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Search 69,459 Camino Questions

Is pre-booking accommodation the new normal?

DuaneS

Active Member
Time of past OR future Camino
April 4th from SJPDP - May 5, 2017 - Complete!
I walked from SJPDP to Santiago in 2017. Other than a few days where I wanted to upgrade to a nice hotel as a treat, I mostly just found accommodation when I arrived. On easter weekend that didn't work out so well, but the rest of the time I always found somewhere to sleep.

I walked a bit of the camino frances during COVID when it was mostly just us people in Spain, and it seemed like having booked accomodation was mostly a requirement. That makes sense during the tail end of a pandemic, but I'm just curious what the norm is now. I've been perusing these forums passively for the last few years, and it seems like it's more and more normal to book your accommodation in advance, even the night before once you've finalized your plans. I'm just curious what other people think as well.

I quite liked being able to just show up and find accomodation, but I've seen a few people saying when they arrived at an albergue, even around this time of year, it was all packed up. Is booking ahead going to be the new normal now? Just curious what people think.
 
St James' Way - Self-guided 4-7 day Walking Packages, Reading to Southampton, 110 kms
Experience from May/June '22: Lots of people pre book. Mainly because of fear of not getting a place.
I have arrived without reservation many of my days. Sometimes even a bit late in the day.
Once i had to go to a second albergue because the first was already full. Thats it.
Once i seen people having to take to taxis, but that was at Ages where the big albergue was closed for the day and the two small ones filled up rather fast.

Later on the camino, when we walked as a group, we liked to call ahead a couple hours before arriving. But as a single person, i would not have deemed that necessary.

I liked to reserve a nice place without a curfew for myself in the bigger towns, but thats another story.

edit: globally speaking: theres a given number of beds. theres a given number of pilgrims. Reservations do not change that. They might solve a problem of allocation, but they might as well create another problem when people don't show up. So all in all, I'm not a big fan.
 
Depends what you mean by normal: there are still a lot of people who don’t book. Ironically it is often the case that bookable accommodation is full while the albergues have plenty of space. I do have a feeling that expectations of comfort are higher than they used to be, but there are a lot of reasons for that, average age being probably one of the biggest.
 
The focus is on reducing the risk of failure through being well prepared. 2nd ed.
I do have a feeling that expectations of comfort are higher than they used to be, but there are a lot of reasons for that, average age being probably one of the biggest.
I'm certain that expectations of comfort have increased massively! On my first Camino only a handful of refugios had hot water although most had cold water showers. Most had beds but a few places only offered concrete floor space on which to spread out your mat and sleeping bag. None offered internet connections! Those walking the route then were on average much younger and had to able and willing to carry a substantial pack over stages up to 30km or more. Accommodation was far scarcer and there was no luggage transport service. I think that there has been a vicious circle at work in recent years - more comfortable facilities at shorter intervals drawing ever larger numbers of increasingly older people. That growth in turn then providing the incentive to open more and better equipped albergues and hostals.
 
I've seen a few people saying when they arrived at an albergue, even around this time of year, it was all packed up.
@Bradypus, I think that you have just finished walking from SJPP to Santiago, what was your impression?

Were there many albergues all packed up when you arrived, even around this time of year (January / February)?
 
The one from Galicia (the round) and the one from Castilla & Leon. Individually numbered and made by the same people that make the ones you see on your walk.
@Bradypus, I think that you have just finished walking from SJPP to Santiago, what was your impression? Were there many albergues all packed up when you arrived?
Nowhere was completely full but the only albergue open in Zubiri was very close to it. I think that on any one stage (at least until Sarria) there were probably no more than 15 people walking each day. That's roughly how many were in Roncesvalles and I didn't see anywhere else more busy than that. The issue for us was that in many smaller towns or villages there were no open options - albergue or private. And outside of the major cities like Pamplona, Burgos or Leon there were usually only one or two albergues open. If those happen to be smaller places then a single group of four or five walking together could easily change the situation for everyone else. It also meant that our choice of daily stages was far more limited than would be the case in the main season.
 
Is booking ahead going to be the new normal now? Just curious what people think.

Since you don't ask for personal preference but for what we think in general ... let me jump into the fray:
  • If there are more pilgrims who want to stay in a location than beds that are available in that location and on that day, then some pilgrims won't get a bed in that location. Because they arrived later than other pilgrims at a non-bookable albergue (often municipal, parochial or donativo) or because they arrived at a bookable albergue (often albergues oriented towards pilgrims but not for their exclusive use as well as small hotels, casas rurales etc) and had not booked themselves. You make your choice and live with it.

  • There are, in general, not as many non-bookable albergue beds in a location to cater for all peregrinos who want to stay in that location. Some people will have to stay in bookable accommodation even when they did not book ahead. And vice versa. There is no way to force or even just make everybody not book.

  • As to perception, some pilgrims find not booking liberating while other pilgrims find booking liberating.

  • First time Camino walkers may not be aware that they can book but don't have to book. They benefit from being told about the options and the pros and cons. Anyone who has walked a whole Camino in Spain or even only part of it, knows what's what and what they prefer for themselves and their feeling of being well. And for their second and subsequent walking pilgrimage experience, they either never book, always book, or they book sometimes and sometimes they don't.
My personal impression is that the two world views/Camino views co-exist peacefully and are generally not in conflict, at least not in the field or rather on the way. Also, the adherents of one view may not know much about the other. Which is why some believe that "everything is already booked" while others, at the same time, enter public albergues with many empty beds.

I guess your question is: Has there been a shift from non-bookers to bookers since 20xx or 19xx? In absolute numbers or percentage wise? Post-Covid versus Pre-Covid perhaps? Is it a question of age group? Change of pilgrim demographic? Technological developments and making use of it - for both sides: pilgrims and albergue owners/managers?
 
When we walked in 2016 we met people who had booked their whole Camino. We still meet people who take that approach, but mostly since we stay in places that don't take reservations, we meet more people that don't book. I do think the perception may be related to the places you stay and therefore the pilgrims you meet most often. I do notice on this forum that more and more new pilgrims talk about booking and bag transport, but it may represent is only a small sample of the pilgrim total numbers.

By the way, as a hospitalera at albergues that don't take bookings, I also get questions, phone calls, and requests from Spanish pilgrims about reservations. Those who are anxious about having a bed often don't stay with us, while many who do are often still walking without a phone or other electronics so probably can't book ahead without help. We all may think what we do is the norm, but without a scientific study, we can't really know.
 
The 9th edition the Lightfoot Guide will let you complete the journey your way.
My personal impression is that the two world views/Camino views co-exist peacefully and are generally not in conflict, at least not in the field or rather on the way.
It is probably more of a debated issue here online than in practice. In discussions here I tend to find that the most heated reactions come from those who wish to use booking services and luggage transport but then find they cannot use albergues like Refugio Gaucelmo in Rabanal which refuse to accept either. Often expressed with a strong sense of entitlement which suggests that anything which the poster wants should be available to them regardless of the provider's aims and intentions.
 
I guess your question is: Has there been a shift from non-bookers to bookers since 20xx or 19xx? In absolute numbers or percentage wise? Post-Covid versus Pre-Covid perhaps? Is it a question of age group? Change of pilgrim demographic? Technological developments and making use of it - for both sides: pilgrims and albergue owners/managers?
All of the above. In a very complicated soup of interrelated cause and effect.
 
