack less. Pack less. Pack less. Pack less. I had three shirts (two athletic tees and one long sleeve cotton shirt), a pair of trail pants, a pair of shorts, a fleece, some disposable plastic ponchos, four underwear and two socks (plus a Kindle, some shower flops, cosmetics, a sleeping bag, and some other odds and ends). I could've done without the compression sack I used for the fleece and sleeping bag. I could've packed one less t-shirt and gone without the kindle. I generally was thought to have a very light bag compared to the people I hiked with. I couldn't really imagine carrying much more -- it would've stunk.
Make sure you bring great ear plugs. The snoring is real.
I would recommend a sleeping bag that isn't too tight / isn't cone-like. I like to move around when I sleep.
I used Brooks Cascadia 16s. I didn't go water proof and heard many complaints from the folks who did (the water can't go out / the shoe can't dry). I only used one pair but they were toast by the end. I went one half size up from my normal size and would have been fine with a full size up too. I really recommend using trail runners instead of hiking boots -- the other trail runner folks seemed to get less blisters (I suspect because the shoes aren't as rigid). I only got two blisters!
I would recommend getting a reusable lightweight plastic poncho. It rained quite a bit (though lightly) when I was in Spain. One day hiking through the snow with a plastic poncho that broke apart in heavy winds stunk.
I used an REI 40L bag. It was more than enough. Anywhere between 35 and 45L is enough. For me, 38 would be perfect. Anything will work. Get a bag that you like the feel of. Doesn't have to be too expensive. Front pockets were a really nice feature, as was a top pocket.
I couldn't recommend hiking sticks more. I got mine in SJPP at 7 am before I started on the day I started. They had clasps, which made them easy to size and also allowed me to pull them apart and put them in my carry-on on the way back home. They cost like $40 total. I recommend cork grips, smooth ties and buying better rubber tips (got some good ones in Pampalona after mine busted in two days).

-- What is it like to be a young person on El Camino? --
If you're a young person and aren't sure if you want to hike or not, I want to be very clear in saying that I think you should do it. The vast majority of the people who hike from St. Jean (and who join the trail further along) were much older than me. Most, I found, were between 50 and 70 (though there were plenty 35+ too). Still, it was easy for me to find plenty of young people to spend time with. There were probably around 15 of us between 20 and 35 in my roving band. I had plenty of opportunities to do young people stuff, (reach out for recommendations on where to go out in Pamplona, Leon, Burgos and Santiago, and how to work around albergue closing times, lol).
All that said, the wisdom of the people older than me, made easily accessible by the unique setting that allowed us to talk so intimately, was surely one of the most valuable parts of El Camino. Age doesn't really matter here because everyone exists in this space in a radically equal way, but if it does matter, it gave me the opportunity to learn about life from people who have lived more life, all while I have the space and time to think about how I want to live and what I want to care about before I get started in my career.
You have a lot of power as a young person to shape your own Camino. You have access to phones and such to plan easily with others (get an AirBnB and stay in a city easily!). You can go out more easily and become friends with locals (one of my favorite things to do!). You can maybe more easily walk ahead a stage or two, or wait for others to come. Lean into those strengths to do whatever you want.
Anyways, get ready to have some great food, open space and unlimited wine at the very least. PS -- donativo and municipal albergues tend to attract more young people, and young people tend to leave last to get on the trail.

-- What to do on your Camino? --
I intended to work on my Spanish and reflect on my spirituality on my Camino. Both happened (woohoo!).
I spent the first week or so generally walking and chatting with other folks about whatever. I found that I had more space to listen to audiobooks on spirituality halfway through on the Meseta. It was somewhat hard for me to find time and energy to journal as much as I wanted to, but I finished with 130 pages written, so it all worked out. I listened to 8 books and walked with dozens upon dozens of people -- you can do everything all at once, there's time, lol. The last week I stuck with a group of three young folks who spoke Spanish, and it was a wonderful opportunity for me to practice language (my Spanish is okay... I lived in Argentina for four months but lost a lot of my Spanish since).
I really recommend having a few things you want to think about. There's space and tons of wonderful minds on El Camino. Take advantage of that and follow whatever thought path emerges.
The one thing you must must do is spend time with other people. Ask people to eat with you. Ask to pull up a chair. Ask how someone's hike is going when you pass them on the trail and try hard to start a conversation. Be attentive and kind and thoughtful and loving. You will learn so much about them and life and yourself. The other people are the best part.

You should definitely hike! I feel so much peace and strength and joy because of my Camino. I am so grateful for this time. Reach out if you have any questions!!! Buen Camino :))))))))
What a lovely person you are! I am certain you blessed everyone you connected with. Thank you for sharing! ❤️
 

Jakesheridan

New Member
Past OR future Camino
April/May 2022
That sounds like a fantastic trip. Thanks for all the info. I'm curious what your covid testing experience was when traveling. Did you have to test when landing in Paris before you could leave the airport?
Thank you!

I had actually been working for a month in France before my Camino, and was in Italy prior to that. There were no testing requirements for me then besides the stuff required to fly. Will add - COVID didn't affect my Camino whatsoever, and I don't remember many rules in Paris in April.
 

MichelleElynHogan

Veteran Member
I sure hope you clicked on this because you're set to hike, because the Camino Frances -- which I finished last Sunday -- proved to be one of the most valuable, special experiences of my life.

I looked a bit at this forum before I hiked and got a whole lot of wonderful advice from the kind folks who post here, so I am writing now hoping to share anything I've learned that I might've liked to know before I hiked. A bit about me, before I start listing off thoughts: I am a 23 y/o, physically active man. I hiked from mid-April to mid May and started in St. Jean. Keep all that in mind if you read here -- I am only speaking to my experiences and I'm sure yours will be quite different. I'll also add -- please reach out if there's anything you think I might be able to answer! El Camino provided so much to me, and I'd love to pay it forward if there's any way to help. No question is bad :)

-- How to get to St. Jean --
I spent a few days in Paris before going to St. Jean. I didn't see a ton of super clear and updated advice on this forum describing how to get to SJPP before I got to Paris. I took a TGV train (the French fast train, really your best option) from Paris to Bayonne. It was around $70 when I bought it two days before I left. I could've gone to Biarritz for the same price. From Bayonne, I took a cheap local train that connected with a cheap local bus (those two parts were ~$10, it seemed that plenty of people didn't get tickets ahead of time, and the connections were also possible from Biarritz. All very easy. And if you're on the fence about Paris, I couldn't recommend it more! So different than big Spanish cities and certainly radically different from the experience you'll have on El Camino.

-- How much do you need to plan? --
There is no strict truth on how much you need to plan, and you should do what you are comfortable with and excited about. I chose to plan as little as possible. I didn't buy a guide book and I barely used the planning app I downloaded. I wanted to listen to my body and heart as I hiked and react to the people I walked with and the spaces I walked through. I really think that was the right decision for me. I recognize too that I could do that because I am able-bodied, financially solid and have extremely low standards for food and housing.
The older people I walked with seemed to plan much more, with books and reservations. I think that for many of them that was a great decision. I also loved going to them for advice on which albergues to pick, restaurants to check out, sellos to get, cathedrals to scope out, alternate routes to take, etc. The people who plan hold a wealth of information.
The Buen Camino app was great for scoping out alternative routes and albergues. Gronze was the best site for Albergue reviews, and I had mostly good experiences when I used it. Halfway through, I used the albergue sheet and stage map the officials gave me in SJPP to mark where all of the donativo albergues were -- I strongly preferred staying in them because they had community dinners that I enjoyed and attracted people who, like me, were hoping to talk with others and learn from them. I enjoyed relying on the preferences I developed to do some planning.
The last week I hiked, I stuck with a group. They were calling ahead the night before to book albergues and did so for me. I don't know if it was necessary, but it definitely took stress out -- I didn't think about where I was staying once that week.
I do think that part of the joy of El Camino is that even the plans you have will sometimes fall apart. Love that chaos and learn within it.

-- What gear do you need? --
The answer is less, in my opinion. If you're carrying your pack, pack less. Pack less. Pack less. Pack less. I had three shirts (two athletic tees and one long sleeve cotton shirt), a pair of trail pants, a pair of shorts, a fleece, some disposable plastic ponchos, four underwear and two socks (plus a Kindle, some shower flops, cosmetics, a sleeping bag, and some other odds and ends). I could've done without the compression sack I used for the fleece and sleeping bag. I could've packed one less t-shirt and gone without the kindle. I generally was thought to have a very light bag compared to the people I hiked with. I couldn't really imagine carrying much more -- it would've stunk.
Make sure you bring great ear plugs. The snoring is real.
I would recommend a sleeping bag that isn't too tight / isn't cone-like. I like to move around when I sleep.
I used Brooks Cascadia 16s. I didn't go water proof and heard many complaints from the folks who did (the water can't go out / the shoe can't dry). I only used one pair but they were toast by the end. I went one half size up from my normal size and would have been fine with a full size up too. I really recommend using trail runners instead of hiking boots -- the other trail runner folks seemed to get less blisters (I suspect because the shoes aren't as rigid). I only got two blisters!
I would recommend getting a reusable lightweight plastic poncho. It rained quite a bit (though lightly) when I was in Spain. One day hiking through the snow with a plastic poncho that broke apart in heavy winds stunk.
I used an REI 40L bag. It was more than enough. Anywhere between 35 and 45L is enough. For me, 38 would be perfect. Anything will work. Get a bag that you like the feel of. Doesn't have to be too expensive. Front pockets were a really nice feature, as was a top pocket.
I couldn't recommend hiking sticks more. I got mine in SJPP at 7 am before I started on the day I started. They had clasps, which made them easy to size and also allowed me to pull them apart and put them in my carry-on on the way back home. They cost like $40 total. I recommend cork grips, smooth ties and buying better rubber tips (got some good ones in Pampalona after mine busted in two days).

