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Packing Strategy when using Luggage Transportation Service

Jen16

New Member
Past OR future Camino
Future Camino - no dates set yet
Newbie here...I am planning my first Camino (Camino Frances) and have decided to take advantage of the luggage transportation services. I have a "bulging disc" in my lower back (along with a few other back issues) so hauling 12lbs (10% of my weight) the whole way would probably not be in my best interest.

However, I cannot find any advice regarding the best way to pack for this. I know I would need a small daypack for the daily walks with the essentials (rain poncho, spare socks, jacket, water, etc.) But my concern is trying to carry 2 bags when traveling or in the towns once I pick up the transported bag. Is it best to keep the 2 bags separate all the time (using maybe a 10-15L daypack and a 20-25L transported backpack)? Or is it better to buy an oversized transportation backpack (30-40L) and stuff the contents of the daypack inside the larger bag during those times? I know there's some daypacks that wad up to a size of an apple, but I'm concerned those wouldn't be as good for my back. (I would think I would still need a daypack with padded straps and hip pads.) Or, if I kept the bags separate, is it safe to leave the larger bag at the albergues/hostels while I'm in town getting dinner (& wine, of course!) Hope my question makes sense?...ha! Any advice is much appreciated! :)
 
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auburnfive

Active Member
2 separate bags is recommended, and get a decent day pack. The transport services drop off your bags at your accommodation so you don’t really need to carry them around town. You should always carry your valuables with you, but everything else you can leave. You might want to have a small purse or Fanny pack to walk around in town. Your second bag doesn’t need to be a backpack, a small wheeled bag works well, and you might be able to avoid having a checked bag.
 

peregrina2000

Moderator
Staff member
Hi @Jen16, a very warm welcome to this wonderful forum!

A couple of random thoughts on your pack questions —

—I’m not trying to convince you one way or the other, but I think many people with back issues assume they can’t carry their own pack. A good pack puts the weight on your hips, not on your back. I have two bulging discs and some other lower back issues and have never had a problem carrying my pack over 20 years. But of course it’s up to you.

— One thing that does hurt my back is to carry a daypack with more than 5 pounds in it for more than an hour. The typical day pack has no support system and will not put the weight on your hips. You should make sure that whatever you are going to carry every day is not going to cause you distress, and for me that means not using a standard free form day pack.

— The number of times you will have to carry both packs around while on the camino is likely to be very small. The pack gets picked up and dropped off at the place where you are staying, so you’ll never carry it anywhere. And yes, you should plan to leave it there when you go out to dinner or walk around. But also yes, you should always carry all of your irrepleaceable valuables with you all the time. You will hear stories of pilgrims whose wallets were taken out of their packs while they were in the shower, sleeping, etc, so you should be careful that you have what you can’t live without on your person.

Buen camino, and happy planning! Laurie
 

henrythedog

Loved and fed by David
Past OR future Camino
Frances 2017, 2018, 2019, Ingles 2018, (Madrid 2019 partial - retired hurt!) (more planned)
You could use a big wheeled bag to be transferred and just pile everything in there when arriving and departing. A big bag need not be heavy - that’s down to what you put in it - but it does avoid you having to carefully position everything inside it.
 
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biarritzdon

Veteran Member
Past OR future Camino
CF11, CF12, CP13, CF14, CA15, S.Anton15, CF&CI15
Ditch Pig16, CF&CP17, CdN18, CM18, CF18, LePuy19
I have rarely used a transport service but I have a small day pack I use for my carry-on when I fly. It will fit into my 35 l backpack. It is big enough to carry a water bottle, my Rx's, a poncho, t-shirt and underwear if I get caught out by a flight issue or stuck on the Camino without my backpack.
 

