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Safety and vulnerability

Camino(s) past & future
April/May 2017
#1
Hello everyone,

My name is Tiffany and I am hoping to do the Frances Route this April/May, with my 3 year old in a Chariot. I am confident of our ability to handle the walk, and I am more than happy to skip a few sections by bus if the route is too much/we are too tired/he needs a break. However, my family is quite concerned about us being so vulnerable... a woman travelling alone with a toddler. They are worried that he will kidnapped, or that we will be at risk of attack. Any suggestions as to how to ease their fears? Do you think I should be concerned about this safety aspect? I expect to be fully "on guard" in the bigger cities of Barcelona and Madrid, but how safe is the Frances Route itself? Would you be worried?

Many thanks for your thoughts,
Tiffany
 

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Anamiri

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances
#2
I can only speak for myself. At no time did I ever feel unsafe. Yelled at by 'louts' once, but then that could happen anywhere, and has definitely happened at home as well, and I felt it was more a response to the loss of a football game, than actual aggression.
Lots of people doing the Camino are retired people, in their 60's, 70's and 80's and many of these are solo walkers.
The only time I ever risked my life was crossing the road, as we drive on the left side of the road here and it took me ages to look in the right direction before stepping out.
 
Camino(s) past & future
Francés ('14/'15)
St Olav/Francés ('16)
Baztanés/Francés ('17)
Ingles ('18)
#3
Welcome Tiffany!
They are worried that he will kidnapped, or that we will be at risk of attack. Any suggestions as to how to ease their fears? Do you think I should be concerned about this safety aspect? I expect to be fully "on guard" in the bigger cities of Barcelona and Madrid, but how safe is the Frances Route itself? Would you be worried?
I'm not you, nor am I a mom of a toddler. So please take what I say with a few pounds of salt.
I would say you're in for a big challenge - the Camino's plenty hard, even alone or with another independent adult. And with a little kid you're multiplying that challenge by I don't know how much.

But as far as danger from the kind of crime your family is concerned about? This would be the least of my worries. The Camino is the real world, not Disneyland - but it is likely more safe than many places at home.

I would say check out the other threads here on the Forum about people's experiences walking with a toddler, and print out what they say to show your family that it has been and can be done.
Buen Camino, you two!
 
Camino(s) past & future
start april 2018 from Pamplona
#4
after having read a lot of testimonies and shared some moments with my friends, I would like to tell you to go quiet for a security question. I am sure you will never be alone along the way and you will receive other answers.
Congratulations on this adventure of your life with your little child .... is not for everyone.;)
 
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances , St Jean Pied de Port - Finisterra May/ June 2017
Le Puy en Velay - Ales [2018]
#5
How I do genuinely wish that you will be able to do this , what an experience and such a tale to tell :)
Your plan seems both sensible and feasible , knowing your limitations and even more importantly taking notice of them is paramount .
My only concern would be for sleeping arrangements , certainly a private room would alleviate most security concerns and contain the inevitable ' tantrum ' .
Apart from Italy I have not traveled in a more child friendly country than Spain , you may well find that you will travel slowly because you must stop to allow the locals to admire your child and marvel at your courage .
Good luck and God Bless .
 

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Camino(s) past & future
Santiago to Finisterre to Muxia 2013
Camino Frances May 2015
Camino Frances July 2017
#6
Hi Tiff,

Good luck with your Camino, as VNwalking pointed out it's quite a challenge but I've see it done and as is so often the case in life, the harder the journey, the greater the sense of acheivement at the end.

As to safety. Given the "population" of the Camino crime of any kind seems to be remarkably rare, things can always happen, but that is true all over the world. After a particular incident almost three years ago police presence and monitoring of the Camino has increased a lot, to the extent that would be criminals probably won't be inclined to target The way. All people using Albergues have their details and movements collected.

Also the walking season will be well underway by the time you start and you may be surprised by how rarely you're walking alone, more often than not there'll be someone else in sight and if you're the social type chances are you'll find a group to walk with who will be looking out for you.

Buen Camino,

Rob.
 
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linkster

Nunca dejes de creer!
Camino(s) past & future
Francés 05/17 brazo roto Portomarín
Francés 09/17 SJPdP - Santiago
(Portuguese: 09/18)
#7
I saw a couple of moms walking alone with small children, but they we not toddlers (3 years old). I would guess they were around 5+. One little girl was a true delight. She seemed to be motivating her mom.

