I love a good hike, it’s a great way to explore a country. But for me, I always have Dave with me, so I’ve never hiked alone. In this guest post Becca tells us some tips for walking the Camino de Santiago as a solo female traveller, drawn from her own experience.
For women, travelling alone isn’t always an easy thing to do. Being in a new environment is quite exciting, but it can also be a little nerve-wracking as we wonder about all of the things that could go wrong with no one familiar by our side.
When it comes to Camino de Santiago, the thrill only grows — this long hike is a physical challenge in every aspect, a crowning moment of glory and adventure, and yet these very facts could make the idea of it a little scary.
Well, for ladies who long to go somewhere alone and truly recharge their energy and lift their spirits, this is actually a unique journey with the power to transform your life. Eager to know more? Then check out these tips and essentials that will help you make the best of Camino de Santiago.
Camino de Santiago is actually one of the safest trips you can take. It’s frequented by so many people each year that there’s no way for you to get lost in some dark, lonely corner and get dragged off, and most people who come along are either those who really wish to test their fitness level, religious pilgrims, or those who seek to get in touch with their spirituality. So, if you want to go, only the regular safety tips apply here: keep your money and documents at your person at all times, stick to marked paths, and let your friends and family know where you’ll be. Simply apply basic precautions and you should be more than fine.
Which Path To Take
If it’s your first time walking the Camino, it’s generally a good idea to pick one of the two most popular routes — Camino Francés or Camino Portugues. The French Way and the Portuguese Way are both gorgeous and offer some stunning scenery along the way, and you’ll get to see everything from rustic little villages and charming vineyards, to bustling towns and wild nature. These two paths are also the safest ones, and you can easily plan the length of your journey so it suits your schedule.
What To Bring
The general advice is to bring as little as possible. Camino is all about simplicity and an almost meditative state of spirit as you walk a long path every day, and you want everything you bring to fit into a big backpack. One thing that you do want to have on you are a pair of really good walking shoes — they need to be sturdy, comfortable, and offer good arch support for your feet. This will minimise the chance of you developing blisters, sore muscles, or injuries.
You should also bring no more than two or three changes of clothes, a fleece jacket, towels, a big water bottle, toiletries, a Swiss army knife, a pack of blister patches, a tube of sunscreen, and maybe a good book to read in the evenings. You’ll sleep at albergues (which are basically hostels for pilgrims), and there will be food provided so you don’t need to worry too much.
When To Go
Spring and early fall will generally offer the mildest, most pleasant weather, but a lot of people like walking during the summer as well. Bear in mind that this will usually mean blistering heat for the most part of the trip. Only go in winter if you want more solitude on the path and don’t mind the cold, but know that some of the roads are closed during certain periods so you’ll need to consult your guide book.
It doesn’t matter whether you’re religious or not, or what exactly are your reasons for walking Camino de Santiago. The very fact that you’ll be letting yourself live a very simple life for the duration of the trip can be truly spiritual.
There’s only the road beneath your feet, only the strain of your muscles as you push yourself to reach new physical goals, only straightforward walking, and then deep, peaceful sleep at the end of each day. There’ll be no distractions in form of social media or any kind of drama, so you’ll be able to really get in touch with yourself and remember how to enjoy life without being so focused on material things around you.
This trip will also offer you ample opportunities to bond with other pilgrims. You’ll find plenty of people who are very cheerful and eager to chat, and walking together and sharing meals can really bring you close and help you forge a wonderful new bond and potentially form a lifelong friendship.
If you’re nervous about walking Camino de Santiago — don’t be. It’s not only perfectly safe, but really fun and adventurous. It’s going to be one of the most unique experiences of your life, so take the plunge and prove to yourself you can take a solo trip and enjoy it with your whole heart.
Hi Becca and yes the Camino is a fabulous and memorable experience. Like you, I went solo during the cooler months of April/May 2015 and can’t stop the walking bug and would like to do the Portuguese Camino from Lisbon via Porto to Santiago in the near future! On the spiritual side I found the bond you formed with others along the way was one of the highlights for me and am in communication with many of the people I met! Buen Camino!
Kind regards Marcus
Considering the positives from Becca and yourself, I feel this walk has to go on my list.