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What happens when you can't find a place to sleep?

Camino(s) past & future
2015 - Sarria - SdC
#1
Hello Everyone,

This is my first post, as I plan my first full Camino (Frances) from St. JdP to Santiago. Three years ago, I completed the Sarria - Santiago leg using a tour company - delightful, but it whetted my appetite to experience the whole route. I have been interested in this adventure since reading Jack Hitt's book, Off the Road, nearly 20 years ago.

I plan on leaving from France in the second week of September and have been receiving lots of terrific information from this website. Thank you all for your insight, perspectives, and practical information.

One issue that I find of potential concern is not being able to find a bed in an albergue. What then? Do you keep walking until you find an open bed? Sleep under the stars, weather permitting? Am interested in hearing how folks coped with this particular predicament.

Looking forward to becoming an active member.

Best,

Tom
 

falcon269

no commercial interests
Camino(s) past & future
yes
#2
I plan on leaving from France in the second week of September
You will be fine. There are plenty of beds in albergues that time of year. Your best bet would be to stop in smaller villages rather than the guidebook stopping points. However, the cities and larger villages will have plenty of open albergues, so the worst that will happen is that you will need to try different places. You can reserve ahead if you want. Many of the albergues are on booking.com now.
 
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances, (2013)
Camino Frances, (2014)
Camino Frances, (2015)
#3
Here are your options. First, find out if there is a second albergue in town or on the edge of town. Second, walk across the street to the one star Hotel that has converted several rooms into albergue style rooms (i.e. removed the queen bed and replaced it with four bunk beds. Third, walk into the nearest bar and ask the bartender for a room (locals who have permanently left town often leave keys to apartments with the bartender to rent out). Fourth, ask the bartender to make some calls (locals who have not left town, and wish to rent out their spare bedroom, often notify their bartender that they wish to make some extra money). Fifth, ask the local priest if there is overflow accommodations in the church. Sixth, take a taxi east, back up the Camino, to the last town you walked through, spend the night, taxi forward in the morning, and then restart walking exactly where you left off the day before. Seventh, taxi west down the Camino for a room. Eighth, taxi north (sometimes south) to the freeway that parallels the Camino. It's usually only a few miles away from the Camino and has hotels at many interchanges. Or, ninth, take off you backpack, throw it on the ground, break your walking poles over knee, and have a complete and total meltdown because there are "no options".
 
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Liam Ryan

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
2016
#4
Tom, when one registers at the start in SJpdP one gets a list of all the albergues along the route. The list give the phone numbers of each albergue. My simple plan was to walk for a few hours and then (before rather than after!!) coffee assess how I felt. It was then a simple matter of phoning ahead to reserve a bed. A complete hassle free experience. You will need to have reservation anyhow, I think, for Roncesvalles. I am sure you will have an amazing time!
Liam
 
Camino(s) past & future
Many
#6
I have a theory that the last bed in town is the best bed in town. That said the only way to find that last bed is to let people know that you need a bed. If the albergues are full ask the hospitalero if they can recommend a place, and let them know that you cannot walk any farther.

It is never a guaranteed thing, but this is often the time when the magic happens. A mattress is pulled into the private library, a small dormitory in the attic is unlocked. A pullout bed is found.
 

J Willhaus

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
24 May 2016- 14 July CF
Hospitalero, Zamora Dec 15-31, 2017
#7
Tom,
We were never without a bed even in mid-summer during the height of European holiday. We did have a couple of friends who arrived at their destination to find there were no beds. They walked on a short distance to the next town after asking the hospitalerio to call ahead for them. Alternatively you could call a cab which would take you to another location and then back again the next morning.
 
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances (2010, 2015)
Camino Norte (2011)
Rue de la Plata (2018/9)
#8
Sorry to respectfully disagree with the folks saying you will be fine. You 'might' be fine. When I walked in 2015 I left SJPP September 18th and by the time I reached Viana there was a bottleneck. This was due in part to a long weekend and a local fiesta. I was lucky enough to get one of the last beds in town, but others I knew spent hours calling around and some finally ended up having to get a 50 euro cab ride all the way to Najera to find a place to sleep. After a few days of racing like that, I took a week long break and started again. No problems after that, but the end of September is still quite busy.
 

JabbaPapa

"True Pilgrim"
Camino(s) past & future
100 characters or fewer : see signature details
#9
Dunno about others, but what I do is to just sleep outdoors.

No big deal, though the first time is always slightly scary.

In some areas it can OTOH be wise to seek somewhere hidden rather than somewhere comfortable. Thieves and other ne'er-do-wells do exist.
 
Camino(s) past & future
Santiago to Finisterre to Muxia 2013
Camino Frances May 2015
Camino Frances July 2017
#10
Perhaps "You will probably be fine" is closest to the truth. In two caminos, both at busy times of year I only once had to walk on to the next village. But it might be wise to just check what's going on locally to make sure something unusual isn't happening that might affect availability. It was only through this forum that I realised I was going through Pamplona at the same time as running of the bulls and only then did I make a booking to be safe.

The other variable is when you want to end your days. I like to start early and finish early, if you're planning on rolling up to your desired resting spot at 6pm that might be a different story.
 
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Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances: September 24 - October 31 (2015); February/March (2019)
#11
I started walking in the third week of Sept in 2015. I only came upon one full albergue, in Nájera. I found a bed at a really nice pensione. I wouldn’t sweat it.
 
Camino(s) past & future
Frances(2006) portugues(2013)San Salvador (2017)
#12
Welcome to the Forum, Tom. You want to know how others coped? Well, this other and companion had a lovely lunch, and set off for the next albergue. Closed for renovations. Next albergue: full. Next albergue, 13 km from the original plan, plenty of beds, plus some of the folks we had been walking with and thought we would not catch up with them again! That was 12 years ago. Oh my goodness! A lifetime ago! On both occasions when heading to Santiago, we booked for three nights, well ahead of time.
 
