Do you have some advice for those over 60 wanting to walk the Camino de Santiago?

Camino de Santiago for those over 60
Camino de Santiago for those over 60

The question was:

I would love to hear from some senior trekkers about how they planned their Camino adventure. I am planning to walk next year in my 60th year with my 63 yr. old brother. We have concerns about being too ambitous about the distance we can reasonably walk in any given day. We are in good health, but not experienced long distance hikers. […] We want to walk, but be realistic about it. Any advise would be appreciated.

Read all the good advice for pilgrims over 60 here.

  • Alex

    Start walking now…
    I have been walking one to two hours per day for the past year.
    Still a long way off the five hours per day.
    I plan on walking from St Jean Pied de Port to Burgos to celebrate my 70th birthday next year.
    Two of my fellow pilgrims will be 75 years old and another will be 70.
    It’s not a race just one foot in front of the other, a couple of young pups like shouldn’t have any problems
    Happy walking
    Alex

  • JanAckerman

    I just walked the Camino Portugease and most folks I met where older than 60.  In fact I walked with a guy that was 69 and I could barely keep up with him.

    • Julie

      Hello Jan,
      I’m planning to walk the Camino Portuguese in Sept 2013 and would love to hear more about the route and places you stayed.
      There is a lot of information on the Camino Frances, but not so much on the Portuguese Way.
      Regards,
      Julie julieginoz@yahoo.ca

  • Stars and Stones

    I have never done any sport and never been fit — and I did not prepare at all for the camino, and yet I walked between 6 and ten hours a day for 36 days from St Jean to Santiago and seriously wanted to turn around and walk back as well, it was so wonderful. Your age is in your mind; you are as old as you allow yourself to feel. So forget about numbers and go enjoy the gift of each moment on the camino. it is as the previous two pilgrim said — there are people much older on the camino — whether you CAN do it or not is a mental thing, not physical, as is whether you WANT to do it, or not.

    • Jim Kaszynski

      Thanks I needed that! I am doing the same walk June 1st, 2013. I’m 67 but never did act like my age! I think your right it’s more of a mental thing.meaning. You WANT to do it. Jim K jimideaman@netzero.net

      • Hi Jim,
        I am planning to do the trip the following June. I would love to hear of your experience. thank you!
        Buen Camino!

  • JC

    I am not 60+. When I walked the Camino, during my first day I had problems with my legs and knees. The problems continued throughout the Camino. Everyone under 60, I noticed had problems. Everyone over 60 seemed to be in perfect form. They started early, they walked long days, they laughed, they enjoyed themselves. They were physically the absolute best. Go at whatever pace feels comfortable and you’ll be fine. 🙂 Buen Camino!

  • northyukon

    I just returned from walking from Burgos to Santiago. I’m 69. I’d say to be prepared by walking ahead of time, carry a light pack. 20km per day is not too ambitious a distance, and you can always walk shorter distances or longer. I figure I walked over 1,000,000 steps in 25 days. It was an amazing trip, go for it.

  • Assuming you have a bit of time and money, I would suggest four things:
    1. Don’t hurry. I made my Camino a few months ago at the age of 73. It took me 41 days, and I wish I had taken a bit longer.
    2. Avoid albergues whenever a hostal, casa rural, or hotel are available.
    3. Take a day off every ten days or so, especially if you can take your break in an interesting city.
    4. Break in your boots, uses a good foot lubricant, wear two pair of socks, a lightweight wicking inner sock and a heavier wool outer sock.
    As I said, I’m 73. I kept my pack light, under 20 pounds, walked slower than the younger folks, and took good care of my feet (No blisters in 41 days!) Best of luck on your Camino.
    John

    • Linya Huang

      Dear John,
      Can you kindly share how you manage NOT to have blisters in 41 days???
      Buen Camino!!!!

    • morningstar

      john b bell.am planning on walking in april 2014..i will be 67-68, hopefully this is a good time of year.did u make alot of arrangements and set itenery?my gal pal from calif. is going with and she is a must have everything arranged and organized b4 hand. i am more let’s just do it and enjoy the adventure. i will be training at the gym on treadmil a walking now in the summer is too brutal. thanks for the sock info.i am going the france way…did u schedule with travel agent or are trains,etc. easy to find out about once one arrives..i am flying into madrid then plan train up to st. jean. what are your thoughts….thanks buen camino,morningstar

    • Katherine Nobles

      Why do you say to avoid the albergues?

      • ryan howard

        I can’t speak for John, but my wife and I just walked Astorga to Finesterra and Muxia. We are both 56 years old and stayed in 4 or 5 albergues. We used pensions the rest of the time as we found them to be the best option for us. Albergues are fine but we discovered we needed a more quiet, relaxing place to unwind after a long day of walking.

