The small things in life make all the difference, and the Camino is no exception. This week, I would like to share with you five very small, lightweight items that no pilgrim should be without. Some of these are very obvious, but hopefully, even if you do not use the items yourself then carrying them will help another pilgrim.
#1 – Earplugs or Sleepphones
If your intention is to stay at the Albergues (and in my opinion, every pilgrim should experience a hostel/albergue at least once on the Camino), then you may find that earplugs will become part of your daily routine! If you are a light sleeper then you will struggle to get to sleep in the dormitories due to people getting up in the night to visit the bathroom, snorers (there are always snorers) and on one occasion we had a very loud Korean guy who had a tendency to sleep talk loudly (although we had no idea what he was saying!). Even if you are a deep sleeper then please take some earplugs with you as you will find that you make friends really quickly if you help out another pilgrim with a half decent nights sleep! Also, make sure that you have tested the earplugs before you go on the Camino as cheap ones do tend to fall out!
Personally, I have very small ears and I struggled to keep earplugs in my ears, they are also uncomfortable for me. On two of my Camino trips, I used sleep phones, which is a fleece headband and super comfortable. It has built-in speakers which lay flat against your ears and it Bluetooth to your phone. I then use Calm or Pzziz to take me through a guided meditation that helps me drift off into the land of Nod.
#2 – Tissues or wet wipes
You will be surprised how many times you will find that the toilets in either hostels or bars/cafe's do not have toilet paper. If you have a surplus of tissues or wet wipes then you will not only save the embarrassment of having to “drip dry”, but you will also make friends quickly!
Sometimes you will get “caught short on the Camino and it is a godsend to have tissues or wipes for these inconvenient moments. Many pilgrims leave toilet paper on the trail which is not cool. Please do not be THAT pilgrim. Pack your used toilet paper into a ziplock back, or take some dog-poo bags with you.
I like the compression toilet roll/wipes and I find these brilliant for all sorts of things. I use them for washing up, toilet use and even to wash my hands after eating fruit. They are awesome, lightweight and inexpensive.
#3 – Small ziplock bags
Before I start any Camino trip an essential item for my gear set up is always a few ziplock bags or sandwich bags. They are great for keeping things dry such as your Camino passport, journal or guidebook.
When I walked the Camino Ingles I purchased some fruit which I assumed would be ok in the bag that the market seller supplied. With the movement and the heat of the Spanish sun the fruit was not pleasant when I opened my bag as it has smudged fruit juice all over my drybags. Needless to say, I now add any fruit to a ziplock bag to save any uncomfortable mishaps!
#4 – A buff
Don't worry, you don't have to wear a buff on your head in pure ninja style, but a buff is such an essential ingredient to my gear list that I just had to add it to this list. You can use a buff for so many things!
- Use a buff to cool yourself in the Spanish sun (the mission control buff that I use has a snap technology that keeps it cool for a few hours).
- Keeps you warm in the cooler nights (I prefer to wear it around my neck).
- I also use mine as an oven glove! So if I am boiling water for coffee etc in the morning then the buff is a handy tool to handle hot drinks.
- I have worn my buff around my wrist as a sweatband.
#5 – Multi USB charger
There is always a fight for plug sockets at the Albergues, so I take with me a 4 plug USB charger. If I arrive late in the day and there are no sockets available to charge my gadgets, then someone is usually ok with you removing their phone and replacing the socket with my 4 USB charger, so we can charge multiple phones in one go. Once again, another way to win new friends!
There are many travel adaptors that you can buy with multiple USB outlets. I have one similar to the picture on the right (which links to the Amazon listing)
I hope the above gives you a few little gems that perhaps you had not considered for your own Camino adventure. If you have any extra tips and advice for small items that you would recommend then please comment below.