-- What is it like to be a young person on El Camino? --
If you're a young person and aren't sure if you want to hike or not, I want to be very clear in saying that I think you should do it. The vast majority of the people who hike from St. Jean (and who join the trail further along) were much older than me. Most, I found, were between 50 and 70 (though there were plenty 35+ too). Still, it was easy for me to find plenty of young people to spend time with. There were probably around 15 of us between 20 and 35 in my roving band. I had plenty of opportunities to do young people stuff, (reach out for recommendations on where to go out in Pamplona, Leon, Burgos and Santiago, and how to work around albergue closing times, lol).
All that said, the wisdom of the people older than me, made easily accessible by the unique setting that allowed us to talk so intimately, was surely one of the most valuable parts of El Camino. Age doesn't really matter here because everyone exists in this space in a radically equal way, but if it does matter, it gave me the opportunity to learn about life from people who have lived more life, all while I have the space and time to think about how I want to live and what I want to care about before I get started in my career.
You have a lot of power as a young person to shape your own Camino. You have access to phones and such to plan easily with others (get an AirBnB and stay in a city easily!). You can go out more easily and become friends with locals (one of my favorite things to do!). You can maybe more easily walk ahead a stage or two, or wait for others to come. Lean into those strengths to do whatever you want.
Anyways, get ready to have some great food, open space and unlimited wine at the very least. PS -- donativo and municipal albergues tend to attract more young people, and young people tend to leave last to get on the trail.

-- What to do on your Camino? --
I intended to work on my Spanish and reflect on my spirituality on my Camino. Both happened (woohoo!).
I spent the first week or so generally walking and chatting with other folks about whatever. I found that I had more space to listen to audiobooks on spirituality halfway through on the Meseta. It was somewhat hard for me to find time and energy to journal as much as I wanted to, but I finished with 130 pages written, so it all worked out. I listened to 8 books and walked with dozens upon dozens of people -- you can do everything all at once, there's time, lol. The last week I stuck with a group of three young folks who spoke Spanish, and it was a wonderful opportunity for me to practice language (my Spanish is okay... I lived in Argentina for four months but lost a lot of my Spanish since).
I really recommend having a few things you want to think about. There's space and tons of wonderful minds on El Camino. Take advantage of that and follow whatever thought path emerges.
The one thing you must must do is spend time with other people. Ask people to eat with you. Ask to pull up a chair. Ask how someone's hike is going when you pass them on the trail and try hard to start a conversation. Be attentive and kind and thoughtful and loving. You will learn so much about them and life and yourself. The other people are the best part.

You should definitely hike! I feel so much peace and strength and joy because of my Camino. I am so grateful for this time. Reach out if you have any questions!!! Buen Camino :))))))))
I remember what I had recommended when asked earlier this year. I will not say, "I told you so," as, you have done it yourself, LOL.
 

Mahonsk

New Member
Past OR future Camino
Camino Frances in May 2020
I sure hope you clicked on this because you're set to hike, because the Camino Frances -- which I finished last Sunday -- proved to be one of the most valuable, special experiences of my life.

I looked a bit at this forum before I hiked and got a whole lot of wonderful advice from the kind folks who post here, so I am writing now hoping to share anything I've learned that I might've liked to know before I hiked. A bit about me, before I start listing off thoughts: I am a 23 y/o, physically active man. I hiked from mid-April to mid May and started in St. Jean. Keep all that in mind if you read here -- I am only speaking to my experiences and I'm sure yours will be quite different. I'll also add -- please reach out if there's anything you think I might be able to answer! El Camino provided so much to me, and I'd love to pay it forward if there's any way to help. No question is bad :)

-- How to get to St. Jean --
I spent a few days in Paris before going to St. Jean. I didn't see a ton of super clear and updated advice on this forum describing how to get to SJPP before I got to Paris. I took a TGV train (the French fast train, really your best option) from Paris to Bayonne. It was around $70 when I bought it two days before I left. I could've gone to Biarritz for the same price. From Bayonne, I took a cheap local train that connected with a cheap local bus (those two parts were ~$10, it seemed that plenty of people didn't get tickets ahead of time, and the connections were also possible from Biarritz. All very easy. And if you're on the fence about Paris, I couldn't recommend it more! So different than big Spanish cities and certainly radically different from the experience you'll have on El Camino.

-- How much do you need to plan? --
There is no strict truth on how much you need to plan, and you should do what you are comfortable with and excited about. I chose to plan as little as possible. I didn't buy a guide book and I barely used the planning app I downloaded. I wanted to listen to my body and heart as I hiked and react to the people I walked with and the spaces I walked through. I really think that was the right decision for me. I recognize too that I could do that because I am able-bodied, financially solid and have extremely low standards for food and housing.
The older people I walked with seemed to plan much more, with books and reservations. I think that for many of them that was a great decision. I also loved going to them for advice on which albergues to pick, restaurants to check out, sellos to get, cathedrals to scope out, alternate routes to take, etc. The people who plan hold a wealth of information.
The Buen Camino app was great for scoping out alternative routes and albergues. Gronze was the best site for Albergue reviews, and I had mostly good experiences when I used it. Halfway through, I used the albergue sheet and stage map the officials gave me in SJPP to mark where all of the donativo albergues were -- I strongly preferred staying in them because they had community dinners that I enjoyed and attracted people who, like me, were hoping to talk with others and learn from them. I enjoyed relying on the preferences I developed to do some planning.
The last week I hiked, I stuck with a group. They were calling ahead the night before to book albergues and did so for me. I don't know if it was necessary, but it definitely took stress out -- I didn't think about where I was staying once that week.
I do think that part of the joy of El Camino is that even the plans you have will sometimes fall apart. Love that chaos and learn within it.

-- What gear do you need? --
The answer is less, in my opinion. If you're carrying your pack, pack less. Pack less. Pack less. Pack less. I had three shirts (two athletic tees and one long sleeve cotton shirt), a pair of trail pants, a pair of shorts, a fleece, some disposable plastic ponchos, four underwear and two socks (plus a Kindle, some shower flops, cosmetics, a sleeping bag, and some other odds and ends). I could've done without the compression sack I used for the fleece and sleeping bag. I could've packed one less t-shirt and gone without the kindle. I generally was thought to have a very light bag compared to the people I hiked with. I couldn't really imagine carrying much more -- it would've stunk.
Make sure you bring great ear plugs. The snoring is real.
I would recommend a sleeping bag that isn't too tight / isn't cone-like. I like to move around when I sleep.
I used Brooks Cascadia 16s. I didn't go water proof and heard many complaints from the folks who did (the water can't go out / the shoe can't dry). I only used one pair but they were toast by the end. I went one half size up from my normal size and would have been fine with a full size up too. I really recommend using trail runners instead of hiking boots -- the other trail runner folks seemed to get less blisters (I suspect because the shoes aren't as rigid). I only got two blisters!
I would recommend getting a reusable lightweight plastic poncho. It rained quite a bit (though lightly) when I was in Spain. One day hiking through the snow with a plastic poncho that broke apart in heavy winds stunk.
I used an REI 40L bag. It was more than enough. Anywhere between 35 and 45L is enough. For me, 38 would be perfect. Anything will work. Get a bag that you like the feel of. Doesn't have to be too expensive. Front pockets were a really nice feature, as was a top pocket.
I couldn't recommend hiking sticks more. I got mine in SJPP at 7 am before I started on the day I started. They had clasps, which made them easy to size and also allowed me to pull them apart and put them in my carry-on on the way back home. They cost like $40 total. I recommend cork grips, smooth ties and buying better rubber tips (got some good ones in Pampalona after mine busted in two days).

-- What is it like to be a young person on El Camino? --
If you're a young person and aren't sure if you want to hike or not, I want to be very clear in saying that I think you should do it. The vast majority of the people who hike from St. Jean (and who join the trail further along) were much older than me. Most, I found, were between 50 and 70 (though there were plenty 35+ too). Still, it was easy for me to find plenty of young people to spend time with. There were probably around 15 of us between 20 and 35 in my roving band. I had plenty of opportunities to do young people stuff, (reach out for recommendations on where to go out in Pamplona, Leon, Burgos and Santiago, and how to work around albergue closing times, lol).
All that said, the wisdom of the people older than me, made easily accessible by the unique setting that allowed us to talk so intimately, was surely one of the most valuable parts of El Camino. Age doesn't really matter here because everyone exists in this space in a radically equal way, but if it does matter, it gave me the opportunity to learn about life from people who have lived more life, all while I have the space and time to think about how I want to live and what I want to care about before I get started in my career.
You have a lot of power as a young person to shape your own Camino. You have access to phones and such to plan easily with others (get an AirBnB and stay in a city easily!). You can go out more easily and become friends with locals (one of my favorite things to do!). You can maybe more easily walk ahead a stage or two, or wait for others to come. Lean into those strengths to do whatever you want.
Anyways, get ready to have some great food, open space and unlimited wine at the very least. PS -- donativo and municipal albergues tend to attract more young people, and young people tend to leave last to get on the trail.

