- Year of past OR future Camino
(9/2013) Le Puy
(5/2016) Le Puy
(9/2017) Le Puy
(9/2019) RL Stevenson
Here is a list of things I learned along the Way of which I wish I’d known before…
- Many albergues do not have blankets. In addition to my silk bag liner, I wish I had brought my cheap Walmart fleece bag.
- Bring shorts/trousers with patch pockets. I found my side pockets to be useless because my backpack waist strap covered the opening.
- Bring lip balm with SPF. I sun/wind burned the heck out of my lips.
- Be sure to put sunscreen on your hands if you use poles. Burned them too.
- Bring a fleece jacket for after showers. Very cozy.
- Bring a device that tells you your distance. I loved having my Timex GPS marathon watch on my second camino. Pedometers can be inaccurate for distance because your stride varies with the terrain.
- Bring something to do after you reach your destination, i.e. book, tablet, etc. If you start at 6:00 a.m., you’ll probably arrive by noon. Many villages are quite small and easily explored in a few minutes. All the albergues I stayed in had WIFI, some signals better than others.
- If you have things that require recharging, bring a USB hub. Many times, there was only one outlet available and had to wait my turn.
- No need to bring laundry detergent, clothes pins or a line. Many places will do your laundry for you for 8 to 10 euros. Pricey but worth it when you’re tired.
- Bring jumper’s knee straps. Mine are made by Mueller. It was amazing to see the number of people who seriously damaged their knees on all the downhills. Much harder on the body than the uphill. I preventatively wore mine daily and had no knee problems.
- According to many, dehydration causes tendonitis. Make sure you are regularly drinking water.
- When you’re tired, suck on a piece of candy. I brought Halls vitamin C’s and they gave me that little boost I often needed at the end of the day.
- Listening to music also helped me get through when I felt I was done but still had a couple more kms to go.
- Eat a good, high carb breakfast. I was eating a slice of tortilla in the morning, but by the time I got to Santiago, I felt malnourished. I realized how much stronger I felt after eating a continental breakfast of bread, jelly and hot chocolate.
Blisters: Some people get them, some don’t. You can do exactly the same things and you’ll still get them if you’re prone. There are things that help...
- NOK is a wonderful product that toughens the feet but is only available in France. I tried a dozen pharmacies along the camino in Spain without success. You’re supposed to start using it a couple of weeks before you begin walking so your feet will be tough at the start. Otherwise, many people use Vaseline. It doesn’t toughen feet, however, but is better than nothing.
- SALTRATOS for tired feet is available in Spain and quite soothing at the end of the day. The price can vary from pharmacy to pharmacy. The price in downtown Santiago for 50ml was the same as 100ml in the outskirts of town.
- I gave up on Compeed because it only works if you use it before a blister rears its ugly head. I put one on after I popped my toe blister and totally lost the nail along with all the skin around it when my toe twisted while walking. If you watch the film, Wild, my toe looked exactly like hers!
- If you plan on popping blisters, bring a push pin/thumb tack. When I try to use a needle, I end up having to puncture many times in order to drain the blister.
- I recently realized that I clench my toes when I walk, so I blister the tips, then eventually end up losing toe nails. For my next camino, I plan on trying a hammer toe cushion.
- If you have high arches, use green SUPERFEET to avoid foot pain. I haven’t tried the orange (for men), but it looks tempting.
- Yes, you can walk the camino in hiking sandals. I had to after getting toe blisters. I bought sandals, glued in my SUPERFEET insoles and wore toesocks. The remainder of my camino was blister free. Next time, I will bring both boots and hiking sandals.
- After you take your hot, muscle relaxing shower, rinse your feet off with cold water. Helps to reduce the swelling. For ½ my camino, I had freakishly fat Fred Flintstone feet until I started rinsing them.