Walking on your holiday, that doesn’t sound like fun! The truth is that it is actually the best trip ever. After I graduated a few years ago I had no idea what I wanted to do and I was in doubt about basically everything. When I only had a month or so left before graduating I heard about the Camino de Santiago. For the readers who have never heard of this the Camino de Santiago is a pilgrimage that has many ways that all lead to the pilgrimage city of Santiago de Compostela. This city is situated in the Northwest of Spain in the Galician country. From origin the Camino de Santiago is a Catholic pilgrimage but nowadays people walk it with various reasons. It is a path that gives people time to think and reflect on themselves.
It didn’t take me long to decide that the Camino was something I wanted to do. It would be a good opportunity to think about what I wanted to do with my life.
Well, to make a long story short I have walked three camino’s and I still have no idea what I want so it is easier said than done. Although I haven’t figured out what I want with my life the camino has given me great new perspectives and thoughts about life. This is one of the great things the Camino de Santiago. In this blog I will outline the most important things I learned.
I don’t need stuff
When walking a pilgrimage you want to take as little as possible. Literally everyday pilgrims throw something away because they think it is too heavy to carry and it probably is. I realised that I barely needed anything to survive. After this journey I kind of lost the need to dress a certain way. Not that I was very well dressed before but I made more of an effort. Now I prefer comfortable clothes that I, myself like the look of rather than expensive clothes that happen to be popular.
Pilgrims walking in the heat of the day with a lot of lugagge
After I walked the Camino de Santiago I never again travelled with more than hand luggage. It doesn’t sound like much but I always manage to take clothes for about 1 to 1,5 week. Which is more than enough when travelling through a country with a warm climate. Remember that basically anywhere in the world you can buy anything you might need or most importantly want.
Taking time to think is important
When I am at home I am always busy with: cooking, cleaning, working, sleeping, eating, talking, etc. Every day I am interrupted by many things that happen around me. Especially my phone was a big interruption in life. I rarely had a long period of time when I was merely thinking.
When walking the Camino de Santiago I spent most of my time alone, which meant there were non of the interruptions present. I probably had 10 times the amount of time to think than I would have at home. The time to process something is so much faster while walking a camino that you might actually win time. Being away from your own environment also gives you a chance to look at yourself from a different perspective.
Life doesn’t need to be complicated
The truth is that life is as complicated as you make it yourself. I mean, of course we all need to work at some point to earn money to sustain ourselves. But we can all decide what that will be and what we do with the earnings. While walking a camino the only thing you do is eat, sleep and walk.
It takes some getting used to but after a week or two I completely lost my worrying thoughts. It is incredibly beautiful to intensely enjoy the basics of life. To use your legs for what they are meant for, to eat because you need to nourish your body to be able to continue walking the next day and to sleep so that your body is rested for a new day. It’s living in the moment.
A typical room with bunkbeds on the Camino de Santiago
Every day will be a surprise, you have no idea in what bed you will sleep in the coming evening or where you will have dinner or what you will encounter in a day. This way of life is fairly easy and therefore quite addictive to people. Once you walk one Camino de Santiago the chance is high you will return to live the easy life for some time again. The great thing is that you don’t have to walk a Camino to live an easy life again. The things you learn and experience during such a journey you can use to make your everyday life easier.
It is important to live in the moment
I know it sounds cheesy but it is the truth. During our everyday life we are constanly thinking of the future or the past but we forget about what we are doing at the moment. We forget to appreciate the things we already have. We spend more time thinking about things we want but do we really need them? Most of the time the answer is no.
An easy thing I use when I go shopping (which I try to avoid in the first place) is that when I want to buy something I ask myself if I really need it. The answer will probably be yes but when I ask the question again 9 out of 10 times the answer is no. This prevents me from buying things that I do not need.
A shell that every pilgrim carries with aspects of a pilgrim (written in Spanish)
Anyone can be your friend
On the Camino de Santiago I met people from many places in the world, from any age and background. In a very short time these people became very good friends who I might have told things that I would not tell my best friends. The people I met were independent and did not know anyone from home, so I find it easier to talk to them sometimes. I have met some of my closest friends on the Camino, even though I don’t see them often anymore I know that they will always be there for me and they know that they can always knock on my door.
I would recommend anyone to do the Camino de Santiago. Although it is important to know when the right time is to take this journey. The best time to do a journey like this is when you might want to change your life or have recently been through something emotional. Don’t be afraid to do the Camino alone because there will be plenty of people walking as well. Do your research and you will have the journey of your life!
What did your camino taught you? Let me know!