-- What to do on your Camino? --
I intended to work on my Spanish and reflect on my spirituality on my Camino. Both happened (woohoo!).
I spent the first week or so generally walking and chatting with other folks about whatever. I found that I had more space to listen to audiobooks on spirituality halfway through on the Meseta. It was somewhat hard for me to find time and energy to journal as much as I wanted to, but I finished with 130 pages written, so it all worked out. I listened to 8 books and walked with dozens upon dozens of people -- you can do everything all at once, there's time, lol. The last week I stuck with a group of three young folks who spoke Spanish, and it was a wonderful opportunity for me to practice language (my Spanish is okay... I lived in Argentina for four months but lost a lot of my Spanish since).
I really recommend having a few things you want to think about. There's space and tons of wonderful minds on El Camino. Take advantage of that and follow whatever thought path emerges.
The one thing you must must do is spend time with other people. Ask people to eat with you. Ask to pull up a chair. Ask how someone's hike is going when you pass them on the trail and try hard to start a conversation. Be attentive and kind and thoughtful and loving. You will learn so much about them and life and yourself. The other people are the best part.

You should definitely hike! I feel so much peace and strength and joy because of my Camino. I am so grateful for this time. Reach out if you have any questions!!! Buen Camino :))))))))
A whole heap of kudos to you. We had to cut our Camino short in Burgos to an injury to my Wife but we both relate to everything you’ve said. The people, their kindnesses, their support and their genuine love make it an experience beyond any expectations. We plan to resume our journey in September 😁. Buen Camino.
I sure hope you clicked on this because you're set to hike, because the Camino Frances -- which I finished last Sunday -- proved to be one of the most valuable, special experiences of my life.

I looked a bit at this forum before I hiked and got a whole lot of wonderful advice from the kind folks who post here, so I am writing now hoping to share anything I've learned that I might've liked to know before I hiked. A bit about me, before I start listing off thoughts: I am a 23 y/o, physically active man. I hiked from mid-April to mid May and started in St. Jean. Keep all that in mind if you read here -- I am only speaking to my experiences and I'm sure yours will be quite different. I'll also add -- please reach out if there's anything you think I might be able to answer! El Camino provided so much to me, and I'd love to pay it forward if there's any way to help. No question is bad :)

-- How to get to St. Jean --
I spent a few days in Paris before going to St. Jean. I didn't see a ton of super clear and updated advice on this forum describing how to get to SJPP before I got to Paris. I took a TGV train (the French fast train, really your best option) from Paris to Bayonne. It was around $70 when I bought it two days before I left. I could've gone to Biarritz for the same price. From Bayonne, I took a cheap local train that connected with a cheap local bus (those two parts were ~$10, it seemed that plenty of people didn't get tickets ahead of time, and the connections were also possible from Biarritz. All very easy. And if you're on the fence about Paris, I couldn't recommend it more! So different than big Spanish cities and certainly radically different from the experience you'll have on El Camino.

-- How much do you need to plan? --
There is no strict truth on how much you need to plan, and you should do what you are comfortable with and excited about. I chose to plan as little as possible. I didn't buy a guide book and I barely used the planning app I downloaded. I wanted to listen to my body and heart as I hiked and react to the people I walked with and the spaces I walked through. I really think that was the right decision for me. I recognize too that I could do that because I am able-bodied, financially solid and have extremely low standards for food and housing.
The older people I walked with seemed to plan much more, with books and reservations. I think that for many of them that was a great decision. I also loved going to them for advice on which albergues to pick, restaurants to check out, sellos to get, cathedrals to scope out, alternate routes to take, etc. The people who plan hold a wealth of information.
The Buen Camino app was great for scoping out alternative routes and albergues. Gronze was the best site for Albergue reviews, and I had mostly good experiences when I used it. Halfway through, I used the albergue sheet and stage map the officials gave me in SJPP to mark where all of the donativo albergues were -- I strongly preferred staying in them because they had community dinners that I enjoyed and attracted people who, like me, were hoping to talk with others and learn from them. I enjoyed relying on the preferences I developed to do some planning.
The last week I hiked, I stuck with a group. They were calling ahead the night before to book albergues and did so for me. I don't know if it was necessary, but it definitely took stress out -- I didn't think about where I was staying once that week.
I do think that part of the joy of El Camino is that even the plans you have will sometimes fall apart. Love that chaos and learn within it.

-- What gear do you need? --
The answer is less, in my opinion. If you're carrying your pack, pack less. Pack less. Pack less. Pack less. I had three shirts (two athletic tees and one long sleeve cotton shirt), a pair of trail pants, a pair of shorts, a fleece, some disposable plastic ponchos, four underwear and two socks (plus a Kindle, some shower flops, cosmetics, a sleeping bag, and some other odds and ends). I could've done without the compression sack I used for the fleece and sleeping bag. I could've packed one less t-shirt and gone without the kindle. I generally was thought to have a very light bag compared to the people I hiked with. I couldn't really imagine carrying much more -- it would've stunk.
Make sure you bring great ear plugs. The snoring is real.
I would recommend a sleeping bag that isn't too tight / isn't cone-like. I like to move around when I sleep.
I used Brooks Cascadia 16s. I didn't go water proof and heard many complaints from the folks who did (the water can't go out / the shoe can't dry). I only used one pair but they were toast by the end. I went one half size up from my normal size and would have been fine with a full size up too. I really recommend using trail runners instead of hiking boots -- the other trail runner folks seemed to get less blisters (I suspect because the shoes aren't as rigid). I only got two blisters!
I would recommend getting a reusable lightweight plastic poncho. It rained quite a bit (though lightly) when I was in Spain. One day hiking through the snow with a plastic poncho that broke apart in heavy winds stunk.
I used an REI 40L bag. It was more than enough. Anywhere between 35 and 45L is enough. For me, 38 would be perfect. Anything will work. Get a bag that you like the feel of. Doesn't have to be too expensive. Front pockets were a really nice feature, as was a top pocket.
I couldn't recommend hiking sticks more. I got mine in SJPP at 7 am before I started on the day I started. They had clasps, which made them easy to size and also allowed me to pull them apart and put them in my carry-on on the way back home. They cost like $40 total. I recommend cork grips, smooth ties and buying better rubber tips (got some good ones in Pampalona after mine busted in two days).

-- What is it like to be a young person on El Camino? --
If you're a young person and aren't sure if you want to hike or not, I want to be very clear in saying that I think you should do it. The vast majority of the people who hike from St. Jean (and who join the trail further along) were much older than me. Most, I found, were between 50 and 70 (though there were plenty 35+ too). Still, it was easy for me to find plenty of young people to spend time with. There were probably around 15 of us between 20 and 35 in my roving band. I had plenty of opportunities to do young people stuff, (reach out for recommendations on where to go out in Pamplona, Leon, Burgos and Santiago, and how to work around albergue closing times, lol).
All that said, the wisdom of the people older than me, made easily accessible by the unique setting that allowed us to talk so intimately, was surely one of the most valuable parts of El Camino. Age doesn't really matter here because everyone exists in this space in a radically equal way, but if it does matter, it gave me the opportunity to learn about life from people who have lived more life, all while I have the space and time to think about how I want to live and what I want to care about before I get started in my career.
You have a lot of power as a young person to shape your own Camino. You have access to phones and such to plan easily with others (get an AirBnB and stay in a city easily!). You can go out more easily and become friends with locals (one of my favorite things to do!). You can maybe more easily walk ahead a stage or two, or wait for others to come. Lean into those strengths to do whatever you want.
Anyways, get ready to have some great food, open space and unlimited wine at the very least. PS -- donativo and municipal albergues tend to attract more young people, and young people tend to leave last to get on the trail.

-- What to do on your Camino? --
I intended to work on my Spanish and reflect on my spirituality on my Camino. Both happened (woohoo!).
I spent the first week or so generally walking and chatting with other folks about whatever. I found that I had more space to listen to audiobooks on spirituality halfway through on the Meseta. It was somewhat hard for me to find time and energy to journal as much as I wanted to, but I finished with 130 pages written, so it all worked out. I listened to 8 books and walked with dozens upon dozens of people -- you can do everything all at once, there's time, lol. The last week I stuck with a group of three young folks who spoke Spanish, and it was a wonderful opportunity for me to practice language (my Spanish is okay... I lived in Argentina for four months but lost a lot of my Spanish since).
I really recommend having a few things you want to think about. There's space and tons of wonderful minds on El Camino. Take advantage of that and follow whatever thought path emerges.
The one thing you must must do is spend time with other people. Ask people to eat with you. Ask to pull up a chair. Ask how someone's hike is going when you pass them on the trail and try hard to start a conversation. Be attentive and kind and thoughtful and loving. You will learn so much about them and life and yourself. The other people are the best part.

