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top tips for a first time walker

Discussion in 'Miscellaneous Topics' started by anacheka, Mar 6, 2017.

  1. anacheka

    anacheka New Member

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    My daughter & I will be walking the camino together from April-June. What would be the top tips you'd give to a first time walker? What should we avoid? What locations should we be sure to visit? How much should we expect to spend? Are there safety concerns I should be aware of?

    Thanks for any tips you can give us!

    Alice
     
  2. Aurigny

    Aurigny Member

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    A few suggestions:-

    1. The last one's easy. No safety concerns, beyond normal caution (e.g. keep your passport and money on your person).

    2. Unless you're very fit, give your body time to acclimatise. For the first week, moderate distances (say, 20 km a day) and a rest day after each three days' walking. You can ramp it up thereafter.

    3. Don't try to keep to a schedule if you're not obliged to. It takes as long as it takes.

    4. Hydrate. Plain water. Lots of it. Whether you feel thirsty or not. And...

    5. If you have to "dehydrate" along the trail, so to speak, have a few ziploc bags so that you can bring your used tissues out with you. Far too many pilgrims just dump theirs on the ground under the bush behind which they ducked. It's becoming a serious problem.

    6. In the albergues, after lights out thou shalt not play with thy smartphone, nor rustle thy plastic bags, nor hold whispered conversations, so that thy days might be long in the land.

    7. Be very patient with yourself, and with everyone else.

    8. Use as much Spanish as you possibly can. Even if you only know twenty words, and your accent is abominable. The effort makes all the difference.

    9. There will be down moments, even down days. They don't last. Be prepared for them. If you're determined to reach your destination, you will.

    10. Start at the beginning, wherever that is, and keep walking even through the seemingly boring bits until you reach the end. Some of the most interesting experiences and the nicest people I encountered were along stretches that a lot of people advised me to skip.
     
    simply B, oztraveller, omi1 and 37 others like this.
  3. Tincatinker

    Tincatinker Moderator Staff Member Donating Member

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    Hi Anacheka, welcome to the forum. My thoughts in answer to your questions in running order:

    Travel light and start slowly, Santiago isn't going anywhere. Look after your feet. The Menu del Dia is always better than the Menu Peregrino. Donativo does not mean free. Never pass up the opportunity for a coffee - the second bar is always shut. (pace previous threads).

    Expectations. The Camino provides - occasionally surprises, occasionally challenges. That is what it is for.

    Villar de Donas. Gaze into the eyes of the man that is the risen christ.

    25-35€ each / day possibly more depending on accommodation choices.

    Yes. The same as there are anywhere on this poor but blessed planet. Take sensible precautions and never walk in fear. Do take a look at the very sound advice to be found here https://www.caminodesantiago.me/community/forums/personal-safety.162/ but remember that more pilgrims come to harm and fall by the way-side from going to far, to fast and to soon than from any other cause.

    Buen Camino to you both.
     
    Last edited: Mar 6, 2017
  4. MartinZ

    MartinZ Member

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    camino frances 2012
    camino frances 2013
    camino frances 2014
    camino frances 2015
    camino frances 2016
    camino frances 2017 ?
    My top tip is pack your bag and just go!

    Try to plan on the trail, one or two days ahead. Anything else will fall apart.
    You are guaranteed to visit great places. I can't tell you where that is going to be for you, the camino will show you.

    Don't just pack light, pack REALLY light. And when you're all done try and skimp some more. And after that exchange some items with similar but lighter ones.
    Bring NOTHING in bulk, not shampoo nor anything else. In a maximum of three days time you'll always find the right store for what you need.

    A cucumber makes a great crunchable emergency water supply, it's 98% water. Dried fruit (figs, apples....) make a great supply of carbohydrates (better than their fresh counterparts). Shaky legs after the first day from St.Jean to Roncevalles anyone? A boiled egg is easy to carry. Try to find some easy to make meals (pancakes? a stew of everything? A thick soup as a main course etc etc.), it will greatly help you against the otherwise monotonously pilgrim menu's and make some new friends at the stove.