Thanks everyone. Appreciate the perspective. I’m not judging either way, Just curious. I like the idea of just showing up and finding accommodation, but considering I’m five years older now, the idea of sleeping in an extra hour because I know I don’t have a race to a bed is also appealing too :)
 
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luggage transport

Ah, backpack transport let alone luggage transport ... This will considerably broaden the discussion :cool:. When you have your backpack transported it is best when you already know where you will stay hence where you have booked so that it can be sent to your day's destination. Whoever had this idea? Oh, I remember: Camino legend Jesus Jato from the Ave Fenix albergue in Villafranca del Bierzo. From a blog (translated) where backpack transport gets a mention:

Although it is not new, it has become very popular today. In 1990, only once along the entire route did we see an offer of transport: it was on 11 August 1990 in Villafranca del Bierzo, where Jesús Jato, a well-known figure of early Camino hospitality, offered to transport the backpacks to O Cebreiro for those who wished to do so and which some accepted because this stage was known to be quite hard.

Why oh why did nobody say at the time: "Nip it in the bud! Don't do this." 😉
 
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My recent experience on the Salvador and the Primitivo echos what others have said — it seems to be a mix, and things do not generally conflict. Like other pilgrims out of Leon to La Robla I did book my room at the one hotel in operation, and did not try to use the albergue because it is, reportedly, full all through the week with workers who are disassembling the old energy plant on the edge of town. Did not book again until Mieres and did so there because I sought to avoid COV exposures when possible. In Oviedo I met a friend who was joining me from North America so we pre-booked the Ibis to handle different arrival times for each of us.
We did not pre-arrange again until Melide and that we did 2 days in advance because we were hearing from people ahead of us that they were having to walk on from Melide As it was “completo“ .. also avoiding COV was easier with private rooms… So we pre-booked an apartment in Arzua as well, and then, unable to find anything in Pedrouzo we just made a run for it all the way to SdC From Arzua. I was able to walk in to the San Martin and get a room and my friend went to the monastario menor.
Our arrival into SdC was mid-October and it was still very busy with end of season walkers arriving.
The further away we get from people seeking individual rooms in order to avoid COV, I suspect the less booking ahead we will see… OTOH, the world population is “greying” and many are aiming to head out on a pilgrimage they’ve dreamed of for many years but no longer have the capacity to handle from dormitories, and are no longer as able as they might have once been to carry the pack every day.
For the most part, I think that the infrastructure can still handle the needs of the ‘play it as it lies’ folks and the ‘set the shot up in advance’ folks.
 
I feel able to join the discussion having read Perambulating Griffin's last paragraph. I had a nagging feeling about the Camino for many years and for various reasons was only able to undertake it aged 73 and widowed. So, by choice and circumstance alone, I took the easy option and pre - booked accommodation and luggage transfer. I totally respected the others who carried their huge backpacks and tumbled out of albergues at dawn but that would have been too hard for me and I needed the security if knowing where I would sleep. BUT my experience was joyous and life - affirming and has led to further Caminos. Does that make it alright?
 
The one from Galicia (the round) and the one from Castilla & Leon. Individually numbered and made by the same people that make the ones you see on your walk.
I feel able to join the discussion having read Perambulating Griffin's last paragraph. I had a nagging feeling about the Camino for many years and for various reasons was only able to undertake it aged 73 and widowed. So, by choice and circumstance alone, I took the easy option and pre - booked accommodation and luggage transfer. I totally respected the others who carried their huge backpacks and tumbled out of albergues at dawn but that would have been too hard for me and I needed the security if knowing where I would sleep. BUT my experience was joyous and life - affirming and has led to further Caminos. Does that make it alright?
So much more than alright!
The minimalism of the walk was meant to make it accessible, even to those of limited means. It’s not actually meant to be a moral test of your ability to leave behind your bathtub etc.
In fact… on this point the hospitalera at SJPdP who did the orientation of those heading out when I made my departure from there almost 10 years ago said, “If you can afford better accommodations, then take them because there are those walking who cannot, and if you think you are here to have a cheap holiday then you are stealing the opportunity of others to make their pilgrimage on limited means.”
That one can walk the camino every day for 800KM and pre-book, have private accommodations, use a luggage transfer service reflects nothing about the fortitude of the person walking and is a merely external metric, but it does, absolutely, leave room for others with fewer economic resources and stronger bodies to go the more minimal route.

[edit to add: it *is* a total bummer to start arriving in locations from Palas de Rei onward and find the albergues *full* of *luggage* (like on wheels and the whole bit), but nonetheless empty of people and somehow “completo”. I think that it would be a form of kindness for those who can pre-book and ship luggage to try to disperse themselves, by being thoughtful in the planning, out of the bottle-neck towns. A little research can reveal those places that are the ones that seem to fill up badly, but if one gets ‘off piste’ a bit, then that issue tends to be relived of too much pressure. Those with packs will have a harder time pushing through because a town is full, and are at greater risk of a repetitive strain injury from pushing.]
 
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The next time I walk, I will prebook 2-3 days ahead, for my own peace and convenience. I will most likely use backpack transport some days, for the peace and convenience of my old arthritis knees: I think it's the only way I can walk another Camino these days, unfortunately...
 
The one from Galicia (the round) and the one from Castilla & Leon. Individually numbered and made by the same people that make the ones you see on your walk.
Yes they are all sort of ways to do a Camino but remember it's your own individual Camino to be completed whatever way you want to.no rights or wrongs just do what is to your liking nothing laid down in law just enjoy this wonderful experience you'll never forget.
 
The next time I walk, I will prebook 2-3 days ahead, for my own peace and convenience. I will most likely use backpack transport some days, for the peace and convenience of my old arthritis knees: I think it's the only way I can walk another Camino these days, unfortunately...
I'm a few years younger than you but arthritis in both knees has already put a premature end to two long-distance walks for me. I very recently walked the Camino Frances from SJPDP again and pre-booked some nights though I did not use backpack transport (which was not available anyway). In part the journey was a test and a confidence builder after those disappointments. I'm reluctantly coming to the conclusion that in order to continue walking Caminos I may soon have to return to walking the more popular routes in the main season so that I can regularly walk shorter stages carrying a minimal load. But I think that when I reach the stage in my physical health when pre-booking and backpack transport become essential then I will with much sadness look elsewhere for my physical and spiritual challenges. A pre-booked and vehicle-assisted journey would be so far removed from the essential character of the walking pilgrimages I have made until now that I fear it would be a deeply unsatisfactory pastiche.
 
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So much more than alright!
The minimalism of the walk was meant to make it accessible, even to those of limited means. It’s not actually meant to be a moral test of your ability to leave behind your bathtub etc.
In fact… on this point the hospitalera at SJPdP who did the orientation of those heading out when I made my departure from there almost 10 years ago said, “If you can afford better accommodations, then take them because there are those walking who cannot, and if you think you are here to have a cheap holiday then you are stealing the opportunity of others to make their pilgrimage on limited means.”
That one can walk the camino every day for 800KM and pre-book, have private accommodations, use a luggage transfer service reflects nothing about the fortitude of the person walking and is a merely external metric, but it does, absolutely, leave room for others with fewer economic resources and stronger bodies to go the more minimal route.
Hurrah! I couldn't agree more!
I do sometimes get the feeling that those who stay in better accommodation and use transport services are judged poorly by those who do not. Perhaps there is a view that these pilgrims are not walking in the true spirit of the Camino. But then isn't judging others against the true spirit of the Camino?
Personally my only request is that pilgrims are considerate of the needs of others.
 
The focus is on reducing the risk of failure through being well prepared. 2nd ed.
...But I think that when I reach the stage in my physical health when pre-booking and backpack transport become essential then I will with much sadness look elsewhere for my physical and spiritual challenges. A pre-booked and vehicle-assisted journey would be so far removed from the essential character of the walking pilgrimages I have made until now that I fear it would be a deeply unsatisfactory pastiche.
Yes, I am also there (almost). Will try one more time, though, and see how it goes.
 
I walked from SJPDP to Santiago in 2017. Other than a few days where I wanted to upgrade to a nice hotel as a treat, I mostly just found accommodation when I arrived. On easter weekend that didn't work out so well, but the rest of the time I always found somewhere to sleep.

