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Planning?

Maartje1

New Member
Time of past OR future Camino
April/May 2024
Hello!
Just wandering how (if) you plan your camino.
How and to what detail would you do this?
I am starting in April from Madrid, and basically booked the first four nights (incl Segovia), also since I will be walking with my husband. After Segovia I will be by myself, and stages will depend -I guess- on physical fitness, the weather, the mood and what not. I intend to take it as it comes, of course looking ahead maybe one or two days to check on provision necessities and sleep options.
How do you seasoned pilgrims go about your planning?
Thanks!
 
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Hello!
Just wandering how (if) you plan your camino.
How and to what detail would you do this?
I am starting in April from Madrid, and basically booked the first four nights (incl Segovia), also since I will be walking with my husband. After Segovia I will be by myself, and stages will depend -I guess- on physical fitness, the weather, the mood and what not. I intend to take it as it comes, of course looking ahead maybe one or two days to check on provision necessities and sleep options.
How do you seasoned pilgrims go about your planning?
Thanks!
I plan pretty much the same way that you do.
In order to decide how much time I'll need I make a spreadsheet with proposed stages, then I add 5 - 7 days to this to account for accident or injury, or just changing my mind.
 
Hello!
Just wandering how (if) you plan your camino.
How and to what detail would you do this?
I am starting in April from Madrid, and basically booked the first four nights (incl Segovia), also since I will be walking with my husband. After Segovia I will be by myself, and stages will depend -I guess- on physical fitness, the weather, the mood and what not. I intend to take it as it comes, of course looking ahead maybe one or two days to check on provision necessities and sleep options.
How do you seasoned pilgrims go about your planning?
Thanks!
I just did that walk in September and booked private accommodations nearly the whole way which was unnecessary as the daily pilgrim count is low enough that the albergues always had room. The takeaway from the Madrid is there are a couple of stages you won’t find anything open, or there were no towns to stop and get coffee or a meal. The destination town always had food, so I just had to carry breakfast and lunch a couple of times to get through the day.
It is a beautiful Camino and I can’t wait to do it again. If you go to the Camino de Madrid section under routes in Spain there is a lot of good advice and daily stage information from pilgrims that have walked it.
Buen Camino

I forgot to say Buen Camino app, Gronze and RayyRosa website were also very helpful and it was nice to have GPS tracking to go with the arrows that mark the route!
 
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Hi Maartje1, I walked from Madrid last May. My preparation is much like Trecile’s. But just a heads up — accommodation and food on the Madrid takes a bit more planning than the Frances or some other caminos. I pre booked through Sevilla, as you have done, and though I had a tentative itinerary from there, I didn’t book ahead. But you’ll need to contact the albergues or hotels where you plan to stay 1-2 days ahead of time to be sure they’re open, and how to get in (pick up keys at a bar or town hall, etc.). And ask if meals are available. Also be aware it’s a rather solitary route — you may not see many pilgrims. But I loved the Madrid route, and I’m happy to give you more info if you DM me.
 
How do you seasoned pilgrims go about your planning?
It appears you have already done at least the first level of planning, and are now interested in what you might do over the next few days. At this stage, I would have a general stage plan, including an idea where I will take rest days. I will also have made a provision in my overall plan for a reserve day or two in case of illness or injury, and to have a couple of days in SDC at the end.

In planning the next few days, I start with the current outline stage plan. This might have been revised from my original plan if I have walked more or less on some previous stages, so where I am might be different from my original plan. From there, I do a quick calculation of where I might want to stay for the next few nights that are a reasonable match with the daily distance that I think I will be comfortable doing. There won't be a perfect match, so there will be some options that might be a bit of a stretch, and others that might be a bit short if I am going to stay broadly within the overall time that I have available.