+1 @Charles Zammit suggestion of a private room.
 

pobrien

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
English Camino 2010
SJDPDP - Burgos 2017
SJDPDP - Santiago (April/May 2018)
#8
Like the others that have posted a response, I think you will be well looked after on the Camino and safety will not be an issue for you and child but I think you may experience difficulties with some of the terrain which, in places would be tough taking a buggy through. Though I have no doubt there will be plenty of peregrinos to help you. By the way I am starting in SJDP April 27!!
Paul
 

Lirsy

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Primitivo (2017), Norte (2017), Frances (2017), Portugues (2018), La Plata (2018)
#9
Hi Tiff,

Some weeks ago I posted some info from U.N. stating that Spain is one of the safest countries in the world (and it is U.N. who said that, not me). To that I would add that the Camino is one of the safest places in Spain. All together ... the Camino is one of the safest places in the world!!

On the other hand, take into consideration that there are several sections in the Camino that are quite difficult (from Cruz de Ferro to El Acebo & Molinaseca, Alto del Perdon, etc...). Please ask to the hospitaleros in the different albergues how difficult will be next day camino. For the difficult sectors, I would take the bus.

Buen Camino & Ultreia!!
 
Camino(s) past & future
C. Francés (2004-), C. Portugués, C. de Madrid, 1/2 V. Plata, 1/8 Levante, hospitalera Grado 2016.
#10
Spain is a great country to bring little kids to. We lived in Madrid when my son was 0 - 3 and walked our first Camino with him (19 days, 405 km) when he was 8.

You will get some extra attention, but all positive.

Passing building sites, where young men tend to be a bit loud towards female walkers, automatically transfer you to the Virgin Mary category, and the young men go "Aaah!" at the cuteness of the kid instead of catcalls, even if your shorts are really short.

Spain is the most child-friendly country I have ever travelled in, kids are brought everywhere, restaurants and bars will help you feed him and you will have a great time.

(Spanish kids never sleep/have a long siesta, and are found at playgrounds at 10 at night and later in the summer. If you try to put your kid to bed at a so-called "decent" time, you may get some trouble. From the kid, when he sees how much fun the others are having.)
 

falcon269

no commercial interests
Camino(s) past & future
yes
#11
Is one set of eyes enough? My son and I took his four year old son for ten days. They move fast at that age. He hid in a clothes rack in a store, and went silent. Very uncomfortable. He was never alone; will that work for you if there is just one of you? I don't think there is REAL danger, but there is a lot of imagined danger!:)
 

Glenshiro

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Le Puy - Burgos, Camino Frances (2012 - 2018)
#12
You and your child will be perfectly safe. A few years ago, in France, I met a Brazilian man doing his third camino. He explained that, in his home town in Brazil, he and his friends liked to go for a run in the local park on Saturday mornings, but would only do so if at least 15 turned up, otherwise there was a real danger they would be mugged at gunpoint! Nothing remotely like a kidnapping will happen on the camino, and there will always be plenty of other walkers (possibly including me, in April) close by.

Last year I met a couple of 16-year-old boys from California who were walking from SJPdP to SdC on their own. They were doing just fine.
 
#13
The probability of being attacked or kidnapped is almost zero, especially on the Camino. Spain is a very safe country. I have spent a lot of time by myself in Spain and have never run into a situation where I felt that I was in danger. In the cities, you need to watch out for petty crimes like pickpocketting.

Like others have said, I would be more concerned about the logistics of doing the Camino with such a small child.
 

Rick M

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
April ('16,'18)
#14
There are other pilgrims, and locals who look after pilgrims, literally everywhere. You will only be alone if you choose to be alone. Most people choose to walk with others for comfort, company, or because they don't want to have to navigate! A woman with a child in a stroller will be welcomed by everyone. Your biggest safety concern, by far, is becoming separated from your child on uneven terrain. I assume there is a rope between you and the chariot......the Camino is not flat.

Buen Camino
 
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Francis 2012, 2014, 2016. Many more to come in my future God willing !
#15
I wouldn't worry so much about the extremes of kidnapping or assault as much as I would concentrate on making each days stage with a youngster. After having been in Spain a number of times I have only witnessed one "attempted" crime of theft by pickpocketing.
Go, take each day one at a time and above all ENJOY yourself and the company of your child !
 
