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Preparing to Walk the Camino - Top Ten Tips

Zman

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2017
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David

Veteran Member
Year of past OR future Camino
Moissac to Santiago Spring 2005 was the first foray.
Zman - I enjoyed reading that list. You invited responses so here are mine.

3. Much of the Camino is steep ascent and descent, as well as being on uneven surfaces. If one is going to walk-train carrying a pack (I didn't) then if you live in a flat area using stairs is really important as walking along level surfaces does not prepare you. There will be an office building, or multi-story car park or similar nearby, regularly walk up and down those staircases, ideally occasionally turning around as you climb or descend - this is the closest you can get to preparing the body (and internal sense of balance).

7. Less is indeed more - but virgin pilgrims don't believe it (I didn't) so they carry all those 'just in case' items as well as packing numerous identical items such as five pairs of underpants whereas one pair is all you need. Wear one, pack one.
Re posting parcels. Perhaps worth mentioning that the Spanish Post offices sell cardboard boxes (shipping cartons?) of various sizes, take a marker pen and ideally tape. Ivar has a baggage handling facility so to include those details would be good.

8. Foot size will increase on Camino by at least one size, sometimes one and a half, so that perfectly fitting footwear may be too tight within a week or so - also, big walking boots are not necessary, except for winter, I use Keen Newport trekking sandals always and never have a problem.
When trying on footwear NEVER look in the mirror - it is comfort, not how they look that counts - no, really, I have seen people go down a size, usually females, as they "look too big".
Might be a good idea to suggest taking a very light pair of sandals for after-walking and refugio use - as boots are not allowed inside.

10. When preparing for a Camino the negative thoughts of being alone and/or being amongst strangers can be strong. Perhaps remind them that all are strangers and a way through this is not to sit by yourself at a cafe table but to ask to join others at a table where there is room. They will always be welcome. Also, the same if they see one person sitting alone, ask to join them, and, if they see someone sad, or with a foot or equipment problem, ask if they can help, really breaks the ice and one makes friends.

Hope that wasn't too much. As an addition to your great list, have you thought of two simple packing lists, for male and female (the genders have different needs)?

Buen Camino!
 

David

Veteran Member
Year of past OR future Camino
Moissac to Santiago Spring 2005 was the first foray.
mspath - lovely blog post ❤️ - except for chocolate and biscuits I carry similar foodstuffs to you, plus some pasta (and sea salt) but had never thought of packet soup. Not wildly nutritious I guess, but Oh! the comfort of rich hot soup, and I could soak my stale bread into it too - perfect!
 

Stroller

Active Member
Year of past OR future Camino
Norte (2015), Frances (2016)
mspath good advice, I would also add a pack or two of instant noodles, flavoured or plain and as storage for the cheese, soups etc. a mug. Plastic is good for microwaves in the occasional absence of a kettle. The food combination makes a high carbohydrate meal not nutritionally great but feels good in the absence of anything better.
 
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Antonius Vaessen

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Year of past OR future Camino
2015-2016 VdlPlata - Sanabres
2016.Primitivo
2017 Salvador
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2019 Norte again
I agree with most advices you give. I too spend lot of time in preparing a Camino: reading guides, looking at vlogs studying maps and so on.
A very important advice I miss at the end of your post : be flexible, don't depend on the plans you made beforehand and be prepared to adjust your Camino to changing circumstances that undoubtedly will occur
 

Anhalter

Active Member
Year of past OR future Camino
2019 CF
I am quite positive, that even the worst bar in all of spain will have something better to offer than Ramen / instant noodles. So to be honest, i do not understand the value of taking something like that along. I understand people hiking long distance trails like them, but for most camino routes i know of, i do not see the point. (yeah, they aren't exactly heavy, so whatever, if you like to carry them, do whatever makes you happy).

As a tip that i have not seen so far:
If you plan on using trekking poles, learn how to use them correctly. I felt like half the people i seen on the camino used their poles so that they actually make it more difficult to walk.
 
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lt56ny

Veteran Member
Year of past OR future Camino
CF(2012) Le Puy/CF (2015) Portugues (2017) Norte (2018) CF (2019) VDLP?
Once again I find it so interesting to read other perspectives. Of course I think alot of the advice is good especially about some training, packing and shoes. But there are people like me who look at all the preparations you suggest and get a headache and space out. My first Camino I trained like crazy and learned I really didn’t need to. I learned to train to be in better shape but it was more important to listen to your body. Planning where you will go and have spreadsheets and decide before you take your first step may be considered important but again how can you know with sickness,blisters, pain, weather to name some obstacles, or when to rest can make an itinerary not just moot but ruinous to your Camino. Sure check our towns, learn some history or places that may be of interest to you. Walking in silence and alone or talking to others let it just happen. But of course it has to happen in the moment. Walk when you want, stop when you need to and sleep where your body says enough today.
Why do you have to “know” why you are going? I didn’t have a clue why I went the first time I just knew I had to go. If that is a why then great but I couldn’t then and as I prepare for Camino 6 whenever that is I still can’t say why. Also I had no spiritual expectations at all. When people asked me about it the first time and only 2 even had heard about it I said it was originally a religious and now also a spiritual pilgrimage. When they asked me about the spiritual aspect I said I have no clue but I guess I will find out.
when you wrote this:

“This list is not comprehensive, but a start. Having a sense of what you are about, gives you a “plan” from which you can deviate to make the most of the experience. Having no “clue” or plan before you go means your starting from ground zero. A ‘zero to sixty’ start causes you to spend too much effort on the basics; it leaves you too exhausted, or distracted, to appreciate the more exquisite subtleties and complexities the Camino offers.”

I read it and thought what????
I just take things as they come. I have no idea what is going to happen so why should I plan or worry about what I have no idea what I am planning for. I have a book, Brierley, I know where there is food and water and albergues. There are lots of people walking, lots of towns and villages. I M not walking across the Sahara or Siberia or going to the moon.
Anyway like I said there is lots of good stuff and for people who need more security and like to plan and maybe those Type A people like my wife who I drive up the wall this advice is perfect.
For people like me there is another way. Sure we are scared the first time, sure we gave a zillion questions. But looking at that to do list makes us want to do nothing. We say the hell with that. It is way too much work. I think I will take a walk instead and a nice nap when I get home.
 

David

Veteran Member
Year of past OR future Camino
Moissac to Santiago Spring 2005 was the first foray.
I am quite positive, that even the worst bar in all of spain will have something better to offer than Ramen / instant noodles. So to be honest, i do not understand the value of taking something like that along. I understand people hiking long distance trails like them, but for most camino routes i know of, i do not see the point. (yeah, they aren't exactly heavy, so whatever, if you like to carry them, do whatever makes you happy).

As a tip that i have not seen so far:
If you plan on using trekking poles, learn how to use them correctly. I felt like half the people i seen on the camino used their poles so that they actually make it more difficult to walk.

