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5 Tips for Walking El Camino


El Camino de Santiago is a Catholic pilgrimage unique for its spiritual significance, not unrelated to its challenging elements. The Way of Saint James is different from other Catholic pilgrimages but you do not need to fear its difficulties! With these helpful tips for the various aspects of this trip, you will surely have a beautiful journey. 

  1. A practical tip for walking El Camino is to learn some key phrases from the countries you will travel through, such as in Spanish, Portuguese, or French. Your tour guide will be happy to help you with this part, but it can add some fun to the trip if you come prepared! Hello, thank you, and excuse me/ I’m sorry are a few important ones. Wish all pilgrims you pass a “buen camino” as well!
  2. A great emotional tip for your journey ahead is to be self-aware and honest with yourself.  The pilgrimage can be physically and emotionally taxing, and the more gentle you are with yourself, the more you will be able to be open to the mercy and tenderness of God. Slow down and take breaks when you need to. Do not compare yourself to other pilgrims. This is your journey, so make sure to celebrate every step!
  3. The physical element of traveling El Camino is the most well-known challenge, but preparation does not need to be complicated! Walking pilgrimages require some amount of endurance, which can be built up by taking a walk for an hour or two every day, and then taking a 3-4 hour hike once a week. Walking days vary anywhere from 4 to 18 miles, and the better your body is prepared, the more you will be able to enjoy the beautiful scenery.
  4. As for the communal aspect of the pilgrimage, be honest with your group and set healthy boundaries. Though you will be able to branch off from the 206 Tours group, if you are traveling with family or friends, make sure you communicate. One pilgrim, Father Joseph Paul, O.P., recommends friend groups and family members traveling together to set expectations and ground rules before embarking on this journey. His family set a “right of refusal of conversation,” so that anyone was allowed to say “I don’t want to talk right now” when they weren’t feeling up to it. Be upfront with those around you, and always communicate your needs!  
  5. Finally, set reasonable expectations for the central spiritual element of the Way of Saint James. Father Joseph Paul advises, “Don’t force the fruits of the pilgrimage, a lot of them come afterwards.” At the end of the day, when you are mentally and physically exhausted, don’t expect a world of consolation right then. Your life looks very different when you are on a walking pilgrimage, and so will your daily meditation. Trust that God will give you the graces you need for each day, and that great growth often comes in simple ways, step by step.

With these tips in mind, 206 Tours wants to encourage every Catholic planning to join us for El Camino de Santiago to ready yourself for this life changing road ahead. Rest assured, however, that we will be there to guide you through anything you are unprepared for. Buen Camino!

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