At this point, my approach has varied a bit depending on whether I am booking ahead or walking with as few reservations as possible.
  • If I am doing stages much longer than my target daily distance, I prefer to have a place reserved where I want to stay, and if that isn't going to be possible, then I will look for an option with shorter stages.
  • If I am walking without too many reservations, I will check what accommodation options are available around where I plan to stop each day. If there are only private accommodation options such as hostels and tabernas or the like, then I will make a reservation a day or two ahead.
At this stage, I will check how this fits back into my overall plan. This is rarely a distinct process, more something that is going to in the background while considering the options for the next few days. I don't worry too much if it looks like I might arrive a day early because I might do a series of slightly longer stages, but provided I am not going to be more than a day later in SDC, I won't worry too much provided I can change any accommodation bookings there.

I normally only make arrangements for travel from SDC when I am in the last week or so. I can do this as I normally plan to spend a few days in the UK with family and friends following my camino before my flight back to Australia. This gives me a useful buffer, and I use this to avoid having to push myself to get into SDC in time to make a flight that I might have booked some months beforehand.

My final observation is that for my most recent caminos, I have planned to be within 10-12 km of SDC on the last night. I can then walk in at a comfortable pace, arriving at the cathedral in the early afternoon. I then attend mass the following day, and have a quiet day. If I still have another day, I might take a bus tour, eg to Muxia and Fisterra, or just visit some of the many places I have yet to explore in SDC.
 
It appears you have already done at least the first level of planning, and are now interested in what you might do over the next few days. At this stage, I would have a general stage plan, including an idea where I will take rest days. I will also have made a provision in my overall plan for a reserve day or two in case of illness or injury, and to have a couple of days in SDC at the end.

In planning the next few days, I start with the current outline stage plan. This might have been revised from my original plan if I have walked more or less on some previous stages, so where I am might be different from my original plan. From there, I do a quick calculation of where I might want to stay for the next few nights that are a reasonable match with the daily distance that I think I will be comfortable doing. There won't be a perfect match, so there will be some options that might be a bit of a stretch, and others that might be a bit short if I am going to stay broadly within the overall time that I have available.

At this point, my approach has varied a bit depending on whether I am booking ahead or walking with as few reservations as possible.
  • If I am doing stages much longer than my target daily distance, I prefer to have a place reserved where I want to stay, and if that isn't going to be possible, then I will look for an option with shorter stages.
  • If I am walking without too many reservations, I will check what accommodation options are available around where I plan to stop each day. If there are only private accommodation options such as hostels and tabernas or the like, then I will make a reservation a day or two ahead.
At this stage, I will check how this fits back into my overall plan. This is rarely a distinct process, more something that is going to in the background while considering the options for the next few days. I don't worry too much if it looks like I might arrive a day early because I might do a series of slightly longer stages, but provided I am not going to be more than a day later in SDC, I won't worry too much provided I can change any accommodation bookings there.

I normally only make arrangements for travel from SDC when I am in the last week or so. I can do this as I normally plan to spend a few days in the UK with family and friends following my camino before my flight back to Australia. This gives me a useful buffer, and I use this to avoid having to push myself to get into SDC in time to make a flight that I might have booked some months beforehand.

My final observation is that for my most recent caminos, I have planned to be within 10-12 km of SDC on the last night. I can then walk in at a comfortable pace, arriving at the cathedral in the early afternoon. I then attend mass the following day, and have a quiet day. If I still have another day, I might take a bus tour, eg to Muxia and Fisterra, or just visit some of the many places I have yet to explore in SDC.
Thanks for your extensive response! Great tip regarding the last stage into SdC. My trip home is already fixed (but in case of desperate need could be changed).
Since this is my first Camino the first four days will most likely give me some insights on realistic stages.
Seems that I’ve been doing indeed similar things: general stages, adding days, and also whenever I read something of interest (need to contact beforehand, no food along the way, nice albergue, top sights), I’ve added it to a document so I have it at hand when relevant.
 