This is true - if you stop where there is a bar and it is open and you have the budget to eat out all the time. But - there are plenty of refugios where there is nowhere nearby to eat. Plenty of times in high season when it is so crowded you could miss lights-out before you have eaten. Plenty of places that temporarily close because of illness, or a wedding, or a death.
The reason to carry food (I wouldn't call instant noodles food but I am told that they are filling) is for those times, to be self-sufficient.
Also, if half your evenings are preparing food for yourself - which is a pleasure - you can save literally hundreds of Euros on a long Camino - let us keep it jolly, please don't put people down who carry food, there's a good chap.
 
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Anhalter

Active Member
Year of past OR future Camino
2019 CF
This is true - if you stop where there is a bar and it is open and you have the budget to eat out all the time. But - there are plenty of refugios where there is nowhere nearby to eat. Plenty of times in high season when it is so crowded you could miss lights-out before you have eaten. Plenty of places that temporarily close because of illness, or a wedding, or a death.
The reason to carry food (I wouldn't call instant noodles food but I am told that they are filling) is for those times, to be self-sufficient.
Also, if half your evenings are preparing food for yourself - which is a pleasure - you can save literally hundreds of Euros on a long Camino - so please don't put people down who carry food, there's a good chap.

My experience might be biased, but i have never had the feeling that food was hard to come by. This might be different on the lonlier caminos of course.
I also seen many albergues where there are some basics beeing sold for cooking.

Please mind, i have absolutely no issue with cooking food, for whatever reason. I do love cooking myself. But there is a major difference in carrying emergency Ramen and preparing actual food. I would only do that, if i had to carry for multiple days without the chance of resupply. (weight reasons).
If i felt like cooking on the camino? Well, some rice, chorizo, a bell pepper, onion and garlic clove wont spoil easily and make a vastly better meal than some prepackaged noodles.

edit: also i understand you and me to have a very different appreciation for the spanish cuisine. Likely our different views are influenced by that aswell.
 

David Tallan

Veteran Member
Year of past OR future Camino
2018
A few thoughts from me, inspired by the blog linked in the original post:

1. Knowing why you are going is good, but also recognize that you may be mistaken. People sometimes discover on the Camino that the "why" they thought they left with wasn't the "why" that they discovered on the Camino. The other side of knowing why you are going is the often cited top tip to "go without expectations" or "let go of your expectations". For some, it is best not to undertake a Camino in pursuit of something in particular but rather in a state of openness for what your Camino will have to offer.

3. Preparing physically is good. You talk about preparing to walk under load. David (above) talks about preparing for the ascents and descents. One of the toughest things about the Camino, and the hardest to prepare for, is that it is a day after day after day effort, unlike the physical preparation we tend to do. When I walked in 2016, I did no preparation and really felt it. I did better before my 2018 Camino, walking regularly with my loaded backpack, often where there were hills. But as it got closer to my departure day I would sometimes walk the long distances a couple of days in a row (weekends). When I could do the distance with loaded backpack three days in a row (long weekend) without too much exhaustion, I knew I was physically prepared.

4. I totally agree with doing the research. I know that some people like to just show up and walk liking the discovery and surprises. I like knowing my options and, no matter how much research I do, I still find that there are discoveries and surprises to be had. But I think there is a difference between research and decision-making. And some of the questions that are posed in this tip (where will I be staying? How far will I be walking each day?) come across as decisions to be made. And, as I see it, no matter how much research you do, those decisions are best made on the day. You want those decisions to be as informed as possible, and research will only go so far in informing those decisions. Other critical factors could be: What's the weather like? What's my physical condition? Who am I walking with, what are their preferences, how important are their preferences to me? So do all the research. Make plans even. But hold those plans in an open hand, ready to have them fly away and change as you get additional information during your Camino.

5. The first word I like to learn in any language is "thank you" (gracias is Spanish). If your Camino will take you to France it is merci. If it will take you to Portugal, obrigado (obrigada if you are a woman). If you are walking the Camino Portugues, note that Portuguese is a separate language from Spanish. They are related and, in theory, Spanish is intelligible to Portuguese speakers (although not visa versa). But if you are walking the CP, best to learn some Portuguese, too. Where that is not sufficient, I would advise trying your English before trying Spanish. From what I have read and heard, that is preferred by the Portuguese people in general.

6. For those walking the Camino Frances (or the Camino Aragones), I would highly recommend The Pilgrimage Road to Santiago: The Complete Cultural Handbook by David M. Gitlitz and Linda Kay Davidson in pursuing this tip. It is also available in a Kindle version for those wishing to take it with them without adding to the weight of their backpack.

7. What we choose to carry in our backpacks and how it affects our Caminos is one of the great lessons that the Camino has to offer. I understand and acknowledge the many reasons to use the backpacking forwarding services and pass no judgement on those who use them from necessity or personal choice. But doing so does, to a certain extent, diminish the opportunity to learn these lessons. One phrase I heard on a Camino podcast was "We carry our fears" and this really struck true to me. One thing that was always loading my backpack in 2016 and didn't always get used was food supplies. I called it "insurance". At root, I was afraid of walking with a hangry teenager. :) It might be an interesting exercise to look at each thing you are carrying and think about what it represents in terms of something you are afraid of.

8. In addition to your walking shoes, many people often bring lighter footwear (flip-flops, crocs, or the like) to wear in the evening after the day's walk is done. My choice was to bring hiking sandals. Early on in my 2016 Camino, when I had a rash on my feet, it was nice to be able to switch and walk in them for the day. I've also heard of others who, for blister reasons, switched to their hiking sandals from their shoes or boots and found it very helpful. Bringing hiking sandals instead of crocs or flip-flops may be a bit more weight, but I find the additional flexibility well worth it.

10+ Engaging with others should really be much higher on the list.
 
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Rick of Rick and Peg

Veteran Member
Year of past OR future Camino
Us:Camino Frances, 2015 Me:Catalan/Aragonese, 2019
3. Much of the Camino is steep ascent and descent, as well as being on uneven surfaces. If one is going to walk-train carrying a pack (I didn't) then if you live in a flat area using stairs is really important as walking along level surfaces does not prepare you. There will be an office building, or multi-story car park or similar nearby, regularly walk up and down those staircases, ideally occasionally turning around as you climb or descend - this is the closest you can get to preparing the body (and internal sense of balance).
I agree with David. That will help strengthen your leg muscles but you need to get some strength and flexibility in your ankles too so also train on some kind of a hill, maybe beside a staircase in a park. This will help break in your footwear also. You will see if your toes touch the end of you shoes or have other nasty issues. Someone on the forum once mentioned that walking barefoot on the beach strengthened the ankles but also made them flexible.
 

Zordmot

First timer Spring 2019
Year of past OR future Camino
April-May 2019
Excellent additions David! We’re kindred spirits! I agree:

1. Train by climbing stairs. I did just that and it made a huge difference. Perhaps there is a stadium nearby or football field with grandstands ? Highly recommended. My body remembered each of those steps on the first day out of SJPP.

2. Keen or Teva Hiking sandals! On Day 3 in Pamplona I had to ditch my expensive hiking shoes in favor of a pair of Tevas that were perfect for 2 Caminos. Each morning I put athletic tape over the spots where I tend to get blisters and over that a pair of thin Marino sox.

