There are many articles offering tips for walking The Camino. This selection is one humble pilgrim’s views. Hope you enjoy:
I. Thou Shalt Do Your Own Camino and Not Judge Others or Thyself.
The Camino is a personal journey and you walk, run, ride a bike or horse, go by car, or crawl for your own reasons. 5k or 20k or 40k per day. Walk by yourself, walk with a friend or family member, or organize through a tour group. Carry your pack or transport it ahead each day. There is no right or wrong. Follow your heart and soul. Just as this is your Camino, theirs is theirs. Big pack or no pack, 30 days or 1 day, 3000k or 10k. One persons 40k day may be another’s 5k as there are many people on The Camino with health and other issues. Some walk for fun, for a vacation, to thank God or connect with him, for religious or spiritual motivations. Whatever your reasons, they are personal and being in spirit with the Camino is to accept all other pilgrims. Most importantly, accept yourself.
II. Thou Shalt Be Humble.
Lose your ego. For many this is a life changing journey. For others a bucket list item or just a fun walk. The Camino has a Spirit and she loves humbleness and gratitude. Look for ways to be of service to other pilgrims and anyone else in need. For example; give a hug to someone in need, offer to carry the pack for a struggling fellow pilgrim, listen and be compassionate when a fellow pilgrim talks to you. Perhaps pick one day to give back to the Camino and carry a plastic garbage bag and pick up trash. The key is to be thinking of how to be of service to The Camino and its pilgrims. Choose your own way to give back to The Camino and fellow pilgrims. Taking this path will bring you closer to connecting with the Camino Spirit.
III. Thou Shalt Be Kind To Other Pilgrims, Hospitaleros, and All Others.
This is an extension of Commandment III but worthy as a separate Commandment. After a few days on The Camino you will come to find that it is a different world then perhaps you are used to. You find little of the polarization and selfishness that can be commonplace today. How much money one makes or possessions one has seems irrelevant. You will see and experience many acts of kindness and generosity. Get into that beautiful flow. Not just with fellow pilgrims. You will come across Hospitaleros at the many Municipal and Church Albergues that often our veteran pilgrims who choose to give back. Some private albergues run by people that have chosen to live on The Camino and be one with the Camino Spirit. They offer you a bed and often a meal for a few Euros. There are others along the way offering Donativo Food or drinks. Be grateful for any kindness that you receive along the way. Last be kind to The Camino itself by not littering and perhaps even picking up some trash. These acts of kindness beget further kindness and generosity in you and others. By the end of your Camino you may find you have changed for the better. Everyone’s kindness spills over and The Camino is truly a Heaven on Earth offering a glimpse of what the world could and should be.
IV. Thou Shalt Be Open To Other Pilgrims.
Of course if solitude is your choice it is your Camino after all. You should consider a Camino other than Frances, ie.; Del Norte, Via de la Plata, Madrid, or the ultimate Camino of Solitude, Levante. However, the Camino is a special place and a key part of it’s magic are interactions with fellow pilgrims. You will find that you keep seeing the same people and very likely The Camino wants you to connect. Get out of your comfort zone and just go introduce yourself to anyone who you have a feeling about or see more than once. By following this Commandment you will make lifelong friendships or more.
V. Thou Shalt Not Overplan Your Camino.
Be careful not to overplan. The Camino will communicate with you via signs, people, animals, music, etc.. There are no coincidences on The Camino. Be alert. You may come across angels. Anything and everything is possible on The Camino. So be alert and open to veering from your plan because The Camino will provide what you need. Open your heart and she will show you your soul. The more you follow Commandments II to IV the easier this will be.
VI. Thou Shalt Start and End Wherever One Chooses.
Many do The Camino in stages perhaps a week or two at a time and take years to complete it. Many start from St. Jean Pied de Port, others from Pamplona or Le Puy En Velay or Seville, or Sarria. Some Europeans start at their own homes. While many end at Santiago, some go on to Finisterre or Muxia at the edge of the world. Some believe if you are religious ending in Santiago is appropriate, but if you are spiritual walking on to the sea is special. A few do as the pilgrims did prior to the 1900’s and walk back home. It has been my experience to have magical Camino moments just before and after the actual walking start and end. Be open and aware. Again there is no right or wrong.
VII. Thou Shalt Travel Light.
While it is your choice the lighter your burden the easier it will be on you both physically and mentally. Guidelines suggest keep your pack weight to 10% or less of your body weight. If ideal for you send have your pack transported ahead each morning to ease your burden. There are many writings on what to carry and not to bring. Here is my Camino Packing List.
VIII. Thou Will Sleep Wherever One Chooses.
From a tent, to a municipal albergue, to a 5 star Hotel. Remember it is your Camino. Though I agree with the purists that the albergues are special and put one in better position to connect with other pilgrims. But of course only if you desire connecting with other pilgrims. Even if you opt for the hotel route, you might consider getting out of your comfort zone by trying an albergue or two especially one that offer communal meals and the opportunity to connect with other pilgrims and Hospitaleros. Some examples where a meaningful experience is possible; SJPP’s Albergue Beilari, Orisson’s Auberge Orisson, Granon’s Albergue San Juan Bautista, Carrion de los Condes’ Albergue Santa Maria, Hospital de Orbigo’s Albergue Verde, Ermita de San Nicolas’ Albergue San Nicolas, and Trabadelo’s Casa Susi.
IX. Thou Shalt Not Obsess About Blisters.
If you read any of the books various former Pilgrims have written, many mention suffering with blisters. Just as with traveling light there are many publications on how to deal with blisters. Focusing on prevention and applying some lubricant such as Vaseline is best but be prepared with Compeed or your treatment of choice. Wear shoes or boots that YOU are comfortable with. Everybody has an opinion on footwear. Listen not to them as much as YOUR own feet.
X. Thou Shalt Have Fun On The Camino.
Perhaps for some the walk is long and arduous but for others including this peregrino it is pure joy. As you begin walking each day, concentrate on your breathing for ten to twenty minutes, in and out, to clear your mind of any worries and you will find yourself in a happy rhythm. After a long hard day, if a waiter places a whole bottle of vino tinto in front of you, drink and enjoy the company of and conversation with fellow pilgrims.
XI. Don’t Take Yourself or These Ten Commandments too seriously. The Camino shows you how precious the gift of life is. Make the most of it and YOUR Camino.
Buen Camino! Ultreia!
PS. Sorry for the 11th Commandment, but after all I am only human.
(Revised Post From 2017)