Essential packing guide for the Camino de Santiago

Lots of soon-to-be-pilgrims agonize over what to pack for their Camino. I know I certainly did!

When I’m not writing about the Camino, I’m actually a professional organizer and, this week, I got an idea for a new way to approach packing for the Camino. Although “how to” guides are not the norm on my blog, I’m excited to share this!

Remember those “choose your own adventure” books? My idea combines this with a packing list, leaving lots of room for personal preferences. Best of all, it removes some of the stress and confusion.

A request: If you like this list enough to share it, please send friends a link to this post, rather than a copy of the original document.

Here it is! Jen’s “Choose Your Own Adventure” Camino Packing List!

Big thanks to Kim, Lisa, Rebecca, and Karen for your ideas, help, and extra eyes!

Want to see what I ended up putting in my own pack?

I’d love to know what you think! ❤

25 thoughts on “Essential packing guide for the Camino de Santiago

  1. This is a thorough list that can be adapted to other types of trips, say a camping trip or even a visit out-of-state with relatives. Some of what you say definitely applies to hiking the Pacific Coast Trail. Did you see Wild or read the book? Cheryl Strayed used the Opposite Hiking List. 😉

  2. Jen, this is absolutely awesome! It is the best packing list – hands-down! – That I have ever seen. You make it so simple – in so few words you not only make clear what to take, but also how to choose, and why, and then there’s that wonderful list of what to leave at home! Truly valuable. I will be using this for other adventures, too. I believe you have nailed it.

  3. Jen, This is FABULOUS! It will be so helpful. Thank you so much for sharing it. Can hardly wait to see you in a few hours.

  4. Thank you, thank you, thank you! This is and will be so helpful. Thinking about what to take sometimes has felt overwhelming and you just made it so manageable.

    1. Yay, Nancy! Your preparations were part of what inspired me to create this. Here’s to more convos about gear! ❤

  5. Very comprehensive list… I had only one layer for feet, but I will absolutely take the two layers option with toe socks next time I take a long hike. So useful to avoid toe blisters.
    I also thought about Wild in tour not recommended list 😉

    1. Perhaps I should have mentioned not to bring things like cast-iron pans! 🙂 If you try out liner socks, I’d love to know how they work for you.

  6. Absolutely great packing aid. Thank you so much! Perhaps I missed it, but you might want to add “mosquito head net” in the optional section since I understand that during some months the mosquitoes can be vicious and the net weighs next to nothing.

    1. I’m so glad to know you like it, Leah! I didn’t encounter a single mosquito, but if a head net makes you feel better, bring one. You’re right that they weigh nothing. Thanks so much for commenting!

  7. I saw this list just a few days before leaving for the Camino. It is perfect, I love the element of choice and the recognition that we are all different. I find I really react against prescriptive lists from people who know best but your list is individualized and allows lots of options. If only I’d thought about the donkey before I got my heavy backpack!

    1. Heehee! I had just finished a book about doing the Camino with a donkey—so I added it for a little fun. 🙂

      I share your feelings about anyone who says “have to bring” or “never bring”. It gets my dander all in a fluff! I hope it serves you well and I’m wishing you a buen camino, peregrina!

  8. This list is perfect because you give options. I agree with everything, except your games rule. We brought a deck of cards and met some wonderful people learning each other’s country’s card games.
    I was all set to roll my eyes and grumble at this list because you used the word, “essential.” The Camino is so personal and everyone goes for a different reason and everyone gets something different out of it so I lose patience with people who insist how it must be done. But you hit the nail one the head with this list. Well done!

    1. Wow! Thank you for the compliment, Nancy! I too get totally annoyed by “shoulds”! I’m delighted that this works for you. 🙂

      Funny you mention bringing cards. I am a huge fan of the game, Bananagrams. In lieu of the heavy game, I made letter tiles on paper and one night we had an international game going. The rule: we could use *any* words in English, German, French, or Spanish. Not only was it fun, I learned a whole bunch of new vocabulary that night! 🙂

  9. This is awesome. Going to reblog. I start my 2nd Camino early May. I’m going on a just planned work trip to France, so just decided to walk again. Was frustrated packing today and this list is EXACTLY what I needed! THANK YOU!

  10. Jen, what a valuable organizational tool you have provided here for fellow pilgrims. Thank goodness for your organizational “hat”! And I was especially tickled by the colorful undies suggestion “for easy ID on the line”. So true!

    I also had to laugh at the “moderate” amounts of medication. I took such a ridiculously huge amount of Ibuprofen with me on last year’s Camino that I ended up mailing it ahead (with a few other items) to Santiago.

    1. Yay! I’m so glad you like it, Elissa! That means a lot coming from someone who’s done the Camino twice. Like you, I spent more on postage to shop things ahead than the value of the contents… We learn eventually! 🙂 Thanks for commenting!

  11. For toilet items, I asked for samples in chemist’s shop or organic shops. Like that you can carry only what you need with very few packing.

  12. I have to say that my rain gaiters saved the day more than once. Lightweight and didn’t take much space. Kept my feet DRY when everyone else was sloshing. And I love my icebreaker underwear. Fast drying and they don’t stink.

    1. This is great to know, Kathleen! I walked in April/May without them and although my feet got wet a few times, it turned out to be survivable as long as I stuffed my shoes with newspaper overnight to dry them (it works like magic!). As always, anything that goes in the pack is a weight/use (and sometimes cost) decision. It sounds like you made the right one for you! Brava!

  13. Great list, Jen! I leave tomorrow for my first Camino and the nerves are setting in. It was nice to run across this and at least be assured of my gear. Buen Camino!

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