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new walker--can it be done with minimal planning?

janelle

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
sept 2015
#1
Hi! I was planning on doing the Camino after retirement this year; but parents, kids activities etc had changed my plans so I just quit my planning. Yesterday my father's surgery was put off until the spring and I feel like now my options are wide open again and perhaps this is a sign that I should go this fall. I (my husband and kids really) wonder if it's too late to get things together. I plan on going by myself and was hoping to start at St Jean--it seems like many people in the forum have planned much better that me and I was thinking about just getting there and then just going until I felt like stopping each day. Is that a bad plan? Should I be more scheduled! AYIYI!! Any help would be greatly appreciated. Also, I'm not very worried about safety--but my family is; am I being naive?
Thanks so much!
Janelle
 
Camino(s) past & future
Frances, autumn/winter; 2004, 2005-2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015
#3
Hi Janelle,

Welcome to the Forum!
Since you are eager to walk and have the time this autumn might be the perfect moment for your journey. Read what others have posted re walking in autumn in this earlier Forum thread.

As for safety here is a current summer 2015 thread regarding safety while walking.

Do scan the various Forum topics for a wealth of advice/tips regarding routes, equipment,etc. All of use who walk at the end of the year have our favorite kit and tips here are mine.

Whatever you choose and whenever you set off do plan to go slowly for the first week or so. Travel light and take it easy is are favorite mottos.

Happy planning and Buen camino!

MM
 
Last edited:
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances (2012, 2014, 2015, 2016). Seville-Astorga (Mar 2017). Mozarabe (Apr-May 2018)
#4
Hi Janelle. The only reason we spend so much time planning is to entertain ourselves while we wait for the date we've decided on!

First make sure you have good shoes or boots and start some daily walking in them. Then get a well-fitted backpack (ideally under 40 L) and a lightweight sleeping bag. Everything else can be assembled (and dissassembled) easily or even on the go.

Where and when are you thinking of? I plan to start October 14 from SJPP.

Good luck and buen Camino.
 

jpflavin1

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances(10,11,17), Vasco(12), Salvador(13), Primitivo(13), Norte(14), Madrid (16), Mozarabe (18)
#6
Hi! I was planning on doing the Camino after retirement this year; but parents, kids activities etc had changed my plans so I just quit my planning. Yesterday my father's surgery was put off until the spring and I feel like now my options are wide open again and perhaps this is a sign that I should go this fall. I (my husband and kids really) wonder if it's too late to get things together. I plan on going by myself and was hoping to start at St Jean--it seems like many people in the forum have planned much better that me and I was thinking about just getting there and then just going until I felt like stopping each day. Is that a bad plan? Should I be more scheduled! AYIYI!! Any help would be greatly appreciated. Also, I'm not very worried about safety--but my family is; am I being naive?
Thanks so much!
Janelle

Janelle:

It is never too late to get things together and a lot of planning is unnecessary, imo.

Your primary needs are a good pair of broken in shoes, rain gear or poncho, small medical kit and a reasonably sized back pack. What you put in that pack will probably be too much but if you do forget something, they will have it in Spain.

In regards to safety, just be aware of your surroundings like you would anywhere else.

Start slowly and ease your body into walking a half marathon every day for a month. Listen to your feet and take good care of them. I would also consider staying in Orisson the first night if it is still open when you walk.

Ultreya,
Joe
 
Camino(s) past & future
Past? Not enough.
Future? Sure!
#7
Hi Janelle,

What you really is a ticket for your starting point, a pair of shoes that you feel comfortable in, 2 pairs of socks, 2 tee-shirts, some rain gear and a backpack to store everything.

A credit card could be very helpful too...

For the rest, you can get it on the way!

Buen Camino,
Jacques-D.
 