    Use a pee rag, NOT tissues. A 'woman pee wee' seems like a good idea to me, but hey I'm a guy.
    Everyone out of three snores.... bring ear plugs if it bothers you.
    Try to remember you've been told that there will be crappy days, just hang in there and little miracles happen.

    Wish you both the time of your lives!
     
  5. anacheka

    anacheka New Member

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  6. anacheka

    anacheka New Member

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  7. anacheka

    anacheka New Member

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    Thanks -- this is great advice & definitely includes a few things I hadn't thought of.
     
  8. anacheka

    anacheka New Member

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  9. Dougyharry

    Dougyharry New Member

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    Camino(s) past & future:
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    Camino Sanabres 2015
    Camino Mozarabe (2016)
    It is all about weight- keep your carrying load under 7 kilos.
     
    anacheka, amparo, HedaP and 1 other person like this.
  10. as gaillimh

    as gaillimh Active Member

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    Which Camino ?
     
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  11. Aurigny

    Aurigny Member

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    I would assume the Francés, inasmuch as that is the forum in which this thread is posted.
     
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  12. HeidiL

    HeidiL Active Member Donating Member

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    Camino(s) past & future:
    Camino Francés (first part in 2004), Via de la Plata (to Calzada de Bejar), C. Portugués, C. de Madrid (first bit in 2015, finishing in 2017), started C. de Levante December 2015, hospitalera in Grado (C. Primitivo) 2016.
    Walking together is very different from walking alone. Experiment. Sometimes it's lovely to chat and share everything, sometimes you just want to walk in peace and think. Allow each other some time alone, and agree in advance where you'll be meeting up again.

    Talk to other pilgrims and to the locals. I still remember some people we met in 2004, much more important that the photographs - though they're nice, too.
     
    Last edited: Mar 7, 2017
    simply B, anacheka, amparo and 2 others like this.
  13. Patch

    Patch Active Member

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    St Jean to Leon (Sept 2015)
    Burgos to Santiago (June 2016)
    Porto to Finisterre (June 2017)
    Don't carry anything you cant eat :) Seriously keep the weight down - I typically carry around 5 kg. You can buy just about anything you want along the way if you really need it - regardless of any language barrier.
     
  14. Introibo

    Introibo Active Member Donating Member

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    "Don't carry anything you cant eat" :eek:
    How does this work then ?
     
  15. Tincatinker

    Tincatinker Moderator Staff Member Donating Member

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    A slow braise of worn sock and lightly soiled underwear; salad made from finely sliced rucksack; flash-fried sleeping-bag with shredded guide-book; boot soup.

    The possibilities are almost beyond comprehension, and digestion o_O
     
    simply B, Julibel, anacheka and 9 others like this.
  16. Introibo

    Introibo Active Member Donating Member

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    I'd go along with, never eat anything you can't carry or perhaps
    never eat anything you can't curry
     
  17. Purple Backpack

    Purple Backpack Active Member Donating Member

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    Via Francigena 2016
    Le Puy 2017?
    Camino Tip: Break your trail shoes in.

    Everything related to the Camino depends on these five short words. Trust me on this one.

    If you don’t follow this sensible advice, your entire pilgrimage will revolve around what is happening south of your ankles. That gnawing irritation between your second and third toes will be trivial compared to what is happening on the sole of your foot, right where your big toe bent down to grip the edge of the tree root you almost tripped over. Your carefully pedicured toenails may soon have black edges peaking from beyond the magenta polish that glistened beautifully just a few days before. Funny looking water-filled marbles will appear on the tips of your toes and areas of your feet you never knew existed. Complete strangers will approach you with sharp implements and thread, insisting on piercing your tender skin, leaving tiny puddles of plasma on cold tiled floors.

    The soft and cushy socks that seemed so wonderfully fresh out of the package will inflate like water balloons in the blistering sun, filling every last centimeter of space in your state of the art, breathable-unless-it-gets-dirty-wet-sweaty trail shoes. You will curse whoever invented GoreTex and wonder why you put that pair of flip flops back in the closet to save 6 measly ounces.

