I don’t like packing. Period. I love to travel, but if you ask me to pack and unpack, and you would rather talk to a wall. I always put the least minimal effort in packing, and it’s not my favorite topic to talk about. But here is the thing: Camino de Santiago needs you to pack well and put some thinking in to it. No matter what route you take, you should be well prepared. What you choose and what you leave behind, are gonna ultimately make a big difference in Camino de Santiago.
For this trip, if there is one thing that you can’t be careless about, it’s gonna be your shoes. Waterproof hiking shoes with a good grip are what you are looking for. Do a little bit of research in this department, and wear them in for a while before you start the trip because you want to be comfortable when walking long distance, and blisters will change the rules of the game for you.
Flying out just for the Camino? Or it popped in to your list when you were already backpacking in Europe? Have those huge backpacks full of your big world? The first thing would be to forget those 65L/70L backpacks, and downgrade to a smaller one. Something with adjustable waist and hip straps, and lightweight will do the job. Now, if buying something branded is your thing, go for REI. Otherwise, any outdoor store or even Goodwill would have a backpack you like, and something that would last for a few months at least.
No one is gonna remember what you wore on what day. Really. And, this whole thing is about your journey, not your fashion statement anyways. A couple of quick-dry long pants, if possible, the ones that would change in to shorts would be great, along with a couple of quick-dry shirts. Add a hiking short, a couple of t-shirts, quick-dry undergarments that don’t chafe (less than 5, I would say) and you are almost done. Except for a pair ofSmartwool or wool hiking socks, and a pair of cotton ankle-length socks of course. Good socks are your best guards against blister, and no one wants blisters. So, make sure you buy new and good ones before you start.
And, a lightweight jacket (probably North face) or a long-sleeve top for the cold, depending on what time of the year you are doing the trip. And, the last thing you need to pack is a poncho for the rain. A lightweight rain jacket will be nice too, but a poncho will safeguard both you and your backpack.
A multi-USB charger is something must. Albergues where there are not enough power sockets, a mult0USB charger can be a life-saver. And, a portable battery. And, I am sure you are taking your smartphone with you.
Along the route, there are a lot of pharmacies. So, even if you forget something or need something, it’s not like there are no options. But here are the things that I would recommend.
- Compeed for blister treatment. Available in pharmacies in Spain.
- Good ointment for pain-relief and insect bites.
- A roll of toilet paper, hand sanitizer, wet wipes and sunscreen.
- Ear plugs (noise-isolating), and eye mask to sleep well.
- Quick-dry towel.
- A kindle or a real book.
So, do your research and try to carry as less as possible. It’s all up to you what you need, but think to yourself: do I really need beyond the bare minimum? A light backpack will bring you a lot of that good cheer, and you would thank yourself for making the best decision of your life. And in any case, isn’t it all about your experience, after all?