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances from Léon- 2011
Camino Portuguese June 2018
#13
Here are your options. First, find out if there is a second albergue in town or on the edge of town. Second, walk across the street to the one star Hotel that has converted several rooms into albergue style rooms (i.e. removed the queen bed and replaced with it four bunk beds. Third, walk into the nearest bar and ask the bartender for a room (locals who have permanently left town often leave keys to apartments with the bartender to rent out) Fourth, ask the bartender to make some calls (locals who have not left town and wish to rent out their spare bedroom for the night notify the bartender). Fifth, ask the local priest if there overflow accommodations in the church. Sixth, take a taxi East, back up the Camino, to the last town you walked through, spend the night, taxi forward in the morning, and restart walking. Seventh, taxi West down the Camino for a room. Eighth, taxi North (South) to the interstate freeway that parallels the Camino only a few miles away and spend the night. Or, ninth, take off you backpack, throw it on the street, and have a complete meltdown because there are "no options".
Wow this is the best answer I have ever read on the Forum!
 

MinaKamina

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Jacobspad 2017
#16
Just curious, and maybe helpful to the OP. Have any of the forum members experienced sleeping outdoors unplanned and if so what was it like and where? I'm not asking this to the Camino walkers who do a mix of indoor and outdoor sleeping.
Shawn Corrigan wrote about it:

Hmm i spend the nite on a park bench(cold and wet) thinking about sad stuff.
The next day i head out to monsarrott (spelling?) but that is another story. so after 2 days of normal camino a m soooooo very happy, great food and good times. so happy. Its like the rioja grapes i walked by today,they struggle in the stoniest soil ever and red clay which makes the most delicious flavorful wine. sometimes struggling is a good thing ?
Great reading, thread Ok , i dont recommend starting from barcelona here:
https://www.caminodesantiago.me/com...nd-starting-from-barcelona.48024/#post-515154
 
Camino(s) past & future
The Camino Frances 2005
The Portugese Camino 2014
The Camino Ingles Easter 2015
The Camino Ingles April 2016
The Camino del Norte/The Primitivo 2016
#18
I have had to sleep outside because the Albergue was full. One time on the Frances in 2005 and one time on the Norte in 2016. Both times the weather was nice (it did not rain) and it was wonderful to wake up in the middle of the night and watch the stars. I enjoyed it very much, also because I had a sleeping mat so I did not have to sleep on the ground. If you are prepared for the worst you'll be fine.
 
Camino(s) past & future
CF April/May (2016), starting in St. Palais, France
#19
The other variable is when you want to end your days. I like to start early and finish early, if you're planning on rolling up to your desired resting spot at 6pm that might be a different story.
I think this is an important point, perhaps depending on the time of year. I was often among the last to leave the albergue, plus I like to walk slowly. My daily distance was generally modest, so my arrival time was generally acceptable. But as tendonitis kicked in, slowing me down even more, I was arriving very late in the day. So I booked ahead the last week to eliminate that issue during that busy segment.
 
Camino(s) past & future
Frances (1989 and 2016), Portugues - central from Porto (2018 - planned)
#20
Just curious, and maybe helpful to the OP. Have any of the forum members experienced sleeping outdoors unplanned and if so what was it like and where? I'm not asking this to the Camino walkers who do a mix of indoor and outdoor sleeping.
I can think of a couple of times, one on the Camino and one off, neither while walking the Camino, though.

I first arrived in Spain in early July in the late 80s (1988, I think). The first place I stayed was in Pamplona during Los Sanfermines. This was before I ever heard of the Camino. Being the time of year that it was, there were no accommodations to be had so I slept on a park bench. I remember finding it quite cold, despite the time of year. I didn't get the best sleep, but I got a better sleep than many others who didn't get much sleep at all.

In the early 80s, I slept outdoors on the top of Masada in Israel. I hadn't meant to sleep there. I had a place in the youth hostel at the foot of the mountain. But there was a group that was also staying there that was loud and rambunctious late into the night so some of us gave up on the idea of sleeping in the hostel and decided to climb Masada, sleep on the top, see the sunrise from up there, and then skedaddle before folks showed up to open up for the day. It all would have worked out perfectly. The youth hostel was on the eastern side of the mountain. We climbed up the snake path on that side, so named because it snakes up the mountain in a fashion many peregrinos will be familiar with; we slept at the top; we saw a nice sunrise. Then I foolishly decided that I had experienced the snake path so I would go down via the Roman ramp on the western side of the mountain. Unfortunately, there is no road or path from the west side to the east side where most of my stuff was still in the youth hostel that I had to get to before it closed in the morning (much as albergues do). That was a scary journey. And the cloudburst didn't help....
 
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances (Fall 2015)
#21
RobertS26 gave us a great list. There you have it.

On my Camino, I did reach Villamayor de Monjardin late in the day and with no beds left. I checked for other accommodations in the tiny town and there were none. The Dutch Hospitalero gave me the options of either going back or catching a cab to the next town, because I was completely spent. I wanted to do neither. Instead, I asked where I might sleep outside that would be acceptable. He offered their front patio area and graciously brought out some extra pads for me. He also offered me the albergue restroom and shower for one euro, which I eagerly accepted. When bedtime came around, there were 6 of us stretched out in front of the albergue. The flagstones were hard, but the experience was marvelous. One of the other out-sleepers remarked in the morning that it was his best night yet.
 
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances (2015); Camino Norte/Primitivo (2016); Camino Frances (2017); Le Puy (June 2018)
#22
RobertS26 gave us a great list. There you have it.

