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Young Family Choosing a Camino for mid-November

Discussion in 'Miscellaneous Topics' started by Will Burt, Sep 13, 2017.

  1. Will Burt

    Will Burt New Member

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    My wife and I want to take our baby (he'll be 4 months old by then) along a Camino for ~2 weeks starting in mid-November.
    Initially, we were going to walk the Camino Portugues, but I have concerns about the amount of road walking between Lisbon-Porto, and potentially cold wet weather between Porto-Santiago.
    We will already be in Valencia to begin our vacation, so now I'm thinking of perhaps a route in southern Spain? I'm looking at the Levante Road, or perhaps the Southeast Road? Or maybe even the Mozarabe Road.

    We are a fit couple in our 30's and we speak relatively little Spanish, but are up for the challenge!
    Any advice people have would be appreciated.
     
    HedaP likes this.
  2. CaminoDebrita

    CaminoDebrita Veteran Member Donating Member

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    You may not appreciate this advice, but I think I'd wait till baby was a bit older.

    A lot of people are on this forum, and I keep holding my breath waiting for someone to weigh in---it's just kind of a lot to have the new mother do.

    Our daughter had a baby ten months ago, and for the first three or four months, she was exhausted.

    Best of luck, and I hope you get it all figured out.
     
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  3. C clearly

    C clearly Veteran Member Donating Member

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    Maybe the silence speaks volumes! :(

    You should expect chilly wet weather anywhere in Galicia in November.

    The problem with other/southern routes is that they have much less flexibility in terms of distances walked and options for taking breaks, getting refreshments, changing plans. On the VdlP and probably other routes, you could find yourselves with no place to sit down for 15-20 km. Perching on a granite marker, nursing an infant, would not be pleasant! Nor would changing diapers in the rain! On the Frances you can pick a section that appeals to you, and there will be a lot more options that you can work with, depending on the weather and how you feel. On the Frances you can function with very little Spanish but on the southern routes in November, that would be another challenge.

    Except for the likelihood of cold and rain that you don't like, I would suggest Astorga to Santiago.
     
  4. VNwalking

    VNwalking Veteran Member

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    Hi, Will,
    I'm not a parent, nor have I walked any of the southern Caminos.
    But I'm thinking of my experiences of walking in March - basically late winter. Sometimes the weather was glorious, but when it wasn't it really wasn't. It can be cold, windy as heck, with rain/sleet/snow. And this is across the Camino Frances, not only in Galicia. November, being early winter is likely similar.
    It's one thing for you both to walk as consenting adults and put up with that. But with a young baby? This could be hard you as parents, and hard on the baby, too.
    Imagine having to stop and change a diaper when it's looking like this:

    No matter where you go, you'll need warm clothes and raingear for yourselves, and protection for the baby - so that's a bit of weight to consider in addition to carrying the baby.

    Weather aside, unless your baby is sleeping through the night, your fellow pilgrims will likely not be so thrilled about being awakened at odd hours. So as a kindness to others, you'd need to find private accommodation. On the more traveled routes this is no trouble, but of course more expensive.

    So if I were in your shoes, I'd be waiting until the baby's a bit older, and until it's possible to walk when the weather is more temperate. I do understand the wanting to walk, and so can imagine this is not the feedback you want to hear. But the Camino isn't going anyplace. It will wait. Honest.
    Buen Camino whenever you end up going!
     
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  5. CaminoDebrita

    CaminoDebrita Veteran Member Donating Member

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    Yep.

    I walked in November for the first two weeks in 2015, and it was c c c c cold a lot of the time. Not only that, but slippery when the ground was wet.
     
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  6. nycwalking

    nycwalking Veteran Member

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    Check out BeYourPotential vlog on Youtube. A young couple recorded camino from Valcarlos to Santiago accompanied by their young baby during off season. First installment mother is holding an umbrella. In search engine I put in "walking camino with baby". I viewed their installments some time ago. Should be a nice guide for your pilgrimage.

    This couple is walking the CF, but you'll get an idea of travelling with baby.

