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You Know You Are Going On You First Camino When…

Pilgrim in Spain - Iron sculptures

As you may be aware, we are off to walk the first part of the Camino Frances in less than 30 days and I am now starting to think “what's going to happen when we get back?”.  Camino life has consumed me for the last three months since we decided that we were going to actually do this!

You know when you are going on your first Camino when….

#1 – You're constantly on the Camino forum

I am completely addicted to the Camino De Santiago forum.  I have learned so much from this forum and the community don't mind repeating themselves for newbies.  I am also loving the “Live from the Camino” forum, where you can keep up to date with everything that is going on right now.  Today, I saw a post from someone saying that they were struggling to get a bed in a few of the Albergues as it was so busy, which has made me consider booking ahead.

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#2 – You become obsessed with Amazon

Much to my husband's horror, I have spent a fortune on Amazon.  From Shewee's to lightweight sleeping bags and bed bug sheets.  As I see something on a YouTube Camino packing list, I think “oh, that looks good, I really NEED one of those”.

#3 – You become mayor of your local GoOutdoors!

When I won mayorship on Foursquare for Go Outdoors, I knew that I was becoming addicted to walking, hiking, camping and lightweight gadgets!

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#4 – You spend too much time weighing your rucksack

From Amazon, I purchased digital luggage scales to weigh both mine and Rachel's packs.  According to the forums, you should not carry more than 10% of your body weight, but I am quite dinky, which means that my pack should be no more than 9llbs…um!  I have made a rule for myself, and for Rachel that we will both carry no more than 15llbs.  I have been out on long walks with my pack full (up to 18llbs on one occasion), and I have not had any issues, but this little gadget is brilliant.   Confession time -I weigh my pack all the time!  Experimenting with adding and taking things away.  (Very sad I know!).

#5 – You put on your waterproofs on and stand in the rain just to test it!

We have a lot of rain in the UK and April seems to have had more rain than ever before.  I understand that the rain is plentiful on the Camino Frances route, so for peace of mind, I needed to make sure that my Craghoppers, my new jacket and my walking boots were all fully waterproof.  (all from Go Outdoors of course!).  I have been out in the rain on numerous occasions just to test out my gear!

#6 – You put on your backpack while cleaning your house

I was deliberating whether to add this one or not, but I thought “it's true, so why not?”.  Yes, how sad is that?  Moving on…

#7 – You're obsessed getting your backpack lighter

When I was first looking at packing lists for the Camino online, I thought it was a bit crazy that people were putting weights on their spreadsheets for every single thing.  This includes things such as “passport = 42g”, but now I completely get it.   I haven't gone as far as weighing everything, but I am obsessed with the weight of things.  You should have seen the time that I spent on buying the sleeping bag!

#8 – You become an expert on backpacking gear even if this is your first backpacking trip

I have lost track on how many YouTube videos I have seen with “how to pack your rucksack”.  I now know what dry bags are and how important they are for keeping your gear dry (and how much they weigh!).  I understand that the heavy stuff (ie: clothes) should be packed in the middle of the rucksack.  A packing tip that I thought was great was to put everything that you need when you get to an Albergue in the bottom of the pack (works well if you have access from the bottom). So my sleeping bag area of my pack, also has my bedbug sheet, jim jams, micro towel, chargers and toiletries (yes, it all fits!)

#9 You've watched the film “The Way” at least 2 times

I watched “The Way” before I had booked the trip, and I have since seen the film two more times.  I have also watched “A walk in the Woods” with Bill Bryson (aka Robert Redford), which is a comedy film based on the Appalachian Trail (I am keen to add this one to my bucket list!).  I also watched “Into the Wild” which is another backpacking film.

#10 – You've watched all the YouTube videos of everyone else's Camino and packing lists

I have watched way too many YouTube Videos on the Camino, but I have learned loads in the meantime.  Sometimes I worry that I know too much and will this knowledge take the magic away when we actually arrive and take our first steps?  I hope not.

If you have walked the Camino, what were you obsessed with?  For me, it has been gadgets and getting things as light as possible – but I know everyone is different.

I would love to hear from fellow pilgrims.  When did you walk the Camino?  Are you organising your first Camino?  What sources / blogs have you benefitted from the most?

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  1. Jane on May 6, 2016 at 9:20 am

    Hi, Julia

    Exciting times, but don’t pack your chargers at the bottom of your backpack. There will be occasions when you might want to plug them in whilst having a coffee, keep them near the top.

    I had no problem with beds and I was on the busiest section so I really don’t think you need to book ahead although you can if you want to. Problem with booking ahead is if you don’t get there by a certain time they give your bed away and also you might decide to walk further or not. Basic rule if you look for a bed around 2pm you should be ok. Bear in mind that the camino gets busy around Spanish national holidays and this week was the Ascension so that might account for a problem with space.
    x



    • Julia Doherty on May 7, 2016 at 9:06 am

      Hi Jane,

      Chargers – I have a separate compartment at the bottom of my sack for the sleeping bag and night time stuff. I also have an extra charger case which is on my phone already, so I think we should be ok. But I can easily put it in the top part of my bag – good advice.

      Beds – this has been a bit of a worry for me, mainly as I have Rachel with me. But I agree, if we book all the beds before we go then it will feel like a holiday rather than an adventure. We want to be able to sit and enjoy the views and take our time, or as you say, walk that bit extra if we have the energy. So, apart from the first night, we will just play it by ear. Thanks.

      Must catch up before we go!!