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Safety First on the Camino Frances

Young people hiking with backpacks. Happy travelers hikers having fun outdoors in forest.
I must admit, I have never been the sort of person who has ever been ultra safety conscious.  Although my father was a policeman for 20+ years, we grew up with the attitude “if a burglar is going to break in, he will do it anyway”.  In hindsight, that is probably not the best attitude to have!  My husband has also worked with the police for over 20 years and his attitude is a little bit different, in fact, he is the complete opposite.  

Safety in numbers?

I was over the moon when my best mate Julie agreed to come along with us on the Camino Frances.  Not only as it will be a hell of an experience and sharing it with your best mate will be awesome, but also because I feel more safe with Julie there by my side.  My husband was chuffed that Julie was joining us, as we have our 13-year-old daughter Rachel coming along and increasing the numbers, ensures a bit more security.

Advice from a fellow pilgrim

A few weekends ago, on a training walk, I picked Jane's brains about security on the Camino.  She gave me the following advice:-

  • Peregrinacin a Santiago.Most people adhere by the general unwritten “pilgrim code of conduct” and you will find that people go out of their way to help each other.  Jane told me of a story of a father who was travelling with his son, although it was more of a life journey for the dad.  The son (early 20's, I think) got bored and took a cab to the next Albergues – he was going to meet his dad there.  But his dad got sidetracked for some reason and stopped at a different Albergues.  The son had no money and there was no signal available for the phones, so other pilgrims clubbed together to help him out.  That's what the Camino is all about.
  • Jane has walked the Camino on two occasions, and is walking again at the end of April and she has never experienced any problems.
  • Use common sense.  Keep you wallet on a money belt, and your phone and
    any valuables with you at all times.
  • Make sure that your kit is easily identified.  For example, putting ribbons on your walking sticks. This is not because people take your equipment, but because a lot of gear all looks the same and you don't want things to get mixed up.

Do people really nick your stuff?

Here are some tips that I found on the Camino forum – best forum his here.

  • Place your boots at a low level, in a corner of the rack. Boots at eye-height are easier to “scope out.” If they are easy for you to spot and keep an eye on, so too for someone with adverse intent.
  • Tie and double-knot the boots together, and include the shoe rack if possible so taking them is not an easy, casual, or unplanned event. You KNOW the boots are attached to the rack and to each other, the potential thief does not; OR,
  • Change out your standard boot laces for neon-colored orange, yellow or safety lemon lime, or even a bright electric blue or sky blue. This makes your boots unique and easy to spot….and less likely to be chosen by the thief. It has the added effect of making you more visible while walking on roads.
  • Think like a thief. A locked zipper says “valuables in here.” It will take a thief little more than a Swiss Army knife to get into that pocket. Better security would be far inside the pack, say rolled in your sleeping bag or in a stuff sack of socks and underwear.
  • Pickpockets in stations position themselves near the sign that says “Beware of Pickpockets.” They watch people pat their wallet in response to the sign, and go straight for that pocket.
  • Using lightweight straps to secure your pack to the bed or other furniture to avoid it from being stolen.
  • Add a couple cat bells on your rucksack so it rings if anybody move it (that would annoy the hell out of me!).

Do you have any tips about security on the Camino, or any other walks?  Perhaps you spend time in Youth Hostels in the UK, how do you make sure that you and your stuff is safe?

1 Comment

  1. Jane on April 1, 2016 at 9:24 am

    My friend Liz washed her kit and left her trek towel out on the line. When she went back after dark she couldn’t find it and thought someone had nicked it. After stomping and grumbling around the dorm and peering at everyone else’s towels hanging on the bunk rails she gave up. In the morning she checked again and found it had blown off and was in a corner!

    I’ve never had a problem, I don’t tend to stay in huge albergues and you quickly get the feel for your fellow pilgrims. Having said that I have a small bag in which I keep everything valuable ipod, phone, passport, credit card and that goes everywhere with me – even to the shower. Everything else can easily be replaced. I have heard tales of people having stuff nicked but I think they are the exception rather than the rule, every albergue asks for your passport and notes down your details so if someone was a serial thief the police would be able to track them.
    Buen camino!