If you’ve decided to embrace the history, culture and challenge of Camino Santiago de Compostela, then you’re one step closer to following in the same footsteps of pilgrims that have come from all over the globe to experience this great tradition of many decades past. Although many, many people walk El Camino each year, no two experiences are the same. That is one reason why there is some debate about how much planning is actually needed before embarking on this one-of-a-kind journey.
However, even those who believe preparation isn’t necessary must admit that, because of the unique nature of this destination, it isn’t quite the same as getting ready to travel in the way most people are used to. It doesn’t simply involve throwing several outfit options into a suitcase and formulating a plan to lie on a beach for five days. Whether you’re going for just a short leg of the trek or for the entire 500 miles, there are several steps you may want to consider taking to make sure you are prepared for the physical and mental requirements of a trip such as this.
Your budget will depend largely on if you decide to go with one of the many Camino Santiago de Compostela guided tours or if you plan to make the journey on your own. It’s essentially possible to make your time on El Camino as expensive or cheap as you want. Much of your expenses along the way will include accommodations and food. You’ll have flexibility when it comes to choosing a place to stay at night, which can be in an inexpensive albergues or in one of the more luxurious hotels. You may also opt to cook your own meals, but it’s generally recommended that pilgrims enjoy all the local cuisine from restaurants and cafes that they can.
Packing is one of the most important considerations before setting out for Spain. You’ll be carrying whatever you decide to bring for miles and miles every day, so you should think carefully about what you really need. Most travelers only take along a couple changes of clothing, a good pair of hiking shoes, toiletries and first aid components. The best is to follow a guide to get you started.
Fitness and Health
Camino Santiago de Compostela has proven to be acceptable for all ages, so you definitely don’t have to be a hardcore athlete or fitness guru to make it, but it is a good idea to research the varying terrains on the different paths to decide which might be the best fit for you. Going out for regular walks and hikes in the months and weeks leading up to your trip will help build your stamina and get your feet ready for the long haul. Learning about experience of other will help you prepare well in advance for the trek.
This doesn’t mean going back to school and spending time in a course in that will teach you how to be fluent in Spanish, but having a few basic phrases under your belt that are specific to El Camino Santiago will go a long way in making sure you can communicate effectively if you’re in need of something along the way.
Everyone has their own personal reasons for setting out on a pilgrimage like this, but the tradition is steeped in religious beliefs and often seen as a means of reflecting on life and finding oneself. Whatever your motives are, it might be beneficial to take a moment and examine exactly what you want to get out of the journey and prepare your mind, body and soul to take it all in.
Getting ready for an international trip can already be a big task, and since Camino Santiago de Compostela will be a new and unusual experience, preparing can become a bit overwhelming. However, this shouldn’t take the fun and excitement out of what you are about to set out on, and preparation will only serve to guarantee your time is as memorable as possible.
Photo Credit: Flickr/Alquiler de Coches