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Walking with my parents, who are mid-70's

zsanti

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
I plan to walk the full Camino, France to Santiago (2019)
#1
Hi! I'm planning to walk the Camino from France to Santiago in the fall. I will be walking with my parents; they are in their mid-70's but in comparatively good physical shape, and quite active. Does anyone have any advice or experiences to share? Be it for senior Camino walking issues, for good baggage-travel companies, for decent package deal companies, for pace/time to allot, etc. Thanks! Z
 
Camino(s) past & future
Frances, autumn/winter; 2004, 2005-2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015
#2
Hi! I'm planning to walk the Camino from France to Santiago in the fall. I will be walking with my parents; they are in their mid-70's but in comparatively good physical shape, and quite active. Does anyone have any advice or experiences to share? Be it for senior Camino walking issues, for good baggage-travel companies, for decent package deal companies, for pace/time to allot, etc. Thanks! Z

Welcome to the Forum!

Do scan the many topics offered here filled with helpful tips for planning your caminos.

One very useful resource especially for those of us who are over 60 is this resource.

Another useful thread with helpful tips and links for walkers of any age is
https://www.caminodesantiago.me/community/threads/for-your-own-sake-come-prepared.19228/

Happy planning, Carpe diem and Buen camino to the 3 of you!
 
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Via2010

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
06/07 & 12 Camino Francés, 08-10 Via de la Plata, 13/14 & 17 Camino Portugués, 18 Camino Primitivo
#3
Hi,

if you really want to start in France (Saint Jean Pied-de-Port) plan a stop at Huntto or Orisson.
Anyhow, start with short stages. If possible do a reservation in the next albergue and ask for a bottom bunk or allow yourself the comfort of a private room.

I walked the Camino Frances with my parents in 2006/2007 (then 71/65) and the Via de la Plata in 2008-2010. My mum also joined me on the Frances from Astorga in 2012 and the Portugues in 2013/2014. They used to do quite a lot of walking at home, but every year the camino became more difficult for them.

I can rembember that in Mansilla de las Mulas the famous hospitalero Wolf Schneider, when he discovered how old my dad was (same age as him), offered us a new bedroom so that my parents could chose a bottom bunk.

BC
Alexandra
 

scruffy1

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Holy Year from Pamplona 2010, SJPP 2011, Lisbon 2012, Le Puy 2013, Vezelay (partial watch this space!) 2014; 2015 Toulouse-Puenta la Reina (Arles)
#4
I am a certified couch potato who despite all has walked two of my Caminos after 70. My only advice? Ignore the distances from the guide books and listen to your bodies! There will be mornings when all will arise full of enthusiasm and off you go 20-25k no problem. Other mornings someone will wake up saying, "The Lord has blessed me with a little more pain for my many transgressions" and you will walk less-sometimes much less. Walk what you can or want and then rest or stop. Avoid the temptation to add another 5-6 kilometers because it's "still early" since this is usually rewarded the next morning with pain in in places you never thought you had. Allow plenty of time for your Camino, you will enjoy rest days any extra time may be spent happily enjoying Santiago, Finisterra or better yet Mucia, even Madrid. Buen Camino
PS The personal disappointment from occaisionally taking a short bus ride along the way due to exhaustion/blisters/doubt is far out weighed by the devastation of not actually walking into Santiago. Use public transportation if needed.
 
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Camino(s) past & future
(2015) Frances
(2018) Portuguese
(2019) VdP Seville to Salamanca
(2020) VdP Salamanca to Santiago
#5
I saw that no one gave any package companies. I've used walktheamino.com a couple of times. They are sensitive to distances needed and each trip is custom to them so you can pretty much specify how far you want to walk, rest days, etc. Also, I'd second scuffy1's comments. I'm almost 70 and they are spot on. Particularly the comment to enjoy extra rest days. For me, the walk was great, but taking my time and spending more days in some cities/towns was what really made the trip. Otherwise, it just turns into a lot of cafe con leite's, auberges, and long days. Sometimes, you get so wrapped up in the Camino experience of walking that you forget that you may not get the chance to see any of these places again.
 

Kitsambler

Jakobsweg Junkie
Camino(s) past & future
Le Puy 2010-11, Prague 2012, Nuremberg 2013, Einsiedeln 2015, Geneva 2017-18
#6
Three thoughts. First, take your patience pills. Second, your parents may be fit walkers, but nobody walks 20-25 km daily except on a Camino, so they are likely not quite ready for the daily pounding on joints. Third, your capacity will differ from your parents' capacity. So plan for flexibility, plan for differences, plan to be able to change plans. On the other hand, your parents might have some different interests and experiences that you find quite educational and memorable. Buen Camino!
 
