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COVID Walking the Camino when immuno-compromised or suppressed, so extremely vulnerable to C19

Brightmore

New Member
Past OR future Camino
Camino Frances
Hello everyone,

I don’t mean for this to be a controversial post, as I am genuinely looking for some advice or insight into walking the Camino when immuno-compromised or supressed, so clinically extremely vulnerable to C19. I suspect a fair minority will be in this position, as I have read it is not uncommon to walk Camino during/after an illness or later in life. It doesn’t feel sensible to simply ignore the risk, as I would never do this at home.

Staying in dormitories, such as within public/private auberges, seems to be the chief issue. I am looking at private rooms and, whilst they vary in cost, they are not only more expensive than auberges, which is to be expected, but more expensive than comparable accommodation elsewhere in Spain. I appreciate the supply/demand factor will act to inflate prices, but this is nonetheless disappointing to note the Camino may now not be possible for the vulnerable on a modest income. Surely the answer can’t be for such folk to accept the risk or not take the pilgrimage? I genuinely don’t know. I appreciate for other activities the answer may be a firm ‘too bad’, but for a pilgrimage that seems harsh, even insufficient.

I noted with dread the mask mandate was dropped earlier this year. It was inevitable, I know, but my plans had to change drastically as a result. I am fortunate, as I am booking accommodation now for a trip starting mid-July, I just hope planning so rigidly ahead and remaining isolated, other than when outside, won’t take away from the experience.
Anyway, regarding accommodation and everything else, I would be grateful for everyone’s thoughts, insight and advice.

Buen Camino 😊
 
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NualaOC

Veteran Member
Past OR future Camino
A few and hopefully lots more. See signature.
Hi @Brightmore, and welcome to the forum. I see that this is your first post.

I've stayed in private rooms on my last two Caminos, mainly for Covid reasons. It adds to the cost, so only you can decide whether that's an affordable or suitable option.

FYI - at the moment, the level of mask-wearing is considerably higher in Spain than in the UK. Last week, I noticed supermarkets and cafes refusing to admit pilgrims without masks. Many people in towns and villages are still wearing masks outdoors and most pilgrims seem to follow suit. Very different to what I see at home (Belfast) or in London! However, things may of course be different in July.

Staying in private accommodation doesn't necessarily stop you connecting with other pilgrims. You'll still meet and talk with people on the trail and when you stop for food, coffee etc. It's different to the shared experience of albergues, but it doesn't have to be an isolated one.

Right now, you might be more likely to catch Covid at home than on on the Camino, but given your specific circumstances you'll need to think carefully about that risk. If worrying about Covid has a negative or limiting effect on your Camino, this may or not be the best time for you to do it. You'll probably get lots of well-intentioned advice here but realistically, none of us can tell you what you should to.

Wishing you well in your deliberations and planning.
 
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Anamiri

Veteran Member
Past OR future Camino
2016, 2017, 2019 Camino Frances
Hello everyone,

I don’t mean for this to be a controversial post, as I am genuinely looking for some advice or insight into walking the Camino when immuno-compromised or supressed, so clinically extremely vulnerable to C19. I suspect a fair minority will be in this position, as I have read it is not uncommon to walk Camino during/after an illness or later in life. It doesn’t feel sensible to simply ignore the risk, as I would never do this at home.

Staying in dormitories, such as within public/private auberges, seems to be the chief issue. I am looking at private rooms and, whilst they vary in cost, they are not only more expensive than auberges, which is to be expected, but more expensive than comparable accommodation elsewhere in Spain. I appreciate the supply/demand factor will act to inflate prices, but this is nonetheless disappointing to note the Camino may now not be possible for the vulnerable on a modest income. Surely the answer can’t be for such folk to accept the risk or not take the pilgrimage? I genuinely don’t know. I appreciate for other activities the answer may be a firm ‘too bad’, but for a pilgrimage that seems harsh, even insufficient.

I noted with dread the mask mandate was dropped earlier this year. It was inevitable, I know, but my plans had to change drastically as a result. I am fortunate, as I am booking accommodation now for a trip starting mid-July, I just hope planning so rigidly ahead and remaining isolated, other than when outside, won’t take away from the experience.
Anyway, regarding accommodation and everything else, I would be grateful for everyone’s thoughts, insight and advice.

Buen Camino 😊
I dont know if you have considered this - maybe you may enjoy one of the lesser walked Caminos.
There would still be some chance of Covid , I think there is probably nowhere left where is is no chance, but with less people that would reduce. Some of those have some longer stages, which would mean more walking in open air.
And although others may not wear masks, you can always continue to wear yours.
 
Past OR future Camino
To Santiago and back (roads & paths; Tours; Francés; sea; roads & paths)
Anyway, regarding accommodation and everything else, I would be grateful for everyone’s thoughts, insight and advice.
Welcome to the forum, @Brightmore. I see that you are from the UK, joined today and plan to start walking in mid-July 2022. I guess that you intend to walk from Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port to Santiago de Compostela and this is the first time that you go on Camino?

You touched on a number of points, some of which I fear might be misused as an opportunity to opinionize and editorialize instead of exchanging current experience on Camino walking in Spain or providing relevant information and practical advice. I hope, however, that there is enough self-discipline and it will not happen.

What is your concern? I sense that you are afraid you will not have a "full experience", is that it? This assumes that there is such a thing as a universal full Camino experience. It does not exist. In any case, it is not inextricably linked to sleeping in shared dormitories ☺️. It is relatively easy to avoid shared dormitories on the Camino Frances, numerous pilgrims do this right from the start, others only after their first Camino Frances when they say, once is enough. You will be ok!

Buen Camino!
 
Last edited:
Past OR future Camino
To Santiago and back (roads & paths; Tours; Francés; sea; roads & paths)
the mask mandate was dropped earlier this year
Just to clarify: What was dropped earlier this year was the requirement to present a vaccination passport when staying in an albergue. The requirement to wear masks indoors is lifted as of today, 20 April, see here. This is very new and forum members will not yet have any experience in this respect. In fact, the decree was officially published this morning and took effect immediately.
 
