Every year, hundreds of thousands of pilgrims embark on the Camino de Santiago and visit the shrine to the apostle Saint James the Great in the cathedral of Santiago de Compostela. The number of official pilgrims is rising and doing so rapidly. Some 114,026 pilgrims made the journey in 2007 and 10-years later these numbers had more than doubled to 301,036.
The number of pilgrims increases dramatically during Holy Compostelan Year, which is when July 25th falls on a Sunday, and the next “Holy Year” is in 2021, so perhaps you’re considering making the pilgrimage yourself?
If so, be sure to check out our guide for essentials you need to take with you if you are travelling on the Camino de Santiago.
Most important in your camino arsenal is a good pair of walking boots. Some people prefer walking shoes, but some routes have very uneven footing so it is important to find a pair of comfortable and sturdy boots that will protect your feet from the elements and give you ample support for your journey. The last thing you want is to develop sore blisters in the opening stages of the pilgrimage and then having to cut your journey short.
It is not always a case of more expensive is better when it comes to walking boots, however, the better brands will cost you more but they will be worth it because they are far more likely to last longer than this one massive walk. You should also invest in some good quality socks because they can often be the difference between having a foot covered in blisters and one that is simply weary from a long walk.
When it comes to backpacks there are literally hundreds, of not thousands, of options to choose from. Having this much choice can lead to confusion. What we will say is that you need to go to a store and try the backpack o before ordering online so you know exactly where it sits because everyone’s body shape is different. Ideally, you want a backpack that has some waterproof protection, has a decent load capacity and features adjustable straps so you can make it as comfortable as possible. After all, it may be on your back for several hundred miles.
Make sure that you buy a cap and some sunglasses for the Camino de Santiago so that you are protected from the sun’s ray. The cap will help prevent you getting sunstroke from long hours in the sun while the sunglasses will help prevent headaches from prolonged exposure to strong light. It also makes sense to ensure you have ample sunscreen to protect your body from the dreaded sunburn.
When it comes to sleeping, you are going to need a sleeping bag and a silk liner; the latter can discourage bed bugs and mosquitoes from biting you because they don’t like silk. You also need to think about several changes of clothes, some food and water for the times you are between towns where you can resupply, a first aid kit for minor emergencies, toiletries for keeping your hygiene standards up, your mobile phone (and charger) and a camera (and charger) for those times you want to snap an everlasting memory.