Peter Fransiscus

Do good and good will come to you.
Camino(s) past & future
All that we are is the result of what we have thought.
#8
Hi! I was planning on doing the Camino after retirement this year; but parents, kids activities etc had changed my plans so I just quit my planning. Yesterday my father's surgery was put off until the spring and I feel like now my options are wide open again and perhaps this is a sign that I should go this fall. I (my husband and kids really) wonder if it's too late to get things together. I plan on going by myself and was hoping to start at St Jean--it seems like many people in the forum have planned much better that me and I was thinking about just getting there and then just going until I felt like stopping each day. Is that a bad plan? Should I be more scheduled! AYIYI!! Any help would be greatly appreciated. Also, I'm not very worried about safety--but my family is; am I being naive?
Thanks so much!
Janelle
Hi Janelle, as mspath already stated .
Read the links she puts in here reply to your tread and you will be fine.
Wish you well and a Buen Camino, Peter.
 

tyrrek

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
SJPP-SdC (4-5/2011), Ferrol-SdC (9/2011), Pamplona-SdC (3-4/2012), Camino Finisterre (10/2012), Ourense-SdC (5/2014)
#9
Hi Janelle. When browsing this forum I often think that too much planning is a bigger problem than too little. That's easy for us veterans to say, of course. Any plans you make would be subject to change anyway, so don't give yourself time to overthink things! That said, follow the advice about appropriate gear, broken in boots etc. For me as a Scotsman, my biggest worry would be the cost of flights at short notice. Buen Camino!
 
Camino(s) past & future
Oct 2012
May 2016
#11
Seriously, get the Brierley guide(amazon next day), get a 40 liter back(Amazon next day), throw in 2 each: pants, socks underwear, shirt, jacket, 1 pair t shoes, 1 pair boots if ya have them already, and 1 credit card. Fly to Madrid, take the fast train to Pamplona, step outside the Pamplona train station and start walking. Done. You can buy anything else you need on the Camino. Also, leave all the other things behind. You will not walk alone.
 
Camino(s) past & future
Oct 2012
May 2016
#12
FYI, My well layed out plan in 2012 was to take 35 days to walk. I thought I knew why I was going, like most, I didn't have a clue why. I took 13 days to walk the entire Camino. Let the Way guide you, and you will be fine.
 
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances October 2014 St Jean PdP to Logrono .
2015 (Sept 13} Logrono to .....??
#14
Hi Janelle, about 4 years ago my wife and I learned of the Camino from two elderly gentleman as we sat outside a restaurant in Venice of all places. I've been a mountain walker for quite a few years but my wife only did "coffee shop to coffee shop" and preferably by car . However she was really taken with the idea, especially the sense of comradeship & support as well as the spirituality of the Camino that the guys told us about . So we resolved to undertake what we could.We are both now 62 and similarly our plans were often affected by family demands, not the least being the care of relatives old& young. By the last week of September last year we realised that if we didn't take positive steps (pardon the pun) we would never do any of the Camino so we arranged to have coffee with our daughters friend (30 something mum of two young girls)who had completed the whole Camino Frances alone in 5 weeks 2 years earlier. After a 2 hour chat on the Friday we booked the airplane tickets , ordered the Brierley Camino guide over the Internet and just 9 days later we walked out of Bilbao airport at 10am Sunday morning with all our needs for the Camino in two small rucksacks. With my basic secondary school Spanish, a phrase book and help from Antonio , a peregrino like us who was heading for St Jean PdP. 12 days later we had walked to Logrono , had one rest day and two days travel/sightseeing back to Bilbao .Oh and 12 days of fantastic atmosphere, countless Buen Caminos ' many new friends made and numerous prayers for us and our family ( our daughter has MS & had recently miscarried her first child she was expecting) We both LOVED the Camino and all it stands for and entails. Travel light, look just a little ahead and enjoy the time, set flexible targets and ask for help from fellow pilgrims -it is usually given without hesitation . Oh by the way the the prayers worked - we've just had our now 10 week old grandson for his first sleepover - we'll miss him terribly when we leave next Sunday (13th Sept) for our next 16 day phase of the Camino from Logrono! Never mind ,unlike the UK almost every place we stayed at had free wifi so we can regularly FaceTime/ Skype him as we did our daughter last year. ( but we ignored emails. & the mobile was always off)We haven't done much more planning than book 2 train tickets from Bilbao to Logrono , ordered some Euros and checked that my emergency credit card is still valid. See you there??
 