On my Camino, I did reach Villamayor de Monjardin late in the day and with no beds left. I checked for other accommodations in the tiny town and there were none. The Dutch Hospitalero gave me the options of either going back or catching a cab to the next town, because I was completely spent. I wanted to do neither. Instead, I asked where I might sleep outside that would be acceptable. He offered their front patio area and graciously brought out some extra pads for me. He also offered me the albergue restroom and shower for one euro, which I eagerly accepted. When bedtime came around, there were 6 of us stretched out in front of the albergue. The flagstones were hard, but the experience was marvelous. One of the other out-sleepers remarked in the morning that it was his best night yet.
I arrived with three other family members at Monjardin in late April 2017 and the whole tiny town was "completo". The Dutch hospitalero did not offer the patio. I pressed him for other options and he then recommended a new albergue that had just opened in Luquin, which was located on the alternate route in the Brierley guide. I was disappointed to not stay at yhe Dutch run albergue as I'd enjoyed it in 2015, but our new "digs" were just fine and we had the whole place to ourselves. It was worth trudging a few additional kilometers in the heat.
 
Camino(s) past & future
CF Sept/Oct 2013
CF April/May 2016
#24
Hello Everyone,

This is my first post, as I plan my first full Camino (Frances) from St. JdP to Santiago. Three years ago, I completed the Sarria - Santiago leg using a tour company - delightful, but it whetted my appetite to experience the whole route. I have been interested in this adventure since reading Jack Hitt's book, Off the Road, nearly 20 years ago.

I plan on leaving from France in the second week of September and have been receiving lots of terrific information from this website. Thank you all for your insight, perspectives, and practical information.

One issue that I find of potential concern is not being able to find a bed in an albergue. What then? Do you keep walking until you find an open bed? Sleep under the stars, weather permitting? Am interested in hearing how folks coped with this particular predicament.

Looking forward to becoming an active member.

Best,

Tom
Hi Tom,

I walked beginning Sept 2013. I never made a reservation even in SJPdP where we arrived around 8:30 PM due to a slight train delay in Bayonne. The pilgrims office found beds for all who didn't have one. My first night on the Camino was in an attick above an alburgue with two beds. An Irishman was my bunk mate. It was an incredible, magical start.

Zubiri was full....I got the last bed in a private alburgue only by over hearing they had one bed left, so I announced loudly, I am solo, I am one. Oh I was so happy to have a hot shower and place to rest. A few pilgrim friends ended up in a big gymnasium on mattresses on the floor near mini albergue. A lot of pilgrims walked on to Larassana or were taxi'd there.

It's easier to get the last bed if you are solo. I passed through Pamplona which was crawling with people to walk to Cezor Manor.....so glad I did.

You'll learn to walk off from the main stages. You'll learn to get up earlier. You'll learn to trust in the Camino, because the Camino provides.

God Bless you and Buen Camino.....I'm so excited for you.
 

M. Oliver

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
2016
#26
Here are your options. First, find out if there is a second albergue in town or on the edge of town. Second, walk across the street to the one star Hotel that has converted several rooms into albergue style rooms (i.e. removed the queen bed and replaced it with four bunk beds. Third, walk into the nearest bar and ask the bartender for a room (locals who have permanently left town often leave keys to apartments with the bartender to rent out). Fourth, ask the bartender to make some calls (locals who have not left town, and wish to rent out their spare bedroom, often notify their bartender that they wish to make some extra money). Fifth, ask the local priest if there is overflow accommodations in the church. Sixth, take a taxi east, back up the Camino, to the last town you walked through, spend the night, taxi forward in the morning, and then restart walking exactly where you left off the day before. Seventh, taxi west down the Camino for a room. Eighth, taxi north (sometimes south) to the freeway that parallels the Camino. It's usually only a few miles away from the Camino and has hotels at many interchanges. Or, ninth, take off you backpack, throw it on the ground, break your walking poles over knee, and have a complete and total meltdown because there are "no options".
 
Camino(s) past & future
(Le Puy- St Jean Pied a Port (September 2018 )

St. Jean Pied a Port - Finisterre 2008
#28
"have a complete and total meltdown " or " I went outside and slept the last three or so hours in peace. "

options....

To sleep under the stars,
as they blaze like the eyes
of a long lost love,
best of sleep.

If rain happens,
you get wet
(unless you're the Wicked Witch of the East,
you won't melt)

If you're in a haystack,
little rustlings all night long
make you think of mice,
and you may not sleep well.

Often, tis true
out in the country,
a dog will bark all night long.
Rhythmically,
methodically,
woof woof, woofwoofwoof,
woof woof,woofwoofwoof
all night long.
Getting his own back
for the silence of the day.

If you're female,
you may worry all night.
Unwanted advances happen.

If you're gaunt and not well padded
bones will hurt on hard ground
(unless you've schlepped a pad
along with your super lightweightsleeping bagglet.)

You might well be discombobulated
with
night beauty,
unexpected insomniac bird calls
wind rushing by like angel's wings, on urgent errands
the dizzying scent of night blooming whatstherinames
and those stars...
the magic of being alive
on the Camino
and not safe in some boring warm and comfy bed.

A pilgrim,
wishing well
for the world,
for her soul,
for the joy of being
on the right side of the grass.

In the morning
you'll walk on.
 

tpmchugh

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances (2013)
Camino Frances (2015)
#29
Hello Everyone,

This is my first post, as I plan my first full Camino (Frances) from St. JdP to Santiago. Three years ago, I completed the Sarria - Santiago leg using a tour company - delightful, but it whetted my appetite to experience the whole route. I have been interested in this adventure since reading Jack Hitt's book, Off the Road, nearly 20 years ago.

I plan on leaving from France in the second week of September and have been receiving lots of terrific information from this website. Thank you all for your insight, perspectives, and practical information.

One issue that I find of potential concern is not being able to find a bed in an albergue. What then? Do you keep walking until you find an open bed? Sleep under the stars, weather permitting? Am interested in hearing how folks coped with this particular predicament.

Looking forward to becoming an active member.