    Buen camino
     
  7. hel&scott

    hel&scott Active Member

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    I had a lovely time walking the Portuguse route with my daughter in November, @VNwalking picture is very representative of what we had to wade through... my baby girl is in her 30s. Did the Levante, but as grown adults and experienced long distance walkers this route broke us, some very long exposed stretches with no shelter or places to stock up with supplies, Scott ended up with fractured ribs.

    My parents took us on numerous long hikes in NZ, once with my youngest sister as a toddler barely out of nappies, she nearly drown on one memorable trip, my oldest sister broke her arm on another and the other sister fractured a leg in yet another... That we all made it to middle age is in my book a minor miracle, still they were great times and when we get together and tell stories some of the later members of the family can't believe we are serious.
     
    Last edited: Sep 13, 2017
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  8. samba

    samba New Member

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    Hey I wouldn't do the Mozarabe in oct especially with a baby . We did it June/July last year and wrong time( hot as) plus there are long distances in between stops and some parts over mountains tricky to climb . Lots of rocks underfoot . You do need some Spanish . We came across one other couple and in fact relied heavily on Laurie instructions re route as not well marked
    Great Camino and l loved it but am sure could not have survived with s baby too
    As people have responded , Parts of Frances be better as more infrastructure . It may be not so crowded in October and certainly easier as shorter distances and well marked etc
    Burn Camino whichever you do and if it's a more manageable one baby be fine . In fact the younger the less trouble and not too heavy . In a sling ? Can't complain either ! I travelled with my first baby on own in Europe which is a bit different to Camino . But we walked a lot and had backpack and fine . You will have someone with you too
    Ps I mean Buen Camino . Freudian slip !
     
  9. LTfit

    LTfit Veteran Member Donating Member

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    I agree with all of the above comments. I have walked many of the less travelled routes - the Levante from Valencia, Mozárabe from Granada and the Vía de la Plata from Sevilla (2x) and I can't imagine walking any of them with a small baby - and I speak Spanish!

    Finding accommodations if you need to stop unexpectedly will be a problem, at times there was not even a café open before 11 a.m. (Levante)! You probably would need to find private hostels offering a private, not dorm-style room, as you can't expect your fellow pilgrims to be accepting of a baby that may cry at night (and they will!).

    This all sounds quite negative and I am all for new moms getting out and exercising (I am a physiotherapist with a specialty in prenatal and postpartum care as well as a childbirth educator) but I would recommend waiting. Both baby and parents will be more prepared to tackle difficulties out on the road when he/she is older and has developed some sort of routine.

    Good luck thinking this through.
     
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  10. J F Gregory

    J F Gregory Preparing for the Norte

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    We walked during Holy Week when Spanish children are out of school and saw many families some with infants, but the weather was miserable wet and cold even the older children were not having fun.
     
  11. natefaith

    natefaith Moderator Staff Member Donating Member

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    Hola Will and welcome to the Forum! And congrats on your little one!

    If walking the Camino doesn't work for you guys at this time (with the considerations mentioned above by those that have walked in the winter), you could consider taking a nice road trip through Spain in November. Especially in Andalucia - with cities like Cádiz, Málaga, and the "white towns" of Arcos de la Frontera and others - it will be pleasant and warm and nice to drive around. You could even go down to quirky Gibraltar for a day; there's nothing like it.

    Or, take a drive along the northern coast of Spain and see San Sebastián, Santander, Bilbao, and the Cathedral Beach in Ribadeo and end up in Santiago. Lots to see in Spain, as you probably already know and are planning for.