3. Less weight!! I learned the hard way my first time. I was tossing out lots of expensive gear. Weigh your pack at the Camino office in SJPP and refuse to carry more than 10% of your naked body weight. If you’re walking April-Oct you probably won’t need it. Next Camino I’m going to look more like a day hiker!

4. Bring only one change of walking clothes and a set of albergue clothes. Try to get to your albergue earlier rather than later. Once there: 1. claim your bed. roll out sleeping bag, 2. change into your albergue clothes. 3. Hand wash your dirty clothes. Hang up in the sun. This is why you arrived early. If they don’t dry completely, hang them on the outside of your pack tomorrow. 4. Shower, do your daily hygiene. 5. Rest, explore the area, have a beer. 6. Eat dinner 7. Get your pack ready to get up and go in the morning. 8. Go to sleep.
 

mspath

Veteran Member
Year of past OR future Camino
Frances, autumn/winter; 2004, 2005-2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015
An update on carrying simple food. For 40 years I have lived in France and love to eat well. Similarly one joy of travel is the food. Spain is filled with delicious stops however all are not always affordable nor open.

On past caminos especially during storms when I stopped in small and remote albergues far from any supply source novice pilgrims often staggered in wet, cold and hungry. They may have had the best gear but carried no food!

Of course I shared; hot soup, a chunk of cheese and wedge of sausage can be ambrosia in such a setting. A smile returned by a new friend over a simple meal is one of the Camino's many joys. Next morning after shared tea, cookies and chocolate for our common breakfast we would set out together. At the first open shop I would re-stock those basics and usually the other pilgrim would buy their necessary provisions.
 
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tweekes

Member
Year of past OR future Camino
2021
I am quite positive, that even the worst bar in all of spain will have something better to offer than Ramen / instant noodles. So to be honest, i do not understand the value of taking something like that along. I understand people hiking long distance trails like them, but for most camino routes i know of, i do not see the point. (yeah, they aren't exactly heavy, so whatever, if you like to carry them, do whatever makes you happy).

As a tip that i have not seen so far:
If you plan on using trekking poles, learn how to use them correctly. I felt like half the people i seen on the camino used their poles so that they actually make it more difficult to walk.
Are you able to elaborate a bit on the hiking poles, please, as I do not want to be one of those that you see walking with such difficulty! Any tips would be most helpful :)
 

Zordmot

First timer Spring 2019
Year of past OR future Camino
April-May 2019
Are you able to elaborate a bit on the hiking poles, please, as I do not want to be one of those that you see walking with such difficulty! Any tips would be most helpful :)
There are Youtube videos on this subject. I find they come in the handiest when going downhill and avoiding mud puddles.
 
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Rick of Rick and Peg

Veteran Member
Year of past OR future Camino
Us:Camino Frances, 2015 Me:Catalan/Aragonese, 2019
Since I mentioned ankles a few posts ago ...
 

Anhalter

Active Member
Year of past OR future Camino
2019 CF
Are you able to elaborate a bit on the hiking poles, please, as I do not want to be one of those that you see walking with such difficulty! Any tips would be most helpful :)
this video helped me alot. Feel free to ask if you need further help.
edit: also lots of nice training advice for hiking on that channel. no, they are not paying me to say this ;)

 

lt56ny

Veteran Member
Year of past OR future Camino
CF(2012) Le Puy/CF (2015) Portugues (2017) Norte (2018) CF (2019) VDLP?
This is true - if you stop where there is a bar and it is open and you have the budget to eat out all the time. But - there are plenty of refugios where there is nowhere nearby to eat. Plenty of times in high season when it is so crowded you could miss lights-out before you have eaten. Plenty of places that temporarily close because of illness, or a wedding, or a death.
The reason to carry food (I wouldn't call instant noodles food but I am told that they are filling) is for those times, to be self-sufficient.
Also, if half your evenings are preparing food for yourself - which is a pleasure - you can save literally hundreds of Euros on a long Camino - let us keep it jolly, please don't put people down who carry food, there's a good chap.
I agree with you David about being on a budget and not eating out every meal. I am exactly one of those Perigrinos. The only reason I dont this you need to be bringing ramen is that you can but that stuff in the little shops in almost any town you sleep in. I personally do not eat that because most have enough salt to give you hypertension before you finish :). I remember once I met a group of about 8 Korean travelers who actually had two people in the group carrying their food that was ready to eat that they brought from Korea. One of them told me they had food shipped to a couple of locations before they left. It was kinda of cool to see their food dedication if not their food experimentation! Nice kids.
Of course I ate out sometimes especially when there are no cooking facilities (Galicia), but I love eating with new and old Pilgrim friends at the albergue. I walked in Nov/Dec 2019 on the CF and ate lots of meals with other pilgrims that we all chipped in a few Euros and had real feasts. I have met some young people who were awesome chefs! What could be better. I usually bought food the night before, made a big baguette with turkey or ham and cheese and veggies, banana or two, kiwi if available and nuts to eat the next day. Whatever works for your preference and/or your budget it is tough to go wrong. Even had two memorable dinners with a few young Koreans who made fantastic traditional Korean dishes from scratch. I don't know what they were but boy were they good.
 

David Tallan

Veteran Member
Year of past OR future Camino
2018
Bring only one change of walking clothes and a set of albergue clothes. Try to get to your albergue earlier rather than later. Once there: 1. claim your bed. roll out sleeping bag, 2. change into your albergue clothes. 3. Hand wash your dirty clothes. Hang up in the sun. This is why you arrived early. If they don’t dry completely, hang them on the outside of your pack tomorrow.
Having a set of clothes specifically for albergues is something I've seen recommended several times. Something I've never quite wrapped my head around is when they get washed. They seem to be what you are always wearing when you do your washing. I recognize that they don't need washing quite as much as walking clothes. But if one wears them every day for a month or more, often in the heat of the afternoon, even if you aren't walking in them they are going to start to get a little ripe.
 

Zordmot

First timer Spring 2019
Year of past OR future Camino
April-May 2019
Yes indeed to that. There are options. Your clean set of walking clothes can be your post-shower, albergue, going out to dinner, sleeping, and what you’re wearing the following day. I did that and it worked out well. This way you’re carrying only one extra set of clothes. Minimal weight but not everyone’s cup of tea.
 
Last edited:
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2021 Camino Guides
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lt56ny

Veteran Member
Year of past OR future Camino
CF(2012) Le Puy/CF (2015) Portugues (2017) Norte (2018) CF (2019) VDLP?
A few thoughts from me, inspired by the blog linked in the original post:

1. Knowing why you are going is good, but also recognize that you may be mistaken. People sometimes discover on the Camino that the "why" they thought they left with wasn't the "why" that they discovered on the Camino. The other side of knowing why you are going is the often cited top tip to "go without expectations" or "let go of your expectations". For some, it is best not to undertake a Camino in pursuit of something in particular but rather in a state of openness for what your Camino will have to offer.