Best,

Tom
Have walked twice in September, 2013 and 2015. Never had any problems getting a bed. In five trips to the camino, I have only seen the dreaded 'completo' sign a couple of times and each time around 5pm. I start early, 7am give or take 30 mins and walk until about 1pm, occasionally 2pm. Then I stop at the next albergue I come to. That gives me about 5 hours walking and an hour for breaks. Thats at least 20km which does me fine. And as I said, I always got a bed
 
Camino(s) past & future
May and October 2015
(2015 October)
June 2018 Portuguese
#30
"have a complete and total meltdown " or " I went outside and slept the last three or so hours in peace. "

options....

To sleep under the stars,
as they blaze like the eyes
of a long lost love,
best of sleep.

If rain happens,
you get wet
(unless you're the Wicked Witch of the East,
you won't melt)

If you're in a haystack,
little rustlings all night long
make you think of mice,
and you may not sleep well.

Often, tis true
out in the country,
a dog will bark all night long.
Rhythmically,
methodically,
woof woof, woofwoofwoof,
woof woof,woofwoofwoof
all night long.
Getting his own back
for the silence of the day.

If you're female,
you may worry all night.
Unwanted advances happen.

If you're gaunt and not well padded
bones will hurt on hard ground
(unless you've schlepped a pad
along with your super lightweightsleeping bagglet.)

You might well be discombobulated
with
night beauty,
unexpected insomniac bird calls
wind rushing by like angel's wings, on urgent errands
the dizzying scent of night blooming whatstherinames
and those stars...
the magic of being alive
on the Camino
and not safe in some boring warm and comfy bed.

A pilgrim,
wishing well
for the world,
for her soul,
for the joy of being
on the right side of the grass.

In the morning
you'll walk on.
Thank you!!
 

Scott54

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
May/June 2018
#32
I started walking in the third week of Sept in 2015. I only came upon one full albergue, in Nájera. I found a bed at a really nice pensione. I wouldn’t sweat it.
Re pensiones: are they easily found or identified? I leave in 4 days and want to stay/sleep/rest 2 nights in a few places - and preferably not in an albergue. Clues to finding or spotting them?
 

Davey Boyd

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Seven Compostelas in Three years and counting......
#34
Just curious, and maybe helpful to the OP. Have any of the forum members experienced sleeping outdoors unplanned and if so what was it like and where? I'm not asking this to the Camino walkers who do a mix of indoor and outdoor sleeping.
Yes often. My last Camino Frances (backwards, Finisterre to St Jean), I slept outside over 50% of the time. Just walked, rested, walked, got tired and lay down and slept. In the countryside, in villages and small towns (church porches are always good). Never a problem, no worries. No bag rustilng or snoring. Locals happily helped me out, as in best places to sleep. Many albergues gave me free showers or let me sleep outside etc. Even though I explained I had money, and it was just my choice. Met many wonderful people doing the same too.

Would not do this in a city though.

It is a truly liberating experience, at one with nature, being able to walk late in the cool of an evening, no cares where I ended up. Had to carry more weight though, extra food for the evening, more water and always a bottle of wine.

Truly though, you will always find a place if you really don't want to rough it. If you get short then use your phone or an albergue phone to find a place nearby and cab there. Easy.

Wonderful.
Davey
 
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances: September 24 - October 31 (2015); February/March (2019)
#36
Re pensiones: are they easily found or identified? I leave in 4 days and want to stay/sleep/rest 2 nights in a few places - and preferably not in an albergue. Clues to finding or spotting them?
The Wise Pilgrim app is a good source for lodging. In Nájera I heard of the pensione from a fellow pilgrim I came across while walking in search of lodging.
 

Davey Boyd

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Seven Compostelas in Three years and counting......
#37
That's the kind of spots I eyed on the Frances as an option in the event there truly was no room at the inn. That is why I brought up carrying the much abandoned and criticized sleeping/ground pad. Having a pad that costs less than 30 euros and weighs less than about 450 grams may just be a wise investment for those pilgrims with no qualms about sleeping outside. Especially the younger pilgrims in groups.
Excactly. Its amazing who you meet sleeping outside. Lots of the doggy and donkey people sleep outside, as do a lot of the youngsters with little cash too. I always carry a rollmat, for me it is just another option, and often a good choice (sunny evening on a mountain under the stars)!
 
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances...
Sept. 2017: SJPdP to Burgos
Sept./Oct. 2018: SJPdP to Santiago de Compostela
#38
That's the kind of spots I eyed on the Frances as an option in the event there truly was no room at the inn. That is why I brought up carrying the much abandoned and criticized sleeping/ground pad. Having a pad that costs less than 30 euros and weighs less than about 450 grams may just be a wise investment for those pilgrims with no qualms about sleeping outside. Especially the younger pilgrims in groups.
Yup. And if you want to go even more compact and lighter, at around 250 grams, you could get a 3/4 length pad rather than a full length one. The shorter size will still provide the essential insulation and cushioning.
https://www.amazon.com/Therm-Rest-R...ncoding=UTF8&refRID=4MS958MF0EHWG1JVKJVB&th=1

For me, I crave cushioning, and so I use an ultralight air mattress for backpacking. It is about 12 ounces in weight, is tough, but my bones need the comfort these days :)
 

Lurch

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
looking at 2018-2019
#41
I’d like to branch off of this thread and ask more about those wanting to sleep outside occasionally. Not wild camping, but are there hamlets where it would be OK for a night? Like davebugg I have had my share of experience with sleeping on the deck, and in the same country as him. Any particular locales that would be recommended?

Which reminds me, now that the weather is warmer at nights in S. Utah, I need to try my light sleeping bag on the deck.

Any advice is appreciated...semper fi
 
Camino(s) past & future
Frances (1989 and 2016), Portugues - central from Porto (2018 - planned)
#42
I’d like to branch off of this thread and ask more about those wanting to sleep outside occasionally. Not wild camping, but are there hamlets where it would be OK for a night? Like davebugg I have had my share of experience with sleeping on the deck, and in the same country as him. Any particular locales that would be recommended?

Which reminds me, now that the weather is warmer at nights in S. Utah, I need to try my light sleeping bag on the deck.