Camino(s) past & future
Frances (2015); Ch. d'Arles: Oloron Ste Marie to Aragones; Frances (2016); V.d.l.P.; Sanabres (2017)
#7
@zsanti
I am seventy and have walked three fairly long camino routes (800, 900, 1,000 km) in the last three years. I was an experienced backpacker when I began walking caminos. I suggest that, if your parents have not walked long days, they will have to learn at the beginning of their camino what works for them: how far they feel comfortable walking in a day, if they want days off, whether to use a pack transportation service, etc. I thought that I would want days off, but I did not, unless there was something special that I wanted to do or see (for example, Santo Domingo de Silos). It will be very important for you to start easily: for example, walking the first day only to Valcarlos or to Orisson (booking is essential for Orisson) and not carrying too much. Even though I now prefer not to take days off, I would recommend that you plan in days off or lots of extra time. Think about what you might do with leftover days if you find yourself walking a fair distance every day. If you have to fly a long distance to start your camino, you will not want to have to miss part of the route or to purchase another return air ticket in order to finish your route. And of course, pushing your walk could be disastrous. Do consider taking buses or trains if you need to make up time before the last 100 km, rather than trying to rush. All that we can tell you is what worked for us. You and your parents will have to find your own way. Buen camino.
 

falcon269

no commercial interests
Camino(s) past & future
yes
#8
A tour company will lock you into a schedule, and you will not like that after a few days (or even after one day). I am in the age category of your parents, so it is quite feasible, but not if they create an engram of "standard" distances.

If your expectations are different than theirs, you also have a problem. It can be solved if you discuss it in advance. I have walked many times with my brother who is faster and more ambitious. "Walking together" means being within about three days of each other! Three days is about 30 miles, so a taxi and bus can create a rejoin at will. You should not ruin your own camino by being locked into a pace you do not enjoy, and their are many ways to plan for having a pilgrimage that satisfies both you and your parents. It will require them to be fairly self-sufficient, and for you to make some accommodations for their ease of mind.

I walked with a mother and teenage daughter from Germany who screamed at each other for a week. Don't be them!!

Buen camino.
 
Camino(s) past & future
(1999) (2005) (2017)
#9
I walked from SJPDP last year at age 75. I met a guy from South Africa along the way in Pamplona and we stayed together till almost Astorga, then I met another from Australia and we finished in Santiago. I would call this Camino the easier softer way. No distance over 25km and stayed in 3 star hotels, or a private room in alburgues. 33 days. I got into a rhythm and it felt good. I finished by myself in Muxia.

Along the way I met folks that had prepackaged trips that required them to be in certain accommodation each night. These were far too restrictive for them. Give yourselves flexibility.

My plan is to do it again when I’m 80. My wife, who accompanied me on my 2nd Camino in 2005, says I’m nuts.
 
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Francés, Camino del Norte, and the Camino Portuguese (May, 2018)
#10
Applause! Can you hear it? I hope to follow in your footsteps, even if I choose to have my backpack transported!
 
Camino(s) past & future
This upcoming May 31st through July 1st approximately.
#11
I walked from SJPDP last year at age 75. I met a guy from South Africa along the way in Pamplona and we stayed together till almost Astorga, then I met another from Australia and we finished in Santiago. I would call this Camino the easier softer way. No distance over 25km and stayed in 3 star hotels, or a private room in alburgues. 33 days. I got into a rhythm and it felt good. I finished by myself in Muxia.

Along the way I met folks that had prepackaged trips that required them to be in certain accommodation each night. These were far too restrictive for them. Give yourselves flexibility.

My plan is to do it again when I’m 80. My wife, who accompanied me on my 2nd Camino in 2005, says I’m nuts.
That is my plan for my 80th birthday coming up in just over a year. Short daily distances - I won't do 17 miles a day as I did earlier this year, a comfortable bed, and don't be embarrassed or upset if transportation is required - although I do intend to walk the final 100 ks.
A little conditioning ahead of time will help.
 

blamoca

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances (2018)
#12
Hi! I'm planning to walk the Camino from France to Santiago in the fall. I will be walking with my parents; they are in their mid-70's but in comparatively good physical shape, and quite active. Does anyone have any advice or experiences to share? Be it for senior Camino walking issues, for good baggage-travel companies, for decent package deal companies, hifor pace/time to allot, etc. Thanks! Z
I would ignore the stages in the books they are only recommendations...you can stay in any town along the way so go according to the distance based on your capability. For Day1 from SJPdP to Roncesvalles I'd split it in two days... there is also a lovely alternate route that is more gradual via ValCarlos... it's not well known but lovely (you walk amongst the mountains vs over top and is easier.
 

blamoca

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances (2018)
#13
I would ignore the stages in the books they are only recommendations...you can stay in any town along the way so go according to the distance based on your capability. For Day1 from SJPdP to Roncesvalles I'd split it in two days... there is also a lovely alternate route that is more gradual via ValCarlos... it's not well known but lovely (you walk amongst the mountains vs over top and is easier.
 

cathn

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
Completed one 550 Miile and six partial caminos
#15
Hi! I'm planning to walk the Camino from France to Santiago in the fall. I will be walking with my parents; they are in their mid-70's but in comparatively good physical shape, and quite active. Does anyone have any advice or experiences to share? Be it for senior Camino walking issues, for good baggage-travel companies, for decent package deal companies, for pace/time to allot, etc. Thanks! Z
My group, a two at 76, one at 75 and one at 70 walked from St Jean to Santiago.
My advice is to walk at your own pace, don’t worry about getting to certain points at definite times. E NJOY the experience.
Have their big bags transported to the next stage, giving them the freedom to walk with joy.
Don’t be afraid of using public transport if tiredness kicks in. Most of all enjoy.
 