  • Susanna Mason

    Hi, I was 57 when I walked 4years ago , I didn’t train enough & subsequently had “issues”
    & we walked too far too early.. 35 kms on the 3 rd day!!
    So slower is best in the beginning , you’ll get fit along the way don’t have your pack over 10% of body weight
    Susanna

  • littleanne

    WOW this looks great. I travel every year – still working- so save all my hols. This year I was planning a month in France – using one week to hike on Camino- have done several other big hikes before. BUT now I wonder if I should spend the whole month on Camino??. I intend end Sept to travel- always spend my October Birthday away from home in some great place.

  • I completed the Camino in June 2012, I am 67 and my partner was 71 at the time with a pacemaker..We walked from St Jean. Our advice is to just take your time, walk what you can each day and plan some rest days.. On your rest day – rest, that is one lesson we learned early in the trip. Pack light, don;t take any unnecessary clothing and have your backpack lighter than 10% of your body weight especially if you have knee issues. The Camino is an amazing journey with amazing people. We are looking forward to the Portuguese route in 2014 .

  • Pat

    My husband & I celebrated my 60th by doing 200 miles of the Camino last summer- Leon to Santiago. We had no problems– tired every night, ready to go every morning. We pretty well followed the Brierly stages, and found the distances to be doable. We stayed mostly in albergues, once in a while an hostal.
    I used hiking poles for more confidence in balance, as I’m not as athletic or fit as he is. We both had a rough first day, and found our pace (and lightened our packs) the second day.
    I’d say listen to your body & find your own pace. I wouldn’t worry too much about extensive advance practice (other than to be sure your shoes are broken in & right for you) as the spirit of the Camino takes over, and there is plenty of company & plenty of chance to rest as you go. And it is all you are doing, unlike regular life, where fitting in an hour or 2 of walking can be a challenge.
    Happy 60th!

  • Susan

    I’m planning to walk the Camino next year for my 75th birthday. I appreciate the advice re: feet, pack, fay off.

  • niel capasso

    hey there have done 5 Camino’s and am 68 this year. Last yr. did Camino de la Plata

  • Jan Oz

    I made Camino Frances last year in 25 days at age of 63 without any serious problem, even without any blister. Buen Camino!

  • Susana T

    I am 67 and will be hiking the Camino in May and June. Would love to hear from more folks in their 60’s and 70’s regarding their experiences.

  • Doodles

    My wife and I just finished in 39 days and we are 63 and 67. Age is not a big factor but like any big athletic endeavor you DO need to prepare/train and do not believe those that say otherwise. Without training you may be able to finish but the odds of injury are much greater and you probably won’t enjoy the trip as much. I’ve run my share of marathons and ultra marathons so I’m pretty aware of what happens to the body when its moving for 5,6, 7 or more hours day after day. Logic should tell you the body needs to be prepared for that kind of change if you haven’t been doing it already.

  • Goldie

    I just completed my Camino last week at 61 years old. Here’s some truths that will help you on your Camino.
    First and foremost, take your time. I saw so many people power walking to the next Albergue only to find themselves in early afternoon with nothing to do and too tired to explore. It’s okay to arrive a little later. There are plenty of Albergues and Hostals. You will find a place to sleep. Why not take your time and enjoy the outdoors? The first week is critical to the rest of your Camino. Don’t walk too many miles in the first week. Let your body get used to the everyday walking, climbing and backpack, or you will have problems later with your back and knees.
    Secondly, the lighter your backpack the better. I started with nearly 25lbs. and ended with just under 20lbs. You really don’t need much and if you do need something you can buy it or borrow it. Let go and you’ll feel so much better.
    Next, no matter what you read in the blogs it’s critical that you train beforehand. Meaning you should walk for a least a month with a loaded backpack three times a week for at least 10 miles each time. You really don’t know what your body will do until you try it out first. Once on the Camino you have no choice but to walk. Be sure you know how your body will react to 7-9 hrs each day of walking, climbing, etc. Some of the stages are difficult. You can do it, but you have to know that it’s not a piece of cake as some bloggers would lead you to believe.
    Lastly, don’t feel like you have to stay in Albergues every night. Some are totally disgusting….others not so bad. It’s okay to stay in a hostal. There are no rules for the Camino….don’t let other’s opinions color your experience. Getting a good night’s rest is more important.
    Hope this helps. Have an excellent Camino experience!

