Camino de Santiago: My Most Common Questions and Answers

 Since being back from the Camino de Santiago, I have received lots of questions regarding the pilgrimage and my experience. I put together some of the most common questions I have received regarding this wonderful experience.  I hope that with some saving and planning, you can also start planning your future camino!

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Is the Camino de Santiago safe to do alone? 

Absolutely!  I, as well as many others, did the camino alone.  There are so many people from all over the world on the camino.  Although you go alone, you won’t stay alone if you don’t want to.  If prefer to be by yourself most days, it is still safe to do alone.  Most of the time you will always see people ahead or behind you (depending on the time of the year you do it).

On the French Way, it is VERY well marked with arrows (I only got lost a few times, but was quickly redirected).  Many people wore a GPS on them, which allowed someone at home to track their direct path.  This offers peace of mind for family and for the pilgrim.

 

Is it necessary to know Spanish before going on the camino?

Not at all!  I speak Spanish and barely used it.  The most common language on the camino was English.  I could not believe all the Americans and Canadians I met!

 

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Which route did you choose and what is the best time of year to go?

I did the Camino Frances (French Way).  This route is the most popular of the routes. This camino allows you the opportunity to meet all kinds of new people, plus I got the silence I wanted.  I chose to do the camino in May-June, which was a perfect time of the year.  I personally would only do it in this time or in the month of September.  The summer months tend to be very crowded.

 

Where do you sleep and how much does a normal night cost?

The camino has many hostels which range on average between free (you give a donation) to 15 euros.  The donation-based hostels can fill up fast and are not as easy to find, but in most major stages of the camino there is a municipal hostel, which ranges between 5-8 euros.  If you want private rooms or nicer hostels you will pay about10-15 euros.

 

What food options are found on the camino?

Depending on your budget, you can either do the pilgrims’ menu (range between 8-15 euros), which generally offers three courses with a bottle of wine and is very filling.  Many people took the cheaper route and shopped in the super market and prepared food in the hostel kitchen (if they had one).  This is by far the cheapest way to go and if many other pilgrims put a few euros together, you can prepare a huge meal that is very filling.

 

Did you ever want to give up?

Yes.  The camino is very mentally hard as well as physically hard.  There were many days that mentally I didn’t think I could handle more walking.

 In those moments all I could do was put one foot in front of the other.

There are many great people in the camino, so I got lots of encouragement in those moments.  There are taxis and buses available if you need them for sections of the camino and there are services to carry your bag from one city to the next if you feel like your backpack is limiting your ability to walk.

 

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How common is wifi on the camino?

I was surprised at how easy it was to connect to wifi on the camino.  In most bars along the way you can connect and many (not all) of the hostels have wifi.  There was a period of about 4 days where I had no connection, but normally I could connect most days.

 

What kind of shoes did you use and did you wear special socks?

I used Merrel hiking shoes (no high ankle and was perfectly fine).  They were absolutely fantastic and after day 10 I had no blisters.  Many people used special hiking socks, but I used cheap normal socks, but ALWAYS double socked.

 

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How many days does the camino take?

I finished from St. Jean Pied de Port-Santiago in 29 days.  Normally it takes 31-15 days, however towards the end I started walking 30+ km each day.  If you want to go from Santiago-Muxia after you need around 3 days (I did it in 2 days) and from Muxia to Fisterra another 1 day (30 km).  If you decide to take a bike on the camino, I heard that it takes around 2 weeks.

 

What are the most important items you had with you?

  • The best item I had was my Osprey Kestrel 38 Liter pack. It was the perfect pack and size for the trip (I would not suggest bigger).
  • My small sleeping bag. In the hostels they have pillows and bed liners, but my sleeping bag was my life saver.
  • First aid kit with bandaids, items for blisters, ibuprofen (there are many pharmacies in the camino to buy things).  
  • Sunscreen 50+
  • My water bottle —  I drank tons of water on the camino and fountains are offered frequently through the whole camino.

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Would you do the camino again?

Without a doubt.  I am not sure if I would do the whole thing at once again, but I would definitely do a week or two at a time.  I would even do the same route again.  Although I would be seeing the same things, the camino takes place in the heart.  I love the fact that on the Camino Frances there are always people to meet, so for me that is worth it.

 

  • Any other questions you have regarding the camino?
  • Feel free to ask below and share your personal experiences! 

 

Check out more on the camino:  

 

Sarah - thenomadicdreamer.comCamino de Santiago: My Most Common Questions and Answers