Any advice is appreciated...semper fi
I recently read the Camino memoir "The Best Way: the Camino de Santiago" by Bill Walker, which I got for my kindle. Bill is quite tall and he found that, more often than not, albergue beds would not fit him, so sleeping outside was frequent on his Camino. If you are looking for people's experiences sleeping outside, that's one source.
 
Camino(s) past & future
Nearly every year since 2006, often walking more than one route. 2018 will be Camino #14.
#43
Just curious, and maybe helpful to the OP. Have any of the forum members experienced sleeping outdoors unplanned and if so what was it like and where? I'm not asking this to the Camino walkers who do a mix of indoor and outdoor sleeping.
I’ve slept outdoors once on the Via de la Plata on the porch of an abandoned hotel, in the doorway of a church, in the yard of an albergue in Zubiri and again in Hospital de Orbigo.

I’ve slept out after Ciraqui and in Villamayor.

Leave no trace and be invisible.

.
 

JabbaPapa

"True Pilgrim"
Camino(s) past & future
100 characters or fewer : see signature details
#44
I’d like to branch off of this thread and ask more about those wanting to sleep outside occasionally. Not wild camping, but are there hamlets where it would be OK for a night?
"sleep outside occasionally" <----> "wild camping" ; I don't think there's that much legal distinction between the two in Spain, though such distinctions do exist in some other countries, such as the UK and France for instance.

It's actually pretty well tolerated throughout Spain, though some regions have stricter rules than others (on the Francès, the rules are strictest in Galicia and La Rioja IIRC), but these mostly concern tent-pitching rather than just sleeping, although as a rule of thumb, camping for a single night for those passing through is tolerated, even with a tent.

It's with open fires that you need to be filled with both common sense and obedience to the Law -- do not start one when surrounded by dry vegetation, which BTW should include don't smoke there either, but also wild campers who set up a hearth for a campfire are in some parts of Spain breaking the Law regardless of the season or the state of the nearby vegetation.

Finally, do NOT try and camp on anybody's obviously private property, unless you have their permission or in certain unusual emergency situations where you might be unable to avoid it.

hmmm, from personal experience, I'd say that the best thing to try and do is to sleep just outside a village or pueblo, rather than within -- not only because village lights will disturb sleep, but also because complete strangers who might come upon you in the night cannot be trusted 100% to have only your good interest in heart.

Ideally I'd say at a distance about a good morning stride to a good place for your breakfast and/or daily resupply, and I'd also suggest that finding a good place to sleep is best achieved, if not by pure necessity, by some walking in the afternoon to early evening, then at whatever time feels right, peel your eyes in search of a good spot, slightly out of the way, preferably with an amazing view, not too much out in the open view of locals nor other pilgrims, safe, comfortable, beautiful.

Oh, and avoid all hidden rocks, roots, and anthills.

Sure, sometimes sleeping out can be a purely utilitarian experience -- but if you keep your focus towards the ideals of it, often those ideals will be well rewarded.

And don't worry about any unexpected heavy rain, at least not until you get into Galicia, where sleeping out might be discouraged for that reason -- if your metabolism isn't too fast and your sleeping bag is good enough quality, you can just sleep or half-sleep through it.
 
Camino(s) past & future
Nearly every year since 2006, often walking more than one route. 2018 will be Camino #14.
#45
"sleep outside occasionally" <----> "wild camping" ; I don't think there's that much legal distinction between the two in Spain, though such distinctions do exist in some other countries, such as the UK and France for instance.

It's actually pretty well tolerated throughout Spain, though some regions have stricter rules than others (on the Francès, the rules are strictest in Galicia and La Rioja IIRC), but these mostly concern tent-pitching rather than just sleeping, although as a rule of thumb, camping for a single night for those passing through is tolerated, even with a tent.

It's with open fires that you need to be filled with both common sense and obedience to
All good advice. Especially the part about no fires. Absolutely no fires. Also the part about sleeping after the village. I have found the best thing to do is walk through the village, find food, use the toilet, and then walked out of the village and you’re likely to find a good place to camp outside the village. I can leave no trace please. Please. Please pick up after yourself.
 
Camino(s) past & future
Autumn, 2015
#46
I plan on leaving from France in the second week of September and have been receiving lots of terrific information from this website. Thank you all for your insight, perspectives, and practical information.

One issue that I find of potential concern is not being able to find a bed in an albergue. What then? Do you keep walking until you find an open bed? Sleep under the stars, weather permitting? Am interested in hearing how folks coped with this particular predicament.
Hi Tom -- it's the same time of year that I walked, and it was glorious. In answer to your questions: if you know how far you're going to walk, phone ahead and make a reservation, especially if you have walking companions. Some people have slept under the stars (I was very aware of this at Roncesvalles), but more likely, have called a cab and gone to the next village. I would not recommend that you keep walking, unless you know the limits of your stamina and recover. Things have changed a lot since Jack Hitt's book, and as a quarter of a million people walk the Camino each year, it is very well serviced.

David in Nova Scotia
 

Walking Lover

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
CdS from Leon to Santiago, June 16, 2016 to June 30, 2016.
#48
Hello Everyone,

This is my first post, as I plan my first full Camino (Frances) from St. JdP to Santiago. Three years ago, I completed the Sarria - Santiago leg using a tour company - delightful, but it whetted my appetite to experience the whole route. I have been interested in this adventure since reading Jack Hitt's book, Off the Road, nearly 20 years ago.

I plan on leaving from France in the second week of September and have been receiving lots of terrific information from this website. Thank you all for your insight, perspectives, and practical information.

One issue that I find of potential concern is not being able to find a bed in an albergue. What then? Do you keep walking until you find an open bed? Sleep under the stars, weather permitting? Am interested in hearing how folks coped with this particular predicament.

Looking forward to becoming an active member.

Best,

Tom
Walk on to a less populated town with an albergue.
 