    Enjoy all the planning and take care!
    Faith
     
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  12. Kiwi-family

    Kiwi-family Veteran Member

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    Hi!
    When my firstborn was two months old I was asked to take on a job at a local school - I accepted on the condition I could take my baby along. She was in a predictable routine, it was a breeze and good for both of us.
    Fast forward 14 years when firstborn has seven more siblings, the youngest of whom is two. We take them all for a trip which lasts fifteen months.
    I am all for adventuring with kids.
    I'm guessing your baby is like my first one. Not like my fifth one. He screamed and vomited all day long for months. We hardly ventured out with him.
    I could have walked a camino with my firstborn (in fact I was back at university when she was six days old and sitting exams with her in tow at six weeks) - so if your wife/partner is feeling great and your baby is settled, I would not discourage you. If baby were not born yet and you had no idea how you'd all be, I would suggest NOT making camino plans - there are too many variables and you might feel pressured by your expectations.
    But if you've decided to go, there are some things to consider. Baby won't be moving so will get cold - you'll need good protective gear. If you practice "Elimination Communication" the diaper change issue resolves itself - although baby still might need to perform when it's raining'muddy/cold.
    Get private rooms - and I say that as someone who has taken her kids on three Caminos and used municipal and parochial albergues almost exclusively.
    Perhaps go with the understanding that if it's pouring with rain you'll stay put for a day or take a bus (I'm thinking of the seven consecutive days of rain we had on the Via de la Plata - it can be miserable) - just enjoy being together.
    Your wife/partner needs to eat well. You shouldn't do what seemed to be the typical camino thing of walking 6-10km before stopping for a coffee, then walking some more and stopping for a coke. With some thinking ahead you can always have a nutritious breakfast before you head off each day, and have fruit and nuts and cheese in your pack to snack on during the day.
    Now I'm starting to sound bossy! Sorry about that. I share these thoughts in the hope that it will help you have a successful adventure.
    If, after reading this thread, you decide not to walk yet, keep dreaming about doing it some day. If it's with a toddler there will be a few other issues to consider, but by the time they are six or so, you would have my unreserved enthusiasm for taking them along!
    Let us know how you go.
     
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  13. CaminoDebrita

    CaminoDebrita Veteran Member Donating Member

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    Now I'm curious: why would you recommend that they get private rooms if you never have?

    Thanks for the reply.

    Also, I was on my first Camino and met a woman with a young baby. She would wander off and leave the baby with whomever was sitting nearby. There was one occasion when I felt taken advantage of. I will not elaborate.

    Fortunately, the hospitalera found the mother and young baby--about ten months old--a private room of sorts, but imagining sharing sleeping quarters with a crying infant does not sound great.
     
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  14. Sixwheeler

    Sixwheeler Active Member

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    If you do go ahead with this, please bear in mind that in cold and/or wet weather even a well insulated and dry baby will get cold very quickly. This is because, unlike you, they are motionless so not generating any heat; also their small size means that their core is much more vulnerable. Have seen too many babies screaming with cold in the hills in the UK and too many parents completely unaware of the reason.
     
  15. kirkie

    kirkie Active Member Donating Member

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    I have just watched the BeYourPotential videos. Amazing. The couple are vegan... and looked to me that they mostly used albergues. Perhaps there is a link to the couple who made the blog, they would be able to share more of their experience. Good luck with your decision.
     
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  16. VNwalking

    VNwalking Veteran Member

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    I'm glad @Kiwi-family replied, because she's coming from direct experience, and offers concrete suggestions.

    If you can keep baby warm and dry, and are able to find a place to sleep so that everyone else isn't awakened at feeding time, well...go for it, and buen camino!
    It will definitely be a challenge.
     
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  17. mspath

    mspath Veteran Member Donating Member

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  18. Kiwi-family

    Kiwi-family Veteran Member

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    Because I walked with children who could be guaranteed to sleep all night, not with a baby that might wake and disturb others.
    Of course that is potentially no worse than snorers or 4am bag rustlers - but considering others will win you more friends, especially when you are doing something that they might disapprove of (like dragging a baby along!)
     
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  19. CaminoDebrita

    CaminoDebrita Veteran Member Donating Member

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    Gotcha. Hey, I love babies---but during the winter on Camino, yikes. I am a new grandparent, and I've had sleepless nights caring for our little man. Babies have baby issues!
     
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  20. Will Burt

    Will Burt New Member

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    Wow....I didn't expect quite this many responses!

    For those with positive responses, thank you so much! For those with less positive notes, I fully understand your concerns, but my wife and I are both excited about this adventure, we are experienced trekkers, and we are aware of the science surrounding heat transfer and body temperature ;)

    We have settled on the Porto-->Santiago Camino, the ~12-day length is ideal, and it seems quite well established, thus more options for accommodation, and places to stop along the way. I am well-aware of the potentially awful weather, but as Canadian trekkers we have learn't that you can't let the "possibility" of foul weather stop you. We can navigate the climate.
    I've looked through a couple of threads about that route, but any tips about that route would be great!

