Some Random Camino Tips


[Pilgrim laundry]

Pilgrim laundry in Aldea del Cano on the Vía de la Plata

There are lots of helpful things to know before you walk the Camino de Santiago or any other pilgrimage route.

This list is a collection of bits of information I learned while walking or before walking, and thought others might find helpful.

It is, of course, far from comprehensive.

Dripping Laundry

I always wring out my laundry in my tiny sports towel after washing it. This works even after the towel is sopping wet. It helps prevent dripping water all over albergue floors when the washing facilities are inside, and makes my clothes dry faster.

Wet Boots

If your boots are wet on the inside, take out the liners after you stop walking and stuff the boots with newspaper. The newspaper soaks up the water, so the boots are generally dry by morning—or at least more so than they would otherwise be.

Breaking in Sandals

On the Vía de la Plata, I wore sandals when I wasn’t walking with my pack, and for wading through the occasional stream. I spent a lot of time breaking in my boots, but it never occurred to me to wear my sandals before the trip. I ended up spending the first few weeks with horrible sores where the sandals chafed my feet.

Next time, I’ll work at breaking my sandals to my feet (or probably more importantly, my feet to my sandals) at home.

Navigating Through Cities

I’ve spent a lot of time lost in cities—both entering and (more often) leaving. I don’t know if the way marking is actually worse, or if I’m just worse at seeing it.

In any case, I finally developed a relatively easy method of getting out of a city. I just go to the nearest tourist information office, get a map, and if the Camino isn’t on the map (sometimes it is), I ask the tourist information people to show me where the route is.

Of course, this doesn’t work if you’re passing through a city between 2 and 5 p.m., when everything—including the nearest tourist information office—tends to be closed.

Internet

Spanish libraries usually have free Internet. The potential downside of this compared with, say, Internet cafés, is that libraries tend to have limited opening hours—they close for siestas, and in small towns they may not be open on weekends. Also sometimes there are a lot of people waiting, so you don’t always get a lot of time.

Of course, small towns don’t usually have Internet cafés, so except in cities, if there’s Internet at all, the library is probably your only option.

If there’s no library, sometimes the town hall has free Internet.

Scrounging

If you leave an albergue later than most others, there’s often a lot of food free for the taking, left behind by pack weight-conscious pilgrims. (Thanks to Steffen and Thomas for this one.)

And More?

If you have your own Camino tip, please leave it in the comments. I’d love to hear from you.

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Posted by Anna-Marie Krahn at 11:02 am

10 Comments

10 Responses to Some Random Camino Tips

  1. Agnes says:

    When it pours but your boots are not waterproofed, cover feet with plastic bags. I mean put socks on feet, put feet into the bags and then wear boots . 🙂
    Looks funny but it’s effective.

    • Anna-Marie says:

      That’s a good one. I actually did that for a day or two. My feet felt a little slippery inside my boots, but it worked wonderfully.

  2. pilgrimpace says:

    Doesn’t it make your feet wet because sweat can’t get away?

    • Anna-Marie says:

      It does a bit–it’s definitely not ideal. But it’s a lot better than having sopping wet boots. The day before someone told me this trick, my boots got so wet I literally felt like I was wading.

  3. Some good tips here, Anna-Marie! I’ve used these to good effect, except for the ‘sandals’ one. Though I’m not that worried about getting lost in cities – someone you ask generally knows the way! I’ve logged on to the Internet in so many French and Spanish libraries and cultural centres I’ve lost count (remember the ones in Zamora – and Salamanca?)

    Another tip: no matter how poor your foreign language skills, always smile at strangers and actively engage in a little conversation – even if it’s very basic. A little will go a long, long way.

    • Anna-Marie says:

      That’s a good one. I found it broke the ice to admire the area—which I always legitimately did.

      • Robert says:

        Exactly right. Nobody likes their locale to be treated as a mere thoroughfare. Where I live, people are always asking us the way or travel time to Byron Bay or the Gold Coast. The very few who have the wit to inquire about local beaches and wilderness are amply rewarded for their curiosity – with miles of golden sands, untouched coastal heath, ancient rain-forest below the Great Divide. Just for asking!

  4. Robert says:

    When walking in cold seasons, I treat every single item of clothing as a layer, barring maybe a spare pair of socks and undies. On the coldest, windiest day, there’s no clothing in my pack: I wear it all.

    I avoid clothes with buttons. Light layers of Icebreaker or similar product, black for preference, combined with superfine polo shirts, mercerised or Icebreaker, are my fashion statements.

    After that, a fleece and something for wind and rain. No Goretex, just my Altus, the hump of which can be clipped away in dry weather so the garment serves as a simple long coat in wind.

    With so much weight and bulk saved, I can increase my tonnage of food, teas, books, kitchen sinks. Austral Intelligence!

  5. Nancy says:

    Great tips, everyone! I especially like the Scrounging plan – so smart! And I am usually the last one out the door. Can’t wait to see what people leave behind on the Le Puy route in Sept/Oct…