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Way too overwhelming to book beds/rooms (mid july - mid August, frances)

Rsian

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Time of past OR future Camino
Camino frances
So I just decided to do the frances - around the 15th July! Im very new to the whole camino thing and backpacking. Ive been reading everything I could find the last few weeks. Its all very exciting and very scary 😅 Since it’s all so new, I’m having a hard time figuring out exactly when I’ll be where - so it’s super difficult to figure out the booking thing. Is it dumb to go for it and find places to stay as I get there in mid-July to mid-August?
 
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biarritzdon

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CF11, CF12, CP13, CF14, CA15, S.Anton15, CF&CI15
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Me, I would book the first and second night and give myself a modest distance to walk the first day to assess my comfort at walking certain distances. Then for the third night have the hospi help you book the next night and repeat every night onward.
You haven’t told us where you plan to walk and where you plan to start. That would be helpful in getting advice.
 

Rsian

New Member
Time of past OR future Camino
Camino frances
Me, I would book the first and second night and give myself a modest distance to walk the first day to assess my comfort at walking certain distances. Then for the third night have the hospi help you book the next night and repeat every night onward.
You haven’t told us where you plan to walk and where you plan to start. That would be helpful in getting advice.
That’s a good point!
Sorry for my ignorance, i’m still trying to learn my way around the forum!
I’m thinking of starting in st jean pied de port around July 16 and hopefully ending in Santiago about a month later.

Thank you for the advice :)
 

dougfitz

Veteran Member
Time of past OR future Camino
Spain: Mar 2010, Apr 2014, May/Jun 2016. Norway/Sweden: 2012, 2018. Other: 2011, 2019. CP (tbc)
I am with @biarritzdon on this. On the CP this year I booked a couple of nights in Lisbon at the start and then in Santiago at the end. Both were under arrangements that could easily be changed or cancelled. When I got to Lisbon, I booked the first few days, and for my rest days. Again, bookings that could be changed or cancelled.

I had worked up an outline walking schedule before I left, and would check ahead for the following and next day in the evening. This involved ringing to see if they had vacancies and would accept bookings. If I felt that I needed to book, I mainly used Gronze.com for the information on what might be available, and booking.com for bookings. A few places where I wasn't walking long distances and would arrive by mid-afternoon I didn't bother to book. Just turning up worked in that circumstance.

Once that had been done, I would check whether I needed to make changes to my walking schedule. So things like moving the longer and shorter days around to take advantage of what accommodation was available, or whether I felt up to a longer walk the next day and needed to plan a shorter distance, etc.

It quickly became second nature, and could be done pretty quickly, although if places didn't bother getting back to me quickly, it might take a bit longer. That is why I would look out two days rather than just a single day.
 
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CaptBuddy

Active Member
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Fall 2012, again Fall 2014.
Good advice above.
Smart to book your first couple of days at reasonable (easy) distances.
After that, we used booking-dot-com for private accommodations as needed.
I know lots of folks do not like those web sites, but they are most convenient (which you pay for, slightly), and easy to use from your mobile.
Trying to plan the entire route will spoil the experience.

Most important is Maple Leaf's Rule #1.
Have a great journey.
Buen Camino
 

Ianinam

Active Member
Time of past OR future Camino
CF 2013 / CP 2018
Starting July 15th from SJPdP usually is not a very busy period. So if you make reservations for SJPdP, for Orrison or Borda if you do not want to go over the mountain in one day and maybe Roncesvalles, you will be fine. After that you can decide whether to make reservations for the next day, and do it day by day.
See you 16th or 18th in Roncesvalles!
 

Madeleine Jacobs

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CF in sections 2019/2020
Although a bit old fashioned, with all the new apps, I use this “Planificador” every day of my Camino to plan and consider how many kilometers I might walk the next day and the days after. Use it in combination with a google search for “Gronze + name of the village you want to stay”, to see what is a nice stopover location. I could not do without it!

 
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I think many of us had the same feelings of excitement and fear before starting a Camino for the first time. I did.
As you probably know from your research, the municipal alburgues can’t be reserved. Unless there’s a bed race going on and you feel comfortable doing so, you can consider some stays in them.
 