3. Preparing physically is good. You talk about preparing to walk under load. David (above) talks about preparing for the ascents and descents. One of the toughest things about the Camino, and the hardest to prepare for, is that it is a day after day after day effort, unlike the physical preparation we tend to do. When I walked in 2016, I did no preparation and really felt it. I did better before my 2018 Camino, walking regularly with my loaded backpack, often where there were hills. But as it got closer to my departure day I would sometimes walk the long distances a couple of days in a row (weekends). When I could do the distance with loaded backpack three days in a row (long weekend) without too much exhaustion, I knew I was physically prepared.

4. I totally agree with doing the research. I know that some people like to just show up and walk liking the discovery and surprises. I like knowing my options and, no matter how much research I do, I still find that there are discoveries and surprises to be had. But I think there is a difference between research and decision-making. And some of the questions that are posed in this tip (where will I be staying? How far will I be walking each day?) come across as decisions to be made. And, as I see it, no matter how much research you do, those decisions are best made on the day. You want those decisions to be as informed as possible, and research will only go so far in informing those decisions. Other critical factors could be: What's the weather like? What's my physical condition? Who am I walking with, what are their preferences, how important are their preferences to me? So do all the research. Make plans even. But hold those plans in an open hand, ready to have them fly away and change as you get additional information during your Camino.

5. The first word I like to learn in any language is "thank you" (gracias is Spanish). If your Camino will take you to France it is merci. If it will take you to Portugal, obrigado (obrigada if you are a woman). If you are walking the Camino Portugues, note that Portuguese is a separate language from Spanish. They are related and, in theory, Spanish is intelligible to Portuguese speakers (although not visa versa). But if you are walking the CP, best to learn some Portuguese, too. Where that is not sufficient, I would advise trying your English before trying Spanish. From what I have read and heard, that is preferred by the Portuguese people in general.

6. For those walking the Camino Frances (or the Camino Aragones), I would highly recommend The Pilgrimage Road to Santiago: The Complete Cultural Handbook by David M. Gitlitz and Linda Kay Davidson in pursuing this tip. It is also available in a Kindle version for those wishing to take it with them without adding to the weight of their backpack.

7. What we choose to carry in our backpacks and how it affects our Caminos is one of the great lessons that the Camino has to offer. I understand and acknowledge the many reasons to use the backpacking forwarding services and pass no judgement on those who use them from necessity or personal choice. But doing so does, to a certain extent, diminish the opportunity to learn these lessons. One phrase I heard on a Camino podcast was "We carry our fears" and this really struck true to me. One thing that was always loading my backpack in 2016 and didn't always get used was food supplies. I called it "insurance". At root, I was afraid of walking with a hangry teenager. :) It might be an interesting exercise to look at each thing you are carrying and think about what it represents in terms of something you are afraid of.

8. In addition to your walking shoes, many people often bring lighter footwear (flip-flops, crocs, or the like) to wear in the evening after the day's walk is done. My choice was to bring hiking sandals. Early on in my 2016 Camino, when I had a rash on my feet, it was nice to be able to switch and walk in them for the day. I've also heard of others who, for blister reasons, switched to their hiking sandals from their shoes or boots and found it very helpful. Bringing hiking sandals instead of crocs or flip-flops may be a bit more weight, but I find the additional flexibility well worth it.

10+ Engaging with others should really be much higher on the list.
Just a quick note. Good advice. I walked the CP from Lisbon and last year after my Camino met my oldest daughter in Porto for about 10 days. I think many more Portuguese people speak English than Spaniards. No proof just observation. Also I think the people in Portugal are the nicest, kindest and most generous people I have met anywhere. I totally agree about our backpack. It is as great way to let go for sure. I have that book on my Kindle app and read it. I enjoyed it. Didn't read all of it as some of it had no interest for me but I am sure there is alot for everyone to learn. Finally I do love to research before I go just to get me excited but I have never taken anything with me that I wrote down. My next camino that I go will be the VDLP and given the lack of infrastructure compared to other caminos and what has happened with this damn pandemic I will definitely plan each evening the next day's walk if I am not going into a large town or city. I will call and make sure albergues are still in business. Thanks for your notes. I think they are really good.
 

lt56ny

Veteran Member
Year of past OR future Camino
CF(2012) Le Puy/CF (2015) Portugues (2017) Norte (2018) CF (2019) VDLP?
Yes indeed to that. There are options. Your clean set of walking clothes can be your albergue and sleeping clothes and what you are wearing the following day. I did that and it worked out well. This way you’re carrying only one extra set of clothes.Minimal weight but not everyone’s cup of tea.
Yes. Shower put on your semi clean clothes, immediately wash your smelly semi dirty clothes. Hang them, get them dry, and put them in your pack. Next day and next day etc keep repeating.
 

Zman

New Member
Year of past OR future Camino
2017
Zman - I enjoyed reading that list. You invited responses so here are mine.

3. Much of the Camino is steep ascent and descent, as well as being on uneven surfaces. If one is going to walk-train carrying a pack (I didn't) then if you live in a flat area using stairs is really important as walking along level surfaces does not prepare you. There will be an office building, or multi-story car park or similar nearby, regularly walk up and down those staircases, ideally occasionally turning around as you climb or descend - this is the closest you can get to preparing the body (and internal sense of balance).

7. Less is indeed more - but virgin pilgrims don't believe it (I didn't) so they carry all those 'just in case' items as well as packing numerous identical items such as five pairs of underpants whereas one pair is all you need. Wear one, pack one.
Re posting parcels. Perhaps worth mentioning that the Spanish Post offices sell cardboard boxes (shipping cartons?) of various sizes, take a marker pen and ideally tape. Ivar has a baggage handling facility so to include those details would be good.

8. Foot size will increase on Camino by at least one size, sometimes one and a half, so that perfectly fitting footwear may be too tight within a week or so - also, big walking boots are not necessary, except for winter, I use Keen Newport trekking sandals always and never have a problem.
When trying on footwear NEVER look in the mirror - it is comfort, not how they look that counts - no, really, I have seen people go down a size, usually females, as they "look too big".
Might be a good idea to suggest taking a very light pair of sandals for after-walking and refugio use - as boots are not allowed inside.

10. When preparing for a Camino the negative thoughts of being alone and/or being amongst strangers can be strong. Perhaps remind them that all are strangers and a way through this is not to sit by yourself at a cafe table but to ask to join others at a table where there is room. They will always be welcome. Also, the same if they see one person sitting alone, ask to join them, and, if they see someone sad, or with a foot or equipment problem, ask if they can help, really breaks the ice and one makes friends.

Hope that wasn't too much. As an addition to your great list, have you thought of two simple packing lists, for male and female (the genders have different needs)?