You should definitely hike! I feel so much peace and strength and joy because of my Camino. I am so grateful for this time. Reach out if you have any questions!!! Buen Camino :))))))))
 
Pocket guide that pack a punch
1.4 oz (40g) pocket guides with gems of wisdom to ponder during and after your Camino
2022 Camino Guides
The 2022 Camino guides will be coming out little by little. Here is a collection of the ones that are out so far.

lt56ny

Veteran Member
Past OR future Camino
2021
The older people I walked with seemed to plan much more, with books and reservations. I think that for many of them that was a great decision. I also loved going to them for advice on which albergues to pick, restaurants to check out, sellos to get, cathedrals to scope out, alternate routes to take, etc. The people who plan hold a wealth of information.
This is a perfect example of all of our experiences based on who we meet along our caminos. If you had met me I would have said i have met lots of older folks (I am 68 and starting Camino 7 in October in Somport) who don't really plan that much and it seems the more caminos people do regardless of age the less planning they do. But, it was great you had all those people to help you and to enjoy.
I too wear Brooks Cascadias, size them one up and get a 2W and love them and have used them on every Camino. I must be like a little Princess because I wore them from Sevilla to Santiago, Muxia and Finistere and I am still wearing them for my morning hikes.:)
You have lots of really good information and you do a great job of passing it along. At least I think it is really good as I agree with most of it!!!!
The biggest difference we have is I never listen to music, or books on tape or have anything in my ears and try to clean out what is between my ears whenever I am walking.
Buen Camino.
 

Bradypus

Migratory hermit
Past OR future Camino
Too many and too often!
it seems the more caminos people do regardless of age the less planning they do.
Experience helps. You are not constantly trying to reinvent the wheel. When I walked the Via de la Plata for the second time recently it took less than a hour from finally deciding to go to booking a flight, ground transport and accommodation from Wales to Seville via Malaga. Including buying travel insurance and arranging to meet friends in Malaga for lunch on the way. I already have all the gear I need for a month-long walk to hand at home. By walking quieter routes in winter I miss out on the bed races and any great pressure to reserve beds ahead. Where repeat offenders are concerned it might be more accurate to think of our earlier Caminos as being part of our planning for the next :)
 
Last edited:

lt56ny

Veteran Member
Past OR future Camino
2021
Experience helps. You are not constantly trying to reinvent the wheel. When I walked the Via de la Plata for the second time recently it took less than a hour from finally deciding to go to booking a flight, ground transport and accommodation from Wales to Seville via Malaga. Including buying travel insurance and arranging to meet friends in Malaga for lunch on the way. I already have all the gear I need for a month-long walk to hand at home. By walking quieter routes in winter I miss out on the bed races and any great pressure to reserve beds ahead. Where repeat offenders are concerned it might be more accurate to think of our earlier Caminos as being part of our planning for the next :)
I agree wholeheartedly. I started the VDLP last year in late October. It was still hotter than I would have imagined. Starting from Somport this year around the same time. I may actually walk to Logrono and then shoot down to Madrid and walk the Camino Madrid. Not sure as it seems like alot of the municipal albergues are closed according to Gronze. Trying not to reinvent the wheel either haha. Just want to walk a few shorter Caminos and stay off the CF as much as I can.
 

Lrsawdog5

New Member
Past OR future Camino
Camino Frances this autumn
I sure hope you clicked on this because you're set to hike, because the Camino Frances -- which I finished last Sunday -- proved to be one of the most valuable, special experiences of my life.

I looked a bit at this forum before I hiked and got a whole lot of wonderful advice from the kind folks who post here, so I am writing now hoping to share anything I've learned that I might've liked to know before I hiked. A bit about me, before I start listing off thoughts: I am a 23 y/o, physically active man. I hiked from mid-April to mid May and started in St. Jean. Keep all that in mind if you read here -- I am only speaking to my experiences and I'm sure yours will be quite different. I'll also add -- please reach out if there's anything you think I might be able to answer! El Camino provided so much to me, and I'd love to pay it forward if there's any way to help. No question is bad :)

-- How to get to St. Jean --
I spent a few days in Paris before going to St. Jean. I didn't see a ton of super clear and updated advice on this forum describing how to get to SJPP before I got to Paris. I took a TGV train (the French fast train, really your best option) from Paris to Bayonne. It was around $70 when I bought it two days before I left. I could've gone to Biarritz for the same price. From Bayonne, I took a cheap local train that connected with a cheap local bus (those two parts were ~$10, it seemed that plenty of people didn't get tickets ahead of time, and the connections were also possible from Biarritz. All very easy. And if you're on the fence about Paris, I couldn't recommend it more! So different than big Spanish cities and certainly radically different from the experience you'll have on El Camino.

-- How much do you need to plan? --
There is no strict truth on how much you need to plan, and you should do what you are comfortable with and excited about. I chose to plan as little as possible. I didn't buy a guide book and I barely used the planning app I downloaded. I wanted to listen to my body and heart as I hiked and react to the people I walked with and the spaces I walked through. I really think that was the right decision for me. I recognize too that I could do that because I am able-bodied, financially solid and have extremely low standards for food and housing.
The older people I walked with seemed to plan much more, with books and reservations. I think that for many of them that was a great decision. I also loved going to them for advice on which albergues to pick, restaurants to check out, sellos to get, cathedrals to scope out, alternate routes to take, etc. The people who plan hold a wealth of information.
The Buen Camino app was great for scoping out alternative routes and albergues. Gronze was the best site for Albergue reviews, and I had mostly good experiences when I used it. Halfway through, I used the albergue sheet and stage map the officials gave me in SJPP to mark where all of the donativo albergues were -- I strongly preferred staying in them because they had community dinners that I enjoyed and attracted people who, like me, were hoping to talk with others and learn from them. I enjoyed relying on the preferences I developed to do some planning.
The last week I hiked, I stuck with a group. They were calling ahead the night before to book albergues and did so for me. I don't know if it was necessary, but it definitely took stress out -- I didn't think about where I was staying once that week.
I do think that part of the joy of El Camino is that even the plans you have will sometimes fall apart. Love that chaos and learn within it.

-- What gear do you need? --
The answer is less, in my opinion. If you're carrying your pack, pack less. Pack less. Pack less. Pack less. I had three shirts (two athletic tees and one long sleeve cotton shirt), a pair of trail pants, a pair of shorts, a fleece, some disposable plastic ponchos, four underwear and two socks (plus a Kindle, some shower flops, cosmetics, a sleeping bag, and some other odds and ends). I could've done without the compression sack I used for the fleece and sleeping bag. I could've packed one less t-shirt and gone without the kindle. I generally was thought to have a very light bag compared to the people I hiked with. I couldn't really imagine carrying much more -- it would've stunk.
Make sure you bring great ear plugs. The snoring is real.
I would recommend a sleeping bag that isn't too tight / isn't cone-like. I like to move around when I sleep.
I used Brooks Cascadia 16s. I didn't go water proof and heard many complaints from the folks who did (the water can't go out / the shoe can't dry). I only used one pair but they were toast by the end. I went one half size up from my normal size and would have been fine with a full size up too. I really recommend using trail runners instead of hiking boots -- the other trail runner folks seemed to get less blisters (I suspect because the shoes aren't as rigid). I only got two blisters!
I would recommend getting a reusable lightweight plastic poncho. It rained quite a bit (though lightly) when I was in Spain. One day hiking through the snow with a plastic poncho that broke apart in heavy winds stunk.
I used an REI 40L bag. It was more than enough. Anywhere between 35 and 45L is enough. For me, 38 would be perfect. Anything will work. Get a bag that you like the feel of. Doesn't have to be too expensive. Front pockets were a really nice feature, as was a top pocket.
I couldn't recommend hiking sticks more. I got mine in SJPP at 7 am before I started on the day I started. They had clasps, which made them easy to size and also allowed me to pull them apart and put them in my carry-on on the way back home. They cost like $40 total. I recommend cork grips, smooth ties and buying better rubber tips (got some good ones in Pampalona after mine busted in two days).

-- What is it like to be a young person on El Camino? --
If you're a young person and aren't sure if you want to hike or not, I want to be very clear in saying that I think you should do it. The vast majority of the people who hike from St. Jean (and who join the trail further along) were much older than me. Most, I found, were between 50 and 70 (though there were plenty 35+ too). Still, it was easy for me to find plenty of young people to spend time with. There were probably around 15 of us between 20 and 35 in my roving band. I had plenty of opportunities to do young people stuff, (reach out for recommendations on where to go out in Pamplona, Leon, Burgos and Santiago, and how to work around albergue closing times, lol).
All that said, the wisdom of the people older than me, made easily accessible by the unique setting that allowed us to talk so intimately, was surely one of the most valuable parts of El Camino. Age doesn't really matter here because everyone exists in this space in a radically equal way, but if it does matter, it gave me the opportunity to learn about life from people who have lived more life, all while I have the space and time to think about how I want to live and what I want to care about before I get started in my career.
You have a lot of power as a young person to shape your own Camino. You have access to phones and such to plan easily with others (get an AirBnB and stay in a city easily!). You can go out more easily and become friends with locals (one of my favorite things to do!). You can maybe more easily walk ahead a stage or two, or wait for others to come. Lean into those strengths to do whatever you want.
Anyways, get ready to have some great food, open space and unlimited wine at the very least. PS -- donativo and municipal albergues tend to attract more young people, and young people tend to leave last to get on the trail.

-- What to do on your Camino? --
I intended to work on my Spanish and reflect on my spirituality on my Camino. Both happened (woohoo!).
I spent the first week or so generally walking and chatting with other folks about whatever. I found that I had more space to listen to audiobooks on spirituality halfway through on the Meseta. It was somewhat hard for me to find time and energy to journal as much as I wanted to, but I finished with 130 pages written, so it all worked out. I listened to 8 books and walked with dozens upon dozens of people -- you can do everything all at once, there's time, lol. The last week I stuck with a group of three young folks who spoke Spanish, and it was a wonderful opportunity for me to practice language (my Spanish is okay... I lived in Argentina for four months but lost a lot of my Spanish since).
I really recommend having a few things you want to think about. There's space and tons of wonderful minds on El Camino. Take advantage of that and follow whatever thought path emerges.
The one thing you must must do is spend time with other people. Ask people to eat with you. Ask to pull up a chair. Ask how someone's hike is going when you pass them on the trail and try hard to start a conversation. Be attentive and kind and thoughtful and loving. You will learn so much about them and life and yourself. The other people are the best part.

