Walking the Camino: Tricks, Tips and Tales

The Camino de Santiago is one of the most challenging yet rewarding experiences an individual can embark upon. Originally undergone for religious and spiritual purposes, the Camino now welcomes an array of individuals who take on the pilgrimage for a variety of reasons.

Routes take place across France, Spain, Portugal, Italy and even England, according to Sarah Kildea, who took the famous walk in June 2018. Her route began in southern Portugal and ended in Santiago, Spain. Having held a spot on her bucket list since her schooldays, Sarah and her group of friends decided to walk the Camino to get a breath of fresh air and escape reality for two weeks.

Starting the day at 6 am in order to get a head start out of the sun, Sarah said 25km were generally completed by 2 pm, and after a quick food break another 10km or 15 km were carried out until they found somewhere to rest. A minimum walking distance of 100km is required to receive a certificate of completion, she added and boasts an impressive 200km that were racked up over her trip.

Unlike most trips abroad, booking hostels was not essential; they frequently welcome Camino walkers and are relatively cheap. Sarah stressed that preparation is key and planning what month to complete the walk is vital, as summer months can be more gruelling than others. It’s also essential to plan what shoes you will where; buying them only one week in advance and not breaking them in is a no-go, especially since you could be walking up to 30km a day. Bringing easy-to-prepare foods such as chicken noodle soup and fruit can also ease the Camino experience. Weight training is also a recommended tip; practising wearing a heavy bag on your back can help prepare for the long journey.

One of the great things about the walk was the scenery; Sarah recalled the beautiful coastline and beaches along Portugal on her way to Santiago, as well as experiencing the tall scenic mountains. She pleasantly reminiscence about the people she met on the Camino, including a group of friendly elderly German women who created their own wine and took it along with them for the journey.

After reaching Santiago and completing the Camino, an option is given to walk another three-day route to the ‘End of the World’ in Finisterre, as it was once believed that that was where the world was cut off. Sarah claimed the route is student friendly and highly recommends it if you wish to escape the hustle and bustle of life. So long as walking long hours isn’t an issue, the Camino de Santiago should feature on everyone’s bucket list.