Tips for Traveling Before or After Your Camino
We want to do some other traveling in Europe before or after walking the Camino and will need other clothes and shoes. What is your advice about how to take what we need, without carrying it on our walk? Should we walk the Camino first, or travel as tourists first?
People traveling a long way from home to walk the Camino often ask these questions. I can pass along some good tips we have learned from our trips, which have often included other travel in Europe, before and after our walks.
Like us, others have friends and family living abroad, or just want to do some tourist style traveling while in Europe. On one trip last year, our ultimate destination was St. Jean Pied-de-Port, FR where we would walk the Camino Francés again, but we wanted to visit our daughter living in London, too. It worked out well to fly into London from the East coast of the USA, with one big suitcase which we checked, and then we carried on our Camino packs to stow in the overhead bins. The big rolling suitcase had our London clothes and shoes, and some of our heavier items, and when we could, we piggy-backed our packs on the rolling suitcase to make it easier on ourselves. We spent a couple of days enjoying a visit with family, using our London suitcase. We repacked for the Camino, and left our big suitcase in our daughter’s apartment while we hopped an economy flight from London-Stansted to Biarritz, FR with our packs which fit in the overhead bins. (We travel light when we can!) After we finished walking in Spain, we took a short flight back to London for a few more days of family time, retrieved our suitcase, and flew back home.
What do you do if you don’t have family or friends to take your excess baggage? Our favorite advice is to use the services of longtime Santiago resident, and friend of pilgrims, Ivar Revke. My husband and I had the pleasure of meeting Ivar and learning more about him and his pilgrim services over coffee just a few weeks ago in Santiago. Many of you know him through his website and forum at CaminoDeSantiago.me.
Ivar is a Norwegian, living and working in Santiago. He speaks Norwegian, English, Spanish, and understands Gallego (the first language of Galicia, the region where Santiago is located.) He met his Spanish wife while they were university students in the USA, and he is an experienced businessman.You can read more about him on his website, but we want to tell you something you won’t read there: He is a super nice guy, and a devoted friend to pilgrims. We can recommend his services and website to you without reservation. Our American friends living year round in Santiago have known him even longer, and say the same.
Ivar helps many, many pilgrims with his luggage storage service in Santiago. Follow this link for the details on his website: http://bit.ly/2f63azH. Just a few weeks ago we met Ivar at his place, which is a short walk from the Cathedral, and includes the secure room where he stores the luggage entrusted to him. It was full of heavy suitcases, small cardboard shipping boxes, and everything in between. Whatever a pilgrim does not want to carry before or during their walk at any time can be sent to Ivar to be kept safe until claimed by its owner. The cost ranges from 15-25 euros for 60 days of storage (a few more euros for longer). For those of us traveling from outside the European Union (EU) it is important for us to come through customs with our baggage, into the EU, and then ship our baggage to Ivar. If you are sending something to him from outside of Spain, he recommends using SendMyBag.com. From inside Spain he says using the Spanish postal service for transport works well (www.correos.es). The postal service also offers storage, but after researching that system in person last month, we recommend Ivar’s storage service. Whether you need to store excess pilgrim gear for a week or two, or a whole suitcase from travels prior to walking your Camino, Ivar Revke runs our favorite storage service.
If you have flexibility with your overall itinerary, we recommend that you schedule any other travel before you walk the Camino, and give yourself a day or so to rest before beginning to walk. Our experience, and that of other returning pilgrims we have asked, is that we are not in a “tourist” frame of mind after walking the Camino. If you are going someplace to relax after your Camino, that can work well. Last year after we finished in Spain, we met some family in a rental cottage in the English Lake District for several days of rest and gentle walks in the countryside. Any travel with more activity or schedules to manage has not worked well for us after our Caminos. We have learned to let our Camino pilgrimage be the focus of a trip that includes anything else.
We hope this will help you plan your Camino itinerary, and that you will share it with your friends. Consider buying our Guidebook for more good advice like this on many other Camino topics.