I walked a bit of the camino frances during COVID when it was mostly just us people in Spain, and it seemed like having booked accomodation was mostly a requirement. That makes sense during the tail end of a pandemic, but I'm just curious what the norm is now. I've been perusing these forums passively for the last few years, and it seems like it's more and more normal to book your accommodation in advance, even the night before once you've finalized your plans. I'm just curious what other people think as well.

I quite liked being able to just show up and find accomodation, but I've seen a few people saying when they arrived at an albergue, even around this time of year, it was all packed up. Is booking ahead going to be the new normal now? Just curious what people think.
Whilst some need the certainty of pre-booking for advancing age or medical conditions (or guiding clients) the increasing prevalence of pre-booking -in my opinion - reflects an increasing touristification of the main Camino routes.

I take my own advice and book my first night, then take it as it comes. For my next trip I’ve booked in Porto, Barcelos and Tui as I’m not walking straight to any of them; thereafter it’ll be fine.
 
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Since you don't ask for personal preference but for what we think in general ... let me jump into the fray:
  • If there are more pilgrims who want to stay in a location than beds that are available in that location and on that day, then some pilgrims won't get a bed in that location. Because they arrived later than other pilgrims at a non-bookable albergue (often municipal, parochial or donativo) or because they arrived at a bookable albergue (often albergues oriented towards pilgrims but not for their exclusive use as well as small hotels, casas rurales etc) and had not booked themselves. You make your choice and live with it.

  • There are, in general, not as many non-bookable albergue beds in a location to cater for all peregrinos who want to stay in that location. Some people will have to stay in bookable accommodation even when they did not book ahead. And vice versa. There is no way to force or even just make everybody not book.

  • As to perception, some pilgrims find not booking liberating while other pilgrims find booking liberating.

  • First time Camino walkers may not be aware that they can book but don't have to book. They benefit from being told about the options and the pros and cons. Anyone who has walked a whole Camino in Spain or even only part of it, knows what's what and what they prefer for themselves and their feeling of being well. And for their second and subsequent walking pilgrimage experience, they either never book, always book, or they book sometimes and sometimes they don't.
My personal impression is that the two world views/Camino views co-exist peacefully and are generally not in conflict, at least not in the field or rather on the way. Also, the adherents of one view may not know much about the other. Which is why some believe that "everything is already booked" while others, at the same time, enter public albergues with many empty beds.

I guess your question is: Has there been a shift from non-bookers to bookers since 20xx or 19xx? In absolute numbers or percentage wise? Post-Covid versus Pre-Covid perhaps? Is it a question of age group? Change of pilgrim demographic? Technological developments and making use of it - for both sides: pilgrims and albergue owners/managers?
@Kathar1na - You have outdone yourself with this brilliant summary!

I'd also like to point out that making some arrangement (aka reservation) a day or two in advance seems to be the respectful way to walk the less travelled routes. In those cases, the albergue or even small hostales may be run by people who have lives that are not 100% dedicated to the occasional pilgrim who might show up in town. Advising them in advance is a courtesy so that they can make the necessary preparations with less inconvenience.

In fact, this is #11 of the 17 things that a pilgrim should never do listed on this Gronze article recently discussed on another thread:

11. Nunca llegues a un albergue de un camino minoritario sin avisar con antelación. En los pueblos de los caminos minoritarios, que no reciben peregrinos cada día, agradecen que se avise con antelación, pues generalmente el encargado suele tener sus quehaceres diarios y no está pendiente de si llega un peregrino.
i.e. Never arrive at an albergue on a minority camino without warning in advance. In the villages along the minority caminos, which do not receive pilgrims every day, they are grateful to be notified in advance, since generally the person in charge usually has his daily chores and is not aware of whether a pilgrim arrives.
 
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Hurrah! I couldn't agree more!
I do sometimes get the feeling that those who stay in better accommodation and use transport services are judged poorly by those who do not. Perhaps there is a view that these pilgrims are not walking in the true spirit of the Camino. But then isn't judging others against the true spirit of the Camino?
Personally my only request is that pilgrims are considerate of the needs of others.
I don't think of it as better accomodation. Only different and bookable.
 
Depends what you mean by normal: there are still a lot of people who don’t book. Ironically it is often the case that bookable accommodation is full while the albergues have plenty of space. I do have a feeling that expectations of comfort are higher than they used to be, but there are a lot of reasons for that, average age being probably one of the biggest.
I leave the bunk beds to the younger guys nowadays and like to have my own room. I can confirm dick bird feeling as being a fact: Definitely more people these days go likewise, which makes reservation a must, as the availability is limited. I recommend to start booking 3 months ahead.
With this, albergues should actually have more free beds
 
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Yes they are all sort of ways to do a Camino but remember it's your own individual Camino to be completed whatever way you want to.no rights or wrongs just do what is to your liking nothing laid down in law just enjoy this wonderful experience you'll never forget.
Yes and no… “It’s your camino” also means that it is your obligation and responsibility to take what comes, work with it, and not leave a mess for others. There are many “it’s my camino types” who treat it as a “pay-to-play” in which they act like petulant children about any inconvenience or discomfort.
There’s a balance to be struck, and I like to remind people that on one’s own camino, the obligation is to move on/away from what one dislikes or finds unusual/uncomfortable about other humans, accommodations, food (and dining times!), etc.
 
I haven't read the posts this time around, so my opinion may have already been expressed by others.
From my experience, whether winging it, calling ahead a day at a time, or feeling the need to pre-book, I think it depends how many family members or friends you are traveling with on the Camino.
With the main paths continually escalating in numbers, I now would only wing it if I were traveling alone, or going in the off season which now seems to have a much shorter window; possibly late November thru early March.
 
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The next time I walk, I will prebook 2-3 days ahead, for my own peace and convenience. I will most likely use backpack transport some days, for the peace and convenience of my old arthritis knees: I think it's the only way I can walk another Camino these days, unfortunately...

My answer is to continue to carry my own pack, to generally avoid pre-booking, but to walk shorter distances every day. Of necessity that means walking the more travelled routes, where there is the infrastructure that allows for short days.
 
It is probably more of a debated issue here online than in practice. In discussions here I tend to find that the most heated reactions come from those who wish to use booking services and luggage transport but then find they cannot use albergues like Refugio Gaucelmo in Rabanal which refuse to accept either. Often expressed with a strong sense of entitlement which suggests that anything which the poster wants should be available to them regardless of the provider's aims and intentions.

Some interesting posts indeed. Lots of food for thought.
Particularly how our accommodation 'preferences' and mode of walking a Camino tend to dictate where we stay, and perhaps the type of other Pilgrims we meet.

For example, I would love to stay in Refugio Gaucelmo in Rabanal on my next Camino. I've heard so much about it.

But the reality is, my walking ability and hence speed and daily distance, will mean that I will arrive in Rabanal too late to get a bed there. I understand totally why they don't take bookings.

So 'on the day' I may stay closer to it the day before, decide to leave earlier or whatever.
But I'm not a bed racer ;) I find that detracts totally from my journey.

That raises another thought........
Do non booking places, tend to attract a younger / faster Pilgrim? :rolleyes:

The flip side of course, being that I rarely stay in non bookable places, given that my walking day can often end at 4-6pm. So I tend to book 1 day ahead......

But I may throw caution to the wind next time :oops:
 
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We are 60 and 72 and stay and volunteer in many non bookable places. Age is relative. Last year we had as wide an age range of guests as we have other years. I really think it is more about preference and perhaps budget.
 
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This is perhaps slightly off-topic but has anyone had experience with an app called STAYmyway? I normally do not book ahead and also always carry my backpack though with advancing years and arthritis in the knee, this may have to change. Like others on this forum I feel each person's Camino is their own and the advent of bookable accom and baggage carrying is allowing some who could not otherwise walk to do so.