You should definitely hike! I feel so much peace and strength and joy because of my Camino. I am so grateful for this time. Reach out if you have any questions!!! Buen Camino :))))))))
Thank you so much for your details, suggestions and reflections.
 

karyn61

New Member
Past OR future Camino
Portuguez Coast 5/22 (unfinished) returning 9/22
Pack less! I couldn’t agree more. I had to send home about four pounds of extra stuff after day 1! Next time the pack will be even lighter! Buen Camino and thanks for posting!
 
Donation to the Forum
A donation to this forum helps it continue to exists and also removes all ads for you.
Create your own ad
€2,-/day will present your project to thousands of visitors each day. All interested in the Camino de Santiago.
Past OR future Camino
1340
Thanks for this, @Jakesheridan. I was especially drawn to your description of talking with people who are older than you and your acute perception of the liminal space where we are all essentially the same, receptive and prescriptive (sometimes to the point of dogmatic), but engaged in the same enterprise: eating, getting enough sleep, and walking, walking until we’re done. Some of us never are.
Good on you for finishing, for noticing the others around you, and for being receptive to all the Camino can give.

All the best,
Paul
 
Past OR future Camino
2014 Pamplona to Burgos, 2017 SJDP to Santiago,
Not only have you learned a lot you have learned at an age where you can make the most of it. My only regret with walking the Camino is walking it in my 50s, in my 20s it would have been life changing ! (it was still life changing but I would have liked it earlier ) I remember talking to a young friend who really enjoyed connecting with older people on a equal level on the Camino he said it was a revalation for him and I must say I found it similar when I was able to talk to younger people. Our "real lives" tend to isolate us from parts of our society on the Camino the road brings us down or lifts us up all to the same level a rare and precious thing !
 

Jami Gray

Camino <3
Past OR future Camino
2019
I sure hope you clicked on this because you're set to hike, because the Camino Frances -- which I finished last Sunday -- proved to be one of the most valuable, special experiences of my life.

I looked a bit at this forum before I hiked and got a whole lot of wonderful advice from the kind folks who post here, so I am writing now hoping to share anything I've learned that I might've liked to know before I hiked. A bit about me, before I start listing off thoughts: I am a 23 y/o, physically active man. I hiked from mid-April to mid May and started in St. Jean. Keep all that in mind if you read here -- I am only speaking to my experiences and I'm sure yours will be quite different. I'll also add -- please reach out if there's anything you think I might be able to answer! El Camino provided so much to me, and I'd love to pay it forward if there's any way to help. No question is bad :)

-- How to get to St. Jean --
I spent a few days in Paris before going to St. Jean. I didn't see a ton of super clear and updated advice on this forum describing how to get to SJPP before I got to Paris. I took a TGV train (the French fast train, really your best option) from Paris to Bayonne. It was around $70 when I bought it two days before I left. I could've gone to Biarritz for the same price. From Bayonne, I took a cheap local train that connected with a cheap local bus (those two parts were ~$10, it seemed that plenty of people didn't get tickets ahead of time, and the connections were also possible from Biarritz. All very easy. And if you're on the fence about Paris, I couldn't recommend it more! So different than big Spanish cities and certainly radically different from the experience you'll have on El Camino.

-- How much do you need to plan? --
There is no strict truth on how much you need to plan, and you should do what you are comfortable with and excited about. I chose to plan as little as possible. I didn't buy a guide book and I barely used the planning app I downloaded. I wanted to listen to my body and heart as I hiked and react to the people I walked with and the spaces I walked through. I really think that was the right decision for me. I recognize too that I could do that because I am able-bodied, financially solid and have extremely low standards for food and housing.
The older people I walked with seemed to plan much more, with books and reservations. I think that for many of them that was a great decision. I also loved going to them for advice on which albergues to pick, restaurants to check out, sellos to get, cathedrals to scope out, alternate routes to take, etc. The people who plan hold a wealth of information.
The Buen Camino app was great for scoping out alternative routes and albergues. Gronze was the best site for Albergue reviews, and I had mostly good experiences when I used it. Halfway through, I used the albergue sheet and stage map the officials gave me in SJPP to mark where all of the donativo albergues were -- I strongly preferred staying in them because they had community dinners that I enjoyed and attracted people who, like me, were hoping to talk with others and learn from them. I enjoyed relying on the preferences I developed to do some planning.
The last week I hiked, I stuck with a group. They were calling ahead the night before to book albergues and did so for me. I don't know if it was necessary, but it definitely took stress out -- I didn't think about where I was staying once that week.
I do think that part of the joy of El Camino is that even the plans you have will sometimes fall apart. Love that chaos and learn within it.

-- What gear do you need? --
The answer is less, in my opinion. If you're carrying your pack, pack less. Pack less. Pack less. Pack less. I had three shirts (two athletic tees and one long sleeve cotton shirt), a pair of trail pants, a pair of shorts, a fleece, some disposable plastic ponchos, four underwear and two socks (plus a Kindle, some shower flops, cosmetics, a sleeping bag, and some other odds and ends). I could've done without the compression sack I used for the fleece and sleeping bag. I could've packed one less t-shirt and gone without the kindle. I generally was thought to have a very light bag compared to the people I hiked with. I couldn't really imagine carrying much more -- it would've stunk.
Make sure you bring great ear plugs. The snoring is real.
I would recommend a sleeping bag that isn't too tight / isn't cone-like. I like to move around when I sleep.
I used Brooks Cascadia 16s. I didn't go water proof and heard many complaints from the folks who did (the water can't go out / the shoe can't dry). I only used one pair but they were toast by the end. I went one half size up from my normal size and would have been fine with a full size up too. I really recommend using trail runners instead of hiking boots -- the other trail runner folks seemed to get less blisters (I suspect because the shoes aren't as rigid). I only got two blisters!
I would recommend getting a reusable lightweight plastic poncho. It rained quite a bit (though lightly) when I was in Spain. One day hiking through the snow with a plastic poncho that broke apart in heavy winds stunk.
I used an REI 40L bag. It was more than enough. Anywhere between 35 and 45L is enough. For me, 38 would be perfect. Anything will work. Get a bag that you like the feel of. Doesn't have to be too expensive. Front pockets were a really nice feature, as was a top pocket.
I couldn't recommend hiking sticks more. I got mine in SJPP at 7 am before I started on the day I started. They had clasps, which made them easy to size and also allowed me to pull them apart and put them in my carry-on on the way back home. They cost like $40 total. I recommend cork grips, smooth ties and buying better rubber tips (got some good ones in Pampalona after mine busted in two days).

-- What is it like to be a young person on El Camino? --
If you're a young person and aren't sure if you want to hike or not, I want to be very clear in saying that I think you should do it. The vast majority of the people who hike from St. Jean (and who join the trail further along) were much older than me. Most, I found, were between 50 and 70 (though there were plenty 35+ too). Still, it was easy for me to find plenty of young people to spend time with. There were probably around 15 of us between 20 and 35 in my roving band. I had plenty of opportunities to do young people stuff, (reach out for recommendations on where to go out in Pamplona, Leon, Burgos and Santiago, and how to work around albergue closing times, lol).
All that said, the wisdom of the people older than me, made easily accessible by the unique setting that allowed us to talk so intimately, was surely one of the most valuable parts of El Camino. Age doesn't really matter here because everyone exists in this space in a radically equal way, but if it does matter, it gave me the opportunity to learn about life from people who have lived more life, all while I have the space and time to think about how I want to live and what I want to care about before I get started in my career.
You have a lot of power as a young person to shape your own Camino. You have access to phones and such to plan easily with others (get an AirBnB and stay in a city easily!). You can go out more easily and become friends with locals (one of my favorite things to do!). You can maybe more easily walk ahead a stage or two, or wait for others to come. Lean into those strengths to do whatever you want.
Anyways, get ready to have some great food, open space and unlimited wine at the very least. PS -- donativo and municipal albergues tend to attract more young people, and young people tend to leave last to get on the trail.

-- What to do on your Camino? --
I intended to work on my Spanish and reflect on my spirituality on my Camino. Both happened (woohoo!).
I spent the first week or so generally walking and chatting with other folks about whatever. I found that I had more space to listen to audiobooks on spirituality halfway through on the Meseta. It was somewhat hard for me to find time and energy to journal as much as I wanted to, but I finished with 130 pages written, so it all worked out. I listened to 8 books and walked with dozens upon dozens of people -- you can do everything all at once, there's time, lol. The last week I stuck with a group of three young folks who spoke Spanish, and it was a wonderful opportunity for me to practice language (my Spanish is okay... I lived in Argentina for four months but lost a lot of my Spanish since).
I really recommend having a few things you want to think about. There's space and tons of wonderful minds on El Camino. Take advantage of that and follow whatever thought path emerges.
The one thing you must must do is spend time with other people. Ask people to eat with you. Ask to pull up a chair. Ask how someone's hike is going when you pass them on the trail and try hard to start a conversation. Be attentive and kind and thoughtful and loving. You will learn so much about them and life and yourself. The other people are the best part.

