Planning Tips for Walking the Camino de Santiago


Planning Tips for Walking the Camino de Santiago

Walking the Camino de Santiago is a dream bucket list for almost anybody who has heard of the trek starting in France and ending on Spain's western coast. As you gear up and get prepared, you will want to make sure to learn all you can about the Camino de Santiago and the books and gear needed to have a successful journey. There are a ton of books, guides, and maps that help pilgrims be completely prepared and motivated to walk all 800km across the country. It is the most unique adventure out of all the backpacking routes because of its social and spiritual journey. A majority of the pilgrims walking to Santiago are not Christian or Catholic. There are about 30% of the pilgrims that identify as a practicing Christian or Catholic and walk along the Camino. This means that 70% are not. However, the Camino is largely accepting of anyone and it is the most peaceful journey to meet people from all over the world. If world leaders walked the Camino together, the world would always be at peace. That is the spirit of the Camino de Santiago.


As you get motivated and get closer to planning your trip, you may want to consider reading books about the Camino de Santiago where a pilgrim will explain their journey and how they were impacted. The Way of the Cross and Struggle for Holiness is a book about the Camino de Santiago that tells the story of a young man in his twenties that decided to carry a 8 foot wooden cross the entire journey. It tells the story of his life, other pilgrims that offered to carry it along the way, and the impact the Camino can have on others in the world. This book is great for both Christian based and non-religious pilgrims who want to hear the story of the Camino. There are many other books about Santiago de Compostela that would be useful to read. You will have a different Camino than any other pilgrim, so don’t feel like reading the stories of others will make the experience not seem new to you. It is quite the opposite. You will find that reading about others will open your eyes and prepare you to be a loving Camino pilgrim ready to hear the stories of others you hear along the way of Saint James.


As you prepare your mind and get motivated, you will eventually be on the lookout for the best Camino backpack or the best Camino gear to help you get to the destination. These are all good things to understand, but it is important to focus more on your feet than anything else. Athletic shoes versus hiking boots are a common discussion point and most people have found that athletic shoes are the best way to go. The reason for this, is that most of the trek is not very rugged meaning that you don’t need as much ankle support. Rugged trails will have you stepping on large rocks nearly every step. Even though there are a couple small sections where this occurs, it is mostly even surfaces. The best way you can do is to have more cushion in your shoe sole. This is because the path is either heavily compacted dirt, brick, or concrete. These will cause your feet to become bruised after consistently walking long days on them. It takes about three days of hiking before your feet will be bruised for the rest of the Camino. You should be ready to have good socks and shoes. You should have put at least 100 miles into your athletic shoes prior to walking the Camino in order to avoid blistering.


The second and important thing is to consider is the weight of your backpack and gear. Since this is not a wilderness trek and you don’t have to carry food or much water, you also don’t have to carry heavy camping items like a cook kit or tent. Don’t fill your backpack will a bunch of things to replace it. The lighter your backpack, the less pressure is on your feet. Everything goes back to how your feet will be able to last. You have never felt the bruising that walking 10+ miles a day on a hard surface will do to your feet. Your goal backpack weight excluding what you wear for your hiking should not be exceeding 18 pounds. This weight goal gives you the ability to carry at least 4 pairs of lightweight clothing, a larger foot care med kit, and hygiene bag. You have many more comfort items when walking the Camino. If you really do take care of your feet, you should have a backpack goal weight of less than 15 pounds.


About the Author:

Caleb walked the Camino de Santiago in the fall of 2016 and is planning another trip with his family and newborn baby in the fall of 2021. He words as a NetSuite developer at a family business in Wisconsin providing IT services to mid-market organizations. This career field is perfect for the Camino because it allows him to occasionally take longer vacations and work remotely.


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