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jeanineonthecamino

Veteran Member
Past OR future Camino
Camino Frances 2021, 2022
I can totally understand your concerns and frustrations!

Yes - private accommodations are more expensive, but at the same time - they are still very inexpensive compared to many places. For example - I would be shocked to find a private room for 35 Euros in the US. Are you travelling alone or with a partner? If travelling with a partner - you can share the cost of a private room. They charge slightly more for 2 persons than 1 person in a room - but divide the cost in half and you both would save money. Perhaps you can find someone to travel with who you don't necessarily have to walk with - but who would be willing to share rooms with you at night.

Depending on the season - many bars/restaurants have outdoor seating. Utilize the outdoor seating whenever possible! If not possible due to inclement weather - perhaps you could order food to take away and dine in your room. Fortunately - that shouldn't have to happen too often.

As for walking outdoors - avoid crowds when you can - and if you would like to - you can still wear your mask.

And yes - as previously mentioned - perhaps walk a less travelled route.

After 2 years of COVID - I had hoped people would display more health/hygiene consideration of others and if sick - not stay in albergues. After reading some posts here on this forum and others - it sounds like some sick individuals are not removing themselves from dorm rooms. Hopefully that is still a minority of people, but it is hard to judge when not currently walking on the Camino. I think though - the vast majority of people want to - and do - practice better health/hygiene etiquette than perhaps they did before COVID. Still - there is a risk, as you stated, with staying in albergues and we each have to weigh benefits vs risks regarding potential exposure to illness if we chose to walk and moreso when we contemplate where to stay lodging-wise. If one does chose to stay in albergues - the risks could also be mitigated by choosing albergues with smaller rooms (4-8 beds instead of a large dorm room).

Also - you could consider letting the people in your new friend groups know that you are immunocompromised - and request that they let you know if they begin feeling sick so that you can distance yourself until they are feeling better. I would think most people would understand and would want to work with you on that.

Anyhow - good luck and hope you are able to find a way to go - and stay healthy!
 

trecile

Moderator
Staff member
Past OR future Camino
PAST - Francés, Norte, Salvador, Portuguese
I don't know how long of a journey you have planned, but as far as the Cathedral is concerned the requirement to receive a Compostela is walking the final 100 km to Santiago.
Perhaps to mitigate costs you could walk a shorter distance. It will be no less a pilgrimage if you start in Sarria, Tui, Ferrol, or any other place so long as your intent is to be a pilgrim.
 
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otto1357

New Member
Past OR future Camino
future
Hi,
What about camping?

Also on a slightly different vein I wonder if starting from Pamplona might be better avoiding the ascent from St Jean , any thoughts?
 

longwayhome

Member
Past OR future Camino
SJpdP to Santiago ( Sept-Oct 2018)
I can totally understand your concerns and frustrations!

Yes - private accommodations are more expensive, but at the same time - they are still very inexpensive compared to many places. For example - I would be shocked to find a private room for 35 Euros in the US. Are you travelling alone or with a partner? If travelling with a partner - you can share the cost of a private room. They charge slightly more for 2 persons than 1 person in a room - but divide the cost in half and you both would save money. Perhaps you can find someone to travel with who you don't necessarily have to walk with - but who would be willing to share rooms with you at night.

Depending on the season - many bars/restaurants have outdoor seating. Utilize the outdoor seating whenever possible! If not possible due to inclement weather - perhaps you could order food to take away and dine in your room. Fortunately - that shouldn't have to happen too often.

As for walking outdoors - avoid crowds when you can - and if you would like to - you can still wear your mask.

And yes - as previously mentioned - perhaps walk a less travelled route.

After 2 years of COVID - I had hoped people would display more health/hygiene consideration of others and if sick - not stay in albergues. After reading some posts here on this forum and others - it sounds like some sick individuals are not removing themselves from dorm rooms. Hopefully that is still a minority of people, but it is hard to judge when not currently walking on the Camino. I think though - the vast majority of people want to - and do - practice better health/hygiene etiquette than perhaps they did before COVID. Still - there is a risk, as you stated, with staying in albergues and we each have to weigh benefits vs risks regarding potential exposure to illness if we chose to walk and moreso when we contemplate where to stay lodging-wise. If one does chose to stay in albergues - the risks could also be mitigated by choosing albergues with smaller rooms (4-8 beds instead of a large dorm room).

Also - you could consider letting the people in your new friend groups know that you are immunocompromised - and request that they let you know if they begin feeling sick so that you can distance yourself until they are feeling better. I would think most people would understand and would want to work with you on that.

Anyhow - good luck and hope you are able to find a way to go - and stay healthy!
Just to add that it is not only those with symptoms who are infectious but also the asymptotic may spread COVID , flu and gastroenteritis. Any shared droplet spaces are risk areas . People may be unaware of their infective potential so relying on them declaring themselves would be risky. More to the point would be the question of insurance perhaps if a hospital or clinic visit was needed.
 

jeanineonthecamino

Veteran Member
Past OR future Camino
Camino Frances 2021, 2022
Also on a slightly different vein I wonder if starting from Pamplona might be better avoiding the ascent from St Jean , any thoughts?
Taking a bus from Pamplona to Roncesvalles and starting in Roncesvalles is also an option. Or take the shuttle up the mountain from St Jean to your choice of starting points on the way up the mountain.
 
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jeanineonthecamino

Veteran Member
Past OR future Camino
Camino Frances 2021, 2022
Just to add that it is not only those with symptoms who are infectious but also the asymptotic may spread COVID , flu and gastroenteritis. Any shared droplet spaces are risk areas . People may be unaware of their infective potential so relying on them declaring themselves would be risky. More to the point would be the question of insurance perhaps if a hospital or clinic visit was needed.
Absolutely! Can't do much about the asymptomatic or pre-symptomatic folks - but at least once symptomatic there is something that can be done!
 