Buen Camino!
Thanks David, Your comments add a wonderful addition to 'what I wish I would have known', Particularly the foot size growth and comfort over looks. I learned the hard way...again. Cheers
 

Zman

New Member
Year of past OR future Camino
2017
Once again I find it so interesting to read other perspectives. Of course I think alot of the advice is good especially about some training, packing and shoes. But there are people like me who look at all the preparations you suggest and get a headache and space out. My first Camino I trained like crazy and learned I really didn’t need to. I learned to train to be in better shape but it was more important to listen to your body. Planning where you will go and have spreadsheets and decide before you take your first step may be considered important but again how can you know with sickness,blisters, pain, weather to name some obstacles, or when to rest can make an itinerary not just moot but ruinous to your Camino. Sure check our towns, learn some history or places that may be of interest to you. Walking in silence and alone or talking to others let it just happen. But of course it has to happen in the moment. Walk when you want, stop when you need to and sleep where your body says enough today.
Why do you have to “know” why you are going? I didn’t have a clue why I went the first time I just knew I had to go. If that is a why then great but I couldn’t then and as I prepare for Camino 6 whenever that is I still can’t say why. Also I had no spiritual expectations at all. When people asked me about it the first time and only 2 even had heard about it I said it was originally a religious and now also a spiritual pilgrimage. When they asked me about the spiritual aspect I said I have no clue but I guess I will find out.
when you wrote this:

“This list is not comprehensive, but a start. Having a sense of what you are about, gives you a “plan” from which you can deviate to make the most of the experience. Having no “clue” or plan before you go means your starting from ground zero. A ‘zero to sixty’ start causes you to spend too much effort on the basics; it leaves you too exhausted, or distracted, to appreciate the more exquisite subtleties and complexities the Camino offers.”

I read it and thought what????
I just take things as they come. I have no idea what is going to happen so why should I plan or worry about what I have no idea what I am planning for. I have a book, Brierley, I know where there is food and water and albergues. There are lots of people walking, lots of towns and villages. I M not walking across the Sahara or Siberia or going to the moon.
Anyway like I said there is lots of good stuff and for people who need more security and like to plan and maybe those Type A people like my wife who I drive up the wall this advice is perfect.
For people like me there is another way. Sure we are scared the first time, sure we gave a zillion questions. But looking at that to do list makes us want to do nothing. We say the hell with that. It is way too much work. I think I will take a walk instead and a nice nap when I get home.
It56ny, Thanks for reading and commenting. I definitely am a Type 'A' personality and found comfort in having a rudimentary plan and set of expectations (what I was going to see, which route I'd walk....). Having said that, I loved the extemporaneous experiences of letting go and let happen what ever the Camino brought my way. I like your comments about listening to your body as you train. If you understand the exertions that are about to come, your body will let you know wheather your ready for it or not. Cheers
 
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Zman

New Member
Year of past OR future Camino
2017
A few thoughts from me, inspired by the blog linked in the original post:

1. Knowing why you are going is good, but also recognize that you may be mistaken. People sometimes discover on the Camino that the "why" they thought they left with wasn't the "why" that they discovered on the Camino. The other side of knowing why you are going is the often cited top tip to "go without expectations" or "let go of your expectations". For some, it is best not to undertake a Camino in pursuit of something in particular but rather in a state of openness for what your Camino will have to offer.

3. Preparing physically is good. You talk about preparing to walk under load. David (above) talks about preparing for the ascents and descents. One of the toughest things about the Camino, and the hardest to prepare for, is that it is a day after day after day effort, unlike the physical preparation we tend to do. When I walked in 2016, I did no preparation and really felt it. I did better before my 2018 Camino, walking regularly with my loaded backpack, often where there were hills. But as it got closer to my departure day I would sometimes walk the long distances a couple of days in a row (weekends). When I could do the distance with loaded backpack three days in a row (long weekend) without too much exhaustion, I knew I was physically prepared.

4. I totally agree with doing the research. I know that some people like to just show up and walk liking the discovery and surprises. I like knowing my options and, no matter how much research I do, I still find that there are discoveries and surprises to be had. But I think there is a difference between research and decision-making. And some of the questions that are posed in this tip (where will I be staying? How far will I be walking each day?) come across as decisions to be made. And, as I see it, no matter how much research you do, those decisions are best made on the day. You want those decisions to be as informed as possible, and research will only go so far in informing those decisions. Other critical factors could be: What's the weather like? What's my physical condition? Who am I walking with, what are their preferences, how important are their preferences to me? So do all the research. Make plans even. But hold those plans in an open hand, ready to have them fly away and change as you get additional information during your Camino.

5. The first word I like to learn in any language is "thank you" (gracias is Spanish). If your Camino will take you to France it is merci. If it will take you to Portugal, obrigado (obrigada if you are a woman). If you are walking the Camino Portugues, note that Portuguese is a separate language from Spanish. They are related and, in theory, Spanish is intelligible to Portuguese speakers (although not visa versa). But if you are walking the CP, best to learn some Portuguese, too. Where that is not sufficient, I would advise trying your English before trying Spanish. From what I have read and heard, that is preferred by the Portuguese people in general.

6. For those walking the Camino Frances (or the Camino Aragones), I would highly recommend The Pilgrimage Road to Santiago: The Complete Cultural Handbook by David M. Gitlitz and Linda Kay Davidson in pursuing this tip. It is also available in a Kindle version for those wishing to take it with them without adding to the weight of their backpack.

7. What we choose to carry in our backpacks and how it affects our Caminos is one of the great lessons that the Camino has to offer. I understand and acknowledge the many reasons to use the backpacking forwarding services and pass no judgement on those who use them from necessity or personal choice. But doing so does, to a certain extent, diminish the opportunity to learn these lessons. One phrase I heard on a Camino podcast was "We carry our fears" and this really struck true to me. One thing that was always loading my backpack in 2016 and didn't always get used was food supplies. I called it "insurance". At root, I was afraid of walking with a hangry teenager. :) It might be an interesting exercise to look at each thing you are carrying and think about what it represents in terms of something you are afraid of.

8. In addition to your walking shoes, many people often bring lighter footwear (flip-flops, crocs, or the like) to wear in the evening after the day's walk is done. My choice was to bring hiking sandals. Early on in my 2016 Camino, when I had a rash on my feet, it was nice to be able to switch and walk in them for the day. I've also heard of others who, for blister reasons, switched to their hiking sandals from their shoes or boots and found it very helpful. Bringing hiking sandals instead of crocs or flip-flops may be a bit more weight, but I find the additional flexibility well worth it.

10+ Engaging with others should really be much higher on the list.
Thanks David, I appreciated the comments and observations. I particularly like your first observation about discoverying you might be mistaken on why you are going. I suspect this resonates well with many as the Camino can be an enlightened experience. Cheers
 

C clearly

Moderator
Staff member
Year of past OR future Camino
2021
even the worst bar in all of spain will have something better to offer than Ramen / instant noodles.
I do not have any ramen/instant noodles in my kitchen cupboard. On the Camino, I normally carry healthier snacks and emergency food. HOWEVER, occasionally a nice salty slurpy hot cup of calories exactly hits the spot! Packed deep in your backpack, it gets nicely crushed and ready for that moment of need. 😁

The other side of knowing why you are going is the often cited top tip to "go without expectations" or "let go of your expectations".
Very good point.

Having a set of clothes specifically for albergues is something I've seen recommended several times. Something I've never quite wrapped my head around is when they get washed.
I have no difficulty in finding an opportunity to wash my evening outfit once a week or so. That is typically when I find a laundromat with dryer. I have often worn virtually nothing more than my rain pants and jacket while all my clothes are being washed! It is also possible to wash a base shirt separately from the warmer layer top and pants.
 
