As one of Europe's oldest and most iconic pilgrimages, walking the Camino promises to be a journey like no other. The days spent walking might be challenging at times, but it's totally worth it when you reach the oh-so-elegant Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela—not to mention walking through gorgeous Galician villages, eating delicious local food and the connections you'll make with other travellers along the way.
One of the great things about doing a guided Camino de Santiago walk is that your main luggage is transported between your accommodation for you, so you don’t have to worry about lugging a big bag around from place to place. All you’ll need to carry is a day bag for your essentials. But even though you won't have to lug your bag around, the lighter you travel the better. You don’t want your bag to exceed 20kg as many hotels in Europe don’t have lifts, so you must be able to carry your own luggage... unless you fancy an extra glute workout after a whole day of walking. A soft-sided duffel or sausage bag is ideal, or a small or medium-sized backpack (45-50 litres and preferably without a frame) is another good option.
If the Camino is a bucket-list adventure for you, then you're going to want to ensure you've packed all the essentials. From walking boots and hiking socks to laundry bags and day bags, we've put together this packing list so you can get organised (and excited!) for your Camino trip.
Clothing & footwear
In terms of clothing, you’ll need enough activewear to see you through your trip. Think leggings, hiking pants, vests, t-shirts and shorts. Comfort is key (remember, you'll be walking for hours most days), so aim for breathable, lightweight fabrics that will keep you cool under the Meditteranean sun, particularly if you’re visiting in the summer. A scarf or linen shirt is also handy to cover your shoulders and prevent them from getting burnt. Winter is mild in Spain and Portugal so you'll need tousers and long-sleeved tops instead of shorts.
2. Warm layers
Warm layers are more important if you're walking the Camino in the cooler months, but regardless, you should also bring a jumper just in case you get chilly. Meditteranean evenings are balmy in the summer and you can comfortably sit outside until the wee hours eating tapas and drinking wine, but it's best to be prepared in case someone is blasting the aircon or you catch a chill in the evening.
3. Hiking boots or trainers
A sturdy pair of hiking boots or trainers goes without saying. If you're buying a new pair before your trip, make sure you walk around in them beforehand because breaking in a pair of boots while you're walking the Camino will never be a good idea. Good footwear can be the make or break of developing lots of pesky blisters, so keep comfort at the forefront of your mind when packing.
As well as walking boots, we recommend bringing a pair of comfy sandals to pop on when you're going for a coffee, heading out for dinner or going for a light stroll. They're comfier and less bulky than boots and will give your feet a much-needed breather.
5. Hiking socks
You’ve got the hiking boots, but have you got a pair of hiking socks? A pair of old, holey socks just won’t cut it for the Camino. Hiking socks are specifically designed to help your feet breathe and ensure maximum comfort throughout the day – your tootsies will thank you for it later!
1. Walking poles
Another must-have is a walking pole. It might just be a pole, but boy does it take the weight off (literally). Using one or two walking poles will help you support your knees and steady yourself on any uneven ground, particularly when you’re going downhill.
2. Reusable water bottle
You’ll need a water bottle to refill along the way. Although it can be difficult to avoid bottled water when travelling, aim to take advantage of the water dispensers which are provided on some of our vehicles and at some of our accommodations. Your leader will advise whether tap water is safe to drink in your destination, and if it is, you can refill with tap water.
3. Day bag
As we mentioned before, your main luggage will be transported to each place for you, but you’ll still need a small day bag to carry your essential items. Make sure it's big enough to carry a change of clothes, your water bottle, camera, wallet, snacks and anything else you may need during the day.
4. Laundry bag
After walking for hours on end, you're bound to get a bit sweaty. To avoid infusing your fresh t-shirts and pants with the smell of stale socks, make sure you bring a lightweight laundry bag. Simply throw in your dirty clothes at the end of the day and you'll keep your clean clothes clean.
Again, this one goes without saying. Although the end-point is the grand Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela, your eyes will be occupied for the whole journey as you discover traditional Galician villages, picturesque farmland, idyllic rivers, Roman ruins and more. Plus, it's always fun wowing everyone at home with your travel photos or looking back at them years after to reminisce.
1. Camino de Santiago passport
As well as your actual passport (definitely don't forget that!), you might also want to get an official Camino de Santiago Pilgrim Passport. It's not compulsory, but you'll need one if you want to earn a Compostela (a gorgeous certificate with your name in Latin that proves you walked the Camino) at the end of the pilgrimage. You’ll need to collect at least one stamp per day at various checkpoints along the way to prove you’ve walked the final 100 kilometres. It’s well worth doing, both as a bit of fun and as a souvenir to remember your trip.
You’re going to want to get a good night’s sleep every night to ensure you’re well-rested for another big day of walking. You’ll be so tired at the end of each day that you’ll probably fall asleep as soon as your head hits the pillow, but it might still be worth bringing a pair of earplugs if you’re a light sleeper.
3. Mini first aid kit
Your guides will have first aid kits, but it might be worth bringing a mini kit with you to ensure you're prepared for minor scratches, insect bites, blisters sunburn, especially if you're extending your trip after the Camino. It doesn't have to be anything fancy, but a small bottle of antiseptic ointment, a packet of bandaids, some tweezers and soothing calamine lotion or aloe vera gel should do the job.
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