    The big question I still have is:
    Do we need to pre-book anything? Given the potential complications of weather and..well....little Callum...we would prefer to go day-by-day. Perhaps stay an extra day in a town to rest up/avoid bad weather. We will likely need private rooms at many places, will there be enough availability to simply arrive in a town unannounced?

    I love this forum, so nice to hear all the 'Buen Camino's'!
     
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  21. VNwalking

    VNwalking Veteran Member

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    In your shoes, I'd book the first few nights, and go from there, taking into consideration the number of pilgrims, and local people there can tell you about conditions ahead. There's a list floating around here (maybe as a resource?) of open albergues for the Frances in the Winter, but I don't know about the Portugues. It'd be worth looking, and if you can't find anything, then just post another thread to see if anyone knows.
    Guidebooks also have this info, but it's not always current.
    Buen Camino, Will and family!
     
  22. CaminoDebrita

    CaminoDebrita Veteran Member Donating Member

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    Sounds much more realistic! It's good to know that you have experience with cold weather, science of body heat transfer, are from a country that gets its share of cold weather, and are experienced trekkers. All of this is good.

    When you get this much help and support online, it is not meant to "sound" critical--but you have to admit that you did change up your plans a little bit, and in fact, shared more information about your experience and your accommodation plans. In other words, we helped you, you listened, and you have a plan in place!

    There are many online resources on the forum about accommodations and etapas (steps) that will help you. I also ordered Brierley's guide to the Camino Portuguese. Gronze.com has great information, and that might be worth a first look :)

    Buen Camino, little family!
     
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  23. hel&scott

    hel&scott Active Member

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    @Will Burt , glad you picked up your messages… I was hoping we hadn't scared you off the forum. It is very unusual for this group of seasoned walkers to recommend delaying or not walking as we usually encourage everyone to go at their own pace and within their own capabilities. Good to see you took our comments with the positive concern intended. I hope it works out well for you all, you shouldn't be that isolated if you need to seek assistance or a warm place to pull into for the night. I hope you get to take your boy on many more trips, perhaps ones he will be old enough to remember, as despite some of the trail horror stories we did build a lot of good memories and I still walk with my dear old dad, now in his late 80s.
     
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  24. Will Burt

    Will Burt New Member

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    @hel&scott thank you so much for this response. I really needed it after a few down days where I regretted this forum altogether. I actually really liked your initial post about your harrowing tales. Although those moments are not fun to live through in the moment, they are great to look back on and they make ALL the difference in the development of both your kids, yourself, and your relationship with your partner! Hooray for adventures!
    Also, we've started watching the BeYourPotential vlog, its fantastic, so thanks @nycwalking and @kirkie for suggesting that.
    We're feeling really good about this now, and will book the flights this week to confirm it all!
    Buen Camino!
     
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  25. C clearly

    C clearly Veteran Member Donating Member

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    Whether walking with a baby or alone, I think it is wise to be aware of the pros and cons of the camino. It is not everyone's cup of tea! In your case, we all wanted to be sure that you understood the real difficulties that might arise.
    I assure you that the people who responded (several of whom I've met personally) have only positive concern and interest in your adventure, but we had to be sure you were not planning on the basis of an overly romanticised view of the Camino (and babies ;)). I'm glad we helped you move along with planning. Ask another question, like whether your baby needs hiking boots or just socks, and we'll be full of opinions! :D
     
  26. falcon269

    falcon269 sidra; no commercial interests

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    I did not quite understand this comment, so I looked at all the comments of Members that I have on my "Ignore" list. Now I understand it! Your problem is that you have not been a Forum Member long enough to know how to use "Ignore." It allows you to block the comments that you are pretty sure will be negative (I am on a lot of Ignore lists, I suspect!!). Negative, of course, does not mean factual information that will help you plan your trip. To me, it is more about "you are not doing what I would do." Big difference, at least in my mind.

    Have fun. Buen camino.:):)
     
  27. kirkie

    kirkie Active Member Donating Member

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    Will Burt, I am so glad to see that you are following through on your plans. You referred to some posts that have cheered you up and on. You will know, as did the couple in the Beyourpotential trip, if you have to pull the plug. Wishing you all the best. Buen Camino!
     

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