Camino(s) past & future
Francés ('14/'15)
St Olav/Francés ('16)
Baztanés/Francés ('17)
Ingles ('18)
#17
One thing to add, after @nycwalking 's post reminded me.
On the hard stretches, you may opt to take a bus, but do consider the gift you bestow on your fellow peregrino/as when you accept offers of help. They may want to help push/carry/lift - and it feeds the human connections between everyone in such a beautiful way.
A different situation altogether, but there was a link here to a YouTube video of a bunch of pilgrims helping someone in a wheelchair up one of the steepest and gnarliest climbs of the entire way - and everyone looked high as a kite with joy. So not to take the bus as an immediate reflex, if you are surrounded by willing hands and hearts.
 

Dinah Shaw

Volcano Climber
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Norte and Frances Sept 6 - Oct 11, 2016
#18
Welcome Tiffany!

I'm not you, nor am I a mom of a toddler. So please take what I say with a few pounds of salt.
I would say you're in for a big challenge - the Camino's plenty hard, even alone or with another independent adult. And with a little kid you're multiplying that challenge by I don't know how much.

But as far as danger from the kind of crime your family is concerned about? This would be the least of my worries. The Camino is the real world, not Disneyland - but it is likely more safe than many places at home.

I would say check out the other threads here on the Forum about people's experiences walking with a toddler, and print out what they say to show your family that it has been and can be done.
Buen Camino, you two!
I agree about traveling with a child although I saw a couple with a tiny baby which I think is not good for the child. I guess they took turns. As for safety I went alone on the Norte and Frances and to Finisterre and never felt unsafe
 

Jen Marsden

Charging The Globe
Camino(s) past & future
Sept 2016 (Walked Frances)
Sept 2019 (Planning Norte or Via De La Plata)
#19
Hey Tiffany, apart from the extra attention you will receive I'm confident you won't have any challenges. There are a lot of walkers on the Frances route so you will almost never be alone. The spanish as people are very invested in children so you won't have any challenges their either.

As for ensuring your little one is safe, I know you can get watches that kids wear that syncs to an app on your phone so you can always pinpoint them. I don't know of specific brands but I know a friend who's 4 year old wears one (he's a bolter) so that may alleviate any fears you have.

With regard to the actual route, the very first day down into Roncesvalles will be a challenge as it is very steep down and is a forest track with rocks and tree routes. You could go the road way but that sounds a bit scary to me walking round the mountain range with a little trailer. You might want to get your little one to walk that few kms so they are not at risk in the carriage. Apart from that I can't think of any more tracks that aren't suitable however the day up to O'Cebreiro will be a good haul upwards, as will the first day over the Pyrenees.

Its always so inspiring to see people and their children doing it and there will ALWAYS be people to help out. I carried a pack one day for a guy with horrific blisters into Pamplona (around day 3 or 4) and then around Sarria I saw him piggybacking an ill child for a family who were walking so it all goes around.

The cities are gorgeous and you will find yourself in the more touristy area's anyway so lots of people around most of the time.

Buen Camino
 
Camino(s) past & future
Camino frances to Fisterra/Muxia 2013, twice in 2014, 2015, twice in 2016, 2017, a week on the VdlP
#21
In the documentary Six Ways to Santiago one of the pilgrims profiled is a young woman and her toddler son. Perhaps you could all watch it as whilst it shows hardship it also shows their safe and joyous arrival. I think you will be fine. It seems to me pilgrims are the hands of God who are always willing to help. Enjoy.
 

Kurt5280

Crazy Enough To Try It Again!
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances SJPDP & Finisterre & Muxia 9/15 - Future: Camino del Norte 8/18 (All Mountain Bike)
#22
Northern Spain is one of safest places I have been in the world...crime is so seldom that it is almost unexpected...first...I think as an America that we expect crime...for example...on the Camino to Finisterra I locked my mountain bike in an unlocked open shed without any doors because I thought it might get stolen...afterwards I looked around and I realized that there was a 1,000+ Euros of wine and beer stored in this unlocked open shed and the hotel owner was not worried...second...you are never really alone on the Camino Frances and if you just stop a Pilgrim will pass you within five minutes...and as a Bicigrino I passed a 100+ Pilgrims a day and stopped to help anyone in trouble...lastly...every Pilgrim on the Camino has spouses, parents, or children that they would die to protect with their life...and we all understand the struggles of the Camino...so on the Camino all Pilgrims are family...and we watch out for each other...Buen Camino.
 
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