Owensr23

Active Member
Past OR future Camino
2016 CF
2018 CP
4/29/2022 Primitivo
Walking with a partner who knows your situation could mitigate the cost. Many times my wife and and I found that the cost of a private room with almost the same as the cost to bunk. Yes you can have a bunk for 10 or a private room for 22. What would you do?
 

otto1357

New Member
Past OR future Camino
future
Hello everyone,

I don’t mean for this to be a controversial post, as I am genuinely looking for some advice or insight into walking the Camino when immuno-compromised or supressed, so clinically extremely vulnerable to C19. I suspect a fair minority will be in this position, as I have read it is not uncommon to walk Camino during/after an illness or later in life. It doesn’t feel sensible to simply ignore the risk, as I would never do this at home.

Staying in dormitories, such as within public/private auberges, seems to be the chief issue. I am looking at private rooms and, whilst they vary in cost, they are not only more expensive than auberges, which is to be expected, but more expensive than comparable accommodation elsewhere in Spain. I appreciate the supply/demand factor will act to inflate prices, but this is nonetheless disappointing to note the Camino may now not be possible for the vulnerable on a modest income. Surely the answer can’t be for such folk to accept the risk or not take the pilgrimage? I genuinely don’t know. I appreciate for other activities the answer may be a firm ‘too bad’, but for a pilgrimage that seems harsh, even insufficient.

I noted with dread the mask mandate was dropped earlier this year. It was inevitable, I know, but my plans had to change drastically as a result. I am fortunate, as I am booking accommodation now for a trip starting mid-July, I just hope planning so rigidly ahead and remaining isolated, other than when outside, won’t take away from the experience.
Anyway, regarding accommodation and everything else, I would be grateful for everyone’s thoughts, insight and advice.

Buen Camino 😊
Hi I am also like you and thinking of doing the walk.
 

peregrina2000

Moderator
Staff member
I noted with dread the mask mandate was dropped earlier this year. It was inevitable, I know, but my plans had to change drastically as a result. I am fortunate, as I am booking accommodation now for a trip starting mid-July, I just hope planning so rigidly ahead and remaining isolated, other than when outside, won’t take away from the experience.
I think that as we move into a phase where mask mandates are falling rapidly everywhere, it is much more obvious that you cannot rely on getting much protection from others and have to do absolutely everything you can to protect yourself. I have heard many disability rights activists on the US media who are saddened by the unwillingness of so many of the population to take such trivial steps as wearing a mask to protect others, but that is our reality. I don’t think anyone has mentioned the importance for you, which you undoubtedly already know, of getting excellent KN95 or N95 masks.

As others have said, sleeping in private rooms will reduce the risk dramatically. If you are reading some of the “current live posts” on the forum, you can see that there seems to be a lot of covid going through the albergues. That is surely not surprising! I walked the Salvador/Primitivo last year and slept in private, pre-booked accommodations all the way. Yes, it did feel like a “flat” camino for me in many ways, and I would be the first to admit that I much more enjoy the sense of liberating myself from schedules and sleeping in all sorts of different accommodations, but I was unwilling to take that risk.

It sounds like you’ve decided on private pre-booking and that seems sensible. Your experience will be different than what it would have been pre-covid, but you can still have a glorious experience. Don’t compare it to some pre-determined sense of what a camino “should be,” just let it be what it will be.

And one final little note — if you are using booking.com to book your accommodations, you may find that the prices are higher than if you book directly with the owners of the establishment. Also, the fact that booking shows now availability doesn’t mean that the place is full, it just means that booking has booked all the rooms that the owner has released for them. You wil frequently find space if you contact the owner directly. WhatsApp is a great tool for doing that!

Buen camino, @Brightmore and welcome to the forum.
 
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MikeC

Member
Past OR future Camino
Cycled SJPP to SDC September 2016
Starting Camino Ingles June 2018
Hello everyone,

I don’t mean for this to be a controversial post, as I am genuinely looking for some advice or insight into walking the Camino when immuno-compromised or supressed, so clinically extremely vulnerable to C19. I suspect a fair minority will be in this position, as I have read it is not uncommon to walk Camino during/after an illness or later in life. It doesn’t feel sensible to simply ignore the risk, as I would never do this at home.

Staying in dormitories, such as within public/private auberges, seems to be the chief issue. I am looking at private rooms and, whilst they vary in cost, they are not only more expensive than auberges, which is to be expected, but more expensive than comparable accommodation elsewhere in Spain. I appreciate the supply/demand factor will act to inflate prices, but this is nonetheless disappointing to note the Camino may now not be possible for the vulnerable on a modest income. Surely the answer can’t be for such folk to accept the risk or not take the pilgrimage? I genuinely don’t know. I appreciate for other activities the answer may be a firm ‘too bad’, but for a pilgrimage that seems harsh, even insufficient.

I noted with dread the mask mandate was dropped earlier this year. It was inevitable, I know, but my plans had to change drastically as a result. I am fortunate, as I am booking accommodation now for a trip starting mid-July, I just hope planning so rigidly ahead and remaining isolated, other than when outside, won’t take away from the experience.
Anyway, regarding accommodation and everything else, I would be grateful for everyone’s thoughts, insight and advice.

Buen Camino 😊
July is peak holiday time for the Spanish who are the most numerous pilgrims, so the main routes will be crowded and accommodation at its most expensive.
if you can travel in October the risks to both your health and your wallet will be less.
 

davebugg

A Pilgrimage is time I spend praying with my feet
Past OR future Camino
2019
Objectively, you will be potentially exposed not just to possible airborne exposures, but to environmental surface exposures. You stated you have a level of immunosuppression which makes you extremely vulnerable. How do you handle being out in public at home, because that will be one indicator of what your ability to avoid risk would be, to some extent, on a camino.

What is the honest advice your physician gave you? Or have you not yet discussed this with him/her? Bus, planes, taxis, grocery stores, restaurants, accommodations, etc. . . . your doctor can give you the best advice as to the advisability of doing a Camino with your medical condition.
 

MinaKamina

Veteran Member
Past OR future Camino
Jacobspad 2017
Objectively, you will be potentially exposed not just to possible airborne exposures, but to environmental surface exposures. You stated you have a level of immunosuppression which makes you extremely vulnerable. How do you handle being out in public at home, because that will be one indicator of what your ability to avoid risk would be, to some extent, on a camino.