Rebekah Scott

Camino Busybody
Time of past OR future Camino
Many, various, and continuing.
The camino is very quiet these days, after a huge rush in April and May. If it was me, I would just wing it. Don't book ahead. Take your chances, see where you land.
That's the essence of pilgrimage -- trust! Enterprise! Stepping out of your comfort zone!
It's how millions of people did the Camino for hundreds of years, and it still works just fine.
 

trecile

Moderator
Staff member
Time of past OR future Camino
PAST - Francés, Norte, Salvador, Portuguese
Starting July 15th from SJPdP usually is not a very busy period. So if you make reservations for SJPdP, for Orrison or Borda if you do not want to go over the mountain in one day and maybe Roncesvalles, you will be fine. After that you can decide whether to make reservations for the next day, and do it day by day.
See you 16th or 18th in Roncesvalles!
Until you get to Galicia the Camino is generally not as busy in July and August as it is in May and September. You shouldn't have any problems finding a bed.
 

C clearly

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Staff member
Time of past OR future Camino
Most years since 2012
Is it dumb to go for it and find places to stay as I get there in mid-July to mid-August?
Yes, I think I would also find it overwhelming to try to book everything. As has been pointed out above, and in many threads, the number of pilgrims setting out from SJPP, Roncesvalles, and Pamplona is much less in July-August than in spring and fall so there should be plenty of beds available. However, the number of pilgrims from Sarria to Santiago is highest in July-August so there could be issues during your last week.

I would suggest reserving the first 2 or 3 days, or maybe even up to Pamplona, especially if you will arrive there on a weekend. Then play it by ear for a few weeks. When you get closer to Sarria, you will know more about your walking capability, how the Camino works, and what your personal preferences are. You might then decide to book the last week of walking.

This is not anything to do with packing your fears (whatever that means) but is a practical and simple way to make things easier while you recover from jet lag and get used to the routine. After a few days you will have met others and be in a better position to judge the situation. You will probably not have any problem finding accommodation at the last minute, until you get closer to Sarria. (But be aware that when there is a big event on a weekend in cities like Pamplona, Burgos, or Leon, accommodation will be in shorter supply and expensive.)
 

Zordmot

3rd CF in May 2022
Time of past OR future Camino
April-May 2022
So I just decided to do the frances - around the 15th July! Im very new to the whole camino thing and backpacking. Ive been reading everything I could find the last few weeks. Its all very exciting and very scary 😅 Since it’s all so new, I’m having a hard time figuring out exactly when I’ll be where - so it’s super difficult to figure out the booking thing. Is it dumb to go for it and find places to stay as I get there in mid-July to mid-August?
Three suggestions for finding a place to sleep (and finding peace of mind, too!):

1. Book 2-3-4 days in advance only. Gives you flexibility

2. Try to create your own beginning and ending points different from the major guidebooks.

2. Plan to arrive at your destination by 2 pm. Without a reservation you can very often get a bed at your albergue of choice by just showing up then. If there’s absolutely no bed available in that town (never happened to me) you will usually be able to walk to the next town during daylight. Arriving by 2 pm will also give you a better chance to get a bottom bunk, wash clothes, figure out dinner, enjoy a cold beverage, maybe grab a nap.

Buen Camino!
 
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Rita Flower

Active Member
Time of past OR future Camino
2022 Via del la Plata
So I just decided to do the frances - around the 15th July! Im very new to the whole camino thing and backpacking. Ive been reading everything I could find the last few weeks. Its all very exciting and very scary 😅 Since it’s all so new, I’m having a hard time figuring out exactly when I’ll be where - so it’s super difficult to figure out the booking thing. Is it dumb to go for it and find places to stay as I get there in mid-July to mid-August?
Agree with @Maple Leaf Walker but also consider your personal 'style'. I have a Camino friend who wouldn't consider not booking ahead and loves the idea of a prearranged tour. I like to just go for it. But I am an early riser by nature and love to see the dawn on the road. I usually stop around 2 pm and get a bed without booking. But it is 2022 and I hear the Frances is pretty busy.
For your Camino starting in St Jean you could book SJPP, Orisson if they still have vacancies (8 Ks out of St Jean) and Roncesvales.
If you don't do the 'suggested' stages but stop a little sooner or later, it seems OK. And check out some of the other threads on accommodation. Lots of good advice on how things are this year.
 
