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New Member
Hi everyone ... this is my first post- so please be gentle!! My husband and I are excited to be doing our first 'part' camino in the first week of September, and we have a gizillion questions running around in our heads. Due to time constraints, we'll be one of the "last 100kms" crowd (very friendly tho'!)

Firstly, my main issue is comfort of a night. I have neck and back issues, which don't pose a problem for walking (I've been in training with my backpack!) but it means I need a comfy bed at night. I have read what I can find re sleeping bags, albergue etiquette etc. but haven't found mention of whether the beds/bunks include pillows. If I require one (which I do), do I need to provide my own? If they are provided, should we bring a pillowcase?

Also, what sort of mattresses are generally on the beds? Are they thin foam type ones?

This all probably seems quite basic, but it is critical to my enjoyment of my camino. The hubby will tell you it's critical to his enjoyment as well!! (Something about me whingeing ... I dunno..)

Thanks in advance for your advice - very much appreciated.

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Bringing your own pillow case is a nice idea. Spanish pillows are long, the width of a single bed, and quite thin...

If your neck and back are really sensitive, bring your own pillow. They don't weigh much, and it would make your backpack look bulky and heavy. Macho!

Years ago, a friend worked at an environmental summer camp. Every few days someone would get sent the 5 miles out to the highway to bring back a load of bread. Not wanting it to get crushed, it would be packed very carefully into an enormous backpack, and the bread boy would run past the tourists with a seemingly huge load. Little did they know that all his pack contained was 12 loaves of bread... maybe 12 lbs or 6 kg.

Carrying your own pillow may have the same effect. Big backpacks draw sympathetic stares.

Whatever you decide, things will work out.
Buen Camino
David, Victoria, Canada.

William Marques

Staff member
+1 for taking your own pillowcase at least. If you don't use it as originally intended it you can: wear it as a head-cover, a mat to sit on, something to put your dirty/wet clothes in and many more alternative uses.

Buen Camino


Veteran Member
Time of past OR future Camino
Frances(2005), VDLP(2007), Madrid(2009), Ingles(2009), Sur (2011), VDLP(2011)-partial, VDLP(2014)
I don't know what kind of pillow you prefer, but there are blow-up pillows as well as standard ones. This might make a difference to your packing volume.
Best of luck!


Tia Valeria

Veteran Member
Time of past OR future Camino
Pt Norte/Pmtvo 2010
C. Inglés 2011
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NTtravela said:
......but haven't found mention of whether the beds/bunks include pillows. If I require one (which I do), do I need to provide my own? If they are provided, should we bring a pillowcase?
Thanks in advance for your advice - very much appreciated.

Hi Leanne and welcome. We bought some travel pillows from Granny Goose several years ago, when they were available in England. They are very good and also light weight. They are based in South Africa but will try to send overseas and quote price if asked (details on their Customer Services page) so they might be able to help. The prices are in Rand on the website.
This link goes straight to their travel pillow:-
We have used ours camping etc. but not on the camino.
Buen Camino
Tia Valeria
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Active Member
Time of past OR future Camino
Frances 2009, Portuguese 2012
Frances 2016, (Frances 2019)
You also asked about the mattresses. With only one exception, I would say the beds were very good. While the bunks themselves did creak and moan sometimes, the mattresses were standard bunk/twin mattresses and fairly firm. Along the lines of what you would find in a university dorm. I have to tell you I was amazed by this. I was expecting lousy beds--as my husband used to own a mattress factory and I am used to a decent bed! I thought about taking a pillow but in the end decided that if one weren't available, I would stuff clothing into my fleece and use that. Only had to do that twice.


New Member
Thanks so much everyone ... I appreciate your time and advice.

That's very encouraging news about the mattresses Portia - I have to admit I too am surprised. I really expected them to be pretty average, and that I would grin & bear it. Hopefully there will be more good than bad ... but in the end I'll just be happy to be doing this wonderful walk.

It sounds like pillows are mostly available (I will bring a cover), but I think I like Lynnes idea of the blow up variety. I will see if I can buy one. Tia, thanks for the granny goose link - I do already have a light foam contoured pillow which I may take if can't find blow up .... I'll be the 'macho' one looking like I've got the big heavy pack on... David, you made me laugh - how funny! The other half will probably want to carry it to make himself look like a caring, sharing kinda guy!!

Thanks again - see you when the next question pops up!



Active Member
Time of past OR future Camino
I recall many or most of the beds having about a 4 inch foam mattress but on top of a bed board so it was pretty firm. I hope it will be okay for you. I generally don't like very soft beds and I dont' remember it being much of a problem.


New Member
Thanks viajero, I'm like you ... I don't like too soft a bed, so a bit harder will be preferable. It's good that you didn't have a problem - that gives me hope



Veteran Pilgrim and Traveler
Time of past OR future Camino
2010: Camino Frances, 2011: Santo Domingo de la Calzada (Hospitalera), 2012: Camino Portuguese from Porto, 2015: Camino Norte
I think I came across albergues with no pillows maybe three times the entire Camino and I just stuffed my rain jacket into my fleece jacket and it was fine for the night.

Thermarest also makes a memory foam pillow that folds into itself. When you open it, the memory foam expands and makes a nice comfy pillow. They are fairly lightweight, though I didn't bring mine along on the camino, I shipped it ahead to use for the rest of my travels. You can get them at REI or any other outdoor store.
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Active Member
life is good
thanks Tia for the grannygoose tip
i have walked past GG every day for the past x years
and it's through this link that i get my pillow issues sorted


Time of past OR future Camino
Walked in May 2010.
I just returned on Monday. There was always a pillow in every albergue in which I stayed. Having said that, they weren't goose down or special, but believe me when I say, I was so darned tired from a day of walking, I couldn't have cared less about a pillow. When you get into Galicia, the albergues are government run, (sort of) they all look the same (made out of former school houses) and are basically cold and sometimes soul less, however, they do provide a little paper type bunk sheet and pillow case to you. So one feels a little cleaner. I personally would not carry anything I didn't absolutely need, including a pillow. less is more on the Camino! Buen Camino!


Veteran Member
Time of past OR future Camino
I would take a plain cotton square to use as a pillowcover, as the pillows can be odd sized, and a bit grubby.
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Active Member
Time of past OR future Camino
VdlP 2006, Portugues 2007;Madrid 2009, Finisterre 2009; Sur and VdlP 2011,2013; Manchego and Madrid 2014; VdlP (parts) 2016; Hospitalero plan 2017.
Hola Leanne,
I guess you are doing the Camino Frances, and maybe there are pillows in every albergue on it, but not so on other routes. I've carried and used one of those thermarest roll up jobs, very light, on our 3 caminos (not Frances) and it worked well but for our 2011 BIG walk from Huelva to Santiago, I am determined to cut down my back pack/waistbag combined weight from 10-12kg to 7-8 kg. That's the plan. . . . so pillow will stay behind. We always take a pillow case each, and when there are no pillows provided, my husband stuffs his jacket etc into it. Bit lumpy! . . . That's what we'll be doing next year.
Maybe by our 5th camino?? (we are 64 now) we'll walk with just a staff and raincoat (Altus of course) 8)

Buen camino. Enjoy you journey.

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