Camino Preparation and Packing

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Camino Prep and Packing

Camino Credencial - Scallop Shell - Love Rock
Camino Credencial - Scallop Shell - Love Rock. Wendy Bumgardner ©

Your Camino journey starts at your front door. When my Credencial del Peregrino (Pilgrim Passport) arrived from American Pilgrims on the Camino, it became real. I'd done my Camino walking training, I know how to pack for a walking vacation, but the Camino requires special prep.

The credencial is stamped each day on the Camino de Santiago and presented at the Pilgrim's Office in Santiago de Compostela to receive your Compostela - certificate of achievement.

The shell is a symbol of the pilgrim. Wearing the scallop shell on your pack is a sign that you are walking the Camino.

Pilgrims also carry a stone from home to place at the Cruz de Ferro, a symbol of release. I will not be walking the segment that goes to the Cruz de Ferro. But I am carrying a Love Rock from my hometown. The family of two girls killed in a tragic accident makes them to be taken by travelers around the world to spread love and forgiveness. I shall leave it in Santiago de Compostela.

Of course, I also ensured my US passport was current, long in advance of my journey. I also notified my credit card and bank card providers that I would be in Spain.

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Shell Ceremony and Pilgrim Blessing

Camino Blessing and Scallop Ceremony
Camino Blessing and Scallop Ceremony. Wendy Bumgardner ©

I received my scallop shell and pilgrim blessing at the monthly Sunday Stroll hosted by our local chapter of American Pilgrims on the Camino.

Each month the group gets together to walk for an hour. At the end of the walk, the pilgrims who will be embarking on the Camino in the next month receive a blessing and a scallop shell.

The blessing is non-denominational and appropriate for those without a religious faith. I also attended the annual feast day mass of St. James at our local Catholic cathedral in July. That was a little too early for me to receive the blessing. We celebrated that one with wine and tarta de Santiago.

We followed the August walk and shell ceremony with a group get-together at a nearby pub. That is always a great way to glean tips and information from experienced pilgrims.

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Camino Survival Kits from Linda

Camino Survival Kit
Camino Survival Kit. Wendy Bumgardner ©

My friends Linda and Keith walked the Camino Frances from Saint Jean Pied de Port the year before. She gave me these Camino Survival Kits:

Blister Prevention Kit

  • Antiperspirant - apply to all areas of feet before walking.
  • Mary Kay extra emollient night cream - apply a thin layer.
  • Udderly Smooth body cream - apply thin layer
  • She recommends toe socks and Smartwool socks
  • Add Hiker's wool for hot spots.
  • Apply cream to feet at night.
  • More: How to Prevent Blisters

Camino Pee Kit

  • Compressed traveler's toilet paper: Many bathrooms lack toilet paper, it's best to bring your own.
  • Hand sanitizer
  • Plastic bags if needed for roadside stops.
  • Think of wearing a hiking skirt over capris to give yourself more coverage if you need to use the bushes as a bathroom.

Nail brush: to get the mud off your boots. I hadn't thought enough about that, this was very welcome!

Notepad: to gather email addresses and names of fellow pilgrims you meet along The Way.

Drysacks: Small and large drysacks to keep the items in your pack dry. Buy from Amazon

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Camino Day Pack and Bag

Camino Day Pack - Suitcase - Shoes - Poles
Camino Day Pack - Suitcase - Shoes - Poles. Wendy Bumgardner ©

I elected to only carry a day pack while walking the Camino de Santiago and have my larger bag transported each day. The bag transport was arranged by Caminoways.com as part of their package, but it is available for anyone on the Camino.

What I Carried in My Day Pack

  • Shell
  • Credencial
  • Small notebook and pen
  • iPhone (to use as a camera), local cell phone
  • Toilet kit (TP, hand gel, plastic bag)
  • Map and walking directions
  • Flashlight
  • Nail clippers and small Swiss Army knife
  • Blister kit, duct tape and ibuprofen
  • Sunglasses and reading glasses
  • Love Rock and second shell for Denise Thiem
  • Battery for phone and charging cable
  • Itinerary, travel insurance card, flight confirmations
  • Passport, credit card and money in a RooSport magnetic pocket
  • Rain parka
  • Water (in reservoir)
  • Energy bar snack

What I Wore

  • Short sleeved sweat wicking shirt (REI)
  • Sports bra
  • Running shrug
  • Long-sleeved shirt on cold mornings
  • Convertible pants
  • Packable waterproof/breathable jacket or Patagonia Houdini windbreaker
  • Brooks running socks
  • Brooks Cascadia trail shoes
  • Hat
  • Sunscreen
  • Trekking poles

What Was in that Big Suitcase?

In addition to Camino gear, I was packed for a week-long culinary tour of Barcelona. For that, I brought along a dress, slacks, a couple of blouses and clean walking shoes. If I were only walking the Camino, this is what I would have limited myself to bring:

  • Clothes: Spare convertible pants, cargo shorts, spare short-sleeved shirt, travel/walking skirt, 3 pairs of underwear, 1 sports bra, 3 pairs of socks, fleece vest, sandals.
  • Insect/bedbug repellent sleeping bag liner
  • Laptop computer in padded sleeve
  • Lightweight backpack or purse
  • Toiletries and personal care items
  • Rainpants and umbrella
  • Itinerary and travel documents
  • Noise-canceling headphones
  • Scrubba

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Camino Prep - Bed Bug Prevention

Sea to Summit Coolmax Adaptor Liner with Insect Shield
Sea to Summit Coolmax Adaptor Liner with Insect Shield. Courtesy of Amazon

I am concerned about bed bugs. I'll be spending the night at many different places on my 105-kilometer Camino, fewer than those who start in from France. But that is still a lot of chance to encounter bedbugs.

I bought a sleeping bag liner that is treated with permethrin, which should keep out the bedbugs. I plan to sleep in it. I also sprayed my pack and suitcase with permethrin so they wouldn't pick up bedbugs and take them to the next stop.

The sleeping bag liner proved to be very comfortable to sleep in.

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Camino Prep - Clothes Washing

Scrubba Portable Laundry System Wash Bag
Scrubba Portable Laundry System Wash Bag. Courtesy of Amazon

I'm taking only a small set of walking clothes for my "tourogrino" Camino. Those who walk with only a pack know the drill - wash the set you just walking in when you reach your lodging (or send it to be laundered, where available). Put on the clean set, and walk in it the next day.

I got a sample of the Scrubba Portable Laundry System to review. It is a bag with internal washboard nubs. You put your clothes in, add soap and water, press out the air, and agitate for a few minutes. Then drain, rinse and agitate. While you could do this in the hotel sink, users report better results with the Scrubba.

It also works as a good dry bag to put things in to keep them dry, or to carry your still-wet laundry that didn't quite air-dry overnight.

I gave it a test drive at home. I debated whether to save the 5 ounces in my luggage or to take it along. In the end, I took it along and used it. It makes a great dirty laundry bag in addition to being a washing machine.

Buy Scrubba from Amazon

Disclosure: Review samples were provided by the manufacturer. For more information, please see our Ethics Policy.

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