Technical backpack for day trips with backpack cover and internal compartment for the hydration bladder. Ideal daypack for excursions where we need a medium capacity backpack. The back with Air Flow System creates large air channels that will keep our back as cool as possible.

€83,-
Hi Maartje1, I walked from Madrid last May. My preparation is much like Trecile’s. But just a heads up — accommodation and food on the Madrid takes a bit more planning than the Frances or some other caminos. I pre booked through Sevilla, as you have done, and though I had a tentative itinerary from there, I didn’t book ahead. But you’ll need to contact the albergues or hotels where you plan to stay 1-2 days ahead of time to be sure they’re open, and how to get in (pick up keys at a bar or town hall, etc.). And ask if meals are available. Also be aware it’s a rather solitary route — you may not see many pilgrims. But I loved the Madrid route, and I’m happy to give you more info if you DM me.
Great tips, thanks!
 
Just wandering how (if) you plan your camino.

Hi Maartje1, I walked from Madrid last May. My preparation is much like Trecile’s. But just a heads up — accommodation and food on the Madrid takes a bit more planning than the Frances or some other caminos. I pre booked through Sevilla, as you have done, and though I had a tentative itinerary from there, I didn’t book ahead. But you’ll need to contact the albergues or hotels where you plan to stay 1-2 days ahead of time to be sure they’re open, and how to get in (pick up keys at a bar or town hall, etc.). And ask if meals are available. Also be aware it’s a rather solitary route — you may not see many pilgrims. But I loved the Madrid route, and I’m happy to give you more info if you DM me.
I will probably be doing the Madrid this October. All the less traveled routes need a little planning, as you said. You do need to check distances to see if you need to bring food and if there will be stores open on the stage you are walking to buy food. Also need to be aware of Sundays and holidays. It looks like Gronze.com does a good job on advising the pilgrim about entry into the municipal albergues. A little planning and a little Spanish goes a long way for sure.
 
I will probably be doing the Madrid this October. All the less traveled routes need a little planning, as you said. You do need to check distances to see if you need to bring food and if there will be stores open on the stage you are walking to buy food. Also need to be aware of Sundays and holidays. It looks like Gronze.com does a good job on advising the pilgrim about entry into the municipal albergues. A little planning and a little Spanish goes a long way for sure.
Some of the albergues were closing this last October earlier than posted. May have been a fluke but if you contact them a day ahead you’ll know who is open. Plenty of private accommodation with exception of only a couple of stages if you get in a jam.

Buen Camino
 
Technical backpack for day trips with backpack cover and internal compartment for the hydration bladder. Ideal daypack for excursions where we need a medium capacity backpack. The back with Air Flow System creates large air channels that will keep our back as cool as possible.

€83,-
Some of the albergues were closing this last October earlier than posted. May have been a fluke but if you contact them a day ahead you’ll know who is open. Plenty of private accommodation with exception of only a couple of stages if you get in a jam.

Buen Camino
When I walked the Aragones in late October a few years ago that issue was coming up regarding closures. I do not remember what closing dates Gronze had, but every albergue I stayed in said they were going to close at the end of October. If I had started a week later the closures would have been a problem for me.
 
People prep in different ways depending on which route of the Camino, personal preference, seasonality, and several other variables.

Personally I virtually never book ahead, but then I'm nearly always prepared to sleep outdoors if necessary.

As to route planning, it's much easier if you're living in Mediterranean Europe, and indeed right next to a Camino route, as in my case, but those living elsewhere may need to be more careful.

Do try not to enforce any return flight date against your own possibilities and options !! An open return date, or one that's easily changeable, would be best.

---

Concerning the Madrid Way, booking ahead is pretty much unnecessary, just calling ahead the day before, or even just in the morning, can be enough to make sure somewhere is open and details of how to get in to a place and so on ; and find out where you can eat, resupply, get the cash out that you need, and so on.

The portion of your Camino on the Francès will be quite different though.

