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Luggage Transfer Correos

Stress with finding accommodation

2020 Camino Guides

Rob Hooks

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
13th September (2016)
Over the last three years I have been walking the Camino Frances in stages 7 or 8 days each time. I had a bad experience not finding accommodation in Zubri and needed walk much further to find anywhere for the night. I have tried to book along the way but with my poor Spanish skills I am rarely successful in the smaller towns and villages. I find this occupies too much or my thinking through the day and stresses me! Any advice how I can be better organised would be appreciated!
 

C clearly

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances (2012, 2014, 2015, 2016), VDLP (2017), Mozarabe (2018), Vasco/Bayona (2019)
I am rarely successful in the smaller towns and villages
Hi, and welcome to the forum! In order to help with this, we need to understand the problem better, so I'll ask a lot of questions 😀.

How have you tried, and what results in the lack of success? Is it a problem just of your Spanish, or are you stressing because you are rolling together all the questions of distance, crowds, next village, indecision, schedule? Do you telephone? Use booking,com? Ask others to call for you? What type of places/albergues do you want to use? What source do you use to identify places to try?

Sorry for so many questions, but I am trying to start the problem-solving.
 

David

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Moissac to Santiago Spring 2005 was the first foray.
When I walked my first Camino it was very early in the year so quite a few times I found that refugios were closed, especially in France. What did I do? Had a break and then walked to the next place - once I did a 'two-day' walk. I don't think the problem is bed space, I think it is choosing to be stressed about it.

Possibly you need to be less organised rather than more. But I may be wrong, this only my attitude and we are all different.
 

Sam - AU

Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances - Apr/May 2018, Feb/Mar 2019 .... upcoming Nov/Dec 2019
You also haven’t mentioned above, but maybe look at the time of year you are trying to go if you have any flexibility.

I’ve found a quick google search for the chart that shows the pilgrim arrivals into Santiago by month for the year prior is a very good indication of when I choose NOT to walk.
 

Jean Ti

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Norte, Primitivo, Frances,Via de la Plata

Camino Portuguese november 2019
To reduce the stress, perhaps you should write the questions in spanish in advance for the reservation on piece of paper. This way you could say that you dont speak spanish well and ask the person to talk to you slowly and check for your dates.

You know, i am french and i am here to practice my english on this site....
 

t2andreo

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
C/F: 2013, 2014
C/M: 2016
C/P: 2015, 2017
C/I: 2018
Voluntario: 2014 - 2019
In my early Camino experiences, I made a written lexicon using Google Translate to convey questions. At first it was a list of standard questions in Spanish. I had this prepared for accomodations, and a separate one for shopping and farmacia uses. Basically, I printed one piece of paper double-sided.

Another good idea, is to identify the NEXT place you might like to stay at, using gronze.com. Ask the proprietor where you are now staying, or someone you met who does speak good Spanish, to call ahead and make a reservation for you.

If you do not speak Spanish, prepare a printed, standard dialog. For example, you might have a note that asks the reader if they would mind calling ahead to (X property) located in (Y village/town) to make a reservation for you, for the next night. You can point to or jot down the 'up he road' property for them to call.

This usually works every time.

My longer term solution, as I KNEW I would return to Spain until age, health or finances forced me to stop walking Camino, was to learn enough Spanish to be able to fend for myself. I am finally just about there...

Hope this helps.
 

Felipe

Veteran Member
As a native Spanish speaker, I obviously have not problems of communication in Spain....but when I walked in Germany, I used to ask the manager or hospitalero of the first abergue to phone in my name to my next stop. They always did it, it seemed sensible to them.
I guess other local walkers would do the same thing for you (I have done that in Spain...), especially after dining together . People tend to be helpful in the Caminos.
 
