Camino Plus FAQs
What kinds of people walk the Camino de Santiago?
All kinds of people walk the Camino de Santiago! According to the records of the Pilgrims’ Welcome Office in Santiago de Compostela, just over 300,000 people completed the pilgrimage in 2017. Of these, 89% arrived on foot, 11% arrived by bicycle and a few hearty souls rode horseback. Pilgrims came from Spain (44%), Italy (9%), Germany (8%), the U.S. (6%), Portugal (4%) and over 150 other countries. About 28% were 30 years of age or younger, 55% were between 30 and 65 years old, and just over 16% were older than 65 years. Finally, these pilgrims included students, salaried employees, technicians, retirees, teachers, blue-collar workers, civil servants, homemakers, artists, farmers, unemployed people and priests – among many others!
How difficult is it to walk the Camino?
Every “pilgrim” will have a different answer for this question. The Camino is not a Himalayan expedition, but it is not a Sunday stroll through the park either. For this trip, we will be walking approximately 68 miles or 110km over 6 days, or just over an average of 11 miles or 18km per day. Some days will be a little shorter and some a bit longer, but 10-12 miles a day is a good guide. The minimum distance you must walk to be officially registered as having completed the Camino is 100km, so we have made our trip just over that distance, to help ensure that everyone will get recorded.
Are there guidebooks for the Camino?
Yes, and a custom day-by-day hiking guide will be provided for this trip. Of course, there are many published guidebooks, and you may want to review one or two before the trip. The guidebooks that are most recognized include those written by John Brierley, Bethan Davies and Ben Cole, Alison Raju, and the annually-updated Confraternity of Saint James guides. A recent addition for the Francés is a Kindle guide by Raimund Joos.
I am 50/60/70/80/90/100 years old. Am I too old to walk the Camino?
People of all ages walk the Camino de Santiago! The average age of walkers is probably closer to 60 than it is to 20! If you are in good overall health and able to walk on uneven surfaces, you will most likely be able to walk the Camino, or at least most sections of it.
On this trip we will average 10-12 miles per day, or 16-19 kilometers per day. If you are at all concerned about your ability to walk this distance for 6 days in a row, it would be a good idea to get a check-up with your doctor before you hit the trail, just to be aware of any health problems that could be an issue.
Is it physically hard to do?
Not really. There are certainly challenging parts of the walk at times, and you can be caught in the elements – but this is not a technical hike. It’s more about physical endurance than it is about navigating difficult terrain. During this trip we will have support staff, first aid assistance, and vans that can help folks who encounter parts of the route that may be too difficult, or who develop a walking injury or other illness while walking. We recommend that you do some regular hiking in the months and weeks before the trip to build up your stamina. We will be walking for 5 or 6 hours each day, so it is important to prepare for this. A good pair of comfortable, broken-in walking boots is essential.
Will I have access to Wi-Fi?
Yes, in most, if not all, of the places we will be staying at, you will have Wi-Fi service. But during the walk, you will be in rural parts of Northern Spain, so the service may be a bit difficult or slow in certain locations. Nonetheless, many cafes along the way also offer Wi-Fi, so you’ll have several opportunities to be online if necessary. Wi-Fi cellular service will depend on your current provider’s partner network in Spain.
But you will not need your phone to find your way on the Camino, and we highly recommend that you take a break from technology while you are walking.
Where will I be sleeping?
Here is a list of the accommodations we are planning to use for this trip. Please note, that these may change as we adjust for the size and make-up of the group.
Do I need to know Spanish?
No. Even if you do not know any Spanish when you start, you will be able to learn a few key vocabulary words for food, drink and getting to know some other “pilgrims” during your time in Spain. Surprisingly, most shopkeepers and hotel owners do not speak much English at all. But, with a few words of Spanish (and some creative gestures) you will get by. Plus, many people on the trail speak English and you should be able to find someone to translate for you if you are in a bind. We are there to help throughout the trip, so it shouldn’t be an issue.
Here are a few key words and phrases:
- Hola = Hello
- Adiós = Goodbye
- Por favor = Please
- Gracias = Thanks
- Agua = Water
- Café = Coffee
- ¿Dónde está el baño? = Where is the bathroom?
- ¿Cuánto cuesta? = How much does it cost?
- Una cerveza por favor = A beer please
It is polite to speak to strangers more formally in Spain, referring to señor (sir), señora (ma’am) or señorita (miss).
What/Where do I eat?
Breakfast – At each hotel a breakfast is provided. This may consist of toast with jam and a coffee, though juice and eggs may sometimes be provided. If you need more than that, we will be providing protein bars for you each day. You can also stop at any bar in the villages along the way and get a coffee, and you’ll normally find croissants or other simple baked goods there. A ‘Bar’ in Spain is like a café. Yes, there is alcohol there, but they normally have coffee and food, also.
Lunch – You are responsible for your own lunch most days. This will help you better experience the culture and cuisine of the Camino. You can stop at grocery stores and carry snacks with you. Some favorites on the Camino are fruits and nuts, tuna from a can, local bread, and cheese. Or you can stop at a restaurant in a village and have a big ‘Spanish’ lunch, usually with 3 courses and wine. We will provide some options for each day’s walk.
Dinner – Dinner will be provided on all nights during the trip. Sometimes at our hotel or guest house and other times at a specific local restaurant featuring local food and wine from that town or area. The food and wine in this part of Spain is very special and we want to expose you to all our favorites during this trip.