Camino(s) past & future
Frances (2011)
#16
It has been a while since I walked the Camino, but getting bags transported daily seemed like a good solution for some people. For instance, I walked part way with a lady who had hip replacements and degenerative disc disease so she carried a day pack and had her bags transported to her next town of choice by Jacotrans (https://www.jacotrans.es/en/). This might be something that would work for your parents, especially if you wanted to walk a longer day, but with less load; on a shorter day, maybe not necessary.

I wish you all a Buen Camino!
 

kdespot

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Francés SJPP-SdC Sept-Oct 2016
#17
My experience along the Camino was that it wasn't the older folks that were having the most physical issues. The wisdom of their years compensated for the wear and tear that the ages had done to their bodies. It wasn't the 70-year olds who thought that they could waltz through 750km with no training. Your folks will probably be just fine. They'll do what they need to do and they'll stop when their bodies tell them to. With research, training and a few days on the Camino you'll all know how to do it. Good chance that they'll walk a different pace than you which is an element of the experience. You'll meet up at lunch or the end of the day. That fluidity is one of the many joys of walking the Camino.
 
Camino(s) past & future
June 2018 Camino Frances and March Coastal Portugues
#18
I walked from SJPDP last year at age 75. I met a guy from South Africa along the way in Pamplona and we stayed together till almost Astorga, then I met another from Australia and we finished in Santiago. I would call this Camino the easier softer way. No distance over 25km and stayed in 3 star hotels, or a private room in alburgues. 33 days. I got into a rhythm and it felt good. I finished by myself in Muxia.

Along the way I met folks that had prepackaged trips that required them to be in certain accommodation each night. These were far too restrictive for them. Give yourselves flexibility.

My plan is to do it again when I’m 80. My wife, who accompanied me on my 2nd Camino in 2005, says I’m nuts.
We are planning to walk next year. I will be 74 but my husband will be turning 80 by the end. So, there are other ‘nuts’ people out there!
 
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances: September 24 - October 31 (2015); February/March (2019)
#19
My experience along the Camino was that it wasn't the older folks that were having the most physical issues. The wisdom of their years compensated for the wear and tear that the ages had done to their bodies. It wasn't the 70-year olds who thought that they could waltz through 750km with no training. Your folks will probably be just fine. They'll do what they need to do and they'll stop when their bodies tell them to. With research, training and a few days on the Camino you'll all know how to do it. Good chance that they'll walk a different pace than you which is an element of the experience. You'll meet up at lunch or the end of the day. That fluidity is one of the many joys of walking the Camino.
Couldn’t agree more. It was the young’uns who were tearing up their feet. The older folks were having their joint issues, but they’re used to that and know how to adjust.
 
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances: September 24 - October 31 (2015); February/March (2019)
#20
I’d bag the packaged tour. There is no need. At your own pace, you can walk your Camino. There are lots of supportive services available, including bag transport, public transportation, health care, lodging, etc. it may be hard to imagine, but when you step onto the Camino, you step into a supportive world that wants you to be okay and looks out for you.
 
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zsanti

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
I plan to walk the full Camino, France to Santiago (2019)
#21
Wow, thank you everyone for the welcoming presence and the many tips, related advice and well-wishes! Lovely community. This is all so helpful. Bless!
 
Camino(s) past & future
Frances, De la Plata, Norte, Portugal, Primitivo, Ebro, Madrileno, Norte again (2016)
#23
Agree with this kind advice.
Footwear is critical. If boots give you blisters switch to good shoes like Merrells with good sandals like Tevas to change into if you ferl blisters coming. Go at your own pace! If from SJdeP agree with stop halfway up the mountain. I wish we had.
It isn't a race. El camino es la meta.
 
Camino(s) past & future
2015, St. Jean Pied de Port to Burgos
2016, Burgos to Ponferrada
2017, Ponferrada to Atlantic Ocean
#24
Second, your parents may be fit walkers, but nobody walks 20-25 km daily except on a Camino, so they are likely not quite ready for the daily pounding on joints.
When training for a Camino, I walk 25-30 km with pack in my local park for at least two days in a row on the weekends, maybe a third day on a holiday weekend. Train hard at home, discover and address your issues, possibly with help of your local doctor. When you get to the Camino, you can relax with confidence in your abilities and avoid injuries and hospitals in Spain.

-Paul
 

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