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2012
So I just decided to do the frances - around the 15th July! Im very new to the whole camino thing and backpacking. Ive been reading everything I could find the last few weeks. Its all very exciting and very scary 😅 Since it’s all so new, I’m having a hard time figuring out exactly when I’ll be where - so it’s super difficult to figure out the booking thing. Is it dumb to go for it and find places to stay as I get there in mid-July to mid-August?
Hi @Rsian. I note that members have kindly responded to your pre-booking concerns and provided some excellent advice. My eye was caught by your statement that you are new to Camino, we all were once, and new to backpacking. That offers me more concern than the small risk you’ll run of struggling to find a bed for the night.
If this is an impulsive venture then I guess you’ll not have done much practice hiking. If you’ve been excited by all you can read here, and elsewhere on the internet, that’s great. I just hope you’ve taken some of that reading to heart - good shoes and a light pack will make a far greater contribution to your enjoyment of Camino than any bed booking strategy or none.

Me, I always carry a sleeping bag and hope in my heart. And I also hike between 5 and 15 miles every day.
 

Hannah92

New Member
Time of past OR future Camino
CF 2017, CF 2022
Hi,
I'm starting the 17th in St Jean, so maybe we'll meet on the way! :)
We're with a group of four and I've decided to only book us the night in St Jean and the night after at Borda.. after that we will assess what are good distances and rely on municipals and smaller private albergues in 'in between' villages. Of course you can never be completely sure this way that things go smoothly, but for me the flexibility and being able to listen to the body is more important. Worst case scenario you have to take a taxi to spend the night somewhere else and return the next morning :)
Other people really like to plan everything and it gives them great peace of mind, but if you like the idea of the adventure and don't mind early starts, just go for it!
(I did my first camino 5 years ago spontaneously and did not even book St Jean, everything turned out very well and it was a great adventure)
 
Time of past OR future Camino
2018
Another little handy thing: when you do want to book ahead using one of those dot.com services, call the chosen Albergue and make clear you’d rather book direct. A lot of these places are running on razor thin margins.
I agree with @Maple Leaf Walker. Those sites charge about 20% from the albergues for our convenience. We just call and booked our next evening during dinner.
 

David with new Kit!

Active Member
Time of past OR future Camino
2019 SJPP to Logroño
2021 Logroño - SDC
I agree with @Maple Leaf Walker. Those sites charge about 20% from the albergues for our convenience. We just call and booked our next evening during dinner.
Just wondering where you got that figure 20% from, and the fact that all sites are more expensive than booking direct?

I have booked my first week from Irun on the Camino del Norte from August and I find that half of my bookings so far, the albergues, pensiones etc. charged the same when I called ahead.

Sometimes, I think booking.com gets bad press when in fact its quite useful when all other options run out.

So yes, call direct, but not all albergues are "20%" cheaper.
 
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the same when I called ahead.

Sometimes, I think booking.com gets bad press when in fact its quite useful when all other options run out.
Meaning they got less for the reservations done through booking. I heard about the high percentage from owners of places on the Invierno. Every one of them (literally) thanked me for not using booking - sometimes with feeling.
 

Rsian

New Member
Time of past OR future Camino
Camino frances
I am so grateful that you’ve all taken the time to not only answer my questions, but also share experiences and even add extra info!
Ive taken notes from all your replies 🤓


I’m not used to hike much and I’m horrified to do stuff by myself, so maybe I should have waited a little longer - so I could have had the time to better prepare and actually have had more time to get in shape, before walking the Camino, but I can’t really explain it - I just suddenly felt that this is the moment that I should give it a try - and you all being so nice and friendly makes me feel it’s going to be ok :)


Thank you 😀
 
Time of past OR future Camino
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I'm very new to ... backpacking
From my reading you have an overwhelming weight of good advice on booking ahead, or not, as you please.

My understanding of you homeland is one of almost overwhelming flatness as far as the eye can see.

My suggestion, made in the strongest language the forum will allow is "Do not start at Saint-Jean!!!"

You have less than two weeks to become accustomed to a whole lot of new ways of doing stuff and going up more than 1,000 metres of elevation spread over less than 20 km is not a good training space. From my observation it is a good space to become quickly uncomfortable with both backpacking and camino.

For you I suggest starting at Logrono. There will still be many challenges for you from there.

As you start in the northern mid-summer, I strongly counsel you to carry almost nothing at all.