    Don’t worry about finding a bed each night or whether there is any place open at 6 am for your morning caffeine fix. Train schedules? No problem. Sleeping next to snoring strangers? Not an issue. Rain jacket or poncho? Who cares?!

    Worry about breaking your shoes in. Before you leave home.

    Then get going. Throw a few things in a backpack, grab your passport and ATM card, jump on a plane and fly across the big, scary ocean. Relish arriving in a country where no one knows you, you don’t speak the local language and you are scared out of your bones. Grab it, live it, embrace it!

    Take the first breath and step. Then another. And another. Until your rhythm kicks in.

    Sure, there will be times when things get rough. Give yourself 500 steps for a pity party and then no more. Take a hundred more steps and get a sip of water as a reward. Eat chocolate for lunch and drink more wine than is respectable at home.

    Look up at the sky and realize that Camino clouds are totally different from the clouds at home. And so are you.

    Shout! Sing! Twirl!

    Write the world’s greatest novel in your head. Or the love letter you never had the guts to send. The road is long and you’ve got all the time in the world.

    Keep a diary in Brierly’s margins. Spill a little wine on it, write an address on the table of contents. Fold a page into a paper airplane for a local kid. Doodle on the back cover.

    Stretch out at the end of the day. Lose all your regrets.

    Respect other pilgrims. And yourself. Clean up and do your laundry, even when you’re tired. There’s a fine line between being a pilgrim and a hobo.

    Appreciate your body. Treat it kindly and reward it with a long, hot bath at the end of the trail.

    Pray. For forgiveness and grace and thanks and hope. Even for world peace, which seems in short supply these days.

    But don’t forget to break in the shoes. Trust me on this one.
     
  18. bradleyllew

    bradleyllew New Member

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    I love this!
     
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  19. J F Gregory

    J F Gregory Preparing for the Norte

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    March-April,2016 finished
    October- November 2017 to walk the Del Norte.
    "Use a pee rag, NOT tissues. A 'woman pee wee' seems like a good idea to me, but hey I'm a guy." from a previous contributor.

    My wife and I hike regularly and uses a urination device where you can stand and urinate more delicately than a man, my wife uses one regularly when on outings, hiking snow shoeing etc.. Use you preferred search engine to buy them on line.
     
  20. Jo Jo

    Jo Jo Active Member

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    Via di Francesco (Italy), July 2015
    Frances, Sept-Oct 2016
    Before my first Camino, I worried mostly about what was on my back. While keeping the weight down to a minimum really helps, that turned out to be secondary.

    Before my second Camino, I worried mostly about what was on my feet. I did much better the second time. The first time, footwear appropriate for the mountains (boots) but inappropriate for the Camino caused me huge overheating and blister problems. Not everyone has the same issues with boots. But I did. And I didn't know it because I'd always walked with boots in the relatively cooler mountains.

    Second time I carried Keen Arroyo II sandals and New Balance walking shoes. Not perfect, but so much better. I don't need to break in such footwear, but I did need several long walks in the City to make sure they'd work on Camino. And ditched several pairs of footwear that I thought might work but really didn't over the longer distances.

    The only other advice is to be mentally prepared to ditch your footwear and buy new until you find something that works. On the first Camino I bought four pairs of footwear. Most expensive thing on the trip, but when you are walking, nothing matters more than feet/knees/legs.

    Buen Camino,
    Jo Jo
     
  21. Rhun Leeding

    Rhun Leeding Member

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    Camino(s) past & future:
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    Camino Ingles & Santiago to Finisterre & Muxia Sept/Oct 2016
    I can only echo the advice about the footwear issue - I spent much of my evenings hobbling around and cutting open the fresh blisters that came up. I wore heavy walking shoes on my first camino - Compeed only made it worse, so I eventually started cutting each blister with nail clippers. Second camino I brought walking shoes and a pair of running shoes for the evenings...ended up doing most of my walk in running shoes and wearing the walking shoes at night. Your feet will swell, and while I walk plenty of day walks in the heavy walking boots and the lighter walking shoes, walking day after day is a different experience and gave me horrible blisters. The flex in the running shoes made all the difference.