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easygoing

Camino Sharon
Camino(s) past & future
I have walked the Camino Francis 7 times, twice in 2017 and 2018. (2019)
Another good booking site is Only Pilgrims. He specializes in private albergues and visits each one to make sure they are good. I am not sure if you can book the same day because I have never done that but I have emailed him and he makes recommendations. Last year he gave me his cell phone number in case I had any problems and I used it when an 78 year old woman was frantic because all the albergues in the town she needed to go next were full and she needed a place to send her backpack. I called and he found her a bed at the very albergue that she had called and was told it was full--and this woman pilgrim spoke Spanish. He even arranged luggage transfer for her.
You can reserve bunks and even some private rooms on the Only Pilgrims website. When you go on the website you don't have to log in. Just pick a locality. He is good about answering email questions too.
 

Thomas1962

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
2010: Porto - SdC - Finisterra 2011: E4 on Crete 2012: Le Puy - SJPdP 2013: Camino Madrid -> Del Salvador -> Primitivo 2014: European Peace Walk. 2015: Amsterdam - SdC & Barcelona -Burgos. 2016:Norte & hospitalero
Booking.com can help. There are other similar apps.
I see more and more people are refering to booking.com or even apps for making reservations. Just know that hardly any albergue is on booking, it is NOT! the place for booking albergues.
 

gerip

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
CF, Lourdes to Burgos, Oct 2018
CF, Burgos to Santiago, May 2019
Ingles, Sep - Oct 2019
Another good booking site is Only Pilgrims. He specializes in private albergues and visits each one to make sure they are good. I am not sure if you can book the same day because I have never done that but I have emailed him and he makes recommendations. Last year he gave me his cell phone number in case I had any problems and I used it when an 78 year old woman was frantic because all the albergues in the town she needed to go next were full and she needed a place to send her backpack. I called and he found her a bed at the very albergue that she had called and was told it was full--and this woman pilgrim spoke Spanish. He even arranged luggage transfer for her.
You can reserve bunks and even some private rooms on the Only Pilgrims website. When you go on the website you don't have to log in. Just pick a locality. He is good about answering email questions too.
Just checked, looks like a great site. Thanks!
 

easygoing

Camino Sharon
Camino(s) past & future
I have walked the Camino Francis 7 times, twice in 2017 and 2018. (2019)
I see more and more people are refering to booking.com or even apps for making reservations. Just know that hardly any albergue is on booking, it is NOT! the place for booking albergues.
I don't know when you last checked but many private albergues are on Booking.com.
 

Rob Hooks

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
13th September (2016)
Hi, and welcome to the forum! In order to help with this, we need to understand the problem better, so I'll ask a lot of questions 😀.

How have you tried, and what results in the lack of success? Is it a problem just of your Spanish, or are you stressing because you are rolling together all the questions of distance, crowds, next village, indecision, schedule? Do you telephone? Use booking,com? Ask others to call for you? What type of places/albergues do you want to use? What source do you use to identify places to try?

Sorry for so many questions, but I am trying to start the problem-solving.
Thanks to everyone for your advice. I guess my stress is more imagined I my head from my initial experience. To be honest I have always managed to find a bed. I usually walk in September/October and although still busy at that time of year there seems to be enough places to stop. I think next year I will try and book in the larger towns and cities and wing it in the smaller villages.
 

Rob Hooks

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
13th September (2016)
When I walked my first Camino it was very early in the year so quite a few times I found that refugios were closed, especially in France. What did I do? Had a break and then walked to the next place - once I did a 'two-day' walk. I don't think the problem is bed space, I think it is choosing to be stressed about it.

Possibly you need to be less organised rather than more. But I may be wrong, this only my attitude and we are all different.
So true! Thank you!
 

CdnDreamer

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances (12, 15 & 18) San Salvador (18), Portuguese (19)
It might help to get the Brierley guide and then make sure you stop before or after the end stages in his guide. Those towns are usually quieter and it is easier to find a bed. I'm glad you realize that Zubiri was just one night and the rest of the time it hasn't been that difficult to find a place to sleep. And you survived not finding a place to sleep in Zubiri!
 
Camino(s) past & future
I have walked part of the Camino Frances and plan to start over in April 2018.
Booking.com can help. There are other similar apps. If necessary, a taxi or bus to the next village, then a bus or taxi to return to where you were the next morning.
I plan ahead using Booking.com so that I know where I’ll be staying every night. If I get tired before reaching my destination, I catch a cab. No muss. No fuss.
 