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2022
Zman, l love your list. I walked in 2013 and in 2015 (and blogged about it). I hope to get there again in 2022.
I like that your list didn't presume to tell people what exactly to wear or to bring but encouraged potential pilgrims to do their own homework and make their own decisions.
Don't forget about socks. After taking care of your feet, then your shoes, I found that correct socks were my most precious object (besides my Pilgrim Passport).
Walking the Camino, for me, was a once in a lifetime adventure . . . that I was able to do more than once in my lifetime!!! Hurrah!!
 

Zman

New Member
Year of past OR future Camino
2017
Zman, l love your list. I walked in 2013 and in 2015 (and blogged about it). I hope to get there again in 2022.
I like that your list didn't presume to tell people what exactly to wear or to bring but encouraged potential pilgrims to do their own homework and make their own decisions.
Don't forget about socks. After taking care of your feet, then your shoes, I found that correct socks were my most precious object (besides my Pilgrim Passport).
Walking the Camino, for me, was a once in a lifetime adventure . . . that I was able to do more than once in my lifetime!!! Hurrah!!
Kathy, thanks for reading and commenting. I agree, I find that articles that are too proscriptive can attract too many contrarian opinions and bog down the original intent. I like to think that people who are adeventurous enough to take this on, are enegergitic enough to fill in the blanks when they know what general areas to consider. Socks, yes, that and closed toe walking sandles (Keens). Absolutily key to my mental well being! Cheers!
 
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Bob from L.A. !

Veteran Member
Year of past OR future Camino
Camino Francis 2012, 2014, 2016. Camino Norte 2018. Many more to come in my future God willing !
My top 20.
1. - Take care of your feet BEFORE you start. (trim, check for ingrown etc...)
2. - Broken shoe laces. (Pack extras).
3. - Take care of dental and medical issues BEFORE you start.
4. - Do a gear "shake down" BEFORE you leave home.
5. - Break in your daily hiking shoes BEFORE you leave home. (Blisters suck and will make you beg for a quick death). Know which sock combination(s) work for you.
6. - Do not cut corners on your equipment. (You usually get what you pay for and your life may depend on your equipment holding up).
7. - Use a check list when packing. (So you don't forget something at home you might not be able to buy along the way).
8. - "Light is right" - (Never try to stuff 50 liters of gear in a 30 liter pack).
9. - Replace old batteries in your headlamp BEFORE you leave home.
10. - Provide an itinerary to those you leave behind at home.
11. - Do a self evaluation before you leave home. - (Pack a first aid kit, prepare physically mentally and emotionally).
12. - Know before you go - Weather, route, food, water availability.
13. - Always remember to refuel your body in advance of each days trek.
14. - Know when to turn around. (Consider the weather, lightening, heavy rains, flash floods etc...).
15. - Check trail report each day before starting.
16. - "Every ounce counts" - Don't over pack.
17. - Remember to constantly hydrate throughout your day.
18. - Pack with the mantra that everything that goes in your pack must have a dual purpose.
19. - Use your time efficiently throughout your day. (When you come to a rest do your maintenance first, then rest uninterrupted).
20. - Always bring with you the will to survive, no matter what!
 
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BombayBill

Still Learning
Year of past OR future Camino
2021
Since I mentioned ankles a few posts ago ...
I found that “Dad” dancing after several glasses of wine helps with ankle flexibility.
 

Zman

New Member
Year of past OR future Camino
2017
My top 20.
1. - Take care of your feet BEFORE you start. (trim, check for ingrown etc...)
2. - Broken shoe laces. (Pack extras).
3. - Take care of dental and medical issues BEFORE you start.
4. - Do a gear "shake down" BEFORE you leave home.
5. - Break in your daily hiking shoes BEFORE you leave home. (Blisters suck and will make you beg for a quick death). Know which sock combination(s) work for you.
6. - Do not cut corners on your equipment. (You usually get what you pay for and your life may depend on your equipment holding up).
7. - Use a check list when packing. (So you don't forget something at home you might not be able to buy along the way).
8. - "Light is right" - (Never try to stuff 50 liters of gear in a 30 liter pack).
9. - Replace old batteries in your headlamp BEFORE you leave home.
10. - Provide an itinerary to those you leave behind at home.
11. - Do a self evaluation before you leave home. - (Pack a first aid kit, prepare physically mentally and emotionally).
12. - Know before you go - Weather, route, food, water availability.
13. - Always remember to refuel your body in advance of each days trek.
14. - Know when to turn around. (Consider the weather, lightening, heavy rains, flash floods etc...).
15. - Check trail report each day before starting.
16. - "Every ounce counts" - Don't over pack.
17. - Remember to constantly hydrate throughout your day.
18. - Pack with the mantra that everything that goes in your pack must have a dual purpose.
19. - Use your time efficiently throughout your day. (When you come to a rest do your maintenance first, then rest uninterrupted).
20. - Always bring with you the will to survive, no matter what!
Bob, thanks for the reading and additional comments. I could not agree more with #8. Light is right! Cheers
 

lt56ny

Veteran Member
Year of past OR future Camino
CF(2012) Le Puy/CF (2015) Portugues (2017) Norte (2018) CF (2019) VDLP?
It56ny, Thanks for reading and commenting. I definitely am a Type 'A' personality and found comfort in having a rudimentary plan and set of expectations (what I was going to see, which route I'd walk....). Having said that, I loved the extemporaneous experiences of letting go and let happen what ever the Camino brought my way. I like your comments about listening to your body as you train. If you understand the exertions that are about to come, your body will let you know wheather your ready for it or not. Cheers
It wasn't too tough for me to see that about you too. Boy do you sound like the woman I call my wife:). It takes all kinds to make the world go round. The thing is it is great that even though I drive my wife crazy (and I probably would drive you to drink too) She and you would make me crazy but we are still in love and best friends!
 
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Zman - I enjoyed reading that list. You invited responses so here are mine.

3. Much of the Camino is steep ascent and descent, as well as being on uneven surfaces. If one is going to walk-train carrying a pack (I didn't) then if you live in a flat area using stairs is really important as walking along level surfaces does not prepare you. There will be an office building, or multi-story car park or similar nearby, regularly walk up and down those staircases, ideally occasionally turning around as you climb or descend - this is the closest you can get to preparing the body (and internal sense of balance).

7. Less is indeed more - but virgin pilgrims don't believe it (I didn't) so they carry all those 'just in case' items as well as packing numerous identical items such as five pairs of underpants whereas one pair is all you need. Wear one, pack one.
Re posting parcels. Perhaps worth mentioning that the Spanish Post offices sell cardboard boxes (shipping cartons?) of various sizes, take a marker pen and ideally tape. Ivar has a baggage handling facility so to include those details would be good.

8. Foot size will increase on Camino by at least one size, sometimes one and a half, so that perfectly fitting footwear may be too tight within a week or so - also, big walking boots are not necessary, except for winter, I use Keen Newport trekking sandals always and never have a problem.
When trying on footwear NEVER look in the mirror - it is comfort, not how they look that counts - no, really, I have seen people go down a size, usually females, as they "look too big".
Might be a good idea to suggest taking a very light pair of sandals for after-walking and refugio use - as boots are not allowed inside.