    On a personal level, savour all the time you get to spend with your daughter. Not sure how old she is, but don't be afraid to let her walk with others along the trail for a while, and you can walk with other people you meet too, as long as you have those cell phones with you. I found walking camino with my father to be a completely different experience to walking by myself, and both have wonderful memories.
     
  22. HedaP

    HedaP Active Member Donating Member

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    Yep. Footwear, weight of backpack, not going to far and too fast in the early stages. It sounds like you've already done your homework. You'll be fine.
    Buen camino to you and your daughter.
     
  23. poogeyejr

    poogeyejr Active Member Donating Member

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    Norte, Sept 2013
    Started the Frances, 2017
    Light, Light, Light backpack. 7kg sounds great! Sounds impossible, but try as hard as you can!!!

    I went to do my 3rd Camino in January and once again my bag was FAR to heavy. At times with food and water 16kg. I know, I know, I should know better! However each time I get to Spain - 2 days in and I lighten my load. I get it down to 11 kg - still too heavy!!! But better!

    So pack your bag. With everything you are taking and walk with it, for 10km. Then repack and see what you can leave behind.

    Remember - you are constantly walking through villages that have stores! (and if you need to you can take a bus/train to the next store to get something you NEED!)

    Pack Light! That is my most important point.
     
  24. Purple Backpack

    Purple Backpack Active Member Donating Member

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    England C2C 2015
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    Le Puy 2017?
    Thanks for the kind words, it was fun to write!
     
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  25. Gazelle2

    Gazelle2 New Member

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    Alice,

    I am just about to walk my 4th Camino in 3 years and my advice would be .
    Travel light as possible both in terms of your body weight and pack.

    Stop every 2 hours and take your boots and socks off, you will be amazed how much better your feet feel, if you can dry your sweaty socks so much the better.

    Make sure you take on enough water and at the days end drink water when you finish.

    Most importantly if you feel something is wrong with your feet, stop immediately, it is most likely to be a blister, if you treat them before they become a problem,it will make your life so much easier , either use a compeed or a strip of moleskin to stop the rubbing , I,have not had one blister since I started and believe you me I have seen people with some horrors.

    Never tie your boots too tight at the front of your feet.

    Take safety pins for clothes pegs as you can always pin your clothing to your Rucksack to dry when you are walking.

    Take the first 10 days very easily to get yourself accustomed to the constant pounding your feet legs and body takes.

    Get some training in wearing your pack before you leave.

    You will probably need wet weather gear as it will rain .

    Lastly I hope you have fun as I loved every one I have walked and made some amazing friends.

    Peter
     
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  26. Ed Aster

    Ed Aster New Member

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    Thanks Wally enjoyed your comments, I have been getting ready for my first Caminoi in May and have read all the forums and threads an your comments have calmed me down so that I will chill out and let things just evolve and happen. again thanks

    Ed
    NZ
     
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  27. JoAnn Reyes

    JoAnn Reyes New Member

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    I agree totally with this advice. 20k per day or less for the first week.Sometimes it made sense to plan rest days or take them as needed. Sometimes I didn't need a full rest day and would walk a short day, like 10k if possible.
    Listen to your body. It's ok to "lean into your edge". Your "edge" is different each day.
    Buen Camino!
     
    Last edited: Mar 12, 2017
  28. Rachel from Seattle

    Rachel from Seattle New Member Donating Member

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    I like the way you think Purple Backpack. Well said!
     
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  29. Gareth Griffith

    Gareth Griffith Active Member

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    Read all you can about blister prevention before you set off. It was sad to see people hobbling along in pain or to see the sad state of their feet in the albergues.
    Ideally wear tape on the soles and heels on your feet, two pairs of socks and buy shoes at least half a size bigger than you usually take.
     
