The good news is that the Camino is a very inexpensive way of spending a month in Spain (and certainly cheaper than most other European countries). If you are on a budget then you can expend to pay no more than €35 a day, which will include accommodation and food... yep! Just €35 a day!
But there are always ways to cut your budget and here are my top ten hacks to trim that wallet just a little bit more.
Click play and listen to the audio on the right, or read the blog below.
#1 - Take your own coffee or tea-bags
Us Brits do like our tea and coffee in the morning. The Spanish coffee is the best coffee I have ever tasted, however, there is not always a cafe open in the mornings. Either stay at Albergues that have kettles/microwave etc or, like me, take a little cooking stove (I have a Jetboil). If that first coffee of the day is important to you then the extra weight will be worth every penny!
#2 - Save money by drinking wine!
This is a silly, but true, tip.... wine in Spain is cheaper than water. Drink more wine! Yey!
By the way, just outside of Estella there is a free wine fountain. Please do not top up your water bottle with the wine from the fountain, simply enjoy the tradition of drinking the wine from your Camino shell. (It's not the best wine but it has to be done!)
#3 - Split the costs of a taxi
Sometimes you may find yourself taking a taxi (yes, people do take taxi's on the Camino!). If you find yourself in this situation then always ask around to see if anyone is keen on sharing splitting the fee. Usually there is someone else who is going to the same place as you. I was once very poorly and didn't want to loose my Camino family, so I took a taxi to Burgos and then had two days of rest whilst my Camino family walked for two days.
#4 - Share your washing / dryer charges
I know it does not sound like much but not only will it save money if you share a washing machine with a few other pilgrims, but it will also save water. It seems like such a waste to run a full load (washing or drying), when you only have a few small items that need to be laundered. Sharing is a big part of the Camino and so is washing your clothes!
#5 - Save money on the ATM machines
On all of my Camino trips, I have taken the maximum cash out of the ATM machine to save the charges from the bank. I then split the money into little plastic money bags of €35 a day which helps to keep me under budget on a daily basis. You will often hear of pilgrims who have run out of cash as you can often walk for 2-3 days without seeing a cash machine in any of the villages that you will pass through. Unlike the UK, you can not expect to pay for anything on your card, especially in the smaller towns and villages. Spain is still a cash economy and if you run out of cash then you will either go hungry or end up asking your fellow pilgrims to help you out.
#6 - In Galicia think about upgrading
The very last section of the Camino is called Galacia and this is the most popular region. It is often crowded and most people will be staying in Albergues. A ninja tip is that the price of a private room for two or three people is often the same price that you would pay for a bunkbed in a dorm room. So consider partnering with your new found Camino family and share a private room for a better nights sleep and often a similar price.
#7 - Buy train / bus tickets before you go
If you purchase your train and bus tickets ahead of time then you will certainly save money on your trip. I am never this organised and often pay for the tickets at the train station, which can incur an additional charge of up to 50% more! Saying that, bus and train tickets are super cheap in France and Spain, so yes you will save money by purchasing them online, but if you are from the UK then you will be surprised at how inexpensive the tickets are in the first place!
#8 - Book your flights early!
If there is one thing that I regret of my most recent Camino trip is that I didn't book my flights early enough. The myth of "last minute booking and you will get a good deal" is totally unfounded. Flights in April or October are usually much cheaper than other times of the year.
#9 - Stay in Albergues that have a kitchen
If you use the Beun Camino app then you can see which Albergues have kitchens for self catering. Many pilgrims cook and eat together which not only saves money but it is also one of the best experiences you can have on the Camino. One pilgrim brings wine, another brings salad, another cooks pasta etc. It is a fabulous way to save money and enjoy the spirit of the Camino.
In addition, if you can not find an albergue that has a kitchen, then certainly seek out a hostel that holds a pilgrim meal as part of the deal. They are often around €10 per meal. A pilgrim meal will often consist of 3-4 courses, bread and a bottle of wine. It is extremely good value for money and well worth seeking out.
#10 - Walk the Camino Frances
I have walked a variety of different Camino trails but the Frances route has the best infrastructure and the most options available. If you are looking to reduce costs by staying in Municipals (Community Albergues) for as little as €5 a night, then the Frances route is built to support this option. There are more options for Pilgrim meals, lots of little village shops that supply pilgrim related products such as the famous Compeed. Other routes such as the Ingles trail, you will end up paying for rooms/hostels via booking.com to secure your place, and eat at a nearby restaurant which soon adds up. I found that the cafe's were more expensive in general on the Ingles route rather than the more popular Frances trail.