Camino(s) past & future
Pomplano to Santiago (March 29-May 6 2018)
#49
Sorry to respectfully disagree with the folks saying you will be fine. You 'might' be fine. When I walked in 2015 I left SJPP September 18th and by the time I reached Viana there was a bottleneck. This was due in part to a long weekend and a local fiesta. I was lucky enough to get one of the last beds in town, but others I knew spent hours calling around and some finally ended up having to get a 50 euro cab ride all the way to Najera to find a place to sleep. After a few days of racing like that, I took a week long break and started again. No problems after that, but the end of September is still quite busy.
Agreed
 

JabbaPapa

"True Pilgrim"
Camino(s) past & future
100 characters or fewer : see signature details
#50
That is not always possible.
Then dump your sleeping bag and sleep outside.

Those walking shorter pilgrimages along the Francès alone are often scared of the Way of Saint James proper -- certainly no criticism, I was too back in '93 and at the beginning in '94 (actually pretty much all the way from Paris to Astorga), the answer to which is to just surrender to wherever the Way will seek to lead you.

Including if this might be to whatever gruesome night in whichever ghastly, lonely wilderness.
 

Texasguy

And so...we keep on walking ..
Camino(s) past & future
French completed in 2013
Portuguese Conpleted March 2015
Ingles Completed November 2015
French 2016
#51
Hello Everyone,

This is my first post, as I plan my first full Camino (Frances) from St. JdP to Santiago. Three years ago, I completed the Sarria - Santiago leg using a tour company - delightful, but it whetted my appetite to experience the whole route. I have been interested in this adventure since reading Jack Hitt's book, Off the Road, nearly 20 years ago.

I plan on leaving from France in the second week of September and have been receiving lots of terrific information from this website. Thank you all for your insight, perspectives, and practical information.

One issue that I find of potential concern is not being able to find a bed in an albergue. What then? Do you keep walking until you find an open bed? Sleep under the stars, weather permitting? Am interested in hearing how folks coped with this particular predicament.

Looking forward to becoming an active member.

Best,

Tom
Tom,

You will be ok!!!

The camino ALWAYS, ALWAYS provide.

Buen Camino,

Texasguy
 
Camino(s) past & future
(2017)
#52
My cousin and I started in St. JPdP September 3rd 2017. It was a very busy time. We had booked the hotel in Roncesvalles and were glad we did as pilgrims staying in the alberque lined up for over an hour and then got a spot on the floor in some other building. The next day we walked to Zubiri and since there were no beds there, we walked to Larrasoana. Again no beds in any of the albergues. In fact as soon as we walked into one they would ask if we had a reservation. So we found some mats and slept on the cement floor of a gymnasium. It was a very uncomfortable and noisy night so we were up very early and walked to Pamplona the next day. We arrived very early so were able to get a bed in the Jesus and Maria albergue. A half hour later they were turning people away. After that experience, I bought a Spanish SIM card and pre-booked a bed ever night. We did not stay in the main stopping points, but got off the "grid" hoping that it would be less busy. The list you get in St. JPdP does not give you all the albergues, but it is a help. By the end of the first week we were booking 2 and then 3 days in advance, since it became more difficult. It became a job of the pilgrims to start booking as soon as you got to your rest stop for the night. It's not how we wanted to do it, but it became necessary. On saying all that, some friends that started a week later had no issues and never pre-booked. They always stopped early, but we didn't want to hang out in some small town all afternoon and evening. We still usually stopped by 3 or 4. Some places wouldn't hold a reservation past 3 PM, because unfortunately too many pilgrims were booking several places in one or more towns and then not bothering to show up. Speaking Spanish was a huge asset as many albergue owners speak no or very little English.
 

Henm2

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
camino de frances
#53
I’ve slept outdoors once on the Via de la Plata on the porch of an abandoned hotel, in the doorway of a church, in the yard of an albergue in Zubiri and again in Hospital de Orbigo.

I’ve slept out after Ciraqui and in Villamayor.

Leave no trace and be invisible.

.
I slept out after Ciraqui. Was it the old olive grove you slept in?
 

MinaKamina

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Jacobspad 2017
#55
Tom,

You will be ok!!!

The camino ALWAYS, ALWAYS provide.

Buen Camino,

Texasguy

No it does most definitely NOT.

The camino provides is an expression that is used when you have a lucky encounter or you happen to find something that you are looking for. It is not a prediction, nor a guarantee. You cannot depend on it and you have to plan for your own contingencies.

There are times when the Camino will not provide a bed, but, as a consolation, the sun also rises, though this cannot be attributed to the Camino and nobody claims that it does.
 
Camino(s) past & future
Francés 2014
#56
Hello Everyone,

This is my first post, as I plan my first full Camino (Frances) from St. JdP to Santiago. Three years ago, I completed the Sarria - Santiago leg using a tour company - delightful, but it whetted my appetite to experience the whole route. I have been interested in this adventure since reading Jack Hitt's book, Off the Road, nearly 20 years ago.

I plan on leaving from France in the second week of September and have been receiving lots of terrific information from this website. Thank you all for your insight, perspectives, and practical information.

One issue that I find of potential concern is not being able to find a bed in an albergue. What then? Do you keep walking until you find an open bed? Sleep under the stars, weather permitting? Am interested in hearing how folks coped with this particular predicament.

Looking forward to becoming an active member.

Best,

Tom
There are some excellent responses to your question Tom. I want to add just one little piece I haven’t noticed yet. Some albergues close in “the off season”. Meaning they close on Oct 1. With so many pilgrims walking the “shoulder seasons” this seems to be happening a bit less. But I suggest you keep an eye on that in your Guide book listings. I know that Brierly will tell you if they close October-May.

I walked Aug 24 to Sept 30 and recall one exhausted hospitalero saying she was looking forward to closing on Sept 30. Face it- pilgrims wear them out!

