The Camino is an amazing experience that all outdoor enthusiasts should do at some point in their life. Not only does it offer an incredible amount of time for processing and thinking it is also a splendid and low cost adventure. Many of our staff at Great Outdoors have hiked the Camino, in its entirety or in sections. What follows are some key lessons that they have learned combined into one convenient list!
1. Footwear and foot care
Test your footwear well before you intend on going. Also, bear in mind that the conditions that you will be using in Spain will likely be very different from your training hikes in Ireland! If you intend on doing the Camino in summer time we would advise a non waterproof pair of boots or shoes as these will allow your feet to breathe far better then a waterproof pair.
As well as footwear, foot care is also of vital importance. Having a daily foot care ritual will likely keep many of the common issues at bay. Regularly changing your socks, washing your feet after every day hiking and having a pair of sliders or flip flops to change into to allow your feet to “breathe” are all excellent ideas! If you want to know more about socks you can read our piece that specifically covers that topic!
2. Peregrino meals are amazing
Although they may not be the most inexpensive way of eating on your Camino adventure, the “Peregrino meals” provided by some Albergues are a must! They are often a great way of staying in touch with the local culture while also making connections with other pilgrims.
3. Seek at the small Albergue
Albergues or hostels are a staple of your Camino experience! The price per night can range from as low as €10 a night to €30-40 depending on how luxurious it is! You may be tempted to check into the more hotel-style albergues or the more fancy pensiones (private accommodation) and on some occasions “treating yourself” may be a great idea! However, our staff have found that staying in a smaller family-run Albergue often leads to far greater connections as well as more meaningful experiences!
4. Ease into it
There is no need to rush your Camino experience. We would advise taking the first few days quite easy. This will allow your body to ease into the idea of walking great distances every day, It will also give your gear a chance to let you know if anything is not working perfectly. For example, if on your first day you got overexcited and did a 30-kilometer hike you may end up having blisters that will curtail your progress for the rest of the trip, however, if you just did a 15-kilometer first day and notice the hot spot on your foot you could tend to it and prevent it from becoming more of an issue before continuing on!
5. Walk early in the day
One of the regular pieces of advice on all Camino forums is to get your walking done early in the day. Not only does this mean that you avoid the worst of the heat if you are hiking in the summer but it also means you are greeted with sunrise at the start of every day!
6. Take down-days or relaxed days
Some people will take days off and explore the town that they find themselves in. However, our staff generally advised, instead of taking days off, taking more relaxed days. Arriving at the albergues in the early afternoon I’m taking the afternoon and evening to explore the area and catch up on some down time!
However you want to experience the Camino we hope that you have an incredible time.