What is the honest advice your physician gave you? Or have you not yet discussed this with him/her? Bus, planes, taxis, grocery stores, restaurants, accommodations, etc. . . . your doctor can give you the best advice as to the advisability of doing a Camino with your medical condition.

The cost of safe travel may well exceed the cost of accomodation. Flights can be cheap, but I would not want to be on a plane filled with strangers, not even if they all had tested negative for COVID.

Plus, and I don't like to add this, but it is important: what if any immuno-compromised person does get COVID on the Camino? What is the plan in that case?
 
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Past OR future Camino
2017 Astorga-SDC, April 2022 SJPP-Muxia
Others have brought up very good points. Definitely check with your doctor.

I’m here now, and I’m also very concerned about Covid.

I started in albergues but in the last week have become increasingly concerned with what I would call pilgrim carelessness regarding Covid, along with larger crowds.

A few precautions I’m taking:

I only eat outside or during times when it’s not crowded. Or I get food from the grocery store.

I’m trying to stay in private rooms as much as I can. Yes it’s more expensive. It’s harder to work with, for me as well.

I do not recommend the Sarria-Santiago section. I did it in Spring 2017 and it’s so crowded. I cannot imagine how crowded it might be later this year. I’m not doing it this year.

I’ve noticed staying off stage seems to reduce the crowds a bit in the bars and albergues.

A private pilgrimage is quieter, for sure. I love it but I know that some relish the Camino-family experience, and I think it’s worth considering how important that is to you.

And finally, I’ve experienced a whiplash of emotions while here, over Covid vulnerability. I was excited and felt fairly safe while planning. And then I got here and in the last week heard coughing in albergues and the reports of Covid, and now dropping the mask mandate, and also talking with so many pilgrims who really just don’t care about it at all…and…well…it sent me into a panic and now I’m trying to determine how much risk I am willing to accept in order to finish. Fear could ruin the experience, given your health profile, and I wish I had considered that ahead of time and had a plan in place rather than a panic/try to figure it out situation here.

You can message me privately if you’d like.
 

jeanineonthecamino

Veteran Member
Past OR future Camino
Camino Frances 2021, 2022
And finally, I’ve experienced a whiplash of emotions while here, over Covid vulnerability. I was excited and felt fairly safe while planning. And then I got here and in the last week heard coughing in albergues and the reports of Covid, and now dropping the mask mandate, and also talking with so many pilgrims who really just don’t care about it at all…and…well…it sent me into a panic and now I’m trying to determine how much risk I am willing to accept in order to finish. Fear could ruin the experience, given your health profile, and I wish I had considered that ahead of time and had a plan in place rather than a panic/try to figure it out situation here.

You can message me privately if you’d like.
Thanks for sharing your current experiences and perspective! I am currently reconsidering the Frances route - for many of the reasons you have mentioned. Not that other routes won't have the issues - but they certainly don't have the same number of people on trail. I have 35 days before I arrive - so not too late to change my mind!
 
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otto1357

New Member
Past OR future Camino
future
Welcome to the forum, @Brightmore. I see that you are from the UK, joined today and plan to start walking in mid-July 2022. I guess that you intend to walk from Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port to Santiago de Compostela and this is the first time that you go on Camino?

You touched on a number of points, some of which I fear might be misused as an opportunity to opinionize and editorialize instead of exchanging current experience on Camino walking in Spain or providing relevant information and practical advice. I hope, however, that there is enough self-discipline and it will not happen.

What is your concern? I sense that you are afraid you will not have a "full experience", is that it? This assumes that there is such a thing as a universal full Camino experience. It does not exist. In any case, it is not inextricably linked to sleeping in shared dormitories ☺️. It is relatively easy to avoid shared dormitories on the Camino Frances, numerous pilgrims do this right from the start, others only after their first Camino Frances when they say, once is enough. You will be ok!

Buen Camino!
Yes, unfortunately there are lots of opinions and one size does not fit all as far as advice is concerned.
You touched on a number of points, some of which I fear might be misused as an opportunity to opinionize and editorialize instead of exchanging current experience on Camino walking in Spain or providing relevant information and practical advice. I hope, however, that there is enough self-discipline and it will not happen.
 

Andpartner

Member
Past OR future Camino
Camino Frances September/October (2014)
As others have said, it’s not just the Camino itself, you need to consider the getting there. I say this as someone who has just returned from Tenerife -not the Camino I know - with COVID. My husband and I were on a celebratory holiday because he had finished Chemotherapy. He had had his fourth vaccinatíon on March 31st and we flew into Tenerife airport on April 12th. It was a scrum and people were not wearing masks or wearing them properly. It had been over two years since we had been cheek by jowl in a crowd of strangers. Three days later husband started with a sore throat and tested positive two days later. I tested positive the following day.

No one knows what the situation will be like in July. How much COVID will be about, and what variant it might be. My personal opinion is that you should only go if you’re prepared to accept the risk that you might get it, (or other nasty bugs like Norovirus), however careful you might personally be.
 
Past OR future Camino
Next up 2022?
My experience in Northern Europe at the moment is that very few people have covid on their minds.
But who knows how it will be in July? Given your situation, risk is inevitable. So the question to consider is what is your 'no-go threshold'? Only you can know that.

Absolutely:
It sounds like you’ve decided on private pre-booking and that seems sensible. Your experience will be different than what it would have been pre-covid, but you can still have a glorious experience. Don’t compare it to some pre-determined sense of what a camino “should be,” just let it be what it will be.

And definitely this too:
And one final little note — if you are using booking.com to book your accommodations, you may find that the prices are higher than if you book directly with the owners of the establishment. Also, the fact that booking shows now availability doesn’t mean that the place is full, it just means that booking has booked all the rooms that the owner has released for them. You wil frequently find space if you contact the owner directly.
Booking takes a big chunk of the price you pay from the owners of the accommodation, so it's better to book directly. They may have space Booking doesn't, and get their costs covered. Win-win.
 

Lhollo

Active Member
Past OR future Camino
CF pt2, Belorado to Sarria, May 21 – June 12, 2022
Hello @Brightmore! I realise I’m resurrecting this thread, to some extent, but I wondered whether you’ve moved forward with your plans, or postponement of them, since April? I only found this thread today but there are many things that occur to me!