W

whariwharangi

Guest
#16
Hi! I was planning on doing the Camino after retirement this year; but parents, kids activities etc had changed my plans so I just quit my planning. Yesterday my father's surgery was put off until the spring and I feel like now my options are wide open again and perhaps this is a sign that I should go this fall. I (my husband and kids really) wonder if it's too late to get things together. I plan on going by myself and was hoping to start at St Jean--it seems like many people in the forum have planned much better that me and I was thinking about just getting there and then just going until I felt like stopping each day. Is that a bad plan? Should I be more scheduled! AYIYI!! Any help would be greatly appreciated. Also, I'm not very worried about safety--but my family is; am I being naive?
Thanks so much!
Janelle
I put my plan into place in about 3 weeks ... and that only because I wasn't sure how long it would take to get a credencial and the guidebook by mail. Gear was too easy. I just took my backpack and emptied out stuff I wouldn't need on the camino ... tent stove etc.

It actually was too easy and could have benefited from a little more planning: my pack weighed too much (empty, the 90 liter pack weighs in at 7 pounds). I carried a minus ten bag because I had read it was 'cold' in the albergues. I ended up abandoning some gear and mailed other bits home.

You don't need to decide on where you are going to stay every night prior to leaving home. All you need is to leave enough time so you don't end up doing long days just so you can catch your flight home.
 

Lucy Longpath

Lucy Longpath
Camino(s) past & future
Frances (2015), Puy Way (2016), North Wales Pilgrims Way (2017), Camino Vezelay(2018) &(2019)
#17
It might be a good idea to book at Orisson on the first day of your walk so you will only need to walk 8km up the Pyrenees. The walk from Saint Jean Pied de Port to Roncesvalles is the hardest part of the Camino Frances. It may also be good to book your first night in Saint Jean before you begin your walk or even two nights if you want to rest after travelling. Thereafter you can just walk each day and stop when you are ready. It is a good idea to allow plenty of time for your Camino so you can walk short distances and take rest days sometimes too. Other than that good boots or walking shoes are important, good waterproofs and the weight of your pack. Try packing it and see how much it weighs and then try to make it less. You can see other peoples packing lists of this forum.
 

annakappa

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Part frances jun 07/rest frances may- jun 2008/Frances sept-oct 2009/ Sanabres Oct 2010/Frances sept-oct 2011/Aragones Sept-Oct 2012. Hospitalero Sept 2010, Amiga in Pilgrim's Office Oct 2013. Part Primitivo Oct 2013. Portugues from Porto June 2015.
#18
You don't have to start in SJPP. Americanpilgrim suggests Pamplona and I support this too!
 

annakappa

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Part frances jun 07/rest frances may- jun 2008/Frances sept-oct 2009/ Sanabres Oct 2010/Frances sept-oct 2011/Aragones Sept-Oct 2012. Hospitalero Sept 2010, Amiga in Pilgrim's Office Oct 2013. Part Primitivo Oct 2013. Portugues from Porto June 2015.
#19
Do read the thread 'dear FEET, bed bugs and diarrhea'!
This is a very honest account of what can happen, especially at the beginning of your Camino.
I have done many Caminos, but have never considered starting in SJPP.
It's become popular over the last few years, especially on this Forum, so much so, that a new reader seems to get the message that that is THE place to start! It's simply not true. People start from all over the place, not just SJPP!
If you live in Europe, you could always come back one day and walk that section, but to start there, especially if you haven't prepared yourself physically, you might have problems that could oblige you to stop!
If you are coming from further afield and have jet lag, you will be tired and to have to walk over the Pyrenees, which IMHO is just not necessary.
Also, please do not worry that you might not find some compatible Pilgrims to walk with. You will find them any day, the whole way along the Camino!
 