Luther

Pilgrim
Camino(s) past & future
April 20, 2016 to May 20, '16 SJPdP to Santiago d C.
In my early Camino experiences, I made a written lexicon using Google Translate to convey questions. At first it was a list of standard questions in Spanish. I had this prepared for accomodations, and a separate one for shopping and farmacia uses. Basically, I printed one piece of paper double-sided.

Another good idea, is to identify the NEXT place you might like to stay at, using gronze.com. Ask the proprietor where you are now staying, or someone you met who does speak good Spanish, to call ahead and make a reservation for you.

If you do not speak Spanish, prepare a printed, standard dialog. For example, you might have a note that asks the reader if they would mind calling ahead to (X property) located in (Y village/town) to make a reservation for you, for the next night. You can point to or jot down the 'up he road' property for them to call.

This usually works every time.

My longer term solution, as I KNEW I would return to Spain until age, health or finances forced me to stop walking Camino, was to learn enough Spanish to be able to fend for myself. I am finally just about there...

Hope this helps.
Yes, it took me most of the Camino Frances to figure this out, but after Sarria, and after checking in, I looked at my day ahead and after waiting for any others to finish, asked the folks at the albergue to call ahead and make a reservation. It took all the stress off the next day, and no longer felt it was a race for a bed.
 

RJM

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
A few times
I have walked the Frances and Portugues multiple times during the months of June through November. Other than in Saint Jean, Porto and Santiago I have never made advanced reservations for somewhere to stay and always found accommodations. Personally I would not be concerned, but if you are you can either make all your reservations before you start your walk, that is assuming you will definitely be at those locations on those dates. Many pilgrims do it that way. They make an itinerary beforehand with all that locked in place.
Your other choice would be to bring a ground pad and proper sleep bag system in the rare event you may have to sleep outside or in/on a church entrance, gymnasium etc.
 

trecile

Camino Addict
Camino(s) past & future
Francés (2016 & 2017), Norte (2018), Francés-Salvador-Norte (2019), Portuguese (2019)
I see more and more people are refering to booking.com or even apps for making reservations. Just know that hardly any albergue is on booking, it is NOT! the place for booking albergues.
There are many albergues on booking.com. In fact if you use Gronze it even supplies the link to booking.com for many of them, as do the Buen Camino and Wisely apps.
 

davebugg

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances (2017)
Camino Frances (2018)
Camino Ingles (2019)
I see more and more people are refering to booking.com or even apps for making reservations. Just know that hardly any albergue is on booking, it is NOT! the place for booking albergues.
Absolutely correct. I was only focused on alternatives to alburgues, so thank you for making that point clear. :)
 

jmmavro

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Francés 2018
My take as a 69+ pilgrim is why stress over accommodations ? Once I gained the confidence that I could walk 15 or 25K on a daily basis, I made a point of calling ahead thru Booking to get a private room . Just the knowledge of arriving in a town/ village and not fret over where to stay was extremely liberating . I could relax, take a shower and then explore the town. I realize that this is not everyone's budget, but when you are undertaking a truly transformational experience, it was easy to justify my expenditures . Go for it and indulge....
 

Dani7

Stop wishing, start doing.
Camino(s) past & future
(2020) Camino Frances
To reduce the stress, perhaps you should write the questions in spanish in advance for the reservation on piece of paper. This way you could say that you dont speak spanish well and ask the person to talk to you slowly and check for your dates.

You know, i am french and i am here to practice my english on this site....
Ton anglais est très bien en passant!
 

blamoca

Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances (2018)
Similar to what others have already said ...Once I knew what distances I could manage... I planned and tried to book 2 or 3 days out. I used booking.com, my guide book, gronze.com and a list of Albergues from Pilgrim Office at SJPDP...to have the most choices possible. I stayed in towns based on my distance not according to the stages... sometimes that coincided ..often not. I booked online often but later on i phoned directly very often too which proved very successful, so some basic Spanish required. You can get list of nearby accomodations at all tourist offices along the way also. I got a list of other albergues from an albergue owner too. Twice I had my hotel / albergue help me also, one a recommendation only the other booked a room for me. Use the resources that surround you and don't be afraid to ask for help. So it became my evening 'homework'.... but it was just part of the daily routine but gave me the peace of mind I wanted, so I could enjoy my day. Good luck...
 