First, I want to emphasise that the below is only my own thoughts and experiences, and I’m not in any way trying to push a point on other people. We’ve all navigated the pandemic in the ways we thought best, given the, often confusing and conflicting, information we’ve found or been given.

My own situation is that I live with and care for an 86 year old who is extremely vulnerable and has recently been unwell. We’ve been advised to keep protecting her even though she’s been 4x vaccinated. I myself have a range of health problems including a chronic illness (Ehlers Danlos Syndrome) plus immunity issues relating to severe allergy. I don’t know how Covid would affect me, but I’d really rather not find out mid-Camino, not least because it would prevent the walk as I’ve planned it. I live in the UK, and know that, if you’re in the vulnerable group, it’s been pretty terrifying here.

My partner and I walked from SJPDP to Belorado last August/September, and are about to resume the walk from Belorado to Sarria next week. So… I write with some experience of what things were like last year, but also regarding my intentions for this next part.

I prebook private rooms with private bathrooms, without fail, every time. I have everything arranged for this long before I leave the UK. This isn’t only because of Covid but because I have to sleep in a raised position and dorm beds simply wouldn’t work well for me. But I wouldn’t/couldn’t/shouldn’t take a chance on dorms during Covid anyway.

I don’t know what a dormitory experience of a Camino would be like. This isn’t a bad thing for me. You can’t miss what you’ve never had. I have to accept it, anyway, because of my sleep-position problem. What I can say is that, between the nightly stopping places, my partner and I had an absolutely incredible experience last year, and can’t wait to resume. What made it so incredible was a combination of time with nothing except the land around us—miles of silence punctured only by the calls of birds and the rhythmic sound of our feet—but also time talking with other pilgrims along the route. Faces become familiar over the days. There’s always a ‘Buen Camino’ but, by even the second but certainly the third time, there’s the seed of acquaintance. We talked with many pilgrims whilst walking and outside at cafes, etc. There was often a breeze, and we could keep some distance. I wasn’t concerned during these periods about Covid transmission. I didn’t feel I was missing out on getting close to people. In fact, we got to know several other small groups who were also staying in private rooms, and bonded over this, in some ways.

N95 masks, or FFP2 masks as they’re often known in the UK… Yes, they’re good of course, but you probably know this. I read obsessively about Covid and its transmission for much of the first… well, until quite recently. Rather than FFP2/N95 masks, we use N99 or FFP3 masks when indoors, particularly in the UK or in busy indoor spaces. (For anyone wondering about the research behind this, see, for example, the top section of page 3 here: https://www.ecdc.europa.eu/sites/de...the-SARS-CoV-2-Omicron-variant-of-concern.pdf ). I did relax this sometimes during our Camino last year, using a fabric almost-equivalent of FFP2s, which are made by the US company Enro; they’re a little more breathable than FFP2/3 masks, which is good in hot weather. I say this having used FFP3 masks during the flight home last year, after which my partner and I were both pinged by the NHS because on our flight we’d been sitting within 2 seats of someone who then tested positive. Neither of us caught Covid. I trust these masks, so long as you can’t feel air escaping from them (the glasses-fogging test is a good one, as I’m sure you know). I imagine you’ll know much of this because you’ve probably been on a similar path to my family’s and my own during the pandemic. It’s hard to discuss it, or know what people know, because the general public has just done what the government says, which has often been… well, I’ll just call it inadequate. Despite that, the measures have eventually worked ok for most people, so I shrug my shoulders and leave it at that.

Last year, my partner and I both felt far safer in Spain than in the UK. I’ve recently visited France and Belgium too, and would say the same about those countries in relation to the UK. The only times I felt ill at ease in Spain was when our eating options were limited, and the available options were all indoors. I hope others here will be sympathetic to me when I say that I was surprised that there were so many pilgrims eating together at long tables inside albergues and restaurants, without much ventilation. Some of the pilgrims at the tables were of course sharing dormitories anyway, but others were staying in private rooms. I am aware that Covid wasn’t much in evidence on the Camino then, so the system must have worked well, but at the time, I didn’t feel comfortable with it and didn’t see how it could make sense given the science of Covid transmission. (Very low rates must have been the answer!). On two occasions, I asked the albergues if there was any way that we could eat outside, and both times, they put a little table out for us and we ate there. It was wonderful! I didn’t feel comfortable with doing this though; on the one hand, I was incredibly grateful to the albergue owners, but on the other, I felt a little embarrassed at their going out of their way for us, and that it was quite conspicuous… I wondered, What if other pilgrims all asked for the same treatment because they’d seen us, and liked our little table? But then again… I find it very peculiar that in warm Spanish weather, people would want to eat indoors! I mean… why do that, when in glorious Spain?! A huge part of the experience, for me, was eating outdoors for once, and enjoying the good weather. Even when it was a little cold, we’d just wear our fleeces and carry on. We’re Brits, of course, and hardy as reindeer when it comes to mildly cool weather 😃. The Spanish seemed to think the weather was far too cold to eat outdoors and looked at us with incredulity.

The situation now… I’m not yet in Spain but I speak with Spanish people online all the time, and check in here periodically too. My impression of Spain in general now is that many younger people have totally relaxed their behaviour, and some older people too. However it is far more common there, still, to wear a mask. I spoke with a Spanish friend just yesterday about this; he no longer wears a mask, for various reasons, despite being in his sixties, but he also emphasised that we would not seem at all strange if we chose to wear masks. They’re still expected in pharmacies, on public transport, etc, and many people still wear them in other locations. It’s also far more common there to see people in white FFP2/N95 type masks because they’ve been readily available and there’s no stigma, and this is still the case. I’m relieved! Like you, the day when all restrictions were dropped here in the UK felt like my family’s, and my own, restrictions had just tripled.

So… my plan for the next section is to keep wearing FFP3 masks indoors, and in particular on public transport. I might relax this a little if in airier buildings when it’s very hot, and use my Enro masks then.

