6 items you will want to pack for the Camino de Santiago that are worth their weight in gold!
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When I packed for my Camino last month I did a lot of umming and ahhing over items that were necessary and unnecessary for my journey. Even just minutes before getting in the taxi to go to the airport I was still pulling items out of my bag and changing my mind on a few things that were adding weight to my backpack. However what I am thankful for for are these six items below that I decided to keep with me, and it turns out that these 6 items were worth their weight in gold and more.
1. Head Torch
There are two reasons why a head torch is an item you will want to pack for the Camino De Santiago. Firstly, if you are an earlier riser and like to start your walking day off early, it comes is very useful to guide your way and spot those yellow arrows in the early hours of the morning. I like many other pilgrims this summer started walking as early as 5.30 – 6am to get a head start and beat the heat during the middle of the day. A head torch will help you spot those yellow arrows and distance pillars far easier, stopping any possibility of you missing one and going off in the wrong direction and it will also come in handy on the rocky paths when you need light to prevent you breaking your ankle.
Secondly most bicycle head torches have several brightness options and some like mine have a red light option that is perfect for hunting around your backpack or guiding you to the bathroom in the middle of the night without waking anyone up.
TIP: Make sure you carry extra batteries with you in case it dies.
2. Neck Scarf
When I initially purchased my neck scarf from the trekking shop I went home and thought to myself that I must be insane for adding extra weight to my backpack with items that were going to keep me warm in one of the hottest months of the year in Spain. But I am glad I listened to my gut instinct because my neck scarf came in so useful and the great thing about it was that I could use it in multiple ways.
- I first used it as a head bandana on day 1 walking up from St Jean Pied de Port to Orrisson in what was probably one of the hottest days on my Camino. Run under a tap of cold water and placed on my head, it gave instant relief to the blazing heat.
- Day 2 of my Camino threw fog, mist, wind and rain at me as I crossed the Pyrenees into Roncesvaux. My neck scarf came in useful again placed on my head to prevent my hair getting too wet (keeps your body heat in) and it covered my ears from the side wind which can prevent ear aches etc..
- On chilly mornings it came is useful to wear for its original purpose as a neck scarf. Tucked into my fleece it kept my neck warm from the morning breeze before the sun rose and warmed me up again.
- I used it often as a head band to keep my hair out of my eyes on windy days and also as a way of keeping my ear phones in while I walked and listened to my music.
- I would wear it at night to cover my ears and keep my ear plugs in to block out as much snoring as possible!
3. Anker Wall Charger
Now there was a lot of controversy on the Camino following the subject of electrical items people should or should not take with them. Some argue that for a full and meaningful experience all electrical items including your mobile phone should be left at home while others (mostly of the younger generation) felt it necessary to carry their mobile phone, camera, GoPros, Kindles, iPads etc… I decided to stick to the basics and carry just my mobile and camera.
My Anker Wall Charger came in super useful to charge both at the same time with its multiple usb slots. It isn’t heavy and it cuts down on the amount of chargers, plugs and adapters you need to take with you. And why is it a necessity? Because in most hostels you will find a limited number of plug sockets and having a device that can charge multiple items at once (as well as other peoples if you wish) means you aren’t hanging around waiting to switch them round and you aren’t the person hogging all the sockets.
4. Swiss Army Knife
This is going to be another controversial item but for me it was worth its weight in gold. The amount of times my knife came in useful! From opening wine bottle with the cork screw, to cutting plasters with the scissors to cutting bread and cheese with its knife…there are multiple uses for it and while of course you can buy plasters that are already cut, break bread with your hands etc…for those times when I needed a knife I had one and the majority of people I met that saw mine wished they had carried one too!
5. Travel Towel
Bought very cheaply for just a few pounds, a quick dry travel towel is an item you won’t want to leave without. I met numerous people who were under the impression that both towels and bed linens were available in the albergues and so decided not to pack one. This is not true. Only private hostels and hotels that are on the pricey side offer these options. I didn’t find any albergues that provided towels or the option to hire one, so bringing a towel that is quick dry is an essential items to pack for the Camino De Santiago.
I do not know how I would of survived without a pair of ear plugs. You will come across some of the world’s champion snorers on your Camino and when you’re tired the last thing you want is to be up all night and not get a good nights rest for your next day of walking. So invest in a good pair (or a couples of pairs) of good ear plugs before you go. The foamy ear plug type really doesn’t work for me so I use the silicone type called BioEars bought from a drug store for a couple of pounds and with them in I can barely heard a thing. However if you do this, make sure you have your alarm set to vibrate so that you wake up on time to leave.