You should definitely hike! I feel so much peace and strength and joy because of my Camino. I am so grateful for this time. Reach out if you have any questions!!! Buen Camino :))))))))
Loved your post. And even though I'm in that 50-70yr range...and I've done it twice already...you made me think about doing it one.more.time. Maybe I should approach it more like a mid-20year old!! Less planning, more experiencing. Thank you!
 

Jakesheridan

New Member
Past OR future Camino
April/May 2022
Loved your post. And even though I'm in that 50-70yr range...and I've done it twice already...you made me think about doing it one.more.time. Maybe I should approach it more like a mid-20year old!! Less planning, more experiencing. Thank you!
Take it as a signal from the Camino !!
 
Camino Magnets
A collection of Camino Fridge Magnets
how to successfully prepare for your Camino
This book's focus is on reducing the risk of failure through being well prepared.

Jakesheridan

New Member
Past OR future Camino
April/May 2022
Not only have you learned a lot you have learned at an age where you can make the most of it. My only regret with walking the Camino is walking it in my 50s, in my 20s it would have been life changing ! (it was still life changing but I would have liked it earlier ) I remember talking to a young friend who really enjoyed connecting with older people on a equal level on the Camino he said it was a revalation for him and I must say I found it similar when I was able to talk to younger people. Our "real lives" tend to isolate us from parts of our society on the Camino the road brings us down or lifts us up all to the same level a rare and precious thing !
You're so right! So nice to break out of that isolation, and I sure hope it sticks
 

Jakesheridan

New Member
Past OR future Camino
April/May 2022
Thanks for this, @Jakesheridan. I was especially drawn to your description of talking with people who are older than you and your acute perception of the liminal space where we are all essentially the same, receptive and prescriptive (sometimes to the point of dogmatic), but engaged in the same enterprise: eating, getting enough sleep, and walking, walking until we’re done. Some of us never are.
Good on you for finishing, for noticing the others around you, and for being receptive to all the Camino can give.

All the best,
Paul
Thanks Paul!!
 

Jakesheridan

New Member
Past OR future Camino
April/May 2022
This is a perfect example of all of our experiences based on who we meet along our caminos. If you had met me I would have said i have met lots of older folks (I am 68 and starting Camino 7 in October in Somport) who don't really plan that much and it seems the more caminos people do regardless of age the less planning they do. But, it was great you had all those people to help you and to enjoy.
I too wear Brooks Cascadias, size them one up and get a 2W and love them and have used them on every Camino. I must be like a little Princess because I wore them from Sevilla to Santiago, Muxia and Finistere and I am still wearing them for my morning hikes.:)
You have lots of really good information and you do a great job of passing it along. At least I think it is really good as I agree with most of it!!!!
The biggest difference we have is I never listen to music, or books on tape or have anything in my ears and try to clean out what is between my ears whenever I am walking.
Buen Camino.
True! And nice shoes haha. Glad you liked some of the thoughts, and I definitely agree on the value of clearing the mind / being alone with nature at times :)
 

lt56ny

Veteran Member
Past OR future Camino
2021
True! And nice shoes haha. Glad you liked some of the thoughts, and I definitely agree on the value of clearing the mind / being alone with nature at times :)
Being 23 usually means you can clear out all the dust and bulls*&t a lot quicker then when you are 68!!!! Hope you have lots more caminos in your future and have a great life.
 
Create your own ad
€2,-/day will present your project to thousands of visitors each day. All interested in the Camino de Santiago.
Camino Creative Credencial Workshop
A two-part workshop that guides you into creating a credencial and shares it online

mike mcbroom

Active Member
Past OR future Camino
Francis June 17, 2015 ,Portagusee from Porto to Santiago August 2016, Francis may 2018 this year wil
When I walked my first Camino the majority of pilgrims were in their teens and twenties. Over the years the average age seems to have increased a lot. From the 2019 statistics (the last full year before Covid) it seems that most are now in the 30-60 range. As someone looking forward to a senior citizens bus pass in the next few weeks it's a relief to think that even hitting the 60 year milestone doesn't rule me out completely :cool:
View attachment 125974
We are 70, as of this Month. We will start the Camino in August. This will be my 5th and my wife's first. I gotta tell ya, age does not matter. Might be some shorter section and more rest days, but if you don't do it!!!!
 

JZA

New Member
Past OR future Camino
2018, 2019, 2022
I sure hope you clicked on this because you're set to hike, because the Camino Frances -- which I finished last Sunday -- proved to be one of the most valuable, special experiences of my life.

I looked a bit at this forum before I hiked and got a whole lot of wonderful advice from the kind folks who post here, so I am writing now hoping to share anything I've learned that I might've liked to know before I hiked. A bit about me, before I start listing off thoughts: I am a 23 y/o, physically active man. I hiked from mid-April to mid May and started in St. Jean. Keep all that in mind if you read here -- I am only speaking to my experiences and I'm sure yours will be quite different. I'll also add -- please reach out if there's anything you think I might be able to answer! El Camino provided so much to me, and I'd love to pay it forward if there's any way to help. No question is bad :)

-- How to get to St. Jean --
I spent a few days in Paris before going to St. Jean. I didn't see a ton of super clear and updated advice on this forum describing how to get to SJPP before I got to Paris. I took a TGV train (the French fast train, really your best option) from Paris to Bayonne. It was around $70 when I bought it two days before I left. I could've gone to Biarritz for the same price. From Bayonne, I took a cheap local train that connected with a cheap local bus (those two parts were ~$10, it seemed that plenty of people didn't get tickets ahead of time, and the connections were also possible from Biarritz. All very easy. And if you're on the fence about Paris, I couldn't recommend it more! So different than big Spanish cities and certainly radically different from the experience you'll have on El Camino.

-- How much do you need to plan? --
There is no strict truth on how much you need to plan, and you should do what you are comfortable with and excited about. I chose to plan as little as possible. I didn't buy a guide book and I barely used the planning app I downloaded. I wanted to listen to my body and heart as I hiked and react to the people I walked with and the spaces I walked through. I really think that was the right decision for me. I recognize too that I could do that because I am able-bodied, financially solid and have extremely low standards for food and housing.
The older people I walked with seemed to plan much more, with books and reservations. I think that for many of them that was a great decision. I also loved going to them for advice on which albergues to pick, restaurants to check out, sellos to get, cathedrals to scope out, alternate routes to take, etc. The people who plan hold a wealth of information.
The Buen Camino app was great for scoping out alternative routes and albergues. Gronze was the best site for Albergue reviews, and I had mostly good experiences when I used it. Halfway through, I used the albergue sheet and stage map the officials gave me in SJPP to mark where all of the donativo albergues were -- I strongly preferred staying in them because they had community dinners that I enjoyed and attracted people who, like me, were hoping to talk with others and learn from them. I enjoyed relying on the preferences I developed to do some planning.
The last week I hiked, I stuck with a group. They were calling ahead the night before to book albergues and did so for me. I don't know if it was necessary, but it definitely took stress out -- I didn't think about where I was staying once that week.
I do think that part of the joy of El Camino is that even the plans you have will sometimes fall apart. Love that chaos and learn within it.

-- What gear do you need? --
The answer is less, in my opinion. If you're carrying your pack, pack less. Pack less. Pack less. Pack less. I had three shirts (two athletic tees and one long sleeve cotton shirt), a pair of trail pants, a pair of shorts, a fleece, some disposable plastic ponchos, four underwear and two socks (plus a Kindle, some shower flops, cosmetics, a sleeping bag, and some other odds and ends). I could've done without the compression sack I used for the fleece and sleeping bag. I could've packed one less t-shirt and gone without the kindle. I generally was thought to have a very light bag compared to the people I hiked with. I couldn't really imagine carrying much more -- it would've stunk.
Make sure you bring great ear plugs. The snoring is real.
I would recommend a sleeping bag that isn't too tight / isn't cone-like. I like to move around when I sleep.
I used Brooks Cascadia 16s. I didn't go water proof and heard many complaints from the folks who did (the water can't go out / the shoe can't dry). I only used one pair but they were toast by the end. I went one half size up from my normal size and would have been fine with a full size up too. I really recommend using trail runners instead of hiking boots -- the other trail runner folks seemed to get less blisters (I suspect because the shoes aren't as rigid). I only got two blisters!
I would recommend getting a reusable lightweight plastic poncho. It rained quite a bit (though lightly) when I was in Spain. One day hiking through the snow with a plastic poncho that broke apart in heavy winds stunk.
I used an REI 40L bag. It was more than enough. Anywhere between 35 and 45L is enough. For me, 38 would be perfect. Anything will work. Get a bag that you like the feel of. Doesn't have to be too expensive. Front pockets were a really nice feature, as was a top pocket.
I couldn't recommend hiking sticks more. I got mine in SJPP at 7 am before I started on the day I started. They had clasps, which made them easy to size and also allowed me to pull them apart and put them in my carry-on on the way back home. They cost like $40 total. I recommend cork grips, smooth ties and buying better rubber tips (got some good ones in Pampalona after mine busted in two days).