    • Linya Huang

      Dear Goldie,
      Greetings!!!
      Can you please advise what to bring that can keep under 20lbs???
      Thank you in advance
      Buen Camino

      • Goldie

        Here’s my list of essentials:
        2 pairs of wool socks and 2 sock liners
        2 tee-shirts
        2 pants (zip off to shorts)
        1 long sleeve shirt for cooler mornings
        1 pair sleeves to wear with the short sleeve tees (the kind that bikers wear)
        2 underwear sets
        Blister bandaids, neosporen and a sewing kit to break any blisters right away. Take care of them as soon as you notice them and you should be fine.
        1 zip up blanket (REI)
        1 microfiber towel
        1 pair sandals, 1 pair walking boots or shoes
        1 hat
        1 scarf
        toothbrush/powder toothpaste
        wash cloth
        This might seem sparse, but that’s really all you need! You can buy anything else you need on the road.
        Buen Camino

  • SusanUSA

    I celebrated the 60th year of my life by walking the Camino from St Jean. An amazing experience and I plan to walk it again in 2014. My pack weighed 17 pounds and I was prepared for the long distance walking, covering an average of 15 miles each day. Next time I will be more prepared for the cardio challenges, especially the first couple days. The ascent is steep!
    I agree with many of the other posts about taking your time and enjoying the experience and the people you will meet. Leave stress, angst and any negative junk behind and walk into a glorious time of richness and life-changing lessons and experiences.
    Buen Camino

  • niel capasso

    any advice yes go ahead and do it I am 68 and have done 5 Caminos. This year had surgery on my toe so am stuck at home, come October will see. So go head and get to it.

  • Renate C. Bergmann

    I walked from Burgos to Santiago last year from mid September to mid October. I celebrated my 76. birthday last year on Sept. 3. I did 2 exercise classes for about 6 months before my departure and have been swimming twice/week for 30 min each. Being on the Camino I walked between 12 and 20 km/day (did 22 km once or twice!!), took a bus or taxi several times for short distance depending on how I felt and how close an Albergue was. I never had a rest day which I realized when I arrived in Santiago. I had problems with both legs. After coming home everything took time to heal and I’m already making planes to go back next year to walk the rest from St. Jean to Burgos and from Santiago to Finisterre (will bus the in-between) It was a life changing experience and having problems had nothing to do with my age, because most people of all ages had some problems…which come and go or stay!….It was the best I have ever done in my life and the Camino is calling me to come back every day!

  • yambowski

    I walked from Leon to Santiago in May 2013. I am 68 years old, and in good shape. I had never hiked anywhere before the Camino. I did train for 3 months before leaving, gradually increasing my mileage until I walked ten miles on back to back days, shortly before leaving. The only problem I had was related to walking the hills. I did not know how hilly the hike was. That made part of the trip very hard. But I survived, and would do it again in a heartbeat.

    • Karen

      How many days did you walk from. Leon to Santiago? I am planning to leave May 21, 2016 from Leon. My days are limited due to work. A friend just returned from walking 500 miles and is helping me with the route.
      Thanks!

      • yambowski

        It took us 14 days to walk from Leon to Santiago. Some days were hard and some were harder. I’ll repeat what I said earlier. If you live in a flat place, start walking a slanted treadmill or walk stairs or walk up stadium steps with a full pack on to prepare you for the hills. I was not aware how hilly it is in Spain, and it was hard on me at times.

  • Brendan Dawson

    I know this is old stuff but I just have to add my two cents.
    A lot of folks have already commented similarly but….I am 74, with replaced knees and a replaced hip and walked it last year (2014) in 30 days. I was/am not a long distance walker so for many days in the run-up (about 4 months), I got out and walked…first 3 miles..then 5 and so on. It takes a while but eventually, you feel strong enough to walk as long as you feel like. I rarely walked every day except for a couple of weekends before…then I walked two 15 mile days in a row (did it twice) just to build confidence. Over the last month or so I started carrying my pack, adding weight as the days progressed….never over 18 lbs. Not really a problem. I decided to take two Leki walking sticks, not sure how the knees would like the ups and downs (personally, I recommend them…others do not). Living in NC, it was relatively easy to find a couple of hills to walk…it’s worthwhile for anyone, again just to build confidence.
    As for the Camino itself, it was wonderful, Spanish people are great and other peregrinos very friendly.
    There were a couple of long days ( 49K one day) but that was, and is, completely by choice. No one cares how far you go or how many days you take…..It is YOUR Camino. Enjoy it and forget that age crap!!!
    BTW, I am going back in June 2015 for another stroll!

    Buen Camino

  • Gerard

    Hello, i am 68 old and i arrived four times in Santiago. Two times from St Jean Pied de Port ( 28 and 26 days), one times from Irun (30 days) and one times from Oviedo. Each times is à nice times! Next year i think to start from Lisboa.