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Live from Portuges - Donativo seems to mean free for most

Lucy Keenan

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
2016 Northern Route, 2017 Santiago to Muxia and Fisterra. 2018 Frances, 2018 Ingles, 2019 Portugues
I left a donativo hostel this am. There were 12 of us. There was 16 euros in the donativo box which meant only 2 or 3 paid.
I have met the other pilgrims along the way, and they can all afford something.
I shouldn't be pissed off about this but it doesn't seem fair to the good people making our stay possible


Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Inglés 2009+2017, Francés 2012+2018, Astorga-Santiago repeatedly
Yes I think you should be. And I think you should tell your fellow pilgrims (but in a non-angry-ranty way) that some people seem to think donativo means free, which it doesn't, and help spread the word that it's not acceptable. I once heard two pilgrims *boasting* that they'd 'made it out of' Gaucelmo in Rabanal without paying, and I also heard their fellow pilgrims tearing into them for it. Very satisfying.


Veteran member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances: SJPdP-Burgos, (2015); Burgos-Sarria (2018); Sarria-Santiago (2018).
Frances (2020)
You could "casually" mention that whatever comforts you received at the donativo (food, clean blankets, wifi, hot running water...) were only possible because of the donations from pilgrims who stayed the night before. And whatever was left when your group stayed, will have to do for the ones tonight. And if the albergue seemed lacking in amenities, maybe lack of donations is why.

Of course, some people take pride in being freeloaders. I think you have every right to be angry with them.


A journey of 500 miles begins with one step!
Camino(s) past & future
Caminho Da Fe(01/2019)
SJPdeP- SANT(09/2019)
I agree but it shouldn't be your baggage to carry. These individuals will receive their kharma in the fullness of time. I think this is simply a reflection of the western society we now live in, whereby society has become more self centered, selfish and expect something for nothing. My hope is that other Pilgrims who can afford to have overcompensated for their stay to cover the cost but 16 euro is better than nothing and at least it was given with good intentions. Maybe there ought to be an additional sign in these Donation Albergue that recommend a minimum contribution explaining a little about what it contributes towards. In my experience those who have it, do so because they try to hold on to it, whereas those who can least afford to give it away do so with a open heart and never regret their decision as they have discovered the Camino secret 🤔🤠


Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
CF, VdlP 2016, Port. Central, Norte , Port. Coastal (2018).San Salvador and Primitivo (2019)
I stayed in a donativo in Freixo (sic) in the hills before Vigo where we paid 5 euro up front and the rest was donativo. The evening meal had to be paid for in advance. Seemed fair to me.


old woman of the roads
Camino(s) past & future
CF, primitivo & del norte (2017); VdlP/Sanabres, ingles etc (2018), Mozarabe etc (2019), tbc (2020)
Older pilgrims might recall the policies of youth hostels half a century ago. In addition to paying the price of a straw mattress and a cold shower, the backpacker was required to complete an assigned task before s/he was permitted to leave in the morning. Perhaps those unable or unwilling to pay for the privilege of staying in a ‘donativo’ should be given the opportunity to contribute to the maintenance of the albergue by remaining behind to clean the premises after the paying guests have left.
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Portuguese 2012
Camino Mozarabe 2018 Granada-Merida
Camino de la Lana (2020)
Yes perhaps in this day and age the albergues need to change their signs " We rely on donativo to offer the facilities you have enjoyed. We thank you for your support". As Derrybiketours says - some people 'just don't get it' these days.


Loved and fed by David
Camino(s) past & future
Frances 2017, 2018, 2019, Ingles 2018, (Madrid 2019 partial - retired hurt!) (more planned)
Personally I’ve never been comfortable with the concept. For accommodation, I’ve no issue dropping 15-20 in the box. It costs that much to pitch a tent for a night on a campsite in the part of England I’m from.

When I come across a drinks stand I always seem to pay twice the going rate for the goods. I’m sure many retailers are genuine, but the exhortation to ‘pay what you think it’s worth’ is unnecessary complication in my opinion. There’s nothing wrong with a fair price list.

Of course, I’m sure there are plenty of clients who aim low when I aim high.

There are some genuine impecunious pilgrims, but there are rather more free loaders in my opinion.

Deleted member 59555

Yes perhaps in this day and age the albergues need to change their signs " We rely on donativo to offer the facilities you have enjoyed. We thank you for your support". As Derrybiketours says - some people 'just don't get it' these days.
Wellcome Bruce what part oh NZ are you from


Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
VdlP 2010, Frances 2010
Via Francigena 2014 bicigrino
Way of St. Francis 2017 bicigrino
I am also in favor of a fair price list, yes the albergue will miss out on the rare large donation but i as a user will know if my donation was fair.

ON the via francigena I stay at a donation based room at a convent in from rooms in the morning all pilgrims show up for breakfast and we did ask in any had seen the donation box. None had so after all had written in their pilgrims log we left donations in the book, range from 5-20 euro per person. One of the people was upset with the other for the 5 euro donation, as I was on a bike I din't stay to see how that ended but a price would have freed all of us from having to ask the question of how much. On that pilgrimage I left 5-10 euros a night based on if i had a ten or five at donation based housing which was a lot of places stayed.

Deleted member 397

I think that for English sp eakers donativo=donation which has the connotation of being voluntary


Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances, Norte (twice)and Primitivo, Sureste, In France From home Tours and Vézelay, also Le Puy.
I've stayed in a lot of private homes on the Vézelay route in France. Lodged, fed, and watered. Once or twice my clothes washed. People doing it out of the goodness of their hearts. Is sometimes been hard to convince them to take anything at all. Often I've written a cheque and told them to post it to their favourite charity.
It's actually quite a delicate balancing act, not wanting to offend a kind and generous person but not wanting them to suffer financially.
This question doesn't arise in a donation albergue. Is easy. Donate what you can. Don't just leave what's left after you have bought your wine, think about maintenance, hot water, heating and cleaning. If you are financially comfortable, think about leaving enough to cover the genuinely poor person. Don't ask others to give if you don't do it yourself. Actually, don't ask anyone to give. What they leave is between them and their conscience. Theirs, not yours. Yours should dictate what you give.

David Tallan

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances (1989 and 2016), Portugues - from Porto (2018)
My general thoughts on donativos are:
1) Offer at minimum, if possible, enough for yourself. If you think charity is a virtue and a good thing and you can, offer more towards someone who cannot offer enough.
2) When thinking "what is enough for myself?", think not what is needed to cover what you have received but rather enough to cover what you would like to see pilgrims receive. These are not "for profit" enterprises. Any extra will go to future pilgrims. If you receive little, it is probably because past pilgrims offered little. Offering little yourself in response will just perpetuate that and may help to send it on a downward spiral. If you received little and want pilgrims to receive more - offer more. Then the albergue will have the wherewithal to provide it.


Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
2020? Looks like.... nowhere! 😁
I give what I would have to pay in a ‘paying’ albergue: minimum €10 for a bed and shower plus €10 if a meal is provided. In the few outstanding ones I stayed in (especially the Parish ostellos in Italy) I leave a bit more especially if breakfast is included.
All this said, it is easy now because I have been walking Caminos every year since...2012. The first time, I didn’t have a clue what to give and was very thankful the first hospitalero I came across gave me an idea...


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