-- What is it like to be a young person on El Camino? --
If you're a young person and aren't sure if you want to hike or not, I want to be very clear in saying that I think you should do it. The vast majority of the people who hike from St. Jean (and who join the trail further along) were much older than me. Most, I found, were between 50 and 70 (though there were plenty 35+ too). Still, it was easy for me to find plenty of young people to spend time with. There were probably around 15 of us between 20 and 35 in my roving band. I had plenty of opportunities to do young people stuff, (reach out for recommendations on where to go out in Pamplona, Leon, Burgos and Santiago, and how to work around albergue closing times, lol).
All that said, the wisdom of the people older than me, made easily accessible by the unique setting that allowed us to talk so intimately, was surely one of the most valuable parts of El Camino. Age doesn't really matter here because everyone exists in this space in a radically equal way, but if it does matter, it gave me the opportunity to learn about life from people who have lived more life, all while I have the space and time to think about how I want to live and what I want to care about before I get started in my career.
You have a lot of power as a young person to shape your own Camino. You have access to phones and such to plan easily with others (get an AirBnB and stay in a city easily!). You can go out more easily and become friends with locals (one of my favorite things to do!). You can maybe more easily walk ahead a stage or two, or wait for others to come. Lean into those strengths to do whatever you want.
Anyways, get ready to have some great food, open space and unlimited wine at the very least. PS -- donativo and municipal albergues tend to attract more young people, and young people tend to leave last to get on the trail.

-- What to do on your Camino? --
I intended to work on my Spanish and reflect on my spirituality on my Camino. Both happened (woohoo!).
I spent the first week or so generally walking and chatting with other folks about whatever. I found that I had more space to listen to audiobooks on spirituality halfway through on the Meseta. It was somewhat hard for me to find time and energy to journal as much as I wanted to, but I finished with 130 pages written, so it all worked out. I listened to 8 books and walked with dozens upon dozens of people -- you can do everything all at once, there's time, lol. The last week I stuck with a group of three young folks who spoke Spanish, and it was a wonderful opportunity for me to practice language (my Spanish is okay... I lived in Argentina for four months but lost a lot of my Spanish since).
I really recommend having a few things you want to think about. There's space and tons of wonderful minds on El Camino. Take advantage of that and follow whatever thought path emerges.
The one thing you must must do is spend time with other people. Ask people to eat with you. Ask to pull up a chair. Ask how someone's hike is going when you pass them on the trail and try hard to start a conversation. Be attentive and kind and thoughtful and loving. You will learn so much about them and life and yourself. The other people are the best part.

You should definitely hike! I feel so much peace and strength and joy because of my Camino. I am so grateful for this time. Reach out if you have any questions!!! Buen Camino :))))))))
Thank you. Looks like you got a lot out of it by being open. Are you thinking about your next one yet?🤣🤣🤣
 

Curly Cath

New Member
Past OR future Camino
Pamplona to Santiago 2013 hiked
Planning on cycling the Portuguese route in winter
Thank you so much, what a lovely read! I have done the Camino frances 1.5 times, the Portuguese once and I learned new things from reading your post. I am glad you had such an amazing time.
 
how to successfully prepare for your Camino
This book's focus is on reducing the risk of failure through being well prepared.
Donation to the Forum
A donation to this forum helps it continue to exists and also removes all ads for you.

SamDel

New Member
Past OR future Camino
Camino Frances
I sure hope you clicked on this because you're set to hike, because the Camino Frances -- which I finished last Sunday -- proved to be one of the most valuable, special experiences of my life.

I looked a bit at this forum before I hiked and got a whole lot of wonderful advice from the kind folks who post here, so I am writing now hoping to share anything I've learned that I might've liked to know before I hiked. A bit about me, before I start listing off thoughts: I am a 23 y/o, physically active man. I hiked from mid-April to mid May and started in St. Jean. Keep all that in mind if you read here -- I am only speaking to my experiences and I'm sure yours will be quite different. I'll also add -- please reach out if there's anything you think I might be able to answer! El Camino provided so much to me, and I'd love to pay it forward if there's any way to help. No question is bad :)

-- How to get to St. Jean --
I spent a few days in Paris before going to St. Jean. I didn't see a ton of super clear and updated advice on this forum describing how to get to SJPP before I got to Paris. I took a TGV train (the French fast train, really your best option) from Paris to Bayonne. It was around $70 when I bought it two days before I left. I could've gone to Biarritz for the same price. From Bayonne, I took a cheap local train that connected with a cheap local bus (those two parts were ~$10, it seemed that plenty of people didn't get tickets ahead of time, and the connections were also possible from Biarritz. All very easy. And if you're on the fence about Paris, I couldn't recommend it more! So different than big Spanish cities and certainly radically different from the experience you'll have on El Camino.

-- How much do you need to plan? --
There is no strict truth on how much you need to plan, and you should do what you are comfortable with and excited about. I chose to plan as little as possible. I didn't buy a guide book and I barely used the planning app I downloaded. I wanted to listen to my body and heart as I hiked and react to the people I walked with and the spaces I walked through. I really think that was the right decision for me. I recognize too that I could do that because I am able-bodied, financially solid and have extremely low standards for food and housing.
The older people I walked with seemed to plan much more, with books and reservations. I think that for many of them that was a great decision. I also loved going to them for advice on which albergues to pick, restaurants to check out, sellos to get, cathedrals to scope out, alternate routes to take, etc. The people who plan hold a wealth of information.
The Buen Camino app was great for scoping out alternative routes and albergues. Gronze was the best site for Albergue reviews, and I had mostly good experiences when I used it. Halfway through, I used the albergue sheet and stage map the officials gave me in SJPP to mark where all of the donativo albergues were -- I strongly preferred staying in them because they had community dinners that I enjoyed and attracted people who, like me, were hoping to talk with others and learn from them. I enjoyed relying on the preferences I developed to do some planning.
The last week I hiked, I stuck with a group. They were calling ahead the night before to book albergues and did so for me. I don't know if it was necessary, but it definitely took stress out -- I didn't think about where I was staying once that week.
I do think that part of the joy of El Camino is that even the plans you have will sometimes fall apart. Love that chaos and learn within it.

-- What gear do you need? --
The answer is less, in my opinion. If you're carrying your pack, pack less. Pack less. Pack less. Pack less. I had three shirts (two athletic tees and one long sleeve cotton shirt), a pair of trail pants, a pair of shorts, a fleece, some disposable plastic ponchos, four underwear and two socks (plus a Kindle, some shower flops, cosmetics, a sleeping bag, and some other odds and ends). I could've done without the compression sack I used for the fleece and sleeping bag. I could've packed one less t-shirt and gone without the kindle. I generally was thought to have a very light bag compared to the people I hiked with. I couldn't really imagine carrying much more -- it would've stunk.
Make sure you bring great ear plugs. The snoring is real.
I would recommend a sleeping bag that isn't too tight / isn't cone-like. I like to move around when I sleep.
I used Brooks Cascadia 16s. I didn't go water proof and heard many complaints from the folks who did (the water can't go out / the shoe can't dry). I only used one pair but they were toast by the end. I went one half size up from my normal size and would have been fine with a full size up too. I really recommend using trail runners instead of hiking boots -- the other trail runner folks seemed to get less blisters (I suspect because the shoes aren't as rigid). I only got two blisters!
I would recommend getting a reusable lightweight plastic poncho. It rained quite a bit (though lightly) when I was in Spain. One day hiking through the snow with a plastic poncho that broke apart in heavy winds stunk.
I used an REI 40L bag. It was more than enough. Anywhere between 35 and 45L is enough. For me, 38 would be perfect. Anything will work. Get a bag that you like the feel of. Doesn't have to be too expensive. Front pockets were a really nice feature, as was a top pocket.
I couldn't recommend hiking sticks more. I got mine in SJPP at 7 am before I started on the day I started. They had clasps, which made them easy to size and also allowed me to pull them apart and put them in my carry-on on the way back home. They cost like $40 total. I recommend cork grips, smooth ties and buying better rubber tips (got some good ones in Pampalona after mine busted in two days).

-- What is it like to be a young person on El Camino? --
If you're a young person and aren't sure if you want to hike or not, I want to be very clear in saying that I think you should do it. The vast majority of the people who hike from St. Jean (and who join the trail further along) were much older than me. Most, I found, were between 50 and 70 (though there were plenty 35+ too). Still, it was easy for me to find plenty of young people to spend time with. There were probably around 15 of us between 20 and 35 in my roving band. I had plenty of opportunities to do young people stuff, (reach out for recommendations on where to go out in Pamplona, Leon, Burgos and Santiago, and how to work around albergue closing times, lol).
All that said, the wisdom of the people older than me, made easily accessible by the unique setting that allowed us to talk so intimately, was surely one of the most valuable parts of El Camino. Age doesn't really matter here because everyone exists in this space in a radically equal way, but if it does matter, it gave me the opportunity to learn about life from people who have lived more life, all while I have the space and time to think about how I want to live and what I want to care about before I get started in my career.
You have a lot of power as a young person to shape your own Camino. You have access to phones and such to plan easily with others (get an AirBnB and stay in a city easily!). You can go out more easily and become friends with locals (one of my favorite things to do!). You can maybe more easily walk ahead a stage or two, or wait for others to come. Lean into those strengths to do whatever you want.
Anyways, get ready to have some great food, open space and unlimited wine at the very least. PS -- donativo and municipal albergues tend to attract more young people, and young people tend to leave last to get on the trail.

