Walking or cycling the Camino de Santiago could be one of the more challenging undertakings in your life. For some, the physical task might seem overwhelming during the planning stages of the trip; for others, the spiritual and mental challenges surprise them when they’re on the Way.
No matter what kind of shape you’re in (physically, mentally, or spiritually), you should prepare for the Camino so you can get the most from your journey. This is how:
Proper nutrition leading up to and during your trip will keep you strong and healthy. Consider bringing vitamin C or echinacea to help you combat any sniffles you might catch on the plane. Make healthy food choices prior to the trip and along the Way to keep your energy up. Flagging energy not only makes the walk more difficult, it can contribute to grumpiness, too. A positive mental state when you’re on the Camino will allow you to accomplish your purpose more easily.
Spend Time Outdoors
On the Way, you’ll be outside every day, absorbing that vitamin D! That connection with nature is one of the highlights of the trip. Get a little sun exposure each day early morning or late afternoon before you leave. Among many important functions, vitamin D improves your immune function and helps your body fight inflammation.
A little physical training can make the transition into walking or cycling all day much easier. Set up a walking or cycling routine, and include other activities to improve your basic overall fitness. Don’t forget to stretch regularly, too!
This is not the time to jump into a vigorous routine. You don’t want to hurt yourself. Slowly build up to more challenging workouts, like longer walks and steeper hills. You’re not training for a competition, you’re simply preparing your body for the journey ahead.
Not getting enough sleep can affect your mood and your ability to learn, and long-term sleep problems can contribute to obesity, diabetes, and more health issues. Try going to bed and getting up at the same time every day to develop a solid sleep schedule, keeping in mind that the international travel might throw it off temporarily when you arrive in Europe.
Yoga or Meditation
The Camino de Santiago is a spiritual journey as well as a physical one, and practicing yoga, meditation, or anything else that helps you get quiet and focused will be good practice for the Camino. During your journey, you might enjoy getting up a few minutes early each day to continue this practice.
Set Your Intentions
Why are you walking or cycling the Camino? What do you hope to learn, or how would you like to grow? Your intentions might change, but having a strong reason when you go into it will keep you focused on your preparations and allow for a more meaningful journey.
When you arrive in Spain or Portugal, there are a few last-minute ways to prepare for the Camino de Santiago:
- Arrive a Few Days Early: This allows you time to adjust to the time change, the climate, the altitude, the food, and anything else that might be new to you. It also gives you time to rest after what is usually a tiring flight. If you intend to do any sightseeing, doing it before your Camino journey gives you those days to adjust.
- Keep Drinking Plenty of Water: Long-distance travel, especially by air, can be dehydrating.
- Continue Your Good Habits: Keep doing any yoga, meditation, or journaling practices you started before the trip. In these final days before you start the Camino, you might be nervous, curious, excited, or some combination of all that and more. Continuing your mindfulness practices allows for a seamless entrance into your Camino experience.
Your journey doesn’t have to end when the Camino does. You can continue your healthy, mindful habits even after you return home. Your preparations and journey on the Camino can serve as a starting point for a healthier lifestyle.
If you kept a journal or meditated to prepare for the Camino, make that a part of your new routine when you get home, too. Make it a point to spend more time in nature, and include spiritual practices, whatever that means for you, in your daily life. In this way, the Camino de Santiago will continue to have a positive impact on your life for years to come.
Whether you would like to walk or cycle the Camino de Santiago, contact Adventure Camino if you have any questions on how you can prepare physically, mentally, and spiritually for the journey.