A

Anemone del Camino

Guest
#20
The way you experience the Camino Frances is exactly how you are describing: walk until you want to stop. You clearly are very wise. You do not have to walk the stages you see in guides, just follow yoir feet and heart.

Get a guidebook ( Brierly and the newly translated Rother guide, both on Amazon) just to get a bit of info on the history of where you'll be walking the next day or to id the few areas where there is nothing for 15 km (wouldn't want to start that path at the end of the day or without enlugh water), pack light, fast drying layers, and bring some rain gear. Shoes are key, vaseline to rub on the feet in the am as well, and off you go. Lastly be alert but not fearful.oh, and enjoy!
 
Last edited by a moderator:
Camino(s) past & future
september (2015)
#22
Hi there,
Sounds like the Camino is calling you...so my advise for what it's worth is answer the call. I got my call 4th of July weekend (2015). On the friday before the thought hadn't occurred to me to walk the camino. I knew about it from the book Shirley MacLain wrote about her walk which I didn't read as the idea of walking 5oo miles was far out of my wheelhouse. Yet on Monday after the 4th I made the decision to walk it in September (it was the soonest i could walk and I didnt want to walk in winter and Spring is my busiest time of year...so it was now or never). I told my four daughters (I wanted to hear me say it to see if I was crazy) and they were supportive. One of my daughters suggested that she come with me. It was a total shock as she isn't athletic and doesn't like the outdoors particularly...so I feel the Camino is calling her as well.
So anyway we are starting our camino on the 24th of September not nearly as prepared as many but as they say "The Camino Provides".

So heed the call and Buen Camino! (Maybe we'll see you there????)
 

movinmaggie

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances (2015) Scotland GGW (2017) Primitivo
#23
Hi Janelle,

Welcome to the Forum!
Since you are eager to walk and have the time this autumn might be the perfect moment for your journey. Read what others have posted re walking in autumn in this earlier Forum thread.

As for safety here is a current summer 2015 thread regarding safety while walking.

Do scan the various Forum topics for a wealth of advice/tips regarding routes, equipment,etc. All of use who walk at the end of the year have our favorite kit and tips here are mine.

Whatever you choose and whenever you set off do plan to go slowly for the first week or so. Travel light and take it easy is are favorite mottos.

Happy planning and Buen camino!

MM
MM this is packing week for me. I've been training with assorted articles in my bag for weight. Your list is a perfect model and one that I will heed, even though I seem to have lists everywhere (part of the problem). I tend to overdo details, so this is a good reminder. Some new things purchased will remain behind, especially now with airlines and their cabin allowances. Thanks so much….17 days and counting. Maggie
 
Camino(s) past & future
mei 2016
#24
Hi Janelle. The only reason we spend so much time planning is to entertain ourselves while we wait for the date we've decided on!

First make sure you have good shoes or boots and start some daily walking in them. Then get a well-fitted backpack (ideally under 40 L) and a lightweight sleeping bag. Everything else can be assembled (and dissassembled) easily or even on the go.

Where and when are you thinking of? I plan to start October 14 from SJPP.

Good luck and buen Camino.
I plan to go Oktober 18, from Vila Nova de Cerveira (Portugal).
Buen Camino
 

Jack42Melb

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
French Route (2014), Le Puy en Velay (2015)
#25
Hi, i did my first camino last year without any planning at all. Going unplanned is a great way of exploration and discovery. Though it is with risks.

All l had was a guide book and a overpacked backpack with gear. There will always be room to sleep and food to eat. I never worried about where l would sleep nor how far l would have to walk. I walked what l felt like walking each day and stopped when l wanted too.

I think what you wanted do is great. it will give you the freedom to do what you want, to walk and stop when you want.