10. When preparing for a Camino the negative thoughts of being alone and/or being amongst strangers can be strong. Perhaps remind them that all are strangers and a way through this is not to sit by yourself at a cafe table but to ask to join others at a table where there is room. They will always be welcome. Also, the same if they see one person sitting alone, ask to join them, and, if they see someone sad, or with a foot or equipment problem, ask if they can help, really breaks the ice and one makes friends.

Hope that wasn't too much. As an addition to your great list, have you thought of two simple packing lists, for male and female (the genders have different needs)?

Buen Camino!

Just seconding your notes, David. Thanks for noting gender differences. Sending my pack via Correos worked well, and I found Keen sandals in a shoestore in Spain when the sneakers I began with proved inadequate :rolleyes:. Toiletries not mentioned; here, too, less is best and can be found along the way.
 

Yoyo

✿ Se hace el camino al andar. ✿
Year of past OR future Camino
2021
My very simple top ten would be:

Before you set out:

1.- Test your footwear ahead of time

2.- Get in shape, but don't overtrain

3.- Plan for some rest / injury days

4.- Pack light

Once you're on your way:

5.- Start slowly

6.- Attend hot spots immediately

7.- Be open and tolerant

8.- Offer help and accept help

9.- Leave no trace

10.- Enjoy every moment
 

jagoca

Member
Year of past OR future Camino
Walked Via de la Plata (Seville to Santiago) in spring 2017
That‘s a good list, thanks for sharing. My advice, learnt from a more challenging that it needed to be via de la plata in 2017, is to lose any excess bodyweight you can before you go If you know you’re overweight. I was ~15kg overweight and I REALLY felt it, especially in my feet. Plenty of pre-camino training should help with getting fit and shedding extra kg
 
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PlutseligPilegrim

Rota Vicentina, fisherman’s trail, is sweet...
Year of past OR future Camino
St Olav’s way Novgorod - Åbo
- Stiklestad - Nidaros (2019)
Via del a plata from Cadiz (2019)
I walked the CF in the spring of 2017, and learned a whole lot along the way. For those thinking about walking, here's my top ten tips to help you prepare for your Sojourn. If you have others, please feel free to add them to the comments line below or on my Blog. Buen Camino! https://zimmerslanding.com/advice-for-preparing-to-walk-the-camino-top-ten-tips/. I
First, thank you for putting your experience forward and participating in supporting those who want to walk for the first time. I think it’s the most important focus for our community.

My thinking is that advice often is based on individual, often biased experience/reference.

So they are personal advice but not general advice. Do you agree there is a difference?

That will sort of «mature» when alterations and new frame of mind is tried out once again. Fellow pilgrims other way of thinking is also taken on board of course.

Example of differing thoughts;

“Why?” is a very loaded question. When reasoning is unclear or one are confused, that is totally fine. Absolutely normal. And motivation for venturing a camino will most certainly change underway for the most of us. That is also magical to experience.

I read from comments other aspects looked upon differently.

With that said, I give you a lot of praise for making a shortlist of tips.

Do you have reflections on what you want to change for your next one?

Maybee you could do a follow up??

Ultreia

Link to a introduction for a presentation in Oslo last autumn.

 

lt56ny

Veteran Member
Year of past OR future Camino
CF(2012) Le Puy/CF (2015) Portugues (2017) Norte (2018) CF (2019) VDLP?
I do not have any ramen/instant noodles in my kitchen cupboard. On the Camino, I normally carry healthier snacks and emergency food. HOWEVER, occasionally a nice salty slurpy hot cup of calories exactly hits the spot! Packed deep in your backpack, it gets nicely crushed and ready for that moment of need. 😁


Very good point.


I have no difficulty in finding an opportunity to wash my evening outfit once a week or so. That is typically when I find a laundromat with dryer. I have often worn virtually nothing more than my rain pants and jacket while all my clothes are being washed! It is also possible to wash a base shirt separately from the warmer layer top and pants.
When I do a complete wash I too just have a jacket on and my rain pants or my long johns if I haven’t used them
 
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Zman

New Member
Year of past OR future Camino
2017
First, thank you for putting your experience forward and participating in supporting those who want to walk for the first time. I think it’s the most important focus for our community.

My thinking is that advice often is based on individual, often biased experience/reference.

So they are personal advice but not general advice. Do you agree there is a difference?

That will sort of «mature» when alterations and new frame of mind is tried out once again. Fellow pilgrims other way of thinking is also taken on board of course.

Example of differing thoughts;

“Why?” is a very loaded question. When reasoning is unclear or one are confused, that is totally fine. Absolutely normal. And motivation for venturing a camino will most certainly change underway for the most of us. That is also magical to experience.

I read from comments other aspects looked upon differently.

With that said, I give you a lot of praise for making a shortlist of tips.

Do you have reflections on what you want to change for your next one?

Maybee you could do a follow up??

Ultreia

Link to a introduction for a presentation in Oslo last autumn.

Many thanks for the reading and comments, and the link to your video introductory comments.

To your point on personal or general advice, I'd agree with the differences. I find the challenge with offering 'advice' to a wide, unknown audience is that if it's too general ('Just do it') or too specific ('cut your toothbrush in half to save weight), neither is very satisfactory to most readers. Finding the right balance to capture their imagination and perhaps motivate them to consider more is the key.

I am always encouraged by those comments that find disagreement with my 'advice'. When they post their differing views, to me, that means they read the article, considered it, and were provoked enough by my ideas to draft a response. That's wonderful!

Regarding the numerous comments on the "Why" question. Those surprised me and as I find it curious that others would not stop to consider why they would undertake such a journey. I need to go back and reconsider my views on the 'why' question. If I do a follow-up, perhaps that would be a intriguing topic for future discussion.

I discovered pretty early in my 'Longing' stage (as you adeptly named it) that many others were as invested in my Camino as they knew they'd never be able to make the trip; so they experienced it through my eyes. As a result, I blogged as I went along. At the end of the journey I tried to formalize the experience with a PDF capturing all the training, planning, preparing, packing list, informational web pages and then the actual in situ reports along the trail. It closes out with 'follow up' of reflections. I'd commend it to anybody who has the interest and stamina to wade through it all. It's available, along with a 30 min vid and photos on my webpage, free to all.


Ultreia

- Darren
 

DuaneS

Member
Year of past OR future Camino
April 4th from SJPDP - May 5, 2017 - Complete!
Having a set of clothes specifically for albergues is something I've seen recommended several times. Something I've never quite wrapped my head around is when they get washed. They seem to be what you are always wearing when you do your washing. I recognize that they don't need washing quite as much as walking clothes. But if one wears them every day for a month or more, often in the heat of the afternoon, even if you aren't walking in them they are going to start to get a little ripe.
When I did the CF in 2017, despite all my efforts I still overpacked. In Pamplona I ended up leaving a lot of clothes behind as I felt my pack was too heavy. Ultimately I ended up with a pair of hiking shorts, a pair of hiking pants (that turned into shorts), a few pairs of underwear, about four pairs of socks (so I can change at least once mid-day), several merino wool shirts, a merino wool hoodie, and a rain jacket. So ultimately just shorts and a t-shirt in the albergues, and two days of walking clothes. Despite my best efforts at washing clothes myself, I found you could never quite get the smell out doing it in a small sink. So a few times a week I'd usually pair up with someone on the trail and use the laundry machine in the albergue. Often for a few dollars each you can end up with perfectly clean and dry clothes in just a few hours. So that was my preferred method.
 