C clearly

Moderator
Staff member
Past OR future Camino
Most years since 2012. Hoping now for 2022.
I would think I would still need a daypack with padded straps and hip pads.
I emphasize the need to walk with a properly fitted and supported back pack - with sternum/chest strap, padded shoulder straps and hip belt! Depending on weather and terrain, you could easily have 6 lb in it - 2 pounds of water, a snack, rain gear, warmer layer, first aid kit, spare socks, gloves, buff, phone charger, the actual pack, etc.

In fact, assuming you are not carrying extra things because you are using transport, you will often need to carry almost everything except your sleeping gear and your second set of walking clothes.

When you are walking all day, even a few pounds can get bothersome if the backpack is not properly supported. I say that, even though I carry a 5-lb backpack (without hip belt, but with the other features) virtually every day at home.

On the few occasions I have had my pack transported, I put all the items not needed that day into a dry bag and sent it. I carried my half full Osprey Talon 33 for the walk. If I were planning to transport my bag regularly, I would still do the same but have a very lightweight zippered duffel bag for the transport.

I would make sure that everything fits into my main back pack so I can carry it on my back for those occasions when I occasionally need to carry it all - e.g. to/from the airport, or on a very short stage where transport isn't convenient. That is why I would have a backpack that is big enough for everything, if necessary. I do not want to be struggling with a back pack and another bag on those occasions.

This approach gives flexibility. You can carry things on your back if necessary and/or comfortable, or send a bag ahead if that is the better choice, and you can make those decisions from day to day.
 

ranthr

Veteran Member
Past OR future Camino
C Frances 2005, 2007
Le Puy en Velay -SdC 2009
Via de la Plata 2011
gr 653 from Oloron to Puente la Reina 2012
Gr65 from le Puy to Figeac 2013
Irun to Santander 2013
Porto to SdC 2014
Astorga to SdC 2015
I have tried Correos a couple of times.
I pack my Exos 48 as usual and bring a light bag to leave for luggage transport. This might be the cover I put my backpack during flights. On days without luggage transport, my backpack is my only item.
I always walk with my Exos, would never use a small daypack. You often need to carry with you more than some food and water, I carry whatever I know I would not like to loose.
 
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trecile

Camino Addict
Past OR future Camino
Francés (2016 & 2017), Norte (2018), Francés-Salvador-Norte (2019), Portuguese (2019)
On the few occasions I have had my pack transported, I put all the items not needed that day into a dry bag and sent it. I carried my half full Osprey Talon 33 for the walk. If I were planning to transport my bag regularly, I would still do the same but have a very lightweight zippered duffel bag for the transport.
I haven't used it for this purpose, but I have this super light duffel - weighs 3.2 ounces/~100 gm.


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Last edited:

ritescot

Veteran member since 2011
Past OR future Camino
2021
Newbie here...I am planning my first Camino (Camino Frances) and have decided to take advantage of the luggage transportation services. I have a "bulging disc" in my lower back (along with a few other back issues) so hauling 12lbs (10% of my weight) the whole way would probably not be in my best interest.

However, I cannot find any advice regarding the best way to pack for this. I know I would need a small daypack for the daily walks with the essentials (rain poncho, spare socks, jacket, water, etc.) But my concern is trying to carry 2 bags when traveling or in the towns once I pick up the transported bag. Is it best to keep the 2 bags separate all the time (using maybe a 10-15L daypack and a 20-25L transported backpack)? Or is it better to buy an oversized transportation backpack (30-40L) and stuff the contents of the daypack inside the larger bag during those times? I know there's some daypacks that wad up to a size of an apple, but I'm concerned those wouldn't be as good for my back. (I would think I would still need a daypack with padded straps and hip pads.) Or, if I kept the bags separate, is it safe to leave the larger bag at the albergues/hostels while I'm in town getting dinner (& wine, of course!) Hope my question makes sense?...ha! Any advice is much appreciated! :)
I have leg and knee issues and also must use pack transport if I am going to walk. I keep the day pack and backpack separate, and when I will be transporting both myself carry the very lightly packed day pack on my shoulder with pack on my back.

