Choose Your Camino
Movies, articles, and returning pilgrims may have inadvertently given you the wrong idea that there is only one route called the Camino de Santiago, one approach to walking it, one type of lodging, and that it takes everyone 30 days to walk it. I am glad totell you there are many ways to personalize your trip to fit your schedule, travel season, budget, and fitness level. I hope to help you begin and finish well. At the heart of accomplishing this is your decision to walk the Camino route that attracts you, and set your own pace that will allow you to complete what you set out to do.
While the most well known route, the Camino Francés, covers 500 miles (790k) from St. Jean Pied-de-Port, France to Santiago de Compostela, Spain, there are many other official pilgrimage routes, all through beautiful country, all with wonder and adventure around every corner, all ending in Santiago de Compostela. Some are shorter and some are longer distances. Of the most popular, five begin in France, four begin in Spain, and two in Portugal. If you have unlimited time, consider starting from farther away or spending extra days to explore cities along the route. If your time is short, choose a shorter route, or a section of a route.
How to Get from Here to There?
I cover a lot of detail in our Guidebook about transportation that will get you there more smoothly and save you lots of money! Traveling without knowing our tips for free airfare, discounts for local travel, and helpful websites/apps can be daunting and expensive. I sort through it all and recommend our tried and true favorite ways to get to your departure city and save effort and money doing it. My husband and I have flown for free from the USA to Spain for the last two years, and we think free is thousands times better than paying around $1000 per person like we did on other trips we have made.
The first struggle for people might be locating the most famous, but tiny departure town called St. Jean Pied-de-Port, France on a map. With a year-round population of fewer than 2,000, figuring out how to get to SJPP can be difficult, especially for non-EU travelers. If you want to begin walking from SJPP and choose the most traditional route known as the Camino Francés (or Route Napoléon), we have figured out some things that will save you time and effort. Actually, whichever route you choose, we can help.
We recommend a website that is a valuable resource for travel anytime, but for future pilgrims it is especially helpful. Rome2Rio.com provides information and choices for your travel when you plug in any departure city and destination city. Click on any of the choices on the list that appears and you will be linked to the French, Spanish or Portuguese bus, train, car rental, airline websites with schedules and costs.
Consider the amount of time you can devote to your trip, your fitness level, your budget, and your goals (Do you want to earn a compostela? Visit a specific city?). All of these factors go into your planning and choice of route. For more information on routes, seasons, and transportation, you might want to buy our Guidebook for $9.99. It is full of tips and information that will help you plan, prepare, and save money. We made this year’s book available as a Kindle edition so you can make the most of all the clickable links. If you wish you could have a conversation with experienced Camino walkers, consider our personal consultation service. Our seasoned pilgrims will be happy to answer your questions. http://www.caminoprovisions.com/consultations
Begin making your plans today.