Lydia Gillen

Active Member
Year of past OR future Camino
Camino Frances 2007/8/9, 2011 , 2012/13/14. C.F 2015
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With the exception of 2010 and 2020 I have been on the Camino every year since 2007. I find it useful to have my rucksack packed some days in advance and then to deliberately unpack and then pack again so that my clothes and things get to know where they ought to be. I also get to know.
 

Mycroft

Active Member
Zman - I enjoyed reading that list. You invited responses so here are mine.

3. Much of the Camino is steep ascent and descent, as well as being on uneven surfaces. If one is going to walk-train carrying a pack (I didn't) then if you live in a flat area using stairs is really important as walking along level surfaces does not prepare you. There will be an office building, or multi-story car park or similar nearby, regularly walk up and down those staircases, ideally occasionally turning around as you climb or descend - this is the closest you can get to preparing the body (and internal sense of balance).

7. Less is indeed more - but virgin pilgrims don't believe it (I didn't) so they carry all those 'just in case' items as well as packing numerous identical items such as five pairs of underpants whereas one pair is all you need. Wear one, pack one.
Re posting parcels. Perhaps worth mentioning that the Spanish Post offices sell cardboard boxes (shipping cartons?) of various sizes, take a marker pen and ideally tape. Ivar has a baggage handling facility so to include those details would be good.

8. Foot size will increase on Camino by at least one size, sometimes one and a half, so that perfectly fitting footwear may be too tight within a week or so - also, big walking boots are not necessary, except for winter, I use Keen Newport trekking sandals always and never have a problem.
When trying on footwear NEVER look in the mirror - it is comfort, not how they look that counts - no, really, I have seen people go down a size, usually females, as they "look too big".
Might be a good idea to suggest taking a very light pair of sandals for after-walking and refugio use - as boots are not allowed inside.

10. When preparing for a Camino the negative thoughts of being alone and/or being amongst strangers can be strong. Perhaps remind them that all are strangers and a way through this is not to sit by yourself at a cafe table but to ask to join others at a table where there is room. They will always be welcome. Also, the same if they see one person sitting alone, ask to join them, and, if they see someone sad, or with a foot or equipment problem, ask if they can help, really breaks the ice and one makes friends.

Hope that wasn't too much. As an addition to your great list, have you thought of two simple packing lists, for male and female (the genders have different needs)?

Buen Camino!
Nicely presented, David.
RE number 7: There's always "going commando"!
 

Mycroft

Active Member
With the exception of 2010 and 2020 I have been on the Camino every year since 2007. I find it useful to have my rucksack packed some days in advance and then to deliberately unpack and then pack again so that my clothes and things get to know where they ought to be. I also get to know.
I am embarrassed to admit this is the idea I never thought of!! I usually pack weeks before I go, and when I arrive, I can't remember where I put things! So simple and so smart to unpack and redo it all! Thank you!
 
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David Tallan

Veteran Member
Year of past OR future Camino
2018
When I did the CF in 2017, despite all my efforts I still overpacked. In Pamplona I ended up leaving a lot of clothes behind as I felt my pack was too heavy. Ultimately I ended up with a pair of hiking shorts, a pair of hiking pants (that turned into shorts), a few pairs of underwear, about four pairs of socks (so I can change at least once mid-day), several merino wool shirts, a merino wool hoodie, and a rain jacket. So ultimately just shorts and a t-shirt in the albergues, and two days of walking clothes. Despite my best efforts at washing clothes myself, I found you could never quite get the smell out doing it in a small sink. So a few times a week I'd usually pair up with someone on the trail and use the laundry machine in the albergue. Often for a few dollars each you can end up with perfectly clean and dry clothes in just a few hours. So that was my preferred method.
I also found that laundry machines did a much better job than I managed in the sinks. I was travelling with my son and we each had three sets of clothes, two in the backpack and one worn. That allowed us to go an extra day between washings if needed but my general preference was to try and arrange it so that every other night we stayed in an albergue with a washing machine. I found that the four sets of clothes made a nice load. But I recognize that the extra set of clothes was a luxury and more weight than many like to carry.
 

witsendwv

Active Member
Year of past OR future Camino
(2015)
this video helped me alot. Feel free to ask if you need further help.
edit: also lots of nice training advice for hiking on that channel. no, they are not paying me to say this ;)

This video show asymmetrical use of poles, but I have also seen symmetrical use which actually seems more natural to me when I walk. Help! 🥾
 

Anhalter

Active Member
Year of past OR future Camino
2019 CF
This video show asymmetrical use of poles, but I have also seen symmetrical use which actually seems more natural to me when I walk. Help! 🥾
I'm not an expert, so honestly, i have no idea on the science behind it. For me asymmetrical feels correct. Wikipedia also covers the "natural" movement in an article: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arm_swing_in_human_locomotion
Maybe there are some forms of conditioning that change that into symmetrical use. Thinking of military parades, but not sure on this.
There are some cases i use my poles symmetrical, but they are few. Like on a steep downhill i like to use the poles paralle to brake. 90%+ of the time, i use them like in the video.
 

DuaneS

Member
Year of past OR future Camino
April 4th from SJPDP - May 5, 2017 - Complete!
I'm not an expert, so honestly, i have no idea on the science behind it. For me asymmetrical feels correct. Wikipedia also covers the "natural" movement in an article: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arm_swing_in_human_locomotion
Maybe there are some forms of conditioning that change that into symmetrical use. Thinking of military parades, but not sure on this.
There are some cases i use my poles symmetrical, but they are few. Like on a steep downhill i like to use the poles paralle to brake. 90%+ of the time, i use them like in the video.
I was pretty amazed how many people on the camino had no idea how to use poles. Most of the time you'd just see someone rhythmically moving them back and force without putting any weight on them at all. Maybe for some people they just like the comfort of having them. I have a bad knee, and whenever I'd be going up or down in any capacity, I'd take out my poles and use them. But for long stretches that were mostly flat I would just tie them to my pack and enjoy walking without them.
 
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V. Fran (2019) in progress
C. Primitivo (2019)
C. Frances - (2019) in progress
C. Finnisterre (2015)
Are you able to elaborate a bit on the hiking poles, please, as I do not want to be one of those that you see walking with such difficulty! Any tips would be most helpful :)
IMHO, hiking poles or mis palos are my #2 most important item (boots are #1); and, I'm completely in love with my PacerPoles. While there are so many reasons why the sticks are vital for long distance walking, I'll focus simply SAFETY. Especially for senior walkers, sticks are so very helpful in rough terrain, downhill, etc. Don't let a stumble or a fall ruin your outing. My sticks have saved my b&tt so many times.
 
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