Camino Preparation: Worth Some Weight In Anxiety

As September quickly approaches, I have quickly begun to realise just how unprepared I am for everything – mainly, my trip to Europe and pilgrimage along the Camino de Santiago in Spain.

I still need to buy my flight tickets, travel insurance, prepare a packing list, and do some more training walks (now that the sun has emerged from winter hibernation and spring has started to bloom, the walks will at least be pleasant).  Typical me, leaving things until the last minute – though it’s only May, so I still have some time!

Thinking about the Camino however, has made me a little extremely anxious lately.  As I think about it more and more, I’m not too sure that I’m particularly looking forward to it.  There are certain aspects that I am anxious about and I devised a list of those things:

  • Sleeping Arrangements

I have slept in hostel dorms before but what scares me about the Camino is that the dorm rooms can be much bigger, sometimes having up to 50-100 people to a room.  I am a relatively light sleeper so I won’t really appreciate a lullaby composed of snores. I also don’t look forward to having people get up at crazy hours of the morning, shining lights and making noise rummaging around their packs.  I like to sleep in and plan to invest in a firm pair of earplugs and an eye mask, but I’ve heard rumours that the albergues (hostels) will kick pilgrims out in the morning (for some reason I’ve got it in my head that it is as early as 8-9 am).  No more sleep-ins for me!

  • Cold Water

Wherever there is a whole bunch of lads and lasses walking the whole day and accumulating sweat, there is a whole bunch of people that need showers.  I don’t anticipate that I will be in the fast lane during the Camino, but in contrast I anticipate that once I get to the albergue at the end of the day… I will be having a cold shower.  Considering that I am a person who usually likes to have scorching hot showers, I am not going to be fond of the shower situation.

  • Laundry

Another thing I’ve heard is that a lot of the albergues don’t have adequate laundry facilities, and if they do – they only have one or two washing machines and one or two dryers.  People generally end up washing their smelly sweaty clothes either with them while they shower or in the bathroom sink.  I’m sure I’ll get used to this routine, but for someone who is already exhausted from walking the whole day, it just seems like extra work.

  • Bugs

Bugs! I hate bugs!  Unfortunately, there are horror stories of bed bug outbreaks and people waking up the next day covered from head to toe in bites.  I think the various mosquitos and bugs on the trail (I’m actually not too sure how prominent these are) will be more than enough.  I will make sure to bring plenty of bug spray with me on the Camino, but I’m scared of the mutated bug-spray-resistant-bugs.

  • Walking

Spending all that time walking, all day, every day, is surely going to cause a whole set of problems.  Such problems include huge blisters on the feet, sunburn (this is possibly my biggest fear; I’m so terrified of getting sunburnt that I wear sunblock religiously, even every day in winter), and back pain due to not being able to cut back my gear enough resulting in a heavy pack.

I know that I have a lot of preparation to do before I begin my Camino, including mental preparation.  I am certain however, that despite any amount of anxiety and problems that I encounter, everything will be okay in the end.  The Camino may test my limits, but I’m told that ultimately – the Camino will provide.


10 Comments on Camino Preparation: Worth Some Weight In Anxiety

  1. There is so much to think about, huh?? We can’t help but think we need to train more but we once read people who wrote, “Why walk the camino before the camino?” – suggesting that we don’t need to be able to walk 800km beforehand… but we just feel so underprepared!

    We have to think what to pack as we are in Europe for almost 2 months prior too…. so whatever we pack needs to be practical for all parts of the trip – YIKES!! Reading your posts will make us kick into gear….

    But we will stay positive and assure you that you will be fine as we think we will be fine :)

    • It does seem like some people start the Camino with no training whatsoever, but I’ve heard of horrible blisters, injuries, and sprains, and that makes me think that I need to have some kind of training before I go. I know footwear is important, but my boots were well worn last summer but I haven’t had any practice with them since, which makes me uneasy…

      As for packing, I have the same problem… I would really like to attend a blogging conference in Greece after I have finished the Camino, which I will for sure need ‘nice clothes’ for, but I won’t be wearing those for the Camino, it seems stupid to have to carry them 800 km with me when I’m not even using them. I am going to look into sending things ahead from St Jean to Santiago but am worried that it might be quite expensive…

      There are A LOT of things to think about and I constantly feel like even if I think of every little thing I will still have forgotten something important! In the end you’re right though, we will all be fine :)

  2. So many of your fears are my fears, as well (especially the sleeping part- I’m also a light sleeper, and have so much trouble falling asleep when someone is snoring!). I think all of the anxiety for something like this is normal- and that the only thing to really take away the anxiety is to get on the Camino and start walking. In the end, I really do believe that it will all be fine. :)

  3. Reblogged this on Bienvenidos // Welcome // Bienvenue and commented:
    My worries exactly. Glad I’m following somebody that has the same concerns as me about doing El Camino de Santiago!

  4. I’m with you on being concerned about dorms and people snoring, shining head torches around, dropping backpacks etc. Hopefully the shared spirit of adventure will carry you through with all the other light sleepers. Good luck – It is a wonderful adventure you’re doing; cannot wait to see some photos!

  5. Sleeping Arrangements, are not a problem on the Camino. At first it’s a bit strange, but when you leave, you’re going to miss sharing a room with other pilgrims. Most albergues do ask you to leave by 8. Once you’re in the rhythm, you’ll be out long before that. Sunrise is one of the most precious moments on the Camino, try not to miss them.

    Cold Water, there is no getting around this one. I took 4 or 5 cold showers on the Camino and just learned to be really efficient and happy with a “less than fully clean” finish :-)

    Laundry wasn’t a problem at all. If you’re willing to pay 5-10 euro, most places I stayed at offered a wash and dry laundry service. You can also wash all of your things by hand at the end of the day. That’s how I started, and towards the end, I was getting things washed in a proper machine every few days.

    The bed bugs tend to be a bit over-hyped. I understand the hysteria though. I only saw one my entire time from St Jean to Santiago and Finisterre….it was pretty scary though. I treated my gear with Permethrin. I’m usually not a fan of chemicals, but the bed bugs were a little to creepy for me to care.

    Walking is the easiest and most enjoyable part. If you train and get your gear dialed in, the walk will be a breeze, both mentally and physically.

    I hope all of your training and planning is going well. The Camino will provide.

    Buen Camino!!

    • I didn’t know that you had to leave by 8… Thanks for the tip!
      I’m looking forward to both sunrises and sunsets! Thank you for your words of encouragement! I can’t wait! :)

      • It’s not for all albergues, but quite a few that I stayed in had that policy, mostly the donativos. Sunrise and sunset on the Camino are incredible! I’m excited for you!!

  6. Most of the dorms I stayed in were smaller rooms and not intentionally either and in regards to bed bugs and beasties I didn’t get one bite. The secret is tiger balm. The bugs hate the smell and stay well clear and it’s great on aching muscles. The biggest part of advice tho I don’t rush take your time and don’t let you enthusiasm take over in the first few days that’s where I rub into problems and blisters! However have fun and Buen camino 😄

    • Thanks for the tip! I heard permethrin was good for bed bugs, but I didn’t know about tiger balm. I’ll have to look into it :)

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