The Camino - A Family Affair posted: 2012-05-20 06:07:00
Many people are walking the Camino as a family, taking their children or teenagers along with them. This can be a great way to do the pilgrimage, but a few practical steps should be taken to ensure everybody has a safe and fun experience. The first thing to note is that the Camino can be very physically demanding. While teenagers should be well able for the exertion required, younger children will find some of the 'ways' too challenging. In which case, Follow the Camino will help you choose a route appropriate to your family's capabilities.
Before you set off, it might be a good idea to remind your children of the significance, religious and otherwise, that the Camino has for many walkers. It is also important to motivate your children at the beginning. Everyone finds the first few days hard and there can be a temptation to quit. But once they've gotten over their initial doubts they'll start to really get into the swing of things.
Carrying a pack on the Camino can be gruelling for youngsters. Luckily, we offer a luggage transfer service which ensures your bags will always be waiting for you at your next hotel. This means you only have to pack a light bag to carry daily supplies. Carrying a scooter can allow your kids to have fun AND cover ground! Something to note is that the Camino is not about glamour. We recommend that parents and children leave their more fashionable clothes at home.
You can still bring something nice to wear for the night time, but try to buy clothes that you don't care what happens to them and can afford to be thrown away. Young people love their jeans but these are not appropriate clothing for hiking. They're not warm enough when it's cold, they're too warm when it's hot, and they retain water like a sponge. Make sure your children have sturdy, comfortable footwear that has been broken in ahead of time - blisters are no fun.
Spain, as I'm sure you know, can get very hot and younger people may not have the experience to know when they need to rehydrate. Pack lots of water - there are fountains scattered along the way but you should have your own supplies as well - and make sure the kids drink at regular intervals. There is also very little shelter from the sun on the Camino, so ensure that your children wear hats and strong sun-block. Many families choose to walk the Camino in April or September when the weather is pleasant but not overly hot. So, we would suggest to go during mid-term breaks, as this is a preferred time to go for many families.
Young children, in particular can have low attention spans. It's important to set them reasonable targets for the day (for example, say the group will walk six kilometres and then have lunch) to keep their motivation up. A pack of cards, reading material or something similar also helps to keep them happy during downtimes. If you're feeling adventurous, you could walk with a donkey, which can be a fun way of encouraging kids to embrace the adventure and also has practical advantages. The donkey walk is available on the Le Puy Route.
There are several choices of routes and start points on the Camino so you can customise the walk to your exact needs. If you're walking with young children, perhaps the section of the French Way from Arzua to Santiago de Compostela would suit you. This route gives you the chance to walk the final stretch of the Camino and, at 37 kilometres over four days, it shouldn't be overly demanding for the little ones. The French Way is the most traditional route taking walkers through the green hilly landscapes of Galicia, eucalyptus wood-lands and typical rural villages. Teenagers may enjoy cycling the route but again the choice is yours. Click here to view our various route options available. You can also find them by clicking on the ''Camino Tours'' tab at the top of the page.
Finding accommodation on the Camino route can be stressful enough as an individual walker, let alone when you have a family in tow. However, when you book the Camino through us, you can relax knowing you're guaranteed specially selected accommodation that will suit your family's needs. Usually, you will arrive at your lodgings in the afternoon, giving you and your family plenty of time to rest, have a refreshing shower, enjoy dinner or visit the local village. Your young ones should be tired enough to leave you to enjoy a couple of hours of "free time". By carefully planning your Camino trip you can ensure that it will be fun, hassle-free and rewarding for the whole family.
Feel free to check out our article on Planning Your Day Along The Camino Trail
If you have any more questions about any of our walking holidays or our services, please don't hesitate to contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org
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