What’s in my pack for the Camino de Santiago 2016

I learned from my first pilgrimage what’s essential on the Camino and what isn’t. Packing for my second (return) journey will be agony-free and much easier based on what I learned. I hope it helps you too!

Here’s what I plan to pack for the Camino de Santiago 2016


  • Deuter Women’s Futura Vario 45L+10 (same)

Sleeping gear:

  • Sea2Summit pyrethrin-treated sleeping bag liner (same)
  • Homemade blanket of silk fabric and Primaloft (same)


  • 1 quick-dry sports bra (same)
  • 4 pair quick-dry underwear (same)
  • 2 pair medium weight REI wool socks (same)
  • 2 pair Injinji liner toe socks (adding a pair – I love them)
  • 2 lightweight quick-dry running t-shirts (same)
  • 1 huge cotton t-shirt for evenings and bedtime (same)
  • 1 REI running pants (one fewer than last time)
  • 1 Patagonia zip-off pants/shorts (swapping these for the pants above in case it’s hot)
  • 1 zip-up fleece with hood (same)
  • 1 wool hat (same)
  • 1 REI sun hat (same)
  • 1 fleece gator (mostly used as an eyemask, but good for warmth)
  • 1 pair micro gloves (same)
  • 1 pr Brooks Cascadia trail runners (same, technically a new pair)
  • 1 pr black Crocks (now with holes! I may swap these for flip flops)


  • Printed flight confirmation (same)
  • Passport (same)
  • Photocopy of passport, ID, and bank cards (same)
  • Driver’s license (same)
  • Compostella (same)
  • Scallop shell (same)
  • Camino de Santiago guidebook (same, updated version)
  • Cash (600 euro – more than last time)
  • 2 credit/bank cards (same)

Handy stuff/first aid

  • Folding scissors (brought a utility tool last time — too heavy)
  • Plastic fork, knife, and spoon (same)
  • Keychain LED squeeze light (same)
  • 1 16oz Nalgene bottle (same)
  • 1 32oz collapsible Platypus bottle (same)
  • Reusable fabric sack for groceries, laundry, and my carry on (same)
  • 1 gallon Ziploc bag for first aid supplies (same)
  • Small antiseptic cream (same)
  • 3 sewing needles and case (same)
  • Bandaids (same)
  • Mefix blister wrap (same)
  • Ibuprofen (20ct) (fewer than last time)
  • Immodium (3ct) (same)
  • Chewable antacids (10ct) (needed them and didn’t have any last time)
  • Allergy pills (for sleeping) (30ct) (same)
  • Calms Forte (100ct) (same)
  • Cranberry pills (30ct) (same)
  • Acidophilus pills (50ct) (same)
  • Wellness formula (20ct) (bringing many more this time)
  • Anti-inflammatory supplements for arthritis (added since last trip)
    • Vitamin D (5oct)
    • Turmeric (150ct)
    • Glucosamine (150ct)
  • Night guard and case (same)
  • 10 pairs of Hearos earplugs (same)
  • 6 feminine pads (same)
  • Bandana (same)
  • 15ft of line & 8 clothespins (twice as many clothespins this time)
  • 10 safety pins (same)
  • Leki walking sticks (same)

Shower bag

  • 1 gal baggie for shower stuff (same)
  • sarong to use as a towel (I brought a chamois washcloth last time – terrible idea with long hair)
  • Mini hair brush (same)
  • 3 ponytail holders (same)
  • 6oz shampoo in two hanging bottles (new – I plant to put them on a lanyard to hang from the showerhead. I also use shampoo as soap and for laundry)
  • Tiny “rock” deodorant (same)
  • Small toothpaste (same)
  • Toothbrush and flosser (same)
  • Pink scrubbie (same)
  • 2 disposable razors (same)

For the Spirit

  • 100-page art journal with: (all the same)
    • List of emergency contact numbers
    • Friends’ addresses for post cards
    • 1 Pilot V5 black pen (THE BEST!)
    • Pentel ICY .7mm mechanical pencil
  • St. Christopher’s medal (same)
  • Scallop shell necklace from Mom (same)

Still need to purchase…

I’m amazed how prepared I am! Here are the only things I want to get…

  • Poncho
  • Keychain with temperature gauge (in F and C) with mini compass
  • Lanyard for hanging shampoo in the shower
  • Dr Scholl’s arch-supporting shoe inserts
  • Second pair of Injinji runners’ toe socks

What I’m not bringing (that I brought last time)

Experience taught me that anything packed “just in case” can be left at home and purchased in Spain if really needed. No sense carrying what you don’t need! (True in Spain and in life!)

Here’s what I brought last time that I’m leaving home

  • 1 Patagonia Nano-Puff jacket (I’m on the fence about this one. It’s great for evenings, but is too hot to wear when hiking)
  • Utility tool (too heavy, not useful enough)
  • Long sleeve cotton t-shirt (too heavy and took too long to dry)
  • 1 pair thin wicking socks (didn’t use them as much as the toe socks)
  • 1 pr of thick wool socks (they were too thick for my swollen feet)
  • Fabric money belt (too awkward to use and it got all sweaty and gross)
  • Disposable camera (too heavy and didn’t use)
  • Sunglasses (the sunhat was cuter and worked fine keeping the sun out)
  • Powdered sunblock (a good idea that didn’t work)
  • Night guard case (my night guard got crushed on the way home – $400)
  • Silk long underwear top (too hot to wear when walking and too see-through to wear to bed)
  • Sucky, pain-inducing shoe inserts (my arches needed WAY more support)
  • Stupid Rick Steeves leaking poncho
  • Spork (not necessary – a plastic fork is fine)
  • Tupperware (took up too much room, and I didn’t use it enough)

Want to know why I’m doing the Camino in reverse — and how you can help? Read on!