I suggest:
keep it simple
two sets of clothes - wear on, carry one
merino wool tops (warm, breathes, dries quickly)
merino wool underpants
floppy hat
do NOT take a sleeping bag - a blanket from the hostel should suffice at night
you will pass many farmacia - get what you need then
backpack as lightweight as possible

It was Einstein who said, keep things as simple as possible, but not simpler.

Enjoy

I hope to hear of your safe arrival at Santiago de Compostela.

And if circumstances dictate otherwise, that you appreciate what you have achieved and are minded to return in the future.

Kia kaha, kia māia, kia manawa-nui (take care, be strong, patient and confident)
 
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@Rsian, I was rushing to get going for the day.

On review, I've realised I should have added something about rain and cold.

For rain have what we way down under call a parka. A simple waterproof jacket. Elasticated, buttoned or Velcro wrist closures. No lining. Hood attached (usually very generous space, so wear your floppy hat to keep the hood off your face.

For increased warmth use layers. The layers give an informal air pocket which you normal body heat will warm up. From my suggestion above you will have three layers. Depending on conditions use one or both tops and the parka for wind (and rain).

Last week I started at 07h (sunrise was 07h45) with the temperature around 5C with a wind of less than km/h. I started with one short sleeve top and long hose (socks). Within less than 10 minutes walking I was warm enough.
The point being, I did not need to stop to put on another tops OR take one off and get cold doing so.
If there was a gentle wind I would possibly start with two tops and expect to stay like that until my first stop for a mid-morning break.

Be pleased to chat on the matters.

Kia kaha (take care, be strong)
 
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I find that half of my bookings so far, the albergues, pensiones etc. charged the same when I called ahead.

There are three parties to booking through an agency.

You might pay the same regardless of how you book.

If you use a booking service, the owner has paid the booking fee and gets up to 20% less that what you paid the agency.

@VNwalking has made the point: her hosts thanked her for booking direct or just phoning.

When the hostel charge is not much, 20% is a large part of a small overall income to the owner.

Something for us all to keep in mind.

So, @David with new Kit!, what happened for the other half of your bookings.

Kia kaha (take care, be strong)
 

David with new Kit!

Active Member
Time of past OR future Camino
2019 SJPP to Logroño
2021 Logroño - SDC
May I say, I do not disagree that booking.com takes a percentage and that it is more cost effective for the accommodation owner to book direct. In fact, that is why I try to call ahead too.

Not all sites give a reservation straight away, some you have to send off into the ether and wait a reply. I got a reply from one provider nearly a week later. Also, in these covid times its important for me to be able to cancel if I need to without having to negotiate my fee back.

Booking.com (normally) gives a refundable option which not all direct bookings will do.

Booking.com is a convenience, and I use it when I can’t book direct. Yes, the accommodation gets less than the advertised amount, but the end user (you and I) don’t always see a reduction if we book direct.

Incidentally, I’m not looking for a reduction when I book direct. If I get one, then great, but I’m also happy if the accommodation gets the full price.

I suppose my "bee in my bonnet" is that when posters in the various forums indicate that it is cheaper to book direct than with a third party sometimes it gives the impression that that a saving can be made by doing so. I was trying to make a point (unsuccessfully) that this is not always the case.

@AlwynWellington - In answer to your question, the ones that accepted my direct booking, I booked. The ones where I could not make a booking without having to submit a request and hope for a reply, I used booking.com.
 

Ian Salsbury

New Member
Time of past OR future Camino
booked to do Lugo-Santiago June 2018
Just to put a spanner in the works as to say, and I guess this is very rare, but dont think booking ahead is foolproof. Also for me it spoils the freedom of walking as far as i feel each day without having to get to a particular bed, : when my wife and I walked the Primitivo in July 2019 things were getting a bit difficult for beds because there were a number of coaches full of people who were dropping their passengers off to walk bits of the Camino and had fully booked alberges ahead for their passengers. It happened several nights as they were always landing in the same locations we were looking for a bed. So to sort this I booked 2 beds a few miles further ahead of normal with booking.com, like 25miles or so ahead and got well ahead of the bus groups. Now for our rare problem, when we got to the alberge, which was manic, the owner who was highly stressed had not even seen our, or lots of others online bookings. Said she was not good with the Internet.... As a result of walk ins that had already arrived she was well over occupied. After a couple of hours when things had calmed down she catered for everyone even taking some into her house next door and without charging us. So the old adedge 'the camino provides' worked. So booking online is not always fool proof, but on my first 2 caminos I never failed to get a bed without booking. I leave home today for 2 months, planning 700miles of Caminos, the first being the Frances. If all goes well 🤣 I only intend.... to book my first 2 or 3 nights and the rest I will find as I walk and also in due course my last night before returning home. To all readers buen camino.
 

biarritzdon

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Yes, bus loads of faux pilgrims can ruin your night.
 