This year I have booked my 1st night in a private hostel as I will arrive on Easter Sunday - a miscalulation on my part - and they have said I access the accom by downloading this app which I do not want to do. Has anyone come across this before and did they use the app? Is there anyone who did not use the app and if so how did they fare with the accom?
Thanks
 
I'm certain that expectations of comfort have increased massively! On my first Camino only a handful of refugios had hot water although most had cold water showers. Most had beds but a few places only offered concrete floor space on which to spread out your mat and sleeping bag. None offered internet connections! Those walking the route then were on average much younger and had to able and willing to carry a substantial pack over stages up to 30km or more. Accommodation was far scarcer and there was no luggage transport service. I think that there has been a vicious circle at work in recent years - more comfortable facilities at shorter intervals drawing ever larger numbers of increasingly older people. That growth in turn then providing the incentive to open more and better equipped albergues and hostals.
 
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Please advise me where to transfer the backpack to the next destination where the lodging is not pre-booked. Is it possible that you can transfer the backpack to the any albergues or municipal albergue only?
Looking forward of hearing your advices.
 
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Please advise me where to transfer the backpack to the next destination where the lodging is not pre-booked. Is it possible that you can transfer the backpack to the any albergues or municipal albergue only?
Looking forward of hearing your advices.
That is a question for your chosen transport provider. Though quite how they can deliver your bag to where you are staying when even you don’t know where your staying is a puzzle beyond this old grump.
Why not just carry the damn thing. At least you’ll know where it is
 
Newbie question. Are you all saying there are no beds at all to be had, or that there are no beds in albergues and hostels?
Puzzling question. I have just re-read the first post and all the rest, and nobody has said this. There are thousands of beds. The discussion is about whether advanced reservations are the new normal - the posts give some examples of the advantages and disadvantages of reserving in advance.
 
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We are 60 and 72 and stay and volunteer in many non bookable places. Age is relative. Last year we had as wide an age range of guests as we have other years. I really think it is more about preference and perhaps budget.

It’s also as much about physical health, time of year, day of week, as about personal preference.
Those who feel safer and more at ease by planning will do so and book ahead. Those who feel more at ease stepping into the unknown will only book ahead if conditions require it.
And perhaps conditions these days might require it more often - so it feels like that booking ahead is becoming more common.
In 2007 I arrived in SJPP without a plan in sight. However for a couple of early days I did join some older women who were taxiing their baggage ahead - an unexpected Camino gift for someone who had too much in their pack at that stage.
I walked VDLP last year in autumn at age 71 and booked ahead maybe 20 - 30% of the time?
I like the freedom of stopping earlier or walking further - but also checked there was a bed when the choice was 10 Km or 33 Km - so I could plan my stages according to my capacity.
 
Please advise me where to transfer the backpack to the next destination where the lodging is not pre-booked. Is it possible that you can transfer the backpack to the any albergues or municipal albergue only?
My understanding is that you can only transfer backpacks to where you have booked. Pilgrim only non- bookable albergues do not hold baggage / back packs.
 
Please advise me where to transfer the backpack to the next destination where the lodging is not pre-booked. Is it possible that you can transfer the backpack to the any albergues or municipal albergue only?
Looking forward of hearing your advices.
Not all albergues accept backpack transfers. Most Notably, Xunta Albergues don't. Most of the time it goes to a cafe that is nearby. There were a few times where I sent my backpack to an albergue, then I decided to walk some more. There were times when that albergue was filled up and other times when I just wanted to walk some more
 
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Please advise me where to transfer the backpack to the next destination where the lodging is not pre-booked. Is it possible that you can transfer the backpack to the any albergues or municipal albergue only?
Looking forward of hearing your advices.
You are taking a risk by sending your bag to a place you have not booked. Even if they accept sent-on bags, the staff might be out when the bag arrives so it may be left unattended on the street. If you want to send on your bag, only send it to a place you have booked. Alternatively, do what the majority of pilgrims do, carry it.
 
My understanding is that you can only transfer backpacks to where you have booked. Pilgrim only non- bookable albergues do not hold baggage / back packs.
Actually, many of them do, but you need to know first. Usually, as Isawtman says, if the albergue does not accept bags, there is a nearby café that will accept them.
 
Actually, many of them do, but you need to know first. Usually, as Isawtman says, if the albergue does not accept bags, there is a nearby café that will accept them.
And I usually eat at those cafes just to make it worth it to them. I don't think they get any money for having your bag.
 
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I walked from SJPDP to Santiago in 2017. Other than a few days where I wanted to upgrade to a nice hotel as a treat, I mostly just found accommodation when I arrived. On easter weekend that didn't work out so well, but the rest of the time I always found somewhere to sleep.

I walked a bit of the camino frances during COVID when it was mostly just us people in Spain, and it seemed like having booked accomodation was mostly a requirement. That makes sense during the tail end of a pandemic, but I'm just curious what the norm is now. I've been perusing these forums passively for the last few years, and it seems like it's more and more normal to book your accommodation in advance, even the night before once you've finalized your plans. I'm just curious what other people think as well.

I quite liked being able to just show up and find accomodation, but I've seen a few people saying when they arrived at an albergue, even around this time of year, it was all packed up. Is booking ahead going to be the new normal now? Just curious what people think.
Going back to this original post I’m going to put a bet on “yes, it’s the new normal if you are walking a popular route at a popular time”. My bet says that if you are walking the last 100 of the CF or Portuguese between May and September the vast majority (a non-scientific estimate) of those you pass and are passed by will have booked at least that night’s accommodation.
Personally speaking, the idea of.striding (okay, shuffling) out in the morning without a clear idea of where I will lay my head that night is at best optimistic and at worst a bit foolish.
At nearly 70 I am not given to a bed race in which only (maybe) 10% of pilgrims are competing and getting up so early there was little point in having a bed anyway!
 
The baby boomers (I am one of them) want to go on a backpacking trip without planning and sleep under a roof in a hippie-style manner, just once in their lives. Many have the money and time to fly from one continent to another to fulfill their ultimate dream, which the Camino de Santiago makes possible. And there's absolutely nothing wrong with that.

And after the first intoxicating evening and the first night at Orisson, which was of course reserved months in advance, one wants to continue to finding a secure bed (and the next logical step is usually to having their pack forwarded). Romance, yes, but in moderation.
If those baby boomers who can afford it would admit that a comfortable bed in their own room with a bathroom would actually be better for them, many beds in the albergues would become available, making it no longer a must to pre-book.
 
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Some interesting posts indeed. Lots of food for thought.
Particularly how our accommodation 'preferences' and mode of walking a Camino tend to dictate where we stay, and perhaps the type of other Pilgrims we meet.

For example, I would love to stay in Refugio Gaucelmo in Rabanal on my next Camino. I've heard so much about it.

But the reality is, my walking ability and hence speed and daily distance, will mean that I will arrive in Rabanal too late to get a bed there. I understand totally why they don't take bookings.

So 'on the day' I may stay closer to it the day before, decide to leave earlier or whatever.
But I'm not a bed racer ;) I find that detracts totally from my journey.

That raises another thought........
Do non booking places, tend to attract a younger / faster Pilgrim? :rolleyes:

The flip side of course, being that I rarely stay in non bookable places, given that my walking day can often end at 4-6pm. So I tend to book 1 day ahead......