-- What to do on your Camino? --
I intended to work on my Spanish and reflect on my spirituality on my Camino. Both happened (woohoo!).
I spent the first week or so generally walking and chatting with other folks about whatever. I found that I had more space to listen to audiobooks on spirituality halfway through on the Meseta. It was somewhat hard for me to find time and energy to journal as much as I wanted to, but I finished with 130 pages written, so it all worked out. I listened to 8 books and walked with dozens upon dozens of people -- you can do everything all at once, there's time, lol. The last week I stuck with a group of three young folks who spoke Spanish, and it was a wonderful opportunity for me to practice language (my Spanish is okay... I lived in Argentina for four months but lost a lot of my Spanish since).
I really recommend having a few things you want to think about. There's space and tons of wonderful minds on El Camino. Take advantage of that and follow whatever thought path emerges.
The one thing you must must do is spend time with other people. Ask people to eat with you. Ask to pull up a chair. Ask how someone's hike is going when you pass them on the trail and try hard to start a conversation. Be attentive and kind and thoughtful and loving. You will learn so much about them and life and yourself. The other people are the best part.

You should definitely hike! I feel so much peace and strength and joy because of my Camino. I am so grateful for this time. Reach out if you have any questions!!! Buen Camino :))))))))
Such wisdom and insight. You are an absolute inspiration. I'm finally booked to go in July..can't wait to experience it all. Bless you for sharing 🙏
 

Barbarbaranne

New Member
Past OR future Camino
Frances
I sure hope you clicked on this because you're set to hike, because the Camino Frances -- which I finished last Sunday -- proved to be one of the most valuable, special experiences of my life.

I looked a bit at this forum before I hiked and got a whole lot of wonderful advice from the kind folks who post here, so I am writing now hoping to share anything I've learned that I might've liked to know before I hiked. A bit about me, before I start listing off thoughts: I am a 23 y/o, physically active man. I hiked from mid-April to mid May and started in St. Jean. Keep all that in mind if you read here -- I am only speaking to my experiences and I'm sure yours will be quite different. I'll also add -- please reach out if there's anything you think I might be able to answer! El Camino provided so much to me, and I'd love to pay it forward if there's any way to help. No question is bad :)

-- How to get to St. Jean --
I spent a few days in Paris before going to St. Jean. I didn't see a ton of super clear and updated advice on this forum describing how to get to SJPP before I got to Paris. I took a TGV train (the French fast train, really your best option) from Paris to Bayonne. It was around $70 when I bought it two days before I left. I could've gone to Biarritz for the same price. From Bayonne, I took a cheap local train that connected with a cheap local bus (those two parts were ~$10, it seemed that plenty of people didn't get tickets ahead of time, and the connections were also possible from Biarritz. All very easy. And if you're on the fence about Paris, I couldn't recommend it more! So different than big Spanish cities and certainly radically different from the experience you'll have on El Camino.

-- How much do you need to plan? --
There is no strict truth on how much you need to plan, and you should do what you are comfortable with and excited about. I chose to plan as little as possible. I didn't buy a guide book and I barely used the planning app I downloaded. I wanted to listen to my body and heart as I hiked and react to the people I walked with and the spaces I walked through. I really think that was the right decision for me. I recognize too that I could do that because I am able-bodied, financially solid and have extremely low standards for food and housing.
The older people I walked with seemed to plan much more, with books and reservations. I think that for many of them that was a great decision. I also loved going to them for advice on which albergues to pick, restaurants to check out, sellos to get, cathedrals to scope out, alternate routes to take, etc. The people who plan hold a wealth of information.
The Buen Camino app was great for scoping out alternative routes and albergues. Gronze was the best site for Albergue reviews, and I had mostly good experiences when I used it. Halfway through, I used the albergue sheet and stage map the officials gave me in SJPP to mark where all of the donativo albergues were -- I strongly preferred staying in them because they had community dinners that I enjoyed and attracted people who, like me, were hoping to talk with others and learn from them. I enjoyed relying on the preferences I developed to do some planning.
The last week I hiked, I stuck with a group. They were calling ahead the night before to book albergues and did so for me. I don't know if it was necessary, but it definitely took stress out -- I didn't think about where I was staying once that week.
I do think that part of the joy of El Camino is that even the plans you have will sometimes fall apart. Love that chaos and learn within it.

-- What gear do you need? --
The answer is less, in my opinion. If you're carrying your pack, pack less. Pack less. Pack less. Pack less. I had three shirts (two athletic tees and one long sleeve cotton shirt), a pair of trail pants, a pair of shorts, a fleece, some disposable plastic ponchos, four underwear and two socks (plus a Kindle, some shower flops, cosmetics, a sleeping bag, and some other odds and ends). I could've done without the compression sack I used for the fleece and sleeping bag. I could've packed one less t-shirt and gone without the kindle. I generally was thought to have a very light bag compared to the people I hiked with. I couldn't really imagine carrying much more -- it would've stunk.
Make sure you bring great ear plugs. The snoring is real.
I would recommend a sleeping bag that isn't too tight / isn't cone-like. I like to move around when I sleep.
I used Brooks Cascadia 16s. I didn't go water proof and heard many complaints from the folks who did (the water can't go out / the shoe can't dry). I only used one pair but they were toast by the end. I went one half size up from my normal size and would have been fine with a full size up too. I really recommend using trail runners instead of hiking boots -- the other trail runner folks seemed to get less blisters (I suspect because the shoes aren't as rigid). I only got two blisters!
I would recommend getting a reusable lightweight plastic poncho. It rained quite a bit (though lightly) when I was in Spain. One day hiking through the snow with a plastic poncho that broke apart in heavy winds stunk.
I used an REI 40L bag. It was more than enough. Anywhere between 35 and 45L is enough. For me, 38 would be perfect. Anything will work. Get a bag that you like the feel of. Doesn't have to be too expensive. Front pockets were a really nice feature, as was a top pocket.
I couldn't recommend hiking sticks more. I got mine in SJPP at 7 am before I started on the day I started. They had clasps, which made them easy to size and also allowed me to pull them apart and put them in my carry-on on the way back home. They cost like $40 total. I recommend cork grips, smooth ties and buying better rubber tips (got some good ones in Pampalona after mine busted in two days).

-- What is it like to be a young person on El Camino? --
If you're a young person and aren't sure if you want to hike or not, I want to be very clear in saying that I think you should do it. The vast majority of the people who hike from St. Jean (and who join the trail further along) were much older than me. Most, I found, were between 50 and 70 (though there were plenty 35+ too). Still, it was easy for me to find plenty of young people to spend time with. There were probably around 15 of us between 20 and 35 in my roving band. I had plenty of opportunities to do young people stuff, (reach out for recommendations on where to go out in Pamplona, Leon, Burgos and Santiago, and how to work around albergue closing times, lol).
All that said, the wisdom of the people older than me, made easily accessible by the unique setting that allowed us to talk so intimately, was surely one of the most valuable parts of El Camino. Age doesn't really matter here because everyone exists in this space in a radically equal way, but if it does matter, it gave me the opportunity to learn about life from people who have lived more life, all while I have the space and time to think about how I want to live and what I want to care about before I get started in my career.
You have a lot of power as a young person to shape your own Camino. You have access to phones and such to plan easily with others (get an AirBnB and stay in a city easily!). You can go out more easily and become friends with locals (one of my favorite things to do!). You can maybe more easily walk ahead a stage or two, or wait for others to come. Lean into those strengths to do whatever you want.
Anyways, get ready to have some great food, open space and unlimited wine at the very least. PS -- donativo and municipal albergues tend to attract more young people, and young people tend to leave last to get on the trail.

-- What to do on your Camino? --
I intended to work on my Spanish and reflect on my spirituality on my Camino. Both happened (woohoo!).
I spent the first week or so generally walking and chatting with other folks about whatever. I found that I had more space to listen to audiobooks on spirituality halfway through on the Meseta. It was somewhat hard for me to find time and energy to journal as much as I wanted to, but I finished with 130 pages written, so it all worked out. I listened to 8 books and walked with dozens upon dozens of people -- you can do everything all at once, there's time, lol. The last week I stuck with a group of three young folks who spoke Spanish, and it was a wonderful opportunity for me to practice language (my Spanish is okay... I lived in Argentina for four months but lost a lot of my Spanish since).
I really recommend having a few things you want to think about. There's space and tons of wonderful minds on El Camino. Take advantage of that and follow whatever thought path emerges.
The one thing you must must do is spend time with other people. Ask people to eat with you. Ask to pull up a chair. Ask how someone's hike is going when you pass them on the trail and try hard to start a conversation. Be attentive and kind and thoughtful and loving. You will learn so much about them and life and yourself. The other people are the best part.

You should definitely hike! I feel so much peace and strength and joy because of my Camino. I am so grateful for this time. Reach out if you have any questions!!! Buen Camino :))))))))
You have more wisdom than many of us older folk. Impressive post.
 

Did not find what you were looking for? Search here

Popular Resources

“All” Albergues on the Camino Frances in one pdf ivar
  • Featured
“All” Albergues on the Camino Frances in one pdf
4.95 star(s) 105 ratings
Downloads
15,662
Updated
A selection of favorite albergues on the Camino Francés Ton van Tilburg
Favorite Albergues along the Camino Frances
4.83 star(s) 35 ratings
Downloads
8,313
Updated
Profile maps of all 34 stages of the Camino Frances ivar
Profile maps of all 34 stages of the Camino Frances
4.88 star(s) 24 ratings
Downloads
7,990
Updated

Forum Rules

Forum Rules

Camino Updates on YouTube

Camino Conversations

Most downloaded Resources

Top