Buen Camino

Sandi
 

Marbe2

Active member
Camino(s) past & future
2015 SJPD to Burgos
2017 Leon to Santiago
Pamplona to Santiago Mar. 2018
Burgos - SCDC (Oct 18)
#57
Hi Tom -- it's the same time of year that I walked, and it was glorious. In answer to your questions: if you know how far you're going to walk, phone ahead and make a reservation, especially if you have walking companions. Some people have slept under the stars (I was very aware of this at Roncesvalles), but more likely, have called a cab and gone to the next village. I would not recommend that you keep walking, unless you know the limits of your stamina and recover. Things have changed a lot since Jack Hitt's book, and as a quarter of a million people walk the Camino each year, it is very well serviced.
David in Nova Scotia
I walked abt two days later the same route in 2015! When I started looking at accommodations (private) in July of that year many of the private accommodations were already full between St. Jean And Burgos and then, again between Sarria and Santiago. We stayed at a number of private, small albergues that year. Folks kept calling in at various places asking for availability...nothing was available! My experience was...that if you want a spot without having to hunt or compete for a spot to make a reservation ahead! Depends on your needs and tolerances!
 
Camino(s) past & future
2015 Astorga to Santiago, 2017 Lourdes to Burgos
#58
Hello Everyone,

This is my first post, as I plan my first full Camino (Frances) from St. JdP to Santiago. Three years ago, I completed the Sarria - Santiago leg using a tour company - delightful, but it whetted my appetite to experience the whole route. I have been interested in this adventure since reading Jack Hitt's book, Off the Road, nearly 20 years ago.

I plan on leaving from France in the second week of September and have been receiving lots of terrific information from this website. Thank you all for your insight, perspectives, and practical information.

One issue that I find of potential concern is not being able to find a bed in an albergue. What then? Do you keep walking until you find an open bed? Sleep under the stars, weather permitting? Am interested in hearing how folks coped with this particular predicament.

Looking forward to becoming an active member.

Best,

Tom
Do not worry Tom. I started out from San Jean PdP on the 10th September last year without any bookings whatsoever. I only walked as far as Hornillos then turned back to Burgos and travelled home. In the 14 days I only had a slight problem at Logrono. This was because they had some days of fiesta and the albergues were full of revellers rather than pelegrinos. After passing two with signs that they are full up I asked some police standing around a squad car and they directed me to the church of Santiago El Real. Sure enough they had lots of space on mattresses on the floor and they also had dinner and breakfast. It was donativo. Excellent choice actually. The only place you absolutely must book, (weeks ahead) is Orison if you have to stop there on the first day. I thought I might stop there, (I was 71 then), so tried to book a fortnight before I left home but found it already full up so I simply bypassed it and went straight to Rocesvalles. Tough but doable.
 
#59
Hello Everyone,

This is my first post, as I plan my first full Camino (Frances) from St. JdP to Santiago. Three years ago, I completed the Sarria - Santiago leg using a tour company - delightful, but it whetted my appetite to experience the whole route. I have been interested in this adventure since reading Jack Hitt's book, Off the Road, nearly 20 years ago.

I plan on leaving from France in the second week of September and have been receiving lots of terrific information from this website. Thank you all for your insight, perspectives, and practical information.

One issue that I find of potential concern is not being able to find a bed in an albergue. What then? Do you keep walking until you find an open bed? Sleep under the stars, weather permitting? Am interested in hearing how folks coped with this particular predicament.

Looking forward to becoming an active member.

Best,

Tom

Having walked over 11000 km of different caminos never had a problem finding a bed. Private Albergue’s popping up all over the place
 

long trails

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances June 2016
Portugues April 2017
#60
Take a roll up mattress that will weight next to nothing then you'll never be without a bed.

You could even go one step further and take a tent. One of mine weighs only 600 grams. That's a bottle of coke.

Even if beds are plentiful, carrying your own emergency shelter is real peace of mind and takes away any need to rush to the next stop.
 
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances, Muxia/Fisterra (Dec/Jan 2016) Way of St. James - Luxembourg (July/Aug 2018)
#61
This is not a practical answer, but... trust the magic of the Camino. Everything you need will be there when you need it. (Not always when you want it or when you THINK you need it, but when you actually need it.) I didn't believe that before I walked... but it happened over and over again. <3

Buen camino.
 
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances...
Sept. 2017: SJPdP to Burgos
Sept./Oct. 2018: SJPdP to Santiago de Compostela
#62
This is not a practical answer, but... trust the magic of the Camino. Everything you need will be there when you need it. (Not always when you want it or when you THINK you need it, but when you actually need it.) I didn't believe that before I walked... but it happened over and over again. <3

Buen camino.
I call that kind of magic 'taxis' and 'buses', 'hotels', 'hostals', and 'casa rurals'. :)
 
Camino(s) past & future
Frances (2015); Ch. d'Arles: Oloron Ste Marie to Aragones; Frances (2016); V.d.l.P.; Sanabres (2017)
#63
Near the end of my first camino, I found myself at Salceda, about 8 km short of Pedrouzo, with two other women who were considering where to spend the night, having telephoned all three albergues in the vicinity and been told that they had closed for the season (on Nov. 15). The sun was a little above the horizon and rain was approaching. The first thought that went through my mind was that I did not have enough gear to keep all three of us warm and dry through a rainy night. I suggested that we go to the closest of the albergues, where someone had answered the phone earlier, although he was no longer answering. The others agreed, and we walked a short distance to a private albergue. The owner agreed to let us stay and to feed us. He gave us a room to ourselves for a dormitory rate. He also hosted and fed three male pilgrims who were likewise needing beds. This was the day after he had decided that he was closed for the season. When I passed there the next year (also in November), I noticed that he had posted a sign by the road saying that his albergue was closed for the season. I suggest that a combination of basic emergency gear, mutual aid, and the kindness of strangers may provide shelter when there seems to be nothing available. I do see this as a camino blessing. Our host had walked as a pilgrim.
The year before, I had learned of the wonder of a chilly night out under the stars on a mountain in New Zealand. If you can avoid hypothermia, you will be fine in the morning.
 