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Optimistic Traveler

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Camino Frances 2018
So I just decided to do the frances - around the 15th July! Im very new to the whole camino thing and backpacking. Ive been reading everything I could find the last few weeks. Its all very exciting and very scary 😅 Since it’s all so new, I’m having a hard time figuring out exactly when I’ll be where - so it’s super difficult to figure out the booking thing. Is it dumb to go for it and find places to stay as I get there in mid-July to mid-August?
In 2018, we used a combination of planificador (godesalco.com) and the Wise Pilgrim app to guide us along the Frances. We only pre-booked for the next day. The planificador showed the distances between stopping points, which is helpful when you don't know what distances you are capable of. Then, the Wise Pilgrim app helped us find accommodations places at projected distances. Usually, that app listed ways to directly contact the lodging, either by phone or email. Now, I understand, you can also use Whatsapp. If phone is the only option and you don't speak Spanish, you can google translations for your request & hopefully make yourself understood.
 

Katherine Radeka

Active Member
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Camino Francés (2022 after failed attempt in 2018)
Another little handy thing: when you do want to book ahead using one of those dot.com services, call the chosen Albergue and make clear you’d rather book direct. A lot of these places are running on razor thin margins.
I was able to do this with only rudimentary Spanish most of the time, using email or WhatsApp plus Google Translate.
 

Kerrnell

New Member
Me, I would book the first and second night and give myself a modest distance to walk the first day to assess my comfort at walking certain distances. Then for the third night have the hospi help you book the next night and repeat every night onward.
You haven’t told us where you plan to walk and where you plan to start. That would be helpful in getting advice.
Very sensible suggestion. Letting go of your fears and trusting is a big part of the camino experience.
 

misskeek

New Member
Time of past OR future Camino
Portugese route
I found that you can also text places directly using WhatsApp in order to book the next night - if you are worried about being understood over the phone. It was very easy to do and booking directly (rather than through booking.com) and means the place you stay doesn't have to pay a percentage to booking.com so better for them as well.

One other piece of advice - break in your boots right away and bring lots of blister care supplies with you (moleskin, hydrocolloidal bandaids). If you feel a hot spot or rubbing in your boots - stop RIGHT AWAY and deal with it. Don't think "I'll stop and put on bandaid on at lunch." The more you can prevent a red spot from turning into an actual blister, the better off you will be!
 

Marbe2

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2015-2019 walked all or more than half of CF 7 times... CP recently cancelled by Covid 19!
Starting from SJPdP do not overextend at the beginning of your Camino…which iis important to your finishing it. Too many pilgrims underestimate the terrain, particularlythe downhill into zubiri. Plan out the first few days up to Pamplona. If you are starting in mid July, reservations after SJPdP are already tight on Booking.com. up to Pamplona! Only you know what your abilities are. I recommend going slow and easing into a rhythm. Take into account the terrain and your fitness level. Most of those first days involve Pavement walking including most of the day 1 from St Jean.
 
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We've been on the camino for 10 days now and haven't had to book ahead anywhere. A great tool is the camino ninja app. Lists distances, all the albergues and their contact details. Seems to be the app of choice with everyone we meet. Buen camino!
Outstanding app. Used it on the Camino Portugues last month, invaluable
 

pepi

Active Member
Time of past OR future Camino
Last: 2021, next: August 22
So I just decided to do the frances - around the 15th July! Im very new to the whole camino thing and backpacking. Ive been reading everything I could find the last few weeks. Its all very exciting and very scary 😅 Since it’s all so new, I’m having a hard time figuring out exactly when I’ll be where - so it’s super difficult to figure out the booking thing. Is it dumb to go for it and find places to stay as I get there in mid-July to mid-August?
I see that you already got the best advice that you'll ever get. Stop jittering, It's gonna be just fine!
Buen Camino
 
F

Former member 99816

Guest
In June from Pamplona to Leon there is plenty of room, many, if not most albergues were less than 50% full. I got a top bunk only once.
 

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