Though the only thing l would recommend is to research any big social events that are happening along the Camino path. Before l started mine, l found out that there was 3 big cycling events during the month of September at different parts of the Camino. during these event's alot of accommodation is booked out. Through luck l only managed to catch the tail end of one of them. I heard from other pilgrims of how they would turn up and find all the accommodation was already booked out.

This is one of the risks of going unplanned.

RECOMMENDATIONS:

1:
Do not to book a return flight. Doing so will give you a deadline to meet. You can always find a flight back home (though last minute flights are more costly). But having a flight booked means meeting a deadline, which will put pressure on you to reach your destination. That is now what you want on your camino.
2. A guide book is a "guide". It is not "HOW" you must walk the camino, that is up to you. Walk what you feel like, not what the book states you must do every day.
3. Do not make Santiago your destination. Keep walking to Finisterre and then onto Muxia. It is WORTH it since 90% of all pilgrims stop at Santiago. The last 100kms to Santiago is packed, liked a supermarket queue before a long weekend. You will really enjoy the last 100kms to Finisterre and Muxia. (If you can, make the last 2 sections split over 4 days so you have a nice relaxing finish to your Camino. Olveiroa -> Cee ->Finisterre -> Lires -> Muxia. Done like this, it is a nice 15-20kms per day. When you reach Finisterre, swim in the ocean, look for a shell on the beach. Watch the sunset from lighthouse in Finisterre,the beach at Lires and the one at Muxia.
4. Every time you stop for a break, remove your shoes and socks. It will let the heat/sweat escape from your socks and shoes and allow your feet to breath. Remember they are doing all the walking.
5. Every now and then, look back and enjoy the view.

You will get a 90 day Shezgun visa in Europe, don't limit yourself to just 35 days for the camino. It is worth more than that :)
 

YAN SONDA

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino francés (2011)
#26
Hi! I was planning on doing the Camino after retirement this year; but parents, kids activities etc had changed my plans so I just quit my planning. Yesterday my father's surgery was put off until the spring and I feel like now my options are wide open again and perhaps this is a sign that I should go this fall. I (my husband and kids really) wonder if it's too late to get things together. I plan on going by myself and was hoping to start at St Jean--it seems like many people in the forum have planned much better that me and I was thinking about just getting there and then just going until I felt like stopping each day. Is that a bad plan? Should I be more scheduled! AYIYI!! Any help would be greatly appreciated. Also, I'm not very worried about safety--but my family is; am I being naive?
Thanks so much!
Janelle
Hi Janelle, please, just do it!
1) get very very VERY good socks 3 pairs, if possible professional hiking socks.
2) get a very VERY good boots or hiking shoes (NOT new please, and remember it must be at lease 1 size larger than your feet)
3) SUNBLOCK
And GO baby, you will have the best time of your life.
 

YAN SONDA

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino francés (2011)
#27
AND YES, please, start in St Jean pied de port.
The nature of the Pirineos it absolutely beautiful
 
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances, (2013)
Camino Frances, (2014)
Camino Frances, (2015)
#28
Two years ago, I met a man from the United States on the Camino who had spent over six months meticulously planning his Camino. He used books, maps, and satellite images. He studied historical weather reports and elevation charts. Nothing was left to chance. He planned everything out, including pre-booking his hotels rooms from SJPP to Santiago. The invasion of Normandy took less planning.

As soon as he hit the Camino he immediately fell into a Camino family (there was one particular pilgrim who caught his eye). His Camino family loved him and he loved them. The only problem was that his Camino family was not moving at the exact pace he had so meticulously planned. One day they covered only 15 kilometers. The next day they walked 32 kilometers. They allowed spontaneity to decide their pace and where they spent the night. Rarely did his Camino family stop in a village where he had a pre-booked hotel reservation. What was his solution? He walked with his Camino family, stopped where they stopped for the night, got into a taxi, rushed forward (or backward) to his hotel, checked into his hotel, took a shower, changed clothes, took a taxi back to where his Camino family stopped, had dinner with them, took a taxi back to his hotel, went to bed, woke up the next morning, took a taxi back to his Camino family and resumed walking with them.