Marbe2

Active member
Camino(s) past & future
2015 SJPD to Burgos
2017 Leon to Santiago
Pamplona to Santiago Mar. 2018
Burgos - SCDC (Oct 18)
#64
I know many pilgrims on tight budgets cannot afford to do this, and this advice is for those that can. Always have some spare euros tucked away in the wallet, only for an "emergency" (I know it is not a true emergency) in the event your only option is staying in a hotel, casa rural or pensiones. I did it a few times. I even shared a room and cost with two other pilgrims on two different occasions.
Also, for those that can afford private ones and when the Camino is crowded, avoid staying in the municipals and donativos. Leave a bunk open for those that depend on them. Trust me, you will not be cheating yourself out of the pilgrim experience by doing so.

I continue to try and warn people on the CF that even private accommodations during peak times are frequently full too in certain sections of the Camino. Therefore, at high season do not think that you can just, willy nilly, get an accommodation at a private facility. In some towns at certain times you will find every bed full. If you have the reserve energy to move on great! Otherwise, plan to take a taxi or sleep under the stars! Annie Santiago, I believe suggested noting (cell phone photos) the local cab companies as she passed through towns. I think that is an excellent suggestion. While, yes, I have met many a camino Angel...know your limits and plan accordingly. Do not depend that even a private room will always be available as an alternative at peak times!
 
Camino(s) past & future
Nearly every year since 2006, often walking more than one route. 2018 will be Camino #14.
#65
Take a roll up mattress that will weight next to nothing then you'll never be without a bed.

You could even go one step further and take a tent. One of mine weighs only 600 grams. That's a bottle of coke.

Even if beds are plentiful, carrying your own emergency shelter is real peace of mind and takes away any need to rush to the next stop.
I see more of those discarded along the Way than any other object.
 

JabbaPapa

"True Pilgrim"
Camino(s) past & future
100 characters or fewer : see signature details
#67
I know many pilgrims on tight budgets cannot afford to do this, and this advice is for those that can. Always have some spare euros tucked away in the wallet, only for an "emergency" (I know it is not a true emergency) in the event your only option is staying in a hotel, casa rural or pensiones. I did it a few times. I even shared a room and cost with two other pilgrims on two different occasions.
Also, for those that can afford private ones and when the Camino is crowded, avoid staying in the municipals and donativos. Leave a bunk open for those that depend on them. Trust me, you will not be cheating yourself out of the pilgrim experience by doing so.
The "pilgrim experience" certainly does not involve any fake poverty.

One's Camino is not defined by one's sleeping arrangements. It's defined with who you are, and if who you are is wealthy, then you'll just cheat yourself and others if you try and pretend anything different.

OK all pilgrims back in the 90s and earlier were forced into the same conditions, no matter our status in life, so that strong-minded millionaires could find themselves sharing space on the dirt ground of an old animal stable converted into an emergency refugio with the shiftless unemployed-- but the nostalgia for that era is misplaced IMO, despite the positives that it had, both because variable experiences from variable wealth & poverty are an essential element of the Camino as such, and because even so, all who have the sufficient discipline to walk without any undue motor vehicle assistance will still find that the essence of that camaraderie is there, and does not require that all must sleep hodge-podge with rubbish & dysfunctional cold shower "amenities" and only whatever food & drink some might happen to have physically carried there in their pack.

(but it was beautiful sometimes to see understanding dawn in some millionaires along the Way in being fed by paupers, else go hungry)

Besides, the Traditional Pilgrim Way that is more genuinely associated with such ascesis and deprivations and sacrifices is the Jerusalem Way, in the foot pilgrim manner that is ; the Camino de Santiago is more associated with Conversion and with some more abstract Spirituality and has always, to a degree, been associated with a certain kind of religious tourism.

The pilgrimages to Rome, Lourdes, and Fatima each have their own particulars, of course ...
 

JabbaPapa

"True Pilgrim"
Camino(s) past & future
100 characters or fewer : see signature details
#68
Have you had a chance to fly on one of those new fangled aeroplane's yet? I heard they are very cool.
My first solo walk in Spain occurred I think in 1966 (possibly late 1965 but I really don't think so) after an escape from a holiday rental flat on the Costa Blanca. (born in 1965) -- I walked to the beach (remember exactly nil of the walk itself).

Kit weight ? 0 grams, as I'm told I was stark naked when they found me.

Very likely to be the '66 as I can seem to remember it was the second time we flew out there, whereas I can remember not a single pleasurable air travel experience except for two particular internal Air France ones back in the 1980s because empty plane + bored stewardesses + complementary mini wine bottles galore. (also the only occasions where the food wasn't utterly revolting)

So much for the coolness of air travel.

Once you've walked 2000 KM from A to B, or simply if you have walked a few hundred yards among many strangers as a naked toddler in a foreign land in search of your mum and dad before you've even learned how to talk properly, air travel ?

When you grow up to have legs too long to sit comfortably even in your own home, let alone a commercial jet airliner ?

No thanks.
 
Last edited:

Laly

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
2019
#69
Its never wise to paint everyone with the same brush (generalize) but the Spanish are a very friendly people, opening up and talking about your situation with town locals will open doors, of course use care and never forget personal safety is what is important here. As a female travelling alone there are some things which I look for and others I avoid. Avoid: remote, isolated accommodation, bad feeling of security. Positives: Families with children in the home, friendly dogs. homes with close neighbours. Magic really can happen on these occassions, I have memories of sharing a meal with kind families that took me in to guarantee my safety.
 

long trails

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances June 2016
Portugues April 2017
#70
I see more of those discarded along the Way than any other object.
You'd never see mine discarded. It cost me over £100!

It's a shame and terrible behaviour that people litter anywhere but it's still a good idea assuming people keep hold of their unwanted gear.
 
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