But I may throw caution to the wind next time :oops:


@Robo: this is purely anecdotal but don't assume that Gaucelmo will be full. A friend regularly volunteers there in July and said that last year (2022) they had few pilgrims and were never full during her 2 weeks. She got the impression that with private albergues there in Rabanal and in Foncebaddon, pilgrims were booking in advance and so staying in those places (maybe assuming that Gaucelmo would be full but also I think generally Foncebaddon has become a more popular spot).
I walked the Primitivo last year and the Aragonés /Francés as far as Sahagún in 2021 and got the impression that beds were fairly available in non-bookable albergues. Bit of a vicious circle, pilgrims get concerned about getting a bed, book in advance, gives the impression that there are no beds available, leading to pilgrims getting concerned..... Etc etc

Buen camino!
 
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The baby boomers (I am one of them) want to go on a backpacking trip without planning and sleep under a roof in a hippie-style manner, just once in their lives. Many have the money and time to fly from one continent to another to fulfill their ultimate dream, which the Camino de Santiago makes possible. And there's absolutely nothing wrong with that.

And after the first intoxicating evening and the first night at Orisson, which was of course reserved months in advance, one wants to continue to finding a secure bed (and the next logical step is usually to having their pack forwarded). Romance, yes, but in moderation.
If those baby boomers who can afford it would admit that a comfortable bed in their own room with a bathroom would actually be better for them, many beds in the albergues would become available, making it no longer a must to pre-book.

And the flip side..........

Perhaps some of those baby boomers hear so much about the 'authenticity' and 'camaraderie' associated with staying in Albergues, they feel guilty about their style of Camino and in pursuit of a more 'authentic' Pilgrim journey, stay in Albergues even though they don't 'need' to or really want to :oops:

I'm serious.......
 
And the flip side..........

Perhaps some of those baby boomers hear so much about the 'authenticity' and 'camaraderie' associated with staying in Albergues, they feel guilty about their style of Camino and in pursuit of a more 'authentic' Pilgrim journey, stay in Albergues even though they don't 'need' to or really want to :oops:

I'm serious.......
I can imagine that happening for a night, maybe two, but not much more.
I enjoy the camaraderie, the shared meals, hearing others stories. But dorm sleeping with snoring and worse, the late arrivals from the bar and the early crack-of-dawn risers…..I just don’t see the attraction and yet that must float their boat for some peregrinos.
 
We are often not full at the sites where we have volunteered even in the middle of the busiest season. Sometimes private hotel and albergue owners have "brought" pilgrims to us. While they are usually grateful, it is often clear that they may not have stayed in a donativo before. It seems to be two different parallel worlds.
 
The focus is on reducing the risk of failure through being well prepared. 2nd ed.
Perhaps some of those baby boomers hear so much about the 'authenticity' and 'camaraderie' associated with staying in Albergues, they feel guilty about their style of Camino and in pursuit of a more 'authentic' Pilgrim journey, stay in Albergues even though they don't 'need' to or really want to :oops:
I'm in the latter end of the baby boomer bracket. While I do enjoy private rooms from time to time I do feel that albergues are part of a modest and simple approach which is more in tune with what I feel pilgrimage should be about. My own compromise in recent years has been to walk the less popular routes in winter when more often than not I have the whole albergue to myself. The best of both worlds!
 
they feel guilty about their style of Camino and in pursuit of a more 'authentic' Pilgrim journey, stay in Albergues even though they don't 'need' to or really want to
I think that might be part of the quandary for an individual who has viewed the decision to "albergue" or "not to albergue" as if that decision were a fundamental permanent decision that would alter the nature of your entire Camino. In fact, it is just one night when you might be slightly uncomfortable.

I agree with what Max says...
I can imagine that happening for a night, maybe two, but not much more.

I stay mainly in private rooms, for all the predictable reasons. But sometimes, an albergue situation makes good sense, so I stay in one, and enjoy having the benefits that they have. I do like to stay in an albergue from time to time, in order to stay more in touch with the variety of experiences and people that the Camino offers.
 
My first Camino was 90% albergues and I loved the novelty of it and enjoyed the experience of dormitory life; snorers and all. As a newbie I did not even know there were private rooms available and I'm glad I didn't as I wanted "Tom's" experience anyway. I was just happy and thankful to sleep indoors every night, and not carrying a tent and all my meals with me.
On my next three various Caminos as we struggled a few times finding beds, we started emailing the morning of each day to secure beds for the night which worked out ok.
Finally on my last two walks I planned everything ahead on Booking.com from start to finish and I have appreciated doing that and enjoyed researching the lodging choices.
 
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The next time I walk, I will prebook 2-3 days ahead, for my own peace and convenience. I will most likely use backpack transport some days, for the peace and convenience of my old arthritis knees: I think it's the only way I can walk another Camino these days, unfortunately...
Thanks Alex, for your advice to care for the "old arthritic knees" indeed, I feel your pain!! I'm due to attempt my second this year and have been tossing up how to approach i.e. book or not to book....I think your plan is good as we know we have the good days and not so good days with arthritis and recovery takes longer. If anyone has any idea how to mitigate the pain in knees i'd love to hear their story! Good luck on your next Camino, Bien Camino Alex
 
The one from Galicia (the round) and the one from Castilla & Leon. Individually numbered and made by the same people that make the ones you see on your walk.
My observations from the CF last Oct/Nov. Yes, lots more people booking ahead than pre-COVID. I'd say the majority now. Some people getting anxiety when apparently upcoming towns' bookable places are fully taken the day before, but actually when you get there the municipal/parroquials still have plenty of spare beds.
At Leon encountered 3 groups of young people who didn't bother with albergues or hotels at all - went straight to AirBnB (or some younger person's equivalent) and booked a flat where they could party...
Astorga to Ponferrada: majority of people doing this in 2 days and the vast majority of them were walking through Rabanal and cramming into little Foncebadon...
 
Sometimes I think of the camino as the people who walk it (at other times I think of the 'invisible pilgrims' - the locals who service and maintain it). In this sense the camino is more a river than a road: a road is still a road even when there is no traffic on it, whereas when a river has no water in it, it pretty well ceases to be a river.

This year, over 438000 compostelas were issued. Pre-pandemic the numbers were nearer 250000 a year. This means a 60% + increase. If numbers the whole length of the Camino Francés had increased by that much, accommodation would be overwhelmed, especially as many businesses had ceased trading during lockdown.

My own observation working in an albergue about halfway along the Francés in April last year (and confirmed by what others have told me) was that numbers were about what you would expect in a 'normal' year. Some nights we were nearly empty, some nights nearly, but never completely full. A private albergue in the same village was the same. At the same time there were reports on this forum and elsewhere to the effect that accommodation was not to be had for love nor money. All the hotels in the village were full every night.

The crowd staying in our albergue were also what you would expect any night in any traditional albergue - an incredibly wide range of age, background and nationality.

I suspect that the huge increase in 2022 was partly because it was a holy year and partly the post-pandemic backlog. I also suspect that a very high proportion of that number started from Sarria, or one of the other 100km points.

But not entirely. Over and above the type of pilgrim who formed the overwhelming majority a few years, there is an increasing number of pilgrims with more disposable income and of an older generation, and they are obviously more inclined to pre-book. So you could say there are now two streams: those who pre-book and those who don't. Nothing wrong with that, the camino doesn't belong to anybody, but everyone has their own camino.

I attach a fascinating article describing the change and evolution of the camino between 1879 and 1988. It makes fascinating reading if you have the time.
 

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Please advise me where to transfer the backpack to the next destination where the lodging is not pre-booked. Is it possible that you can transfer the backpack to the any albergues or municipal albergue only?
Looking forward of hearing your advices.
You are actually less likely to be able to transfer a backpack to a municipal albergue. In general, the luggage transfer situation is designed to work with albergue booking. Pilgrims would reserve accommodations at private albergues, or hotels, or hostals, or casas rurales and then arrange to have the luggage shipped there. These private establishments would accept the luggage as a service to their customers.

Shipping to a location that you have not pre-booked is expecting them to offer a luggage storage service for you without checking in advance that they are okay with that. It is extra work for them and not a business that they've signed up to be in. As a consequence, more and more are just turning it away at the door.

