This article is a follow-up to my previous article 10 Best Things About The Camino. Anyone who walks the Camino will find certain aspects that are most challenging to them. In this article I list ten things I found the least enjoyable on the Camino based on my own experience. I must note that although this article may seem negative, both the good and the bad are important aspects of any journey. The things that challenge us are sometimes what make us grow the most.
One of the biggest complaints you will hear in albergues is about snoring. Close quarters packed with individuals who spent all day exerting themselves and then drinking several generous glasses of wine is a textbook scenario for the worst snoring you will ever experience. Earplugs will help, but you are bound to experience snoring so loud that the entire room will shake!
2. Bed Bugs
Along with the close quarters of albergues comes one of mankind’s most notorious pests – bed bugs! Sleeping in a different bed every night for a month within a community of world travelers is a bed bug paradise. Watch out for itchy clusters of welts that appear on exposed parts of your body. Washing your items at high temperatures is the best way to rid yourself of an infestation.
Most pilgrims will experience blisters at some point during their journey. These tiny injuries can be the most debilitating as raw skin becomes more and more irritated. Blisters can easily lead to an infection if they are not taken care of quickly. The risk of blisters can be minimized by keeping your feet dry, wearing layers of socks or sock liners, and making sure your shoes are broken in before you begin the Camino.
4. Foot, Knee, and Back Pain
Although blisters are the most common injuries at the beginning of the Camino, as the journey goes on, foot, knee, and back injuries increase. Wearing a heavy pack every day for weeks puts pressure on nearly every part of your body. Most pilgrims come to accept sore feet and shoulders, but continued exertion can lead to long term injuries such as stress fractures or Carpal tunnel syndrome. Make sure to listen to your body and adjust your walking. Take rests and make sure your pack is not too heavy.
5. Communicating With Locals If You Don’t Speak Spanish
On certain portions of the Camino, you find yourself “off the beaten path” where locals may not speak your native language. This can be difficult if you are lost or looking for a place to stay when albergues are full. Be sure to brush up on some basic Spanish or Portuguese phrases before arriving on the Camino.
6. A Large Portion Of The Camino Is On Roads
Most long distance hikers are accustomed to rugged dirt trails and little contact with cars. Although the Camino has many dirt trails, a large portion of the Camino is along paved and gravel roads. Being observant of cars is very important. If you are someone who enjoys walking in the morning before sunrise, it might be wise to invest in reflective clothing and a headlamp.
7. Finding Places To Go To The Bathroom
Related to the problem of the Camino being along roads, finding places to go to the bathroom can be difficult. Usually there will be a tree you can hide behind, but finding a place that is not within eyesight of a building or another pilgrim is not always possible. Try to take advantage of bathrooms in cafes or before leaving an albergue. By the end of the Camino you will be a pro at identifying locations where you cannot be seen.
8. Risk Of Getting Sick
Getting sick is a known danger while traveling and eating new food. The risk is more defined on the Camino as you will spend every night in a different place. Knowing where or how you picked up a stomach bug can be impossible. Be cautious of where you eat and collect drinking water. Restaurants in small villages may not always be the most sanitary. Most towns you pass through have pharmacies, so make sure to find medicine when needed and rest if you become ill.
9. The Rain
The last stretch of the Camino through Galicia is notorious for unpredictable weather. Very few pilgrims will pass through this region without a sudden downpour. Heavy rain can continue for days, leaving you and your belongings soaking wet. It is advisable to have a sturdy rain jacket and a tight pack cover. You also may want to keep your items in plastic bags, since nothing is completely waterproof!
10. Saying Goodbye To Other Pilgrims
With pilgrims constantly coming in and out of your journey, you are bound to meet people you like and want to continue walking with. Since everyone has varying physical abilities, you may not be able to maintain the same speed as everyone and parting ways can be difficult. It is important to focus on your own pace and accept other pilgrims coming and going.
To read about my own experience on the Camino, be sure to check out my book My Own Pace. Click here to order your copy in paperback or Kindle eBook.
10 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Hiked The Camino
15 Hardest Parts of the Camino Francés: St-Jean to Finisterre
The Day Before You Hike The Camino
Leave a comment or send me a message if you have suggestions for articles about the Camino you would like to see!
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