We will continue to eat outside, or to buy food from supermarkets and grocers. We may eat indoors if it’s unavoidable (I keep thinking of our night at O’Cebreiro, for example), but Ill do all I can to be near ventilation. Maybe we’ll take food to our rooms. I don’t know, but… the Camino will provide. I will do absolutely all I can to avoid inconveniencing other people. When possible, as last time, we’ll buy our breakfasts the day before, including coffee which we’ll drink cold before leaving the accommodation. (I know many pilgrims simply wait for the first town along the way, but I like my coffee and a little breakfast, even if it’s cold).

Regarding the pilgrimage catering to people with disabilities because of the very fact of its being a pilgrimage… the trouble with this is that there is very little that can be done, to accommodate people without actually putting them under a roof? Camping is really the only option, or completely separate and ventilated mini-rooms, but how could this be achieved when there is limited capacity at every historical albergue. It would be wonderful if it were possible, of course!

Other than the above plans for our Camino next week… we’ll chill out! I can’t wait to chat with other pilgrims, to see Spain’s wonderful historical towns and buildings, to experience the meseta, see the wildlife, to enter the greenery of Galicia, and maybe even figure out a couple of my own metaphysical quandaries.

Anyway, this was long but… well, I hope it helps in some way. I certainly don’t mean any of it to sound preachy at all. I completely understand why most people don’t adopt my own approach to this now, and also that information about Covid has been all over the place. I wouldn’t adopt my own approach to Covid, if I weren’t in my situation. That said, I’d like to think I’d understand how difficult this still is for the extremely vulnerable. I do think it’s been an absolute minefield for us in the UK.

PM me if you want. Very happy to talk.

Buen camino, if and when you do it!
 
Last edited:

Chef66

Active Member
Past OR future Camino
Now
As others have said, it’s not just the Camino itself, you need to consider the getting there. I say this as someone who has just returned from Tenerife -not the Camino I know - with COVID. My husband and I were on a celebratory holiday because he had finished Chemotherapy. He had had his fourth vaccinatíon on March 31st and we flew into Tenerife airport on April 12th. It was a scrum and people were not wearing masks or wearing them properly. It had been over two years since we had been cheek by jowl in a crowd of strangers. Three days later husband started with a sore throat and tested positive two days later. I tested positive the following day.

No one knows what the situation will be like in July. How much COVID will be about, and what variant it might be. My personal opinion is that you should only go if you’re prepared to accept the risk that you might get it, (or other nasty bugs like Norovirus), however careful you might personally be.
Yes I agree with this. Lots of focus on risk on the Camino itself but the getting there has always seemed like the higher risk activity (risk of you getting it, or passing it into others). I did caminos in ‘peak’ covid times in 2020, and as it started to ‘wind down’ in 2021 and I felt far safer than at home, but I flew many times and that made me question whether I was being reckless!
 
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Brightmore

New Member
Past OR future Camino
Camino Frances
Hello @Brightmore! I realise I’m resurrecting this thread, to some extent, but I wondered whether you’ve moved forward with your plans, or postponement of them, since April? I only found this thread today but there are many things that occur to me!

First, I want to emphasise that the below is only my own thoughts and experiences, and I’m not in any way trying to push a point on other people. We’ve all navigated the pandemic in the ways we thought best, given the, often confusing and conflicting, information we’ve found or been given.

My own situation is that I live with and care for an 86 year old who is extremely vulnerable and has recently been unwell. We’ve been advised to keep protecting her even though she’s been 4x vaccinated. I myself have a range of health problems including a chronic illness (Ehlers Danlos Syndrome) plus immunity issues relating to severe allergy. I don’t know how Covid would affect me, but I’d really rather not find out mid-Camino, not least because it would prevent the walk as I’ve planned it. I live in the UK, and know that, if you’re in the vulnerable group, it’s been pretty terrifying here.

My partner and I walked from SJPDP to Belorado last August/September, and are about to resume the walk from Belorado to Sarria next week. So… I write with some experience of what things were like last year, but also regarding my intentions for this next part.

I prebook private rooms with private bathrooms, without fail, every time. I have everything arranged for this long before I leave the UK. This isn’t only because of Covid but because I have to sleep in a raised position and dorm beds simply wouldn’t work well for me. But I wouldn’t/couldn’t/shouldn’t take a chance on dorms during Covid anyway.

I don’t know what a dormitory experience of a Camino would be like. This isn’t a bad thing for me. You can’t miss what you’ve never had. I have to accept it, anyway, because of my sleep-position problem. What I can say is that, between the nightly stopping places, my partner and I had an absolutely incredible experience last year, and can’t wait to resume. What made it so incredible was a combination of time with nothing except the land around us—miles of silence punctured only by the calls of birds and the rhythmic sound of our feet—but also time talking with other pilgrims along the route. Faces become familiar over the days. There’s always a ‘Buen Camino’ but, by even the second but certainly the third time, there’s the seed of acquaintance. We talked with many pilgrims whilst walking and outside at cafes, etc. There was often a breeze, and we could keep some distance. I wasn’t concerned during these periods about Covid transmission. I didn’t feel I was missing out on getting close to people. In fact, we got to know several other small groups who were also staying in private rooms, and bonded over this, in some ways.

N95 masks, or FFP2 masks as they’re often known in the UK… Yes, they’re good of course, but you probably know this. I read obsessively about Covid and its transmission for much of the first… well, until quite recently. Rather than FFP2/N95 masks, we use N99 or FFP3 masks when indoors, particularly in the UK or in busy indoor spaces. (For anyone wondering about the research behind this, see, for example, the top section of page 3 here: https://www.ecdc.europa.eu/sites/de...the-SARS-CoV-2-Omicron-variant-of-concern.pdf ). I did relax this sometimes during our Camino last year, using a fabric almost-equivalent of FFP2s, which are made by the US company Enro; they’re a little more breathable than FFP2/3 masks, which is good in hot weather. I say this having used FFP3 masks during the flight home last year, after which my partner and I were both pinged by the NHS because on our flight we’d been sitting within 2 seats of someone who then tested positive. Neither of us caught Covid. I trust these masks, so long as you can’t feel air escaping from them (the glasses-fogging test is a good one, as I’m sure you know). I imagine you’ll know much of this because you’ve probably been on a similar path to my family’s and my own during the pandemic. It’s hard to discuss it, or know what people know, because the general public has just done what the government says, which has often been… well, I’ll just call it inadequate. Despite that, the measures have eventually worked ok for most people, so I shrug my shoulders and leave it at that.