After observing this behavior for several days I asked him why he didn't just cancel the rest of his reservations. He told me that cancelling his remaining reservations would be an admission that his hundreds and hundreds of hours of planning was a complete and absolute waste of time.
 
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Urban Trekker

Happy Trails
Camino(s) past & future
English Camino (2013)
Portuguese Camino (2014)
French Camino (2016)
Way of Saint Francis April 2017
#29
Hi! I was planning on doing the Camino after retirement this year; but parents, kids activities etc had changed my plans so I just quit my planning. Yesterday my father's surgery was put off until the spring and I feel like now my options are wide open again and perhaps this is a sign that I should go this fall. I (my husband and kids really) wonder if it's too late to get things together. I plan on going by myself and was hoping to start at St Jean--it seems like many people in the forum have planned much better that me and I was thinking about just getting there and then just going until I felt like stopping each day. Is that a bad plan? Should I be more scheduled! AYIYI!! Any help would be greatly appreciated. Also, I'm not very worried about safety--but my family is; am I being naive?
Thanks so much!
Janelle
Chose your gear wisely. Keep it simple, keep it light. Get a guide book or E guide book and read it now and take it with you. Start walking now to get ready. Wear the shoes you will walk the Camino in to ensure they are broke in. When you land in Europe get some Euros. I get mine when I land at the airport. Small bills and lots of 1 and 2 € change. When you get to SJPD you can start by following the crowds then follow the yellow arrows. The sun will be behind you in the morning and in your face in the afternoon. Don't be afraid to ask people questions or for assistance. Walk into your Camino, keep the first several days distances short and gradually increase your distance when you fell ready. Stop when you are tired if not sooner. Buen Camino

Happy trails
 

REV

Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Francés (2015 from Roncesvalles) Camino Portuguese (2015 from Tuí) Camino Inglés (2015 from Ferrol)
#30
I suggest you review the information and advice on this forum, which helped me greatly when I began considering the Camino last year. After reviewing the forum, my pack was lighter, my confidence greater and my expectations more realistic when I flew to Spain earlier this year.

One thread, "Does anyone NOT like Pacerpoles thread," prompted me to try those poles. If you are thinking about poles, I suggest you take a good look at PacerPoles. This year I walked the Camino Francés from Roncevalles, the Portuguese from Tuí, and the Inglés from Ferrol, and I loved my PacerPoles. I do not think that I would have completed my 3 Caminos this year without them.

Additionally, you might look at the Camino First Aid Guide available on this Forum. It is filled with useful information. <Camino First Aid 2014 iPhone.pdf>

You said, "I was thinking about just getting there and then just going until I felt like stopping each day. Is that a bad plan?" No, that sounds like a very good plan if it means that while walking you will continuously listen to what your body parts tell you and follow what you hear, stopping when some part says to stop.

Use the first part of the Camino to get your body used to walking day after day, walking slowing "in a relaxed manner" both to enjoy the walk and to let your body condition slowly improve. Someone on this forum suggested to simply START WALKING because no preparation could replicate the experience of walking day after day after day after day. I found that suggestion encouraging, and I used the first 100 miles or so for my "preparation" as I believe another peregrino suggested on this forum.

I have heard that the first day from SJPdeP is perhaps the toughest day (or two). Instead of starting in SJPdeP (at the base of the Pyrenees), you might consider starting, as I did, as Roncesvalles. Flying to Bilbao, then taking a bus to Pamplona and a bus the next day to Roncesvalles was how I started. The connections also seemed easier than trying to get to SJPdeP.
 

falcon269

no commercial interests
Camino(s) past & future
yes
#31
Janelle posted and left, and has not visited the Forum since. The gathering advice may have to wait until the Member returns! :)
 

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