Walkerooni

Member
Camino(s) past & future
C. Frances SJPdP to Santiago (June-ish 2018)
Walked the CF last year as a 64 year old. Booked only at Orisson, a funky hotel in Burgos, ditto in Leon, and in Santiago. Despite what I heard about bed races, and despite apparently record numbers of pilgrims in June, never had a problem getting a bed without pre-booking. Relax and walk on.
 

RRat

Member
Camino(s) past & future
Planning 2017
Booking ahead in itself was inducing the stress for me. I learned to start each day at daybreak since that's when everyone else was up and moving. My routine was to call it a day at around 1:30. Using my guide I would walk a little more or less, usually a little more, to a town with accommodations. This approach never failed me.
 

Lizremedy

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
Cycle (2020)
Over the last three years I have been walking the Camino Frances in stages 7 or 8 days each time. I had a bad experience not finding accommodation in Zubri and needed walk much further to find anywhere for the night. I have tried to book along the way but with my poor Spanish skills I am rarely successful in the smaller towns and villages. I find this occupies too much or my thinking through the day and stresses me! Any advice how I can be better organised would be appreciated!
I used booking.com and the El Camino app (which links you to booking.com anyway). Twice i had to phone (no online booking) and asked an albergue owner and a coffee shop owner to phone for me, which they did very happily and for free.
 

mikulre

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances (2019)
For me one of the most transformative aspects of the Camino was walking without any plan, reservation or itinerary. There was such freedom in the notion of starting out in the morning with all my possessions in my pack and just going where the Camino took me. When I made reservations It all became about getting to the right town and making good time. Early on I was panicked into making reservations by the people around me but I found they were never needed. One time I had to walk an extra 3km but that was easy enough. And there’s always taxis to fall back on. The point when I finally let all those worries go and just began to live in the moment was where the Camino really started for me.
 

Zordmot

First timer Spring 2019
Camino(s) past & future
April-May 2019
Yep, I've found that having reservations in advance all the way to Pamplona is a must. After that, the crowd has thinned out and spread out and it isnt such a problem. I agree with those here who say that going without a definate plan is part of the Camino experience. However, it is good to be prepared for bottlenecks. One other insurance policy I've found is that if you leave each morning at 7:00 and give yourself a good start it does get you going and if you arrive at your daily destination by 3:00 you have a much better chance of finding a bed. I've often arrived at 2:00 or 3:00 without pushing myself and have been the first one into the albergue while I've seen other pilgrims arrive at the same albergues at 6:00 or 7:00 and be turned away. One thing others have taught me is that if everywhere is full you have 2 tricks up your sleeve: first is to go to the parish church and tell them. Often they will let you sleep in the church. Second is that you can take a taxi to the next or to the previous town. Just to note about that i will always stop for several coffees and breakfasts whenever i feel like it and i never watch the clock or rush or miss a photo opportunity. I come halfway across the world for the chance to be on the Camino--not to worry about where i sleep.


UOTE="Rob Hooks, post: 795990, member: 54675"]
Over the last three years I have been walking the Camino Frances in stages 7 or 8 days each time. I had a bad experience not finding accommodation in Zubri and needed walk much further to find anywhere for the night. I have tried to book along the way but with my poor Spanish skills I am rarely successful in the smaller towns and villages. I find this occupies too much or my thinking through the day and stresses me! Any advice how I can be better organised would be appreciated!
[/QUOTE]
Yep
 
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easygoing

Camino Sharon
Camino(s) past & future
I have walked the Camino Francis 7 times, twice in 2017 and 2018. (2019)
My first Camino I made reservations each night for the next day. Now I know this isn't necessary and there will always be a place not necessarily the price you want to pay but I make reservations for another reason. Some days I don't want to leave at dawn and stay to enjoy a second cup of coffee or stop and soak my feet in the stream and making reservations I have time to do it. But I have walked the Camino 9 times and know where I want to stay.
So first timers, my experienced advice is don't worry about reservations except for Roncesvalles and Santiago if you want to stay at San Martin Pinaro. Part of the fun is discovering how the Camino provides 😁 and if this stresses you out this may be part of what the Camino teaches you♥
 

