Camino de Santiago: the checklist

“Tell him yes. Even if you are dying of fear, even if you are sorry later, because whatever you do you will be sorry all the rest of your life if you say no.” – Gabriel Garcia Marquez  21 mochila

Some adventures come to us unannounced – but hopefully they’ll never catch you unprepared. I joined British Bradley on his one week Camino Adventure on his last month in Spain. He was making the most out of this country before moving to Mexico! After he had done 98% of the planning for this hike, I researched my BlaBlaCar and bus. “I am doing the Camino de Santiago!” I told the pharmacist, as if this had been my idea all along. She loaded me up on things I might need. After 5 long days of walking, I now have a great few lists to get your Camino started!

In case you get hurt…Correction: When you get hurt…

  • Ibuprophen/pain killer.
  • Magnesium (this helps your nerves, muscles, energy, and endurance. I bought the chewable kind for athletes).
  • Laxative/heart burn pills (anything in case you have digestive problems. Better safe than sorry).
  • Disinfectant (The pharmacist gave me this clear liquid in case of cuts. I did touch some poisonous plant, and this provided much needed relief).
  • Bandaids.
  • Compeed (there are other brands, but this is a gel-like adhesive that you put on when you are getting a blister. It stopped me from getting a few of those).
  • Muscle cream (you know, the hot/cold creams they sell for muscle pain. I bought a cool one that I applied every night. But Bradley brought a cream with Ibuprophen that I applied during the day. It was immensely helpful for my left calve, which had some serious issues, and my collarbone, which hurt so much from the backpack weight).
  • Ankle brace (I had a surfing injury this summer, and this brace helped me tons. If you have ankle or knee problems, make sure you get one of these in case the pain is too much).

Other things you must not forget…

  • Sunscreen (apply and reapply over and over again. I got a heat rash on the Camino. They say it rains in Galicia…sure…just not when we were there).
  • Poncho/Rain jacket (sure…it rains a lot, they say. You don’t want to spend the whole day wet. It is not a luxurious trip, but you want to keep yourself well taken care of for this strenuous adventure. If you watch survival shows, you know staying dry matters).
  • Mosquito repellent.
  • Cash ( you will have many restaurants and cafes along the way. But you will not come across many banks. Many places take card, but some of our pensiones and albergues did not. Just bring some good old cash with you, this is Spain. I would say make a 30-40 daily budget. Better safe than sorry. Albergues and cafes get more expensive as you get closer to Santiago. Also, if you are traveling with one or two other people, it might be cheaper and more convenient to get a private room with private bathroom at a pension. It makes such a difference to have even a little bit of comfort at night).

What you think you would need but you really don’t…

  • Pajamas (after you shower at night, put on your clothes for the next day’s hike. Saves time, effort, and backpack space)
  • Flashlight
  • Tent (you can camp for free next to Albergues, but honestly…if you have the money, pay 10 for a bed. You’ll be grateful for the mattress, and you will not have to carry all that weight!)
  • Sleeping bag (I just bought an emergency blanket, in case I was stranded anywhere. Those are folded tiny, and weight almost nothing. I got mine at Decathlon).

What you may not have thought of before…

  • Notepad and pen (can actually come in handy in case of emergency. If you have a great idea on the Camino, it might be worth writing it down too).
  • Toilet paper
  • Plastic bags (please don’t litter along the way. It takes very little effort to carry a little trash bag that you can toss in a container when you get to town. The World thanks you).
  • Detergent- a small bottle will do (at the end of the day when you jump in the shower, throw your clothes in there, pour detergent on them and step on them as you shower. Multitasking…and it feels great on your aching feet).
  • Earplugs and sleeping eye mask (you share the albergue with a lot of people).
  • Hydrating mix (you can get it at sports stores. I bought 2 packs at Decathlon to put in water. Doing the Camino in the summer can be intense. Don’t wait until you are thirsty. Drink tons of water!)
  • Snacks (there is food along the way…but it was helpful to have snacks on the go. My favorite were these bars I bought at Decathlon. When you get snacks at sports stores, they tend to be very lightweight for your backpack! This is amazing! They were feather weight. This matters).

In terms of packing, here is what I recommend: wear 1 outfit, pack 1 outfit. That’s it. No, don’t give me that look. You don’t need the clothes, you will stink no matter what, and there are plenty of shops along the way. Get a Camino t-shirt at a souvenir shop if something terrible happens to one of your shirts. Go bra-less, panty less, anything that will minimize the weight on your shoulders. Two tops, two bottoms, two pairs of socks, hiking boots, flip flops, and a sweater.

Now all you have to do is…walk a little.

18 shadows on the camino

Coming soon: interviews of those who’ve done the whole Camino or some of it.




3 thoughts on “Camino de Santiago: the checklist

  1. Vanessa! Holy crap! I can see why this is getting all kinds of feedback and responses!! Beauuuutiful job with this. it’s clear. It’s concise. It’s entertaining. It’s real. It’s helpful. It’s everything you could want and more! Keep the “tips and how-to” blogs coming. People (including me) are going to eat it up!!!!!! xoxo


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