Last year, my partner and I both felt far safer in Spain than in the UK. I’ve recently visited France and Belgium too, and would say the same about those countries in relation to the UK. The only times I felt ill at ease in Spain was when our eating options were limited, and the available options were all indoors. I hope others here will be sympathetic to me when I say that I was surprised that there were so many pilgrims eating together at long tables inside albergues and restaurants, without much ventilation. Some of the pilgrims at the tables were of course sharing dormitories anyway, but others were staying in private rooms. I am aware that Covid wasn’t much in evidence on the Camino then, so the system must have worked well, but at the time, I didn’t feel comfortable with it and didn’t see how it could make sense given the science of Covid transmission. (Very low rates must have been the answer!). On two occasions, I asked the albergues if there was any way that we could eat outside, and both times, they put a little table out for us and we ate there. It was wonderful! I didn’t feel comfortable with doing this though; on the one hand, I was incredibly grateful to the albergue owners, but on the other, I felt a little embarrassed at their going out of their way for us, and that it was quite conspicuous… I wondered, What if other pilgrims all asked for the same treatment because they’d seen us, and liked our little table? But then again… I find it very peculiar that in warm Spanish weather, people would want to eat indoors! I mean… why do that, when in glorious Spain?! A huge part of the experience, for me, was eating outdoors for once, and enjoying the good weather. Even when it was a little cold, we’d just wear our fleeces and carry on. We’re Brits, of course, and hardy as reindeer when it comes to mildly cool weather 😃. The Spanish seemed to think the weather was far too cold to eat outdoors and looked at us with incredulity.

The situation now… I’m not yet in Spain but I speak with Spanish people online all the time, and check in here periodically too. My impression of Spain in general now is that many younger people have totally relaxed their behaviour, and some older people too. However it is far more common there, still, to wear a mask. I spoke with a Spanish friend just yesterday about this; he no longer wears a mask, for various reasons, despite being in his sixties, but he also emphasised that we would not seem at all strange if we chose to wear masks. They’re still expected in pharmacies, on public transport, etc, and many people still wear them in other locations. It’s also far more common there to see people in white FFP2/N95 type masks because they’ve been readily available and there’s no stigma, and this is still the case. I’m relieved! Like you, the day when all restrictions were dropped here in the UK felt like my family’s, and my own, restrictions had just tripled.

So… my plan for the next section is to keep wearing FFP3 masks indoors, and in particular on public transport. I might relax this a little if in airier buildings when it’s very hot, and use my Enro masks then.

We will continue to eat outside, or to buy food from supermarkets and grocers. We may eat indoors if it’s unavoidable (I keep thinking of our night at O’Cebreiro, for example), but Ill do all I can to be near ventilation. Maybe we’ll take food to our rooms. I don’t know, but… the Camino will provide. I will do absolutely all I can to avoid inconveniencing other people. When possible, as last time, we’ll buy our breakfasts the day before, including coffee which we’ll drink cold before leaving the accommodation. (I know many pilgrims simply wait for the first town along the way, but I like my coffee and a little breakfast, even if it’s cold).

Regarding the pilgrimage catering to people with disabilities because of the very fact of its being a pilgrimage… the trouble with this is that there is very little that can be done, to accommodate people without actually putting them under a roof? Camping is really the only option, or completely separate and ventilated mini-rooms, but how could this be achieved when there is limited capacity at every historical albergue. It would be wonderful if it were possible, of course!

Other than the above plans for our Camino next week… we’ll chill out! I can’t wait to chat with other pilgrims, to see Spain’s wonderful historical towns and buildings, to experience the meseta, see the wildlife, to enter the greenery of Galicia, and maybe even figure out a couple of my own metaphysical quandaries.

Anyway, this was long but… well, I hope it helps in some way. I certainly don’t mean any of it to sound preachy at all. I completely understand why most people don’t adopt my own approach to this now, and also that information about Covid has been all over the place. I wouldn’t adopt my own approach to Covid, if I weren’t in my situation. That said, I’d like to think I’d understand how difficult this still is for the extremely vulnerable. I do think it’s been an absolute minefield for us in the UK.

PM me if you want. Very happy to talk.

Buen camino, if and when you do it!
Bless you for this. Honest, I am so grateful for such a detailed, considered contribution. Thank you.
 

Brightmore

New Member
Past OR future Camino
Camino Frances
Wow, thank you, everyone. I am totally blown away by how many measured and thoughtful responses my post generated.

I have read every contribution carefully and have since booked exclusively private rooms. Expensive, but I now feel necessary. I will also eat outdoors or within my private room and, when required to go indoors, wear an FFP2/3 mask without interruption.

Without your kind advice I wouldn’t have felt confident in these measures and may have cancelled my Camino.

Buen Camino!
 

Pathfinder075

Active Member
Past OR future Camino
Frances (Villada to SdC) (2016)
Primitivo (Ribadesella to SdC) (2017)
Vaccinations are the way through. I am immuno compromised as well. Had 4 jabs so far, will probably have number 5 within the next 3-4 months. I would walk tomorrow if it was possible, but would only wear a mask if I had to. I also wouldn't stay in albergues (camp in a tent) and would abuse hand gel a lot (which i do in day to day). Living with Covid is basically common sense. Camino is no different.

The fact is unless everyone else is also using masks, it's almost pointless to wear one, unless you have tested positive. Covid is transmissible via infected droplets hitting your eyes, not just by breathing them in. A mask doesnt protect you from that unless you have a FFM. You won't be carrying a FFM. So get your jabs and live your life. If you can't get vaccinated for some reason i would stay way off the beaten path on Camino and just accept that you are probably going to get it.
 

Lhollo

Active Member
Past OR future Camino
CF pt2, Belorado to Sarria, May 21 – June 12, 2022
Wow, thank you, everyone. I am totally blown away by how many measured and thoughtful responses my post generated.