Warning, my biggest disappointment on the Camino right now has been that there are no wheeled luggage carriers in the train stations like we have in the U.S. and maybe not in bus or air terminals either? It may be a COVID thing. You are on your own, and no one at the terminals really gives a rip. I asked the taxi driver to carry my pack into the train station in León, and that helped. There do not seem to be porters in Spain.

It is a challenge when you need to manage both packs. No problem albergue to albergue though.

You might buy a little Apple tracker device to put in your bag. My pack has gone missing only once in years of using pack transport, and it was totally my fault. I labeled the tag for the wrong place.
 
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Past OR future Camino
2019: León to Santiago; 2021: St. Jean to León.
I used luggage transport for my 2 camino trips. A good-fitting 18 liter backpack and a small, wheeled carry-on bag for transport has been great, as has the consistently excellent transport service: the transported bag always made it to the destination, in fine condition, before I did. For me, it is best to pack as lightly as possible. I frequently have to carry the small, wheeled bag upstairs to a room; that can be a second trip upstairs after putting my pack in the room. I haven’t needed to put one bag inside the other. I check the wheeled bag and carry the 18 liter backpack on the plane.
 
Past OR future Camino
2021
I’m on the Camino Frances now and transporting my larger backpack and using a day pack. Next time I’m going to use a small suitcase to transport. It will be so much easier instead of pulling everything out of my pack. I see a lot of luggage in lobbies when I head out each morning.
 
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Optimistic Traveler

New Member
Past OR future Camino
2018
We didn't start out planning to have our packs transported, but it became the best option for us to continue when we were both beset by injuries (plantar fasciitis for hubby, hip tendon tears for me). While walking during the day, we used our 5L waist packs (from REI). Although very small, we were able to fit essentials like money, medications, 2 bottles water each, snack, poncho, blister kit, iPad mini and spare socks (for me). As the day warmed up and we shed layers, we were able to secure these under waist pack daisy chain straps. Ponchos were very lightweight Sea to Summit Ultra-Sil - packed about the size of an apple with hook to connect to any pack.
 

Jen16

New Member
Past OR future Camino
Future Camino - no dates set yet
Wow...thank you all for your advice! I'm so glad I found this forum!

I plan to go to an REI store to make sure I get a well-fitted pack. There are a few stores in Chicago which is less than a couple hours away. Then I'll test out the pack beforehand, while training...Maybe I can manage the full pack despite my back issues. If that's the case, I'll still be sure to pack a lightweight waterproof bag in case I do decide to transfer some of the weight to my next stop.

Such great advice from everyone... thank you all for taking the time to reply! :)
 

trecile

Camino Addict
Past OR future Camino
Francés (2016 & 2017), Norte (2018), Francés-Salvador-Norte (2019), Portuguese (2019)
For a packable waterproof backpack I really like this one from Decathlon.
It weighs only 5.1 ounces. You can use it around town, and to take your things into the shower area. It will hold what you would need to send ahead by pack transport to lighten your load if necessary.
I use mine every day in the winter on my daily walks.

 

Sue OC Pilgrim

New Member
Past OR future Camino
2019
Newbie here...I am planning my first Camino (Camino Frances) and have decided to take advantage of the luggage transportation services. I have a "bulging disc" in my lower back (along with a few other back issues) so hauling 12lbs (10% of my weight) the whole way would probably not be in my best interest.