If it is really important to ship your luggage ahead, I would highly advise pre-booking.
 
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The baby boomers (I am one of them) want to go on a backpacking trip without planning and sleep under a roof in a hippie-style manner, just once in their lives. Many have the money and time to fly from one continent to another to fulfill their ultimate dream, which the Camino de Santiago makes possible. And there's absolutely nothing wrong with that.

And the flip side..........

Perhaps some of those baby boomers hear so much about the 'authenticity' and 'camaraderie' associated with staying in Albergues, they feel guilty about their style of Camino and in pursuit of a more 'authentic' Pilgrim journey, stay in Albergues even though they don't 'need' to or really want to :oops:

And on the gripping hand, some other of those baby boomers (of which I am one by some counts and not by others) wax nostalgic about the backpacking across Europe days of their youth and hope to recapture the magic, augmented by the special Camino magic available on the route.

In terms of "authenticity", per Robo's comment above, looking at historic accounts of the pilgrimage before the modern revival (and what could be more authentic than that), I suspect the "authentic" option is to choose for accommodations in line with your budget and social standing from what is available.
 
I have always admired those who just show up, and if necessary keep walking if a bed isn't available. As a practical matter, I tell everyone I talk to who is curious about he Camino that finding a bed at the end of the day is traditional and rewarding. But, I don't do that. I tried it initially on my first Camino in 2016. I did not have trouble getting a bed, but I sure did have trouble sleeping. I soon switched to non-albergue accommodations, and have done so ever since. I take it from the comments that the main complaint is about those that book ahead for an albergue bed as opposed to a private room. I have a feeling that there are far more non-albergue staying pilgrims than is widely assumed. And a good thing I would think, in that that group is not competing for albergue beds. I try to stay in a private room that is as close to a Plaza Mayor as I can, and if possible staying in an historic structure. There's a wonderful former home (now an official Posada) in the center of Astorga that has been in the same family for 9 generations, and turned into a hotel. Staying there makes me appreciate Astorga even more. Same with the former monastery, San Nicholas del Real, in Villafranca del Bierzo. I suppose it violates the authenticity conventions, but I think of the Camino as having two separate but equal components--there's the walking and there's the staying. When I'm walking, no matter the stage or section, I enjoy it immensely. I would also like to enjoy the staying and sleeping immensely, but I just can't get that in an albergue bed.
 
If those baby boomers who can afford it would admit that a comfortable bed in their own room with a bathroom would actually be better for them, many beds in the albergues would become available, making it no longer a must to pre-book.
Some of is do admit that, but for myself, it would make it more difficult to stay in a hotel, hostel, etc every night. So I seem to have settled on a mix places where I can get a private room, and a few albergues.
 
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So here’s an idea.
There have been 65 (now 66) posts on this thread . Maybe 40 different contributors (haven’t counted).
But who here would leave their accommodation in the morning without a bed pre-booked for that night? Assuming you are walking the CF or CP, it is between May and September and you are within 100k of Santiago.
 
The first edition came out in 2003 and has become the go-to-guide for many pilgrims over the years. It is shipping with a Pilgrim Passport (Credential) from the cathedral in Santiago de Compostela.
Me.

Getting close to or on arrival at the place I'd like to stay, if I have not come across somewhere just by walking up, I'd get on the phone and ring around.

The exception is the night before walking into Santiago. There is a particular place I like to stay - sorry, not giving it away!
 
So here’s an idea.
There have been 65 (now 66) posts on this thread . Maybe 40 different contributors (haven’t counted).
But who here would leave their accommodation in the morning without a bed pre-booked for that night? Assuming you are walking the CF or CP, it is between May and September and you are within 100k of Santiago.
I have, but I have also booked. I wanted to stay in a couple of places that I couldn't book walking the CP last year. In contrast, the last time I walked the CF, it was with my wife, and the last 100 km was booked every night.
 
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The one from Galicia (the round) and the one from Castilla & Leon. Individually numbered and made by the same people that make the ones you see on your walk.
I still don't really "get" this discussion about pre-booking.

I agree that for some people/some places it's a good idea (health problems, high age, bottleneck places during high season, walking in groups or with a large family...).

For some routes IT IS necessary unless you're fine with sleeping outdoors sometimes.

But apart from that, for the Francés, I still think that if you're healthy and able to walk 5-10km plus from time to time to reach the next place with a bed, and do some smart planning (shorter walking days to reach bottleneck places and then use walk-in-only albergues, don't pick towns with only one tiny albergue and 15km to the next as your destination for an already long day, ect.) that's enough to be able to walk without reservation (or same-day reservation or one day ahead max...).

I've walked the last 100km in peak season last year (august!) with a very painful foot, and the only reason it was very difficult to find places to stay on that stretch was my cat. Without that four legged companion it would have been entirely possible to walk even that section without pre-booking days or weeks ahead.

I've walked the Francés in march/april/may now (including easter), in june/july and july/august, and there was never the need to pre book more than one day ahead, if at all.

The only exceptions were the Pamplona region during San Fermin (which would have been no problem had I not made the stupid decision to walk a long day, and had just stayed in Zubiri, where there was still beds...) and as I said, places not accepting me because of the cat.

Many pilgrims I met last year, still didn't make reservations more than a day ahead or none at all. Especially the long distance walkers. Those walking shorter sections seemed to have pre booked more.

Now, there's absolutely nothing wrong with pre-booking your whole trip if that's what you prefer.

But there's no need for the constant fearmongering about beds, when the problem ist really more that maybe there's not the "right" beds (single room in exactly the town and albergue/pension/hotel you want to).

Both options (pre book or don't pre book) are possible and come with their own pros and cons. So just pick the option you prefer.

But there's no need for one or the other in general or one that should be done "as normal", unless there are personal reasons that make one of the options impossible (or If you'll be walking a route with little infrastructure where calling accommodation before is essential).

On the Francés, you can still just walk, if you want to.
 
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So here’s an idea.
There have been 65 (now 66) posts on this thread . Maybe 40 different contributors (haven’t counted).
But who here would leave their accommodation in the morning without a bed pre-booked for that night? Assuming you are walking the CF or CP, it is between May and September and you are within 100k of Santiago.

Me.

Sometimes I'll call an albergue when having lunch, to ask if there's still a bed for the night available when I plan to walk a long day (especially on a busy stretch like the last 100km), and will arrive late. Or when I'm walking with others and we want to stay at the same place.

I don't think I've ever booked a bed the day before when walking the Francés...

In France I've made reservations the day before twice or so, I think?

Usually I start walking without knowing exactly where I'll sleep that night, and that's how I'll continue to do it. Even on the last 100km of the Francés. Just personal preference.
 
I have, but I have also booked. I wanted to stay in a couple of places that I couldn't book walking the CP last year. In contrast, the last time I walked the CF, it was with my wife, and the last 100 km was booked every night.
The last time I walked the Camino Frances in 2017 I walked with three additional family members. We ran into trouble a couple of times, so eventually we heard you can email ahead one night at a time, which helped us immensely. The only pressure was needing to arrive by a set time or you could lose your beds.
I have said before that imo it depends how many family or friends you brought with you and are walking together.
 
A selection of Camino Jewellery
I still don't really "get" this discussion about pre-booking.

I agree that for some people/some places it's a good idea (health problems, high age, bottleneck places during high season, walking in groups or with a large family...).

For some routes IT IS necessary unless you're fine with sleeping outdoors sometimes.

But apart from that, for the Francés, I still think that if you're healthy and able to walk 5-10km plus from time to time to reach the next place with a bed, and do some smart planning (shorter walking days to reach bottleneck places and then use walk-in-only albergues, don't pick towns with only one tiny albergue and 15km to the next as your destination for an already long day, ect.) that's enough to be able to walk without reservation (or same-day reservation or one day ahead max...).