Blessings await walking the Camino backwards

Having already walked the Camino westerly to Santiago and Finisterre two years ago, now the return awaits, as it once did for every pilgrim until modern travel came to whisk us away mid-journey. I feel excited about walking “backwards” next spring, retracing my own steps to the beginning where I started, when I was an eager, green peregrina in France.

Having already accounted for what makes me quake in my boots about this journey, now I’m sharing what gifts I imagine await on returning to this pilgrimage.

Blessing #1: Meeting LOTS of people

Despite my plans to walk alone, my path will intersect with thousands of west-bound pilgrims from all over the world. What will this be like? I’m genuinely curious about how this will impact me. I’ve thought about giving those who stop me a small token, like an angel card, or wearing a pin that says “free hugs/abrazos gratis” just to connect with them.

In the evenings, I’ll have a new opportunity to meet people who are at least sticking around for the night. Despite being an introvert, I still long for companionship, and I wonder how that will unfold. Will I ask to join a group for dinner at times? Will I invite someone to share a bottle of wine and snacks? This is a huge opportunity for me to stretch out of my comfort zone.

Blessing #2: Solitude


I’ll be going early in spring when there are fewer pilgrims and starting in Finisterre, where significantly fewer pilgrims go. In my experience, being alone makes space for reflection and conversations with the Divine. In solitude, I’ve found resolutions to some of my most difficult questions — like how to forgive what was previously unforgivable and how to make peace with suffering. Reflecting on these topics is so much harder amid the daily hustle and noise. Combined with being in nature, solitude brings me insight and nourishes me to the core. Bring it on.

Blessing #3: Practice asking for help

They say the Camino gives you what you need, and this particular lesson couldn’t be better timed. Since arrows, maps, and signage all point westward (not east, where I’m going), my fellow pilgrims and local residents will be my source for guidance. Since I know nothing terrible will happen if I get lost — it’s survivable — asking for help is just the practice I need to open myself up to receiving help, unspool my tightly-wrapped self-reliance, and experience daily gratitude for helpers on my path.

Blessing #4: Revisiting my first Camino

My pilgrimage in 2013 included many meaningful insights, awakenings, and synchronistic, life-changing events. My journey brought people who made me laugh, challenged my thinking, and helped me grow as a result. Although it’s not possible to walk the Camino again for the first time, I am looking forward to the opportunity to revisit those places and memories. I’m especially eager to walk from Finisterre to Santiago. Something significant was revealed to me there, and walking that ground again may help me solidify my understanding.

Blessing #5: It’s Spain, for goodness sake!

I mean, seriously! Friendly people, delicious food, amazing wine! And Fanta Naranja! (Man, that’s going to taste soo good!) The scenery is stunning. Fields will be green and blooming. Color me jazzed to be back in Spain and discovering new places, people, and provisions.

Blessing #6: Simplicity

In 2013, I stayed in hotels and private rooms in albergues about half the time. My parents didn’t call me Princess and the Pea for nothing — no one likes a good, luxe hotel more than I do. The sheets! The towels! The shower all to myself with hot water guaranteed! The bliss of complete quiet. Oh, yes! How I love a nice hotel!

However. The more I consider practicalities and listen to my heart, the more I sense this Camino will be different. I’m planning to devote a whole post about the call I feel to walk with the barest simplicity. What kind of insights would I have if I lived the way more than half the world lives?

Want to know why I’m doing the Camino in reverse — and how you can help?Read on!

A sticky messenger from Ireland

Have you ever noticed that when you set out to do something challenging, little messages and encouragements arrive from unexpected places?

This came in the mail over the weekend:


A package from Ireland, complete with colorful stamps and handwritten letter sent by my dear friend and fellow peregrina, Geraldine. It arrived in direct response to my post about being diagnosed with osteoarthritis in my knees.

Note the little bundle tied up with silver ribbon. Mefix tape is a bit of a “thing” in my peregrina circle. Because it saved Carol from any blisters at all, she recommended it to me. When it reduced mine to nil, I became a believer. So when Ger was planning her Camino, I offered to send her some since it isn’t available in Ireland. Job done.

Her note read, “It’s madness that I’m posting it back to you. It’s even more crazy that I carried the weight of it all 500 miles on my back! I hope it serves you well on the next Camino otherwise it’s just an over-indulged tourist!” You can bet it’s going in my pack.

The best part was a card that reminded me to take one step at a time — through healing my knees, through training, through the myriad doubts. Her words brought me from laughter to truth.

I’ve been making myself crazy looking at airfares. The logistics of starting in Finisterre are complex at best, but it’s the financial tally at the bottom of the spreadsheet that’s my current nemesis. “Maybe you shouldn’t do this,” I think to myself. “Maybe it would be smarter to use that money for financial goals or a different trip. Maybe you should delay this.”

No. I hear a respectful but clear reply from the Source (wherever that voice of wisdom comes from). You’re meant to go on this journey in Spain. You just have to trust.

You can imagine how much I love that particular advice! 🙂

Blisters form when the same spot gets too much friction for too long. It’s the body’s defense. Eventually that blister will turn into a protective callous. Mefix stops the blistering and simulates a callous so the skin can heal underneath.

When the friction of my thoughts wears me down, I can’t slap a plaster on my skull (though it might be funny to try!). My first Camino taught me that worry changes nothing. All I can do is take the next step. And the one after that. The fact is, even without airline tickets in hand, I’m already on the path. Ger’s letter is the bandage I need to help heal what’s underneath and move forward with certainty and trust.

We should call it “we fix”!

Want to know why I’m doing the Camino in reverse — and how you can help?Read on!