TinaB

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
From Leon to Santiago
Whole of Camino
Planning on walking in September 2019
Over the last three years I have been walking the Camino Frances in stages 7 or 8 days each time. I had a bad experience not finding accommodation in Zubri and needed walk much further to find anywhere for the night. I have tried to book along the way but with my poor Spanish skills I am rarely successful in the smaller towns and villages. I find this occupies too much or my thinking through the day and stresses me! Any advice how I can be better organised would be appreciated!
Booking.Com can be useful even in small places and does include some Alburgues. Also when I walked it I used google translate to work out a few sentences saying my name, I only speak a little Spanish and I am English, what I want to book and when and quite often they would start speaking English. Then I would book about two or three places ahead to take the worry out of where I would stay next. The John Brierly book has lots of accommodation options and phone numbers. Good luck and buen Camino
 

MichelleElynHogan

Veteran Member
Short answer, making one assumption, that you are traveling in the Summer months.

Stress, in all its forms is a mental construct. We have the choice to take it on or not. So, let us go back, say, 150 years. There were few who took on this Pilgrimage at that time. There were no albergues, no passports and little to do with pilgrim support.

Most nights would be spent in a barn or next to a fire in the wilds between villages. SO, continue to ask the question,"How did the Ancestors do this?" The initial answer would be, much slower and with little more than what they had on their backs, or in a small bundle over their shoulder.

If we consider ourselves to be modern, intelligent, evolved, should we not look to follow the path of, "least stress?"

Beyond this, I can only offer my personal practice and experiences.

I do not and will not book beyond the start point. The rest is based on the distance my body allows me to travel. For me, setting a schedule and booking ahead are things Pilgrims do not do. Where is the adventure otherwise? So, to be prepared for unexpected results, I ensure that I have what is needed to sleep just about anywhere. Again, my experience begets my practice.
 

NancyLee

Member
Camino(s) past & future
First Camino Mar-April 2018
On my Camino Frances in September of this year, it was easy to get accommodations until Sarria - then I used booking.com every night after that to Santiago. Because I was on a timeline I didn’t have the flexibility of deviation from my Brierley daily routes. However, I tried to be ‘open to the Camino’ in other ways,
NancyLee
 

Robo

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
CF SJPdP to SdC
(May 2015)
CF Sarria to SdC
(May 2016)
CF SJPDP-SdC
(Apr/May 2018)
VdlP (2020)
Over the last three years I have been walking the Camino Frances in stages 7 or 8 days each time. I had a bad experience not finding accommodation in Zubri and needed walk much further to find anywhere for the night. I have tried to book along the way but with my poor Spanish skills I am rarely successful in the smaller towns and villages. I find this occupies too much or my thinking through the day and stresses me! Any advice how I can be better organised would be appreciated!
Zubiri is a well known 'choke point'. It gets easier after that as the crowds seem to spread out more and there are more villages/accommodation options along the way.

Those first couple of days, almost everyone stays at Roncesvalles and Zubiri, so they can fill up quickly.
 

Lydia Gillen

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances 2007/8/9 2011 (C.F 2015)
I understand the stress that being unsure of a place to sleep can cause. The first time that I booked ahead( after several years on the Camino) I was amazed at many buildings etc that I had very definitely passed twice before but had never seen because my head was bent as I struggled to get to town before all the beds were gone.

My spanish not being great and my hearing even worse, I often asked hospiladeros to phone ahead for me to confirm a booking I had made months before. They were always delighted to do it and would end up chatting together. Buen Camino.
 

Rob Hooks

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
13th September (2016)
Booking ahead in itself was inducing the stress for me. I learned to start each day at daybreak since that's when everyone else was up and moving. My routine was to call it a day at around 1:30. Using my guide I would walk a little more or less, usually a little more, to a town with accommodations. This approach never failed me.
Very sensible advice. Thank you!
 

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