Here is first post of my tips for walking The Camino, or really for any long trek. More to come as I have time to post.
There is no right way or wrong way; choose what works for you.
There are many paths to Santiago de Compostella and there are many ways to get there. You can walk the Camino Frances or the Northern route or perhaps you would like to walk from Portugal. You can walk all of the 769 KM from Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port, France or you could walk 107KM from Sarria.
Some people section hike and will walk for 2 weeks for one segment and return the following year to walk for 2 more weeks on the next segment. You can take a train or a bus to leap frog to another point in the map so maybe start in Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port, France and walk some and then take train up to Leon to finish.
You can also have items shipped ahead; so if you need a day off from your pack, you can send it ahead or perhaps you have a special diet and want to bring food with you but not carry it all. Just check with the albergue or hotel that you are staying at and they will coordinate for you.
My mom and I walked from Leon to Santiago de Compostella, then took a bus to Fisterre. We then walked from Fisterre to Muxia and took a bus back to Santiago de Compostella. The only change that I would consider for that trip would be to go to Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port, France and walk a few days, then catch a train to Leon.
I also found the ambiance of the trail very different after the 107KM mark in Sarria. It was great to see so many people out walking everyday and so excited about their journey; however, there tended to be large groups of people walking together and they talked more amongst themselves than with those on the trail. I prefer to walk in very small groups and join in conversation with those that I meet along the way.
Wear the right shoes and socks.
I typically hike in hiking boots but chose to wear a pair of Salomon trail running shoes due to the amount of pavement that we were going to walk on and the fact that my pack would be under 20lbs. The shoes had the grip needed for wet terrain, were waterproof and lighter in weight than boots. Other people wore hiking boots and thought those were the best for their feet. Decide what works for you .
Make sure to get the right size boot. Many people buy the wrong size hiking/trail shoe. My shoes were a size larger than my day to day shoe to allow for the swelling of my feet from walking so many hours in the day. Resources for selecting Hiking Boots: REI and Sierra Trading post
As for your second pair of shoes (you only really need 2 pairs of shoes), go with something really light weight and water proof. Reasons: Keep weight of pack down and you may want to use them as your shower shoes. There are lots of options. I had a pair of flip flops that I brought with me. Many people wear Crocs or Chacos or some other sandal. If it was cold, I just wore a pair of socks with flip flops.
Invest in good socks. So many people get good shoes and then pick up a pair of $1 socks from the bargain bin. Good socks will prevent blisters just as much as good shoes. I brought 2 pairs of good hiking short socks, 1 pair of smartwool wool short hiking socks and 1 pair of liner socks. Resources: Rei- How to pick socks; Darn tough socks
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