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  30. Richmond Gardner

    Richmond Gardner New Member

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    Thanks for such a simple and helpful advice. I start on April 6 and think about it every day. I wonder if plastic trowels (lightweight) are available for trail emergency burials? We always take a metal one when hiking in the wilderness
     
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  31. Tony Dickin

    Tony Dickin Member

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    Beautiful words Purple one. And Alice, don't forget to take at least one moment to appreciate what an absolute privilege it is to have the time and resources to take on such a magnificent challenge. It may be your first trek, or one of many, but how lucky we are to be able to take on such a wonderful adventure.

    Happy trails
     
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  32. trecile

    trecile Veteran Member Donating Member

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    July - August (2017) - Camino Frances to Leon, Salvador to Oviedo, Primitivo to Santiago and beyond...
    I think that I put tape on my feet twice on the Camino. I think that the one small blister that I did get, on my 2nd toe, next to my big toe was from not taking time to take my shoes and socks off and air out my feet one day.
    I wore super lightweight trail running shoes, that fit my feet very well.
    Rather than two pair of socks I wore Wright Socks double layer socks.
     
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  33. Dougyharry

    Dougyharry New Member

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    yep- the most important - I am amazed at the weight some people will carry - 7 kgs is doable - we always leave home with no more than 7 kilos - including pack. Bt have not added in food and water that you may need to carry - so yes slightly more but at least you lose the food and water weight progressively. We did the Mozarabe last year and that is a hard camino so weight is everything - it depends on terrain once you start walking - there are some good websites for light backpacking and some great suggestions - I know it sounds silly but I even cut my toothbrush in half and use the small airline toothpaste packs from Emirates - of course we go as a couple so you can share stuff as well - that helps the weight.
     
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  34. Jean Abreu

    Jean Abreu New Member

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    Thank you for this wonderful post and such great yet very simple advice. How fun to discover a family starting the Camino in April - my 20 year old son and I will also begin the Camino during that first week of April. I'm not anticipating that we'll always walk together or even stay in the same towns. I have almost 40 years on that young whipper-snapper and thus my pace will certainly be 'more relaxed' :) But I'm so very grateful for this opportunity to be on the same path with my son for those 7 weeks. Perhaps we'll see you there!!! :)
     
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  35. Thea Etsebeth

    Thea Etsebeth New Member

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    Camino(s) past & future:
    Portuguese Camino Porto to Santiago September 2017
     
  36. Thea Etsebeth

    Thea Etsebeth New Member

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    Love the advice! Looking forward to my first Camino in September 2017 from Porto to Santiago and will remember these straightforward but wise words.
     
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  37. OLDBIKERIDER

    OLDBIKERIDER Member Donating Member

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    Nov 21, 2011
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    Location:
    Newport, VA USA
    Camino(s) past & future:
    Frances: September - October 2016
    Porto > Santiago - April 2018
    All the logistics that consume us before we leave fade away quickly. I felt like quiting each day for about the first ten days. Have a café and go on.

    Be prepared to feel love for and from lots of people, even ones who don't speak your languages.

    As for places to stay, San Bol was very special for me, be sure to get the dinner there. I don't remember why, but walking from that place in the early morning was very mystical for me.

    As you walk pause and turn around, looking at what you have passed by to experience the other point of view. The other viewpoint is something we often miss in life. Related is keeping your eyes up, not looking at your feet all the time.

    Buen Camino!
     
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  38. anacheka

    anacheka New Member

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    Camino(s) past & future:
    April 20-June 8 2017
    Yes, Frances
     
  39. anacheka

    anacheka New Member

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    Camino(s) past & future:
    April 20-June 8 2017
    I expect my daughter won't always want to go at my pace, either! I hope our paths cross. My daughter is 15, so I definitely expect we'll stay in the same towns!
     
  40. anacheka

    anacheka New Member

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    Camino(s) past & future:
    April 20-June 8 2017
    What a wealth of information & wisdom. I am grateful to all who replied.
     