What hiking gear do I need?
Here are some items you should bring:
- day pack – to carry things for the day
- larger suitcase or bag – for the stuff you don’t want to carry each day.
- water bottle (there will be places to fill bottles along the way)
- one or two pairs of comfortable, broken-in walking shoes
- six pairs of hiking socks (unless you want to wash some socks along the way)
- flip-flops/sandals – to put on after the day’s walk
- sweater, sweatshirt, or light jacket
- raincoat/poncho – this is northern Spain, so it does rain!
- walking shorts / trousers
- hat – for rain & sun
- sunscreen/insect repellant
- passport/identity card
- insurance card
- journal/favorite book
- money for snacks, souvenirs, gifts, etc.
for the authentic pilgrims (you can acquire these on the pilgrimage) …
- a wide brimmed hat
- a walking stick
- a scallop shell
What does a typical day on this trip look like?
Each morning you’ll have time to get ready, pack up your suitcase, organize your day pack and have time for breakfast before a quick morning briefing, going over the route for the day.
Once all the bags have been collected, folks can start their walk to the next location on the route. Depending on how quickly you walk and what stops you make along the way, you should arrive at the next hotel in the mid- to late afternoon. With bags waiting, you’ll be checked into your room and will have time to rest, wash-up, and explore your new surroundings.
Each night, usually before dinner, the group will have an evening group session where we talk about the walk that day, get to hear some history and culture about the area and the Camino, and then have the opportunity to break into small groups to discuss a question or topic that is meant to enhance your Camino experience. Some possible topics include: What does being a pilgrim mean to you? The importance of times of solitude. What did you notice on today’s walk? Interesting conversations you had with other pilgrims…
What happens to my luggage while I walk?
Walking or cycling along the Camino de Santiago/the Way of Saint James is a great experience but, what about your luggage? As part of the cost of this trip, we offer a full luggage transfer service. To make this work best, each person should arrive in Spain with only one suitcase, and a day pack that you will carry each day on the walk. All the suitcases will be collected each morning before breakfast and will be waiting at the next hotel at the end of that day’s walk. In your day pack you’ll carry anything you might need for the day, such as a camera, snacks, water, sunscreen, a rain jacket, passport, etc.
What currency do I need in Spain?
Spain is in the Eurozone and uses the Euro. US$100 will roughly buy you €96 (Nov 2022). You can buy Euro at your bank before you travel, at a currency exchange booth at the airport, or you can withdraw Euro at an ATM in towns along the route. Major credit cards, such as Visa and MasterCard, are also accepted in some locations. While all of the higher cost elements are included in the package cost, you will need to pay for lunches, coffees, drinks and snacks along the way, as well as any gift items you wish to purchase.
When do I pay for the trip?
The first step is to register your interest by filling out the form found by clicking on ‘Reserve Now’ on our website at https://www.agape.ie/caminoplus/
The deposit to reserve a spot on this trip is €350 (or US$375) and should be paid when you hear back from us after registering your interest. It is non-refundable after 15 April, unless we have to cancel the trip for any reason. Your deposit can be sent by cheque made out to “Agapé Ireland”, or paid by credit card over the phone.
The balance of the trip cost should be paid by 15 May. After this date there will be no refunds of the amount paid. However, some or all of the amount paid may be refundable through your travel insurance.
What happens if I get sick while on the trip?
Let’s hope this doesn’t happen. For the health and safety of the group, we recommend that everyone on this trip be fully vaccinated and boosted, unless you have contracted COVID-19 in the previous 180 days.
All participants will be asked to sign a Project Release and Waiver of Liability form that spells out, among other things, what you may need to do if you get COVID-19 on this trip.
Do I need Travel Insurance?
Yes. As mentioned above, we require that you take out travel insurance that covers you for all COVID-related issues including having to cancel or extend your trip due to COVID-19.
The following website will give multiple travel insurance options to our US participants: https://www.forbes.com/advisor/travel-insurance/best-pandemic-travel-insurance/
For our Irish participants, we would recommend one of the following insurance options:
Multitrip.com – https://www.multitrip.com/ie/travel-insurance
We will be asking you to provide proof of travel insurance with the final payment, or by 15 May, 2023.
What airport should I fly to?
For this trip we recommend flying into and out of the Santiago de Compostela airport (SCQ) from Dublin, Ireland (DUB). We recommend the following flights:
Wednesday, 7th June 2023 Aer Lingus EI742 Dep. 12:55 DUB to SCQ Arr. 16:15
Friday, 16th June 2023 Aer Lingus EI743 Dep. 16:55 SCQ to DUB Arr. 18:05
By having the group arrive together, it allows for better coordination of transportation to the start of the route. Of course, you can plan different flights into and out of Santiago, but you will need to meet the group either at the airport or at our starting point, at your own expense. Dublin is one of the few EU cities with direct service to Santiago and is an excellent gateway airport for the USA.
When should I book my flights?
We will let you know when to book your flights. Please note that the final decision about the trip going ahead will be made on 15 April, 2023. This decision will be made based on a) having at least 16 people signed up and b) the COVID-19 situation at that time.
We understand that there may be some folks, especially in the USA, who will want to buy their plane tickets before that. In this case, we highly recommend you purchase refundable tickets prior to that date, since the trip could still be cancelled. All going well, we may be in a position to confirm that it is okay to book your tickets prior to 15 April.