I know, I know, I can hear it now, the Camino is meant to be a place where we can switch off and bask in the solitude of zero technology right? Wrong! I live in the real world and when you set foot on the trail then you will soon realise that many other pilgrims will also be using technology. Being away from friends and family for a good stretch of time means that you will need to use technology to keep in touch. Wifi is available in most towns and villages and you should be able to access 3g in most places.
Technology does not simply mean your phone! Here are my top ten tips for using technology on the trail.
Tip #1 – Get a Travel Adaptor with Mulitple USB outlets
There is a sense of panic when you have 10% battery left on your phone (or there is with me!). Many other pilgrims feel the same and plugging your phone into a socket to charge is often more important than making your bed upon arrival. If you arrive at the hostel anytime after 3 pm then it is likely that every single plug socket already has a device plugged in. Taking an adapter that allows you to plug at least 2 USB leads into it will make you everybody's best friend. I carry a travel plug that has 4 x USB outlets and so does Rachel. This means that we can charge eight phones (or other gadgets) between us. If we arrive late and there are no plug sockets available, we ask politely if we can remove the plug of a fellow pilgrim and then use one of our adapters to charge their phones and ours.
Tip #2 – Please don't carry books
On my solo hike, I saw a couple who planned to get through endless books on their Camino walk. They had a few books each which must have weighed a tonne (or at least 1lb!). Consider taking a Kindle or an e-reader, or if you have a smartphone then download the Kindle app on your phone. I know it is not the same experience as reading an actual book but, believe me, your shoulders and feet will thank you for not taking the big book load.
Also, did you know that if you have an Amazon Prime account then you can download many free Kindle books?
Tip #3 – Your phone can be used for so much more than just making calls
- Google translate is amazing and I used mine often for taxi drivers, booking train tickets, ordering a meal in remote Spanish villages.
- Wise Pilgrim app is fantastic. Get hostel details and book ahead, also see your location by the touch of a button
- Alltrails – the whole of the Camino Frances route is located on this brilliant app.
- Learn how to use the Camera functions properly before you go. (just search on YouTube).
- Music – your phone will also give you access to some fine tunes, so don't forget your earphones.
- Audiobooks and podcasts – pure entertainment in your pocket
Tip #4 – Consider taking a long phone cable
On my third Camino trip, I took a very long iPhone cable (6.5 ft / 2m) with me which was an absolute godsend. Often, I was either in a top bunk or the power socket was in the corner of the room. Being able to lounge in my bunk updating my blog / social media channels whilst my phone was charging was just fantastic. I will always pack a longer cable on all of my travel adventures now, not just the Camino. You can view the cords that I purchased here on Amazon (extra durable).
Tip #5 – A power pack is essential
If you are running any type of GPS system on your phone then your battery will run down quite quickly. Taking constant videos will also have a similar effect. Before you leave then turn off your mobile data roaming, change your notification settings so that you only receive pop-ups for key apps and try and walk with the airplane mode activated to save battery. Even if you are have implemented battery saving features then it is still possible that with a full day of activity that you may need to charge on the go. I always keep a Belkin Charger (as I also have an Apple Watch) fully charged in my pack. A popular quality brand of power packs are made from Anchor.
Tip #6 – Consider taking a USB stick for your phone
I guarantee that you will take endless photos and videos of your Camino journey. All media on your phone will take up space. Can you imagine arriving in Santiago and not being able to take any photos as you have no capacity unless you delete previous photos? There are a few solutions to this problem.
- Upload your photos to Facebook. You can upload them and set the visibility to “only me”, if you don't want to share them with the world. You can then remove them from your phone.
- Sync your phone with an online storage system such as iCloud or Google photos.
- Or keep them on a USB stick if you would prefer to keep them with you. You can purchase a USB stick for iPhones with a lightning adapter.
Tip #7 – Protect your gadgets
It often rains in Spain, so make sure that your cables, power packs and other electronics are stored in a dry bag within your pack. Even though it adds some a little bit of extra weight, it’s worth buying a decent case for your phone. Even a basic silicone one is better than nothing. Having a case that protects the screen if you drop or fall on your phone, and stops a least a little water getting in, is a good idea. The same goes for Kindles or tablets if you’re taking them.
Tip #8 – How to charge your phone quickly
Did you know that if you put your phone into airplane mode and then plug it into the charger, then you will speed up the charge? Don't get too excited as it is not a super fast option, but it will shave a good valuable few minutes off your charge time.
Tip #9 – Set your out of office and update your voicemail greeting
If you are brave enough, set your out of office on your email and then remove the application from your phone. You can always add it back if you are getting palpitations but it is amazing how much better you feel when you are not checking emails every day. I have also set up text replacements on my phone which allows me to quickly send an “out of office” text message to anyone who phones me whilst I am walking the Camino. Below is a video that I produced for my other business (Green Umbrella Marketing) that shows you how to set up your out of office quickly on your mobile phone).
I hope you found these tips and gadgets useful. I still appreciate that the last thing we want to do is become addicted to our technology whilst on the Camino. We need to remember that we here to switch off and get away from it all and enjoy some peaceful times and recharge your soul, not just your phone.