Pro Tips To Prepare for the Camino de Santiago

The Camino de Santiago is a popular and fulfilling pilgrimage with routes all throughout Europe. Learn pro tips to prepare for this incredible journey.
A woman walking a forested path on the Camino de Santiago with an orange backpack decorated with seashells.
Armando Oliveira

The Camino de Santiago, also known as the Way of Saint James, is a historic pilgrimage route that spans across Western Europe. The most popular route begins in a town in France and stretches across the northern part of Spain. However, routes begin all throughout Europe, and all lead to the shrine of the apostle Saint James the Great in the cathedral of Santiago de Compostela in Galicia, Spain. The Camino is physically and emotionally demanding, but its transformative challenge makes people from all over the world try their hand at it. If you want to explore this adventure, read on for pro tips to prepare for the Camino de Santiago.

Training Is Essential

Depending on the route you choose, you could be walking anywhere from 10 to 30 miles a day. That’s no small feat, and it requires that you condition your body for long distances. Start with shorter hikes and gradually increase your mileage and backpack weight. This not only builds stamina but also allows you to test your gear and break in your walking shoes.

Decide on a Budget

The Camino de Santiago can be as budget-friendly or as lavish as you make it. Consider how you prefer to travel and what comforts are nonnegotiable. Accommodations will be your biggest expense, and they can vary widely, from communal hostels to private hotels. Deciding on a budget beforehand helps in selecting where to stay, where to eat, and how to allocate funds for any souvenirs or unexpected expenses.

Plan for Injury

No one likes to think about getting hurt, especially when planning an adventure. However, the Camino is at least several weeks of intense physical activity. Stress injuries to your joints and ligaments are incredibly common. Sometimes, even the inevitable blisters can get so bad that they prevent walking for a couple of days.

Therefore, plan for time off. If you don’t leave any wiggle room in your walking schedule, you will probably fall behind and risk not being able to finish. Most people doing the French route (the most popular train we mentioned at the beginning of this blog) plan a month for the journey. This allows plenty of time to complete the mileage and accommodate several days off for recovery.

Pack Light but Not Too Light

You’ll be wearing all your possessions on your back for a month, so packing lightly is obviously important. However, you shouldn’t skimp on the essentials. Clothing should include quick-dry items that you can layer, as the weather can vary dramatically from morning to night. Choosing a hiking belt and hat is helpful to stay comfortable on the trails. Beyond clothing, focus on multipurpose items, such as a smartphone for communication, navigation, and photography, sparing the need for additional devices. But don’t skimp on a few comforts, like a small, lightweight pillow or an extra pair of socks for after a long day’s walk.

The right preparation can make your Camino de Santiago a profoundly enriching experience. Remembering these pro tips to prepare for the pilgrimage will set you on the path to success. Buen Camino!

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