While some are fresh I thought I would get down on paper (sort of).
- Get help when buying gear. There are good packing list online in Camino Forums etc but a great store with staff who have done similar trips will help you pare down to essentials. We saved money and time by spending a bit more, getting good advice, and getting it (mostly) right the first time. Robinson’s Outdoor store in Victoria presented at our local gathering of pilgrims and took a whole afternoon with us in store. Diana looked great and the gear performed really well. I looked like a hobo and the gear performed really well.
- Make a decision. Be a poncho person or a jacket person, trail runner or hiking boot, or wool or synthetic etc don’t try to bring 2 of everything of things that are not next to skin and perform same function. While advice is available everywhere it is often strident, convincing and contradictory. I will do a gear review later and offer my opinions (perhaps stridently).
- There are stores in Spain. The only gear related problem we had was a lost pole tip cover. Diana went 3 days or so until we found one in a hardware store. Our route was not as popular as French route so pilgrim specific support not as plentiful- but Spanish are enthusiastic outdoors people so lots of stores or sections of stores to help if you need to replace something or have unexpected need. So you don’t have to pack like it’s your only chance to get it right.
- You don’t have to be right. Listen to your wife/spouse. I didn’t have exclusive rights on being correct on lots of issues – way marking, logistics, food, lodging, etc. Pay attention to what you are experiencing and don’t be looking to justify decisions made with incomplete information.
- Don’t try to win. It’s not a competition to be purest pilgrim, first up, longest stage, fastest pace, best dressed, worst smelling, most economical, most puritanical,etc. Have an opinion, share it or keep it yourself, be willing to change it when faced with new experiences. It’s like life – shit happens, plans change, it rains – so be prepared to adapt.
- Suffer. It’s good for you. Rain sucks, feet hurt, you get sick, you need to poop in the middle of nowhere, no one understands a word you say etc. It’s ok to be unhappy sometimes – you may have good reason – acknowledge that the whole world sucks, you hate Spain, the Camino, the French, whatever. It will pass. While it will pass don’t feel the need not to feel it, acknowlege it, embrace it, laugh at yourself. Suffer, laugh and move on.
- I read a book on Falkland War by English commander that commented on the importance of good cheer in difficult situations. So when you are done suffering be cheerful. Be cheerful most of the time. You volunteered.