I have read every contribution carefully and have since booked exclusively private rooms. Expensive, but I now feel necessary. I will also eat outdoors or within my private room and, when required to go indoors, wear an FFP2/3 mask without interruption.

Without your kind advice I wouldn’t have felt confident in these measures and may have cancelled my Camino.

Buen Camino!
Very glad to hear you’ll soon be on your way!

I’ve been thinking about your situation whilst on the Camino (I’m currently in Carrión de los Condes, walking the meseta on the Frances). I’m still seeing masks occasionally outdoors and in some situations indoors. I will say that I think you have to be determined and pig-headed about the masks, though. Other pilgrims aren’t wearing them at all, and most do eat together. We’ve had to spend time researching places that will serve us outside and in all cases so far we’ve eventually found somewhere but it can require effort in asking if it’s possible, and persistence in looking for other places. I think we’ll need to be prepared to buy a makeshift ‘meal’ from a supermarket and eat inside our room at some point.

We’re still thoroughly enjoying the Camino, and chatting to lots of people along the way. It might be good to think of what you’ll do in case you meet someone overly friendly/socially unsophisticated people who don’t respect physical boundaries; we’ve only encountered this once or twice, and you probably know the type of people I mean: they think everyone on the Camino is here just to make new buddies. It could be a case of being clear that you’re immunocompromised so they understand. There’s a common conception, I think, that Covid is now completely harmless. The Spanish are less likely to think this, and some wear masks even outside on terraces.

Masks DO work, and as I said above, this depends on having good quality ffp3 (maybe ffp2) ones that fit you without air leakage. I have various adjusters on my own (and adjustable strap, and I knot the ear loops or put silicone adjusters on the headbands. Fomite (from surfaces) transmission of Covid has been shown to be minimal albeit not fully proven negligible. I personally barely bother with sanitizer now, but do keep my hands clean and am aware of when I’ve touched public things. Aerosol transmission through the eyes was a major concern of mine early on (I was wearing the full eye protection get-up in 2020!) and remained a concern as Omicron evolved but again, this now seems a negligible concern. I’ve sat for hours in crowded rooms with people some of whom were surely Covid positive during the peak, and just the ffp3 mask was sufficient. Maybe larger airborne droplets (not smaller ambient aerosols) from someone, eg, coughing in your face, could be an issue via eye transmission. I personally don’t worry about this, I just try to avoid that situation, and it’s not exactly a common one when you keep your distance anyway.

As I said above, we are loving our Camino, and the mask wearing/where to eat thing just runs in the background. Most of the time we’re just walking and loving it. And when we do find somewhere to eat, we’re loving that too!

Buen camino! I’m excited for you!
 

C clearly

Moderator
Staff member
Past OR future Camino
Most years since 2012. Hoping now for 2022.
The fact is unless everyone else is also using masks, it's almost pointless to wear one,
This statement is highly questionable, and I believe they do REDUCE the risks, but we don't want that argument on the forum.

I am on the Camino Invierno. Many Spaniards are wearing masks. I won't try to say how many and how often, but I want to make the point that if a person feels vulnerable and wants to wear a mask everywhere, they will not seem out-of-place.
 
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KJFSophie

My Way, With Joy !
Past OR future Camino
2014, 2015, 2017, 2018, 2019, 2022
Wow, thank you, everyone. I am totally blown away by how many measured and thoughtful responses my post generated.

I have read every contribution carefully and have since booked exclusively private rooms. Expensive, but I now feel necessary. I will also eat outdoors or within my private room and, when required to go indoors, wear an FFP2/3 mask without interruption.

Without your kind advice I wouldn’t have felt confident in these measures and may have cancelled my Camino.

Buen Camino!
I might check with your physician to see if he/she would be willing to pre-prescribe you an antiviral / Paxlovid to take with you. I too am immunocompromised ( and a medical professional ) and know that immediate treatment with an antiviral for COVID lessens the severity and duration should you become infected. I am traveling with small self test kits and a 5 day prescription should I test positive. The key with the antivirals is to take immediately to prevent severity. Mask on, private room, social distance, outdoors...all good advice from others. As the first step in being safe is being aware, you'll be okay. Buen Camino!
 

Brightmore

New Member
Past OR future Camino
Camino Frances
I might check with your physician to see if he/she would be willing to pre-prescribe you an antiviral / Paxlovid to take with you. I too am immunocompromised ( and a medical professional ) and know that immediate treatment with an antiviral for COVID lessens the severity and duration should you become infected. I am traveling with small self test kits and a 5 day prescription should I test positive. The key with the antivirals is to take immediately to prevent severity. Mask on, private room, social distance, outdoors...all good advice from others. As the first step in being safe is being aware, you'll be okay. Buen Camino!
That’s really good advice. Are you in the UK, we’re the precautionary antivirals prescribed on the NHS?
 

KJFSophie

My Way, With Joy !
Past OR future Camino
2014, 2015, 2017, 2018, 2019, 2022
That’s really good advice. Are you in the UK, we’re the precautionary antivirals prescribed on the NHS?
I'm in the USA, they are readily available with doctor's prescription following a positive test. Check with your MD. They've been very effective and safe. Good luck!
 

Brightmore

New Member
Past OR future Camino
Camino Frances
I'm in the USA, they are readily available with doctor's prescription following a positive test. Check with your MD. They've been very effective and safe. Good luck!
Only prescribing in response to a positive test here, but thank you!
 

Chef66

Active Member
Past OR future Camino
Now
This statement is highly questionable, and I believe they do REDUCE the risks, but we don't want that argument on the forum.

I am on the Camino Invierno. Many Spaniards are wearing masks. I won't try to say how many and how often, but I want to make the point that if a person feels vulnerable and wants to wear a mask everywhere, they will not seem out-of-place.
I agree! Whilst I am far from convinced about the benefits of masks I don’t think we can make any absolute judgements on how effective they are and people should be free of judgement and ridicule when wearing them! Whatever their benefits physically they certainly provide the wearer with a degree of reassurance.
 
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