  41. Steveforman54

    Steveforman54 New Member

    Joined:
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    Camino(s) past & future:
    camino norte
    My misc. quick comments: Before you even get on the plane/bus/train do the following: Walk your town, city, whatever with EXACTLY the equipment you are going to use. Go in rain, go in sun. Carry the pack/bag you are going to actually use and fill it to represent the rough final weight. Walk in some areas where you live where you have never been. Of course, pack really light. Merino wool is the utterly magic material for me. Invest in protecting your head from rain and sun. With a little research and some clever purchases, you wake up and welcome any weather whatsoever. And, as others have said, everything falls apart if you don't really arrive with the right shoes (and socks) that already have 50 to 100 miles on them. I have been on long treks where wonderful people headed out the first day with their expensive new shoes with custom inserts that had been prescribed and measured by an orthopedist. I promise you that this is the recipe for utter and continued misery.... To end on a happy note, being comfortable ambling along day after day can be utterly transformative.
     
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  42. JillGat

    JillGat Active Member Donating Member

    Joined:
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    Location:
    New Mexico, USA
    Camino(s) past & future:
    Camino Frances, SJPP - Finisterre - Muxia, May-June 2016
    Don't insist on walking together all the time. Walk separately sometimes so that you can each relax at your own pace and have some alone time on the Camino. Meet up at the end of the day, or maybe even after a couple of days!

    I say this partly because I met a mother/daughter duo along the way who had different tastes, different paces and were starting to get testy with each other. There was a college student group on the path about the same age as the daughter, and I think she really wanted to get to know them. The mom insisted that the daughter keep up with her and there was a lot of pressure to get to planned stopping points and albergues recommended by their guidebook. I ran into them later, and they had decided to split up and meet at the end of the day and were much happier!
     
    Last edited: Mar 14, 2017
    simply B, anacheka and trecile like this.
  43. Purple Backpack

    Purple Backpack Active Member Donating Member

    Joined:
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    Location:
    Colorado
    Camino(s) past & future:
    Francis 2012
    England C2C 2015
    Via Francigena 2016
    Le Puy 2017?
    Not so sure about the wise part but thanks for the compliment!
     
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  44. Andrew63

    Andrew63 New Member

    Joined:
    Nov 2, 2014
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    Location:
    Canberra
    Camino(s) past & future:
    I plan to walk the Camino, starting mid May 2017 after my first attempt in March 2015
    No.4 is the most important.

    I started the Camino on 14 March 2015 and despite the snow and cold weather, by 21 March I had to end my pilgrimage. I suffered severe muscle cramps and I could barely walk down stairs.
    Took me three days to recover in Barcelona I was so dehydrated. Before you think of food or beer - think water. I am planning to do the Camino in May this year and I will take electrolyte with me as well as drinking copious amounts of water.
    Cheers
    Andrew
     
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  45. piggyhinton

    piggyhinton New Member

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    EASY - just enjoy it all, you will probably only do it once, do not forget it is not a race! - too many people treat it as it is, if you do you will miss a lot, so take your time and keep a journal, afterwards you forget so much, well you do at my age!!!
     
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  46. anacheka

    anacheka New Member

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    Camino(s) past & future:
    April 20-June 8 2017
    Thanks for the tip -- and buen camino!
     
  47. simply B

    simply B member Donating Member

    Joined:
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    Camino(s) past & future:
    Camino Frances (2012), Fisterra/Muxia (2012), Camino Frances (2014), Fisterra/Muxia (2014), Ponferrada to SdC (Feb/Mar 2016)
    Until the last few days I have not had much chance to visit the forum since back in October sometime.

    It was a prompt that my "donation status" had run out that had me come back for a glance.

    Oh, yes, YOU can donate to keep this fount of useful information and moral support available.

    Bits and bytes don't work for free. Ivar, chief data/web wrangler, needs to eat as well. Mods are probably underpaid (are they even paid? They all seem to love their job!) for keeping "sporty" threads from spiraling out of control.

    Pro Tip: Look for the "Donate" field when you check in on the landing page. Put in what you can. (Nope, I don't get anything for pointing that out.)

    Beyond that... I just wanted to say "kudos" on a fun and informative thread. The forum is typically a breath of fresh air but this thread is an exemplar of a mix of good humor and great info, it was a pleasure to read with nary a discordant note.

    B
     

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