However, I cannot find any advice regarding the best way to pack for this. I know I would need a small daypack for the daily walks with the essentials (rain poncho, spare socks, jacket, water, etc.) But my concern is trying to carry 2 bags when traveling or in the towns once I pick up the transported bag. Is it best to keep the 2 bags separate all the time (using maybe a 10-15L daypack and a 20-25L transported backpack)? Or is it better to buy an oversized transportation backpack (30-40L) and stuff the contents of the daypack inside the larger bag during those times? I know there's some daypacks that wad up to a size of an apple, but I'm concerned those wouldn't be as good for my back. (I would think I would still need a daypack with padded straps and hip pads.) Or, if I kept the bags separate, is it safe to leave the larger bag at the albergues/hostels while I'm in town getting dinner (& wine, of course!) Hope my question makes sense?...ha! Any advice is much appreciated! :)
I just got home from walking the Via podensis. Since I had to book every room in advance, I decided to send my bag ahead. Here's what I did. I made sure everything I was taking fit inside my 24liter pack Packing cubes ensure this. Then I used a zippered bag from IKEA (frakta) to send my belongings ahead. The Frakta also comes in handy if you want to check your poles for your outbound and homebound flight.
When I was making train transfers, I put my frakta bag inside a small packing cube and put it inside my pack. Otherwise, when I was on the daily stages, my 24liter pack had only my rain coat, sunscreen, and snacks.
 

Cindy McGuire

New Member
Past OR future Camino
Starting from St.jean Pied de Port April 24, 2016
Newbie here...I am planning my first Camino (Camino Frances) and have decided to take advantage of the luggage transportation services. I have a "bulging disc" in my lower back (along with a few other back issues) so hauling 12lbs (10% of my weight) the whole way would probably not be in my best interest.

However, I cannot find any advice regarding the best way to pack for this. I know I would need a small daypack for the daily walks with the essentials (rain poncho, spare socks, jacket, water, etc.) But my concern is trying to carry 2 bags when traveling or in the towns once I pick up the transported bag. Is it best to keep the 2 bags separate all the time (using maybe a 10-15L daypack and a 20-25L transported backpack)? Or is it better to buy an oversized transportation backpack (30-40L) and stuff the contents of the daypack inside the larger bag during those times? I know there's some daypacks that wad up to a size of an apple, but I'm concerned those wouldn't be as good for my back. (I would think I would still need a daypack with padded straps and hip pads.) Or, if I kept the bags separate, is it safe to leave the larger bag at the albergues/hostels while I'm in town getting dinner (& wine, of course!) Hope my question makes sense?...ha! Any advice is much appreciated! :)
In addition to the comments posted, when you use a luggage transfer service, the bag goes directly from where you're staying to the next place you are staying. No walking around towns with 2 bags.
 
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Hugh Smith

New Member
Past OR future Camino
Sarria to Muxia 2022
Used to use a Osprey Talon 22 for these days. With water, wet gear, first aid, etc etc it's amazing how quickly it will fill up but as mentioned above a good day pack should have back support with good hip and shoulder straps.
 

Turga

Camino tortuga
Past OR future Camino
CF (Aug/Sep 2017)
CF (Aug/Sep 2018)
The typical day pack has no support system and will not put the weight on your hips.

Small, full-featured day packs are not so easy to come by, but they are out there. I have this one, and with a volume of 18 liters, it comes with padded shoulder straps, sternum strap, hip belt (with pockets), semi-rigid ventilated back panel and two mesh side pockets and it weighs 460 grams. I have used it over several longer walks, and as long as it is not loaded much over 3 kilos, you can actually carry most of the weight on the hips – more than that and the back panel starts to compress.

Asivik.jpg
 

Schamber

New Member
Past OR future Camino
May and June 2022
Some transport companies ask for "soft" packs (backpacks, duffels...) rather than rigid ones, more difficult to pile into a vehicle. Worth to check with them this year.
Oh! Good to know! I’m transporting suitcase next year. I know there is a 33.3 pound weight limit too.
 

Vince Lee

New Member
Past OR future Camino
Camino Frances (2017)
I think we were allowed up to 19 kg of weight each when we had our bags transported ahead each day and used a lightweight Eagle Creek wheeled bag with a padlock. Experienced no issues.
 
Past OR future Camino
2019: León to Santiago; 2021: St. Jean to León.
Our agency Follow the Camino, who used Jacobtrans to move bags, had these limits: 1 bag per person, with weight limits per bag of 20kg in Spain and 15 kg in France.
 
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