From Santervás de Campos on the Madrid Way there are BTW 2 options to get to it, either the "normal" route to Sahagún, or a variant via Melgar de Arriba to Bercianos del Real Camino.

Booking ahead on the Francès may or may not be useful, depending on which part of the year, but mainly on what sort of place you wish to sleep in. The more comfort you desire, the more you should probably book ahead, as those sorts of places are more popular than others.

Then again, from Sarria onwards, you might want to book ahead more often than not ; though by that time you will have enough experience to work out your own strategies, so don't worry, you'll know your own dos and do nots by then.

One thing however -- try not to book ahead too often, I'd say not earlier than the day before, so as to improve your flexibility and options. And on the Francès maybe even not until the day itself, calling ahead in the morning, on days when you might be unsure how far you'll want to go. And if you want to cancel, do so as early as possible.

Generally, I'd say try not to pre-plan too much in advance, on the Francès certainly, though the Madrid Way has some more or less mandatory stages from the fewer accommodation possibilities ; though that can make each day's plan a "no-brainer".

Carry at least some food with you along the way and enough water etc, and make sure if you're to be staying somewhere with no shop or bar-restaurant etc, or a shop with unworkable opening hours, carry your day's fare of food & drinks with you and purchase it the day before if needed.

Finally -- ¡¡ Buen Camino !!
 
People prep in different ways depending on which route of the Camino, personal preference, seasonality, and several other variables.

Personally I virtually never book ahead, but then I'm nearly always prepared to sleep outdoors if necessary.

As to route planning, it's much easier if you're living in Mediterranean Europe, and indeed right next to a Camino route, as in my case, but those living elsewhere may need to be more careful.

Do try not to enforce any return flight date against your own possibilities and options !! An open return date, or one that's easily changeable, would be best.

---

Concerning the Madrid Way, booking ahead is pretty much unnecessary, just calling ahead the day before, or even just in the morning, can be enough to make sure somewhere is open and details of how to get in to a place and so on ; and find out where you can eat, resupply, get the cash out that you need, and so on.

The portion of your Camino on the Francès will be quite different though.

From Santervás de Campos on the Madrid Way there are BTW 2 options to get to it, either the "normal" route to Sahagún, or a variant via Melgar de Arriba to Bercianos del Real Camino.

Booking ahead on the Francès may or may not be useful, depending on which part of the year, but mainly on what sort of place you wish to sleep in. The more comfort you desire, the more you should probably book ahead, as those sorts of places are more popular than others.

Then again, from Sarria onwards, you might want to book ahead more often than not ; though by that time you will have enough experience to work out your own strategies, so don't worry, you'll know your own dos and do nots by then.

One thing however -- try not to book ahead too often, I'd say not earlier than the day before, so as to improve your flexibility and options. And on the Francès maybe even not until the day itself, calling ahead in the morning, on days when you might be unsure how far you'll want to go. And if you want to cancel, do so as early as possible.

Generally, I'd say try not to pre-plan too much in advance, on the Francès certainly, though the Madrid Way has some more or less mandatory stages from the fewer accommodation possibilities ; though that can make each day's plan a "no-brainer".

Carry at least some food with you along the way and enough water etc, and make sure if you're to be staying somewhere with no shop or bar-restaurant etc, or a shop with unworkable opening hours, carry your day's fare of food & drinks with you and purchase it the day before if needed.

Finally -- ¡¡ Buen Camino !!
Thanks so much! I was indeed thinking of lightweight emergency food to always have at hand to get me through the day, and restock when needed. I am bringing a quilt (plus maybe one of them silver emergency blankets) even though the thought of spending the night outside does not appeal at all, I won’t be too cold if there is no other option.
The other route I didn’t know about, will check it out. At the moment the idea is to walk Madrid/salvador/primitivo. But if I feel a bit lonely or not fit after the Madrid I might do the Frances.
Better get busy improving my very limited Spanish skills! 😬
 
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