I received a Facebook message from a local business person who was keen on learning more about the Camino, but he had one big worry – staying in a room full of strangers and not being able to sleep due to others snoring.
I thought I would set the scene for those newbies who are considering walking the Camino. I have only walked the Frances route as I type this blog, so these thoughts are based on my experience from St Jean Pied De Port.
When I first set out along the Camino I remember reading on the forums about the panic for beds. I was that worried about not getting a bed on the first day that my anxiety levels grew to an extent that I missed some of the most beautiful scenery that the Camino has to offer. The Pyrenees is spectacular, but I was so focused on making sure that I got to the first Albergue before anyone else that my pace was crazy, which actually resulted in very grumpy walking buddies (Julie & Rachel). They even nicknamed me “Bed Ninja”!
There is always a bed
The Camino will always provide. You do not need to carry an emergency bivi bag (yes, I had one of those!). There are various types of hostels / Albergues along the way. When you see discussions on the internet about the “lack of beds” or “No room at the Inn”, they are usually talking about the main Manicipules (a community centre hostel). These are usually very cheap from €5 a night, but you get what you pay for. Often you will be in a room that hosts up to 100 beds, which in my opinion needs to be experienced as part of your Camino journey but perhaps not every day. If you want to avoid snorers then there are other options available which I prefer.
Tip #1 – Simply avoid the snorers
When you are looking at the guide (I use the Wise Pilgrim App, available at £4.99 on the app store), it will show you details of the Albergues and Hostels available along the route. As sleep is super important to me, the deciding factor of which hostel I book is usually dependant upon the number of beds to a room. There are often smaller rooms available at the main Manicipules but more often than not, I will be staying at smaller and sometimes more quirky and unusual places.
For example, this Albergue in Vilora de Roja is only €5 and has one dormitory with 4 beds and 3 bunks (10 beds). I can cope with ten people and the write-up and reviews are excellent. I also know that this place encourages people to rest and discourages people from leaving at 4 am to get a head start on the day. I am more likely to avoid the Pilgrim's Song if I am staying with fewer people.
Please note that you can also book Pension's (or B&B's) along the way which means you have a room to yourself, or to share with one other person. Also, try booking.com or AirB&B. Be mindful that with Airbnb or booking.com hotels, you are unlikely to grab a stamp in your pilgrim's passport and the cost will usually be considerably higher.
Note: The Wise Pilgrim App is available for most of the Camino Routes.
Tip #2 – Try earplugs
I have never had any great success with earplugs, mainly because my ears are small and they fall out during the night. But, having read many forums and blogs about the topic of coping with snorers and “sleep talkers” on the Camino then it seems that many people swear by them. There are a few different types of earplugs:-
- Custom built earplugs (I may give this a try!). Apparently, a healthcare professional will take an impression of your ears and send this to a manufacturer who will custom build your earplugs for you.
- Disposable ear plugs – which is the most popular form of ear plug on the Camino. A pair of disposables will last a few days before they need disposing of.
- Moldable earplugs – A great alternative solution for when you can’t get a comfortable fit with a disposable earplug and you don’t like the way the foam feels in the ear. These are made of a wax or silicone material and are moulded into the bowl of the ear by the wearer. (I have tried these but it feels like I am underwater and I can hear my own breathing. It's a strange sensation).
- Reusable sleep earplugs – These are typically made of a soft silicone or plastic material. They are generally more durable and can be reused for many nights of sleep.
Tip #3 – SleepPhones- Pyjamas for your ears
Sleep phones are brilliant, especially when you use them with an application called Pzizz (send you to sleep app!). Built by AcousticSheep they are super comfy and if you don't mind looking like a bit of a plonker when you go to sleep then I would highly recommend them. I broke my when they had a journey of their own via the washing machine!
Tip #4 – Please don't get annoyed with the snorers
Telling someone that they snored really loud and kept everyone awake is not going to help. There is not much that the snorer can do to stop the snoring. Poking someone will only work for a few minutes before it starts up again, and clapping very loud will simply wake up other people rather than stopping the Pilgrim's song. If all else fails then you can always take your mattress and camp out in another room or even in the communal area to get some well-needed snooze time.
Tip #5 – Fall asleep first
This is my little trick at home. My husband snores like a trooper so I always make sure that I am in bed by 9.30pm and I am usually fast asleep by the time he comes to bed. For me, this is the easiest way to cope with his snoring. I am not sure if this tactic would work on the Camino but it is worth a mention anyway.
The Camino is one hell of an experience, and sleeping in a room with strangers is all part of the fun. If the thought fills you with dread, then you certainly do need to try it out!
If you have walked stayed in a hostel, especially on the Camino, how did you cope with the snorers? Perhaps you are a snorer? I would welcome your comments below.