Ten Reasons to walk the Camino de Santiago
Are you thinking about taking the leap and walking the Camino de Santiago? There are a number of different route options (Camino Frances, Camino Norte, Primitivo), which I will talk more about in future posts. But whichever route you take, here are ten great reasons that you should strap on your hiking boots (or sandals) and hit the trails.
One: A break from reality
Walking the Camino means you will not have time to scroll through Instagram or interact with the 24/7 news headlines. It’s a ready made digital detox. Your daily routine on the Camino also means you quickly fall out of the “norm”, and if you want to take a complete exit from your previous reality, then this is your opportunity.
Two: Emotional and mental challenge
You’ll have a lot of thinking time, which means you have time to explore all of those deep seated emotions. I met people on the Camino who cried for the first time in a long time. And others who felt they needed the time to process after a break up or to consider a new career change. Whatever you are contemplating, the combination of walking and isolation, is bound to bring up challenges for everyone.
Three: Physical Challenge
Many Camino “purists” will say that you’ve missed the meaning of the Camino if you just do it for the physical challenge. I disagree. The physical gruel of the longer routes is not to be taken lightly and if you want to complete it, you’ll need to dig deep. Whether you’re cracking out 40 km a day, or taking it slower, your body is bound to have undergone some sort of transformation by the time you reach Santiago.
Four: Meeting new people when you walk the Camino
After being locked away during the Pandemic, this was one of my key reasons for walking the Camino. Every day, you get to meet totally new people if you choose to. You can also find life long friends, tagging on to a “Camino family” and sharing the whole journey together. You may start walking as strangers, but after a few hours of hiking together, you are bound to become friends. This is a great reason why you should walk the Camino de Santiago.
Five: The Camino is a community
“Pilgrims”, or those walking the Camino are a protected group in Spain. The locals are (mostly) very friendly and supportive of pilgrims, with strangers regularly wishing you “Buen Camino” as you walk by. Fellow pilgrims are also super friendly and diverse. You’ll meet people of all nationalities and backgrounds and everyone is embraced. Once you’re in the Camino club, you’re in it for life!
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Six: Scenery and exploring when you walk the Camino
Exploring by foot means you will get to see Spain through a different lens. On the Norte, you’ll find beaches that are only accessible by footpath. You’ll also walk through remote towns and villages that otherwise would not be found on the tourist trail and they all have something unique to offer. Not to mention, the fantastic mountain scenery. Watching the sun rise, after you’ve hiked up a massive hill at dawn is something you will never forget.
Seven: The freedom you find on the Camino
On the Camino, it’s just you and your backpack. Unless you opt to use the bag carrying service (which may suit some people), you will be responsible for carting your belongings about as you walk. I would strongly advise that you pack light! Not only will this save you from crippling back pain, but will give you a sense of freedom that is difficult to achieve otherwise.
Eight: Value for money on the Camino
Walking the Camino can be excellent value for money. Municipal Albergue’s will cost you around 10 euros per night, and there are some “Donativo” (donate what you can) options too. Some Albergue’s will provide a cheap communal meal, others have kitchens so you can cook a basic dinner. Supermarkets are readily available, so you can easily prepare packed lunches too. A glass of wine or beer will set you back only around 2 euros too!
Nine: Romance on the Camino
If you’re single when you walk the Camino, there are lots of opportunities to meet like minded adventurers. There are new romantic connections being formed every day out on the trails. We met so many new couples, or people enjoying a short fling. If you take on the Camino as a couple, it’s bound to strengthen your relationship. Walking all day may not sound romantic, but the shared experience and quiet unique moments you enjoy together are truly special.
Ten: It’s fun to walk the Camino
You’ll laugh, you may cry. You’ll be hungry, sweaty and pretty dirty. Your feet will probably be covered in blisters and some nights you won’t sleep at all. But you will have terrific fun along the way!