I've walked the last 100km in peak season last year (august!) with a very painful foot, and the only reason it was very difficult to find places to stay on that stretch was my cat. Without that four legged companion it would have been entirely possible to walk even that section without pre-booking days or weeks ahead.

I've walked the Francés in march/april/may now (including easter), in june/july and july/august, and there was never the need to pre book more than one day ahead, if at all.

The only exceptions were the Pamplona region during San Fermin (which would have been no problem had I not made the stupid decision to walk a long day, and had just stayed in Zubiri, where there was still beds...) and as I said, places not accepting me because of the cat.

Many pilgrims I met last year, still didn't make reservations more than a day ahead or none at all. Especially the long distance walkers. Those walking shorter sections seemed to have pre booked more.

Now, there's absolutely nothing wrong with pre-booking your whole trip if that's what you prefer.

But there's no need for the constant fearmongering about beds, when the problem ist really more that maybe there's not the "right" beds (single room in exactly the town and albergue/pension/hotel you want to).

Both options (pre book or don't pre book) are possible and come with their own pros and cons. So just pick the option you prefer.

But there's no need for one or the other in general or one that should be done "as normal", unless there are personal reasons that make one of the options impossible (or If you'll be walking a route with little infrastructure where calling accommodation before is essential).

On the Francés, you can still just walk, if you want to.
Please post a picture of your cat.
 
Please post a picture of your cat.

First pictures are directly after I found him, then one in Santiago and one in the Finisterre Beach. The others are more recent.

Sorry, more than one picture. Couldn't resist 🤣.
 

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No, not sure I would book on the CF unless there was somewhere really special I really wanted to stay. Morgade for instance? Great food, wonderful family. Even then, I would call the night before and if they were full, I would just check as I passed by to see if they had any cancellations and then go on if they didn't.

In other places I would probably just look for a bed when I was done walking for the day. I am a natural early riser even at home so I like to strike out early and be done walking after about 16-20 km. I also don't like to walk in the heat and have had a couple of heat injuries (one last year on the Aragones) so that can impact my walking time. If I could not find a bed and I was really spent (and that has never happened to me or my husband), I would take a cab somewhere where I could get a bed and then back again the next morning to where I left off. On other less congested routes, there is sometimes only one place to stay and it pays to call or WhatsApp ahead to make sure places are open or decide if you need to rethink your day.

I think there can be a middle ground between never reserving and reserving your whole pilgrimage. I also do not find that all albergues fall into the category of huge, noisy bunk rooms and once in a while, I enjoy the chaos of those places, too. There are plenty of places with smaller 2 or 4 or 6 person rooms and there are a wide age variety of people who stay in them. If one of the two of us has to have the top bunk, it is likely to be me since I don't want my husband to fall or step on me in the night getting up to use the bathroom (Personal choice.)

Really, do what works best for you and don't criticize the people and places that don't work for you, please.

PS @good_old_shoes Your cat is cute.
 
First pictures are directly after I found him,
I once found five little kittens meowing in a park under a bush, and their eyes were nearly matted shut. I didn't know what to do; they apparently were dropped off. A lady came with her pre-teen daughter who fellnin love with them. They went home, and returned with a cardboard box and lunch meat, and were goingto take them to a nearby vet. I was so relieved.
I realize I am off topic, but your photos reminded me of those poor little kitttens with gooey matted eyes.
 
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I once found five little kittens meowing in a park under a bush, and their eyes were nearly matted shut. I didn't know what to do; they apparently were dropped off. A lady came with her pre-teen daughter who fellnin love with them. They went home, and returned with a cardboard box and lunch meat, and were goingto take them to a nearby vet. I was so relieved.
I realize I am off topic, but your photos reminded me of those poor little kitttens with gooey matted eyes.
His eyes were just like that. Completely gooey and matted shut when I found him. It's a virus. Kittens usually die quickly from that or lose their eyes if they don't get medical attention. In the photos the eyes have been cleaned by the vet already and he got his eyedrops. If you ever find kittens like that again, bring them to a no-kill rescue/shelter or even better a good vet first :) The kittens you found were lucky they got help!
I've rescued many kittens in that condition so thankfully I knew what to do. Still wasn't easy in rural Spain where animal welfare is not really a thing and walking with a giant backpack, broken foot, limited financial means and not exactly pet friendly accommodation didn't make it easier 🤣. So I understand everyone who walked by (many told me they had seen him and wanted to help but didn't know what to do so walked past).

Sorry for going off topic. I'll stop the cat chat now 🙈.

But honestly, the fact that I managed to find places to stay with a cat, in August, between Cebreiro and Finisterre, at all, even if not for every night (camped some days) only confirms that finding accommodation as a solo walking pilgrim without a pet should still be perfectly doable.
 
First pictures are directly after I found him, then one in Santiago and one in the Finisterre Beach. The others are more recent.

Sorry, more than one picture. Couldn't resist 🤣.
Excellent!

I know this is a desperately earnest thread about booking things, but cats!

As a latter-day dog convert I’ve never mentioned the succession of felines who preceded Henry. The last in a long line was Bert; the most treacherous pet in the world. When we last moved house three other households reported a ‘missing cat’ as he had been frequenting their houses also. He died at the age of 12 shortly after nearly killing our new neighbour’s pedigree Burmese. Retired undefeated.

Anyway - back to the serious stuff I suppose.
 
So here’s an idea.
There have been 65 (now 66) posts on this thread . Maybe 40 different contributors (haven’t counted).
But who here would leave their accommodation in the morning without a bed pre-booked for that night? Assuming you are walking the CF or CP, it is between May and September and you are within 100k of Santiago.
Within 100 km of Santiago on the Frances in the summer, I had a bed booked for the night before I started walking. Further away, it was very different. By the time I had reached the last 100 km I had a very good idea of how far I (and my body) liked to walk in a day.

Edited to add: Correction: There was one night in the last 100 km (I think it was O Pedrouzo) where the place we wanted to stay didn't accept reservations. But they gave preference to people who had walked longer Caminos and they said that, since we had walked from Roncesvalles, there would be no problem just showing up, which was the case.
 
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Hi,
I walked the Camino pre-COVID (2018 & 2019) twice without booking my night's stays in advance.
I loved the freedom of taking the Camino day-by-day without an itinerary.
That experience was very much a part of why I love walking the Camino.

I tried it again in 2022 and was unable to complete the Camino. I got as far as Leon and stopped. It was too daunting to find a place to stay when I arrived in a village in the mid afternoon. The Camino experience became one of stress, not one of contemplation, for me.

Perhaps that was because of my travel dates. (I left SJPDP in mid-May 2022).
Perhaps it was because of the sheer numbers of pilgrims in 2022.
Perhaps that booking online before departing for the Camino is now the most common way and I'm fighting against the trend.
(I'm going to Italy later this year and I've pre-booked my hotel stays ... but I will be a tourist, not a peregrina).

Any ideas?
PS: I'm brushing up on my Spanish : )

Thanks!
 
jci-clonmel,

You are not the only one with such concerns. Many pilgrims are currently considering walking less known/less busy paths.

Another solution would be to walk out of season such as autumn/winter which in earlier easier years always allowed me the liberty òf spontaneity and solitude.

Good luck with your plans!
 
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Perhaps that booking online before departing for the Camino is now the most common way and I'm fighting against the trend.
Yes, that may be the case. The last couple of posts have been moved from a separate thread, over to this one where that very question is being discussed.
 
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Cats!
Anyone in Sydney want a kitten?
We had 4 tiny ones turn up at our door a couple of months ago.
The local vet was very helpful in checking them out.
Stray cats are a big problem here and the shelters are all full.......:confused:
 
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I've just booked 8 stop overs from SJPDP to Najera which includes two rest days in Pamplona and Najera.

