My name is David, I’m from Dublin, Ireland, however, my heart is in Spain.
I discovered the Camino de Santiago in 2010 and since then I have been venturing back and forth one or twice a year. Shortly after my first Camino to Santiago, I started to write about my times in Spain in 2012 and more recently, I have been ‘giving something back’ to my local Camino association. I have walked the Camino Frances seven times, the Camino Portuguese Coastal Route once and the Camino Finisterre once. But what gives me greater satisfaction is assisting those who have yet to walk to Santiago through the Camino Society of Ireland. In the future, I hope to return to Santiago and volunteer in the Pilgrim Office in Santiago in the coming years.
What top 3 things do you bring besides the common stuff all Camino de Santiago hikers bring?
There are 3 things that I recommend pilgrims carry with them at all times no matter the Camino:
- Gehwol 75ml Foot cream – Strengthens your skin. Rub this on your feet each morning and you won’t have any blisters.
- Buff – An essential item, and one that can cover a variety of places. I am running thin on top so this was perfect for me. It covers my neck when the sun is out too. A must.
- Travel journal – always take notes on the Camino. It’s so easy to forget the littlest of things when you return home.
How do you bring things with you?
I have always used Lowe Alpine when it came to rucksacks. Up to 2018, I owned an AirZone Pro 35:45, however, I have recently switched to an AirZone Trail 35. Both packs have been very comfortable and have not caused me any problems during my Caminos. However, everyone is different and it is important if you are in need of a backpack to visit an outdoors store and get the pack fitted.
When walking, I ensure that I have what I need close at hand, either in an over-the-shoulder bag or in the top pocket of my backpack. My shoulder bag would usually hold money, passport, pilgrim passport, guidebook, and phone. I usually keep my lunch in the top pocket – a yogurt, some fruit, some nuts, chocolate.
In the main compartment, all the other items are separated into dry bags. Ex-ped are a great brand and you can usually buy a pack of 5. My clothes are in one bag, toiletries in another, electricals (phone chargers, adapters) in another. My medication is kept in another bag and the last bag is for the blister kit.
What are your top tips for other Camino de Santiago hikers?
-The Camino de Santiago is all about the people you meet, and the stories you tell, the bonds you build. The lives you lead before arriving get left behind and they don’t matter. Friendships last forever on the Camino. I have seen it. While there is a lot of advice to start your Camino 100 km out from Santiago, the road will be very busy and there are more routes than the Camino Frances. Why not walk the Portuguese Coastal Route, or the less busy Camino Norte?
-Start early. Hitting the trail between 7 and 8am means you avoid the worst of the day’s heat. There’s nothing better than watching a sunrise on the meseta.
– Drink plenty of water. It can be hot on the Camino, so be sure to replenish all those fluids you’re losing through hard work.