Saturday, August 16, 2014

Tips for walking the Way of St. James

Heed my advice... you'll thank me later:
  1. Be sure to bring along- good socks, sunscreen, a hat, a bandana to cover your neck (to protect yourself from the sun), fast drying undies and shirts (NOT COTTON), a jackknife (just don't keep it in your carry on while traveling by plane), and toilet paper. 
  2. Cut off all of your hair- This is not mandatory, but cutting my thick curls to just above my shoulders kept me cooler, allowed me a little more time to relax because I didn't have to spend so much time attempting to style it, and I also used less shampoo per shower, thus making my tiny travel-sized bottle last longer.
  3. Bring along a reusable water bottle- Spain has AWESOME tap water... is that a weird thing to say? If you use a reusable bottle, you will be saving yourself money as well as saving the world from plastic bottles. Almost every restaurant/hotel along the Camino is used to filling up bottles, so don't be afraid to ask for the tap. 
  4. Get comfortable with peeing al fresco- You may not want to think about it... but there will be a time where you will have to "go" and there will not be a bathroom for miles around... find yourself a nice tree off the path and away from a water source and enjoy the beauty of nature as you become one with it.
  5. Beware of poles and bikes- You are sure to face both of these challenges while on the Camino de Santiago... In most instances, nothing will happen, but there is a high percentage of pilgrims who do not keep track of the other end of their poles, and the pointy part may end up sticking you in the eye or gashing out your kneecap... Bikes just whizz by you at top speed, so just watch yo' back.
  6. For the love of God, break in your shoes before departure- You are bound to get blisters, regardless of how much you train, but knowing your shoes are the right fit and the right style for hiking is a good way to deter major damage. 
  7. Drink water before you are thirsty- Keeping hydrated is imperative, so sip often and refill whenever possible. 
  8. Leave your makeup and dressy clothes at home- Ain't nobody got time for that. 
  9. Carry "business cards" with your name and email- This really worked out well for me... I met some really great people from around the world while walking the Camino, so this was a super easy way to keep in contact with them. 
  10. Do yourself a favor and invest in a good backpack- make sure it has straps that go across your chest and waist to balance out the weight. 
  11. Keep a journal- trust me, even though you may be too tired to write in it every night, you'll want to remember your trip and the experience you have had. 
  12. Eat lots of carbs- It's a non issue cause you'll work 'em right off! 
  13. Leave your earphones at home- Instead of zoning out to Drake, listen to life around you and be present in the moment... you never know who you may meet. Get ready to share your life story a few times.
  14. Do not overpack- it is soooo much easier said than done, but do not bring more than you need and be open to doing a bit of laundry every night.
  15. Smile and say "buen camino" when passing/being passed by other pilgrims- The Camino is not a race, it is a journey that every pilgrim takes individually, for different reasons. This greeting brings a sense of community and solidarity to each pilgrim, and really makes the journey something special. 

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