Starting mid April I needed a plan to work with until things unfold and I settle into the 'no need' mentality. So for me personally, there was a need.
 
jci-clonmel,

You are not the only one with such concerns. Many pilgrims are currently considering walking less known/less busy paths.
Although walking lesser known paths won't necessarily solve this particular problem as on many of the less walked paths the etiquette is to book ahead a day or two in advance so that the hospitalero/a can prepare for your arrival. For example, this summer I'm planning to walk the Camino de Madrid, one of the lesser walked Caminos, and the municipal albergue in Tres Cantos (one day out of Madrid) asked for 48 hours notice from any pilgrim intending to stay there.
 
So here’s an idea.
There have been 65 (now 66) posts on this thread . Maybe 40 different contributors (haven’t counted).
But who here would leave their accommodation in the morning without a bed pre-booked for that night? Assuming you are walking the CF or CP, it is between May and September and you are within 100k of Santiago.
Me and that is exactly what I did in 2019, including walking into Santiago de Compostela a couple of days before St James day without reservations. The only time I got turned away I walked 100 metres and found a bed.
 
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A selection of Camino Jewellery
So here’s an idea.
There have been 65 (now 66) posts on this thread . Maybe 40 different contributors (haven’t counted).
But who here would leave their accommodation in the morning without a bed pre-booked for that night? Assuming you are walking the CF or CP, it is between May and September and you are within 100k of Santiago.
I as well, but I did not walk in Spain last year, or since Covid. But in 2019 I walked part of the Frances in June and found donativos between popular pueblos under-utilized.

I don't know but perhaps both of these are true.
Perhaps that booking online before departing for the Camino is now the most common way and I'm fighting against the trend.
It seems to be two different parallel worlds.
If so it all makes me feel a bit sad.
 
The idea that reserving in advance (as opposed to first-come-first-served) is a form of courtesy to fellow pilgrims and to the albergue is a new idea for me. Still, it doesn't seem a simple matter.
In effect, a reservation puts a bed at a specific location at the beck & call of the pilgrim with the reservation.

How are modern pilgrims working with the albergue if they are unable to arrive on the day of the reservation?
Is it impolite to call and cancel without paying? Or, is it customary to pay anyway?
What method of payment are people using if it was a phone reservation (as opposed to a booking app) if the pilgrim never actually gets to the property when it is open.
After all, the albergue may have turned down other pilgrims requesting a reservation or sent away pilgrims who actually showed up on their door-step based on the expectation that the reserving party would show up sometime before the doors are locked for the night.
Or out of courtesy, do pilgrims grab a taxi/bus/etc and get a ride to make it to the reservation as scheduled?
Also, I have wondered if some pilgrims aren't tempted into making more than one reservation so that at the last minute, they can pick the reservation that will work out best and then cancel the other(s)? (That doesn't seem fair to either the hospitaleras or fellow pilgrims).

Thoughts?
 
I have the same question... is there a typical cancellation policy? Or is it different everywhere...?
 
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I booked all my accommodation in advance for my upcoming Camino. For those I booked direct with the location, some asked for a credit card to guarantee the reservation and some did not. Most of the ones who didn’t ask for a card did ask me to confirm a certain number of days before coming, so I assume if I don’t confirm they would cancel my reservation.

I reserved all private rooms so I don’t know if it would be different for reserving bunks.
 
On my first two Caminos in 2015/16, I just arrived at the albergues and managed to get beds for my son and myself. When I brought three family members the next time we started emailing the albergues one day at a time in the morning and we always heard back quickly with a verbal confirmation that they would hold the beds until 4:00 or sometimes 5:00pm, otherwise they would not guarantee them after that time.
It always worked out for us to do that.
Since 2019 I always book ahead with Booking.com abd choose the free cancelation option, but have never needed to use it, with the exception of the pandemic in 2020, when my whole trip got cancelled. I have NEVER double-booked in order to choose one property over another later on, and consider that to be rude.
 
Also, I have wondered if some pilgrims aren't tempted into making more than one reservation so that at the last minute, they can pick the reservation that will work out best and then cancel the other(s)?
This does happen; once while taking a break for a cafe, I overheard others talking about doing this.
It's selfish and obnoxious: all about me and my camino and to heck with anyone else. Hopefully something more positive rubs off on people like this, because that attitude is bad for everyone, on the camino and at home.
 
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The idea that reserving in advance (as opposed to first-come-first-served) is a form of courtesy to fellow pilgrims and to the albergue is a new idea for me.
I don't think people have suggested that the advance reservations are a courtesy to fellow pilgrims.

The idea that reserving in advance is a courtesy to the albergue has been mentioned in the context of lesser-walked routes, rather than the busier routes. On the lonely routes, there won't be a pilgrim every day, and the hospitalero may need/want to know in advance because they will need to take time away from their normal lives to help the pilgrim get in. It is therefore a courtesy not to arrive in town and expect the hospitalero to drop everything and come to your service. Even for small hostales, there might not be a person in attendance at the entrance 24/7, so they would also like to know when to expect you.

As far as cancellation policies go, all of the situations that you suggested can and do happen. That is one reason why many albergue operators are finding it convenient to use reservation systems where the cancellation policies are clear.
 
This does happen; once while taking a break for a cafe, I overheard others talking about doing this.
It's selfish and obnoxious: all about me and my camino and to heck with anyone else. Hopefully something more positive rubs off on people like this, because that attitude is bad for everyone, on the camino and at home.
It really does happen. And when I first encountered this, it was quite shocking to me! When I was walking the Le Puy Way about a decade ago, around a gite dinner table one night, we (all the other pilgrims) became aware of a lady who was doing this! How did we become aware ... she told us, proudly. She seemed to think it was a clever approach. 'You can book many places and then decide where you want to stop'. This had even worse implications on the Le Puy Way as a booking often meant bed and a delicious dinner were 'reserved' for the guest. Various people around the table tried to explain, in various languages, that her approach was 'not cool'. I don't know if she took that on board.

From a gite owners' perspective, we have dear friends who had a small gite on the Chemin du Puy. if people contacted them to ask if they had a bed, they would happily reserve the bed for them, never asking for any deposit etc. They were not on any booking sites. I asked them if this happened to them - people reserving and then not turning up. Yes, they said, and it was increasing. I asked if they had thought maybe they should require a deposit, but they said that was not in their spirit, but they did try to protect others. The gite owners in the towns before and after tend to know each other and work in a cooperative manner. When this happened to one gite, they would send a message to those in the next towns advising to take care with accepting a 'reservation' from a person under this name. They said nobody minds if someone makes a booking and calls to cancel - but to just not turn up, 'pas sympa'.

Indeed, sad, that people would do this ... but, thankfully - hopefully - it's very few.
 
Most of the ones who didn’t ask for a card did ask me to confirm a certain number of days before coming, so I assume if I don’t confirm they would cancel my reservation.

I reserved all private rooms so I don’t know if it would be different for reserving bunks.
Yes that was the case with a number of reservations I made (most of the time the request was to confirm a day prior and an estimated ETA) and applied to bunks just as well.
 
The one from Galicia (the round) and the one from Castilla & Leon. Individually numbered and made by the same people that make the ones you see on your walk.
I have wondered if some pilgrims aren't tempted into making more than one reservation so that at the last minute, they can pick the reservation that will work out best and then cancel the other(s)? (That doesn't seem fair to either the hospitaleras or fellow pilgrims
Actually it is worse than that, usually they don't even bother cancelling the reservations they don't use and so everyone except them loses.

Many albergues have adjusted by only keeping phone reservations until 3pm. After that they sell the bed to who ever shows up.

I talked to a couple of albergue owners who were very angry with this situation.
 

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