What should I pack?!
Yes. I’ve been there too. In the middle of the living room surrounded by piles of stuff that seemed extremely convenient for all these possible situations I assumed I was going to end up in. **SPOILER ALERT** You don’t need it, none of it. As all of the things you think will happen won’t and you’ll never be prepared for all that which will happen instead. So drop the bear spray, pour yourself a drink and read this blog post on what five things I think you cannot walk without.
Now you might think this is a silly thing to be on an essentials list but I became rather appreciative of water on my Camino journey… and that was when I ran out of it on a hot and strenuous day. In general, I felt stronger and more energetic being fully hydrated. Water brought me some sort of relief; I loved being able to wash my hands and face to cool down, restore and then move on again. So don’t forget your H2O, it isn’t fun being without.
two: a basic first-aid kit
Basic doesn’t mean you’ve got to bring a defibrillator machine. Instead, tweezers might come in handy for the occasional ticks (yes, I had a few) and paracetamol is always useful when experiencing extreme period cramps or horrific hangovers (yes, I had a few of those too). As there is nothing better than giving your feet some love after a long day of walking, iodine, plasters, foot cream and the like will certainly come in handy. Don’t forget about personal things you need. Having pretty bad allergies, my anti-histamines made the difference between residing in the abyss of hell and a great night’s sleep. Don’t go overboard though; just take a few (personal) necessities!
three: a writing thing
Will you write everyday? Probably not, however, there will be times you want to plan possible stages, make a drawing or simply jot down an experience, a thought or feeling. As I love writing and drawing, I took a lightweight notebook but I’m aware this doesn’t count for everyone. In case you bring a guidebook you could write in that (I didn’t bring one, but I saw people doing this and loved it!) and, of course, you could always use a writing tool or app on your phone. Don’t underestimate all the things that will pop up in your mind during your walk. Even if you don’t see yourself as the writing kind of person, it might be nice to pen things down in order to make more sense of them.
four: a feel good item
A what? A feel good item! It’s like a feel good movie – you watch it and it makes you feel fantastic. When walking the Camino, pack something light-weight that can instantly change your mood from OK to yeey! I loved having these moments of pure joy by simply bringing a few of these items. First one: coffee sachets. Wherever I went, I’d be able to wake up in the morning and make myself a cup of coffee. Do I need to say more?#instantbliss Second one: super socks. Before I left, my friends gave me a pair of bright pink hiking socks that quickly turned into my super socks. Sleepless nights, burning blisters or my weekly existential crisis, it didn’t matter. Whenever I would wear them, I felt like Wonder Woman. Third, and final, one: mascara. Although most days this item didn’t even enter my consciousness, there were moments it made my day cause it made me feel absolutely f* fabulous! You wake up feeling like shit? Tadaa! Mascara’s just made you unshit yourself. Done with wearing the same outfit for two months in a row? Mascara makes your outfit obsolete, so your outfit no longer has to occupy any of your mind space. For me, there were days on my Camino when everything was just a bit better with mascara. Whatever it is that makes your mood transform, take it to brighten those days when you think your internal sun has taken a sabbatical.
five: an intention
The final Camino essential is the only non-material item on the list. Good thing about those items is that you can bring as many as you like without being burdened by additional weight. Whatever you decide to take on your Camino walk, an intention is something that can guide you through difficult or unexpected moments, more than any physical item will. Before I commenced my journey, I set the intention of opening up to whatever happened to me. I figured that if I’d keep reminding myself of this idea, it would allow me move more freely through the feelings that would come up or situations I would encounter. In the end, returning to something fixed inside me encouraged me at all times. Set an intention for your journey, something that you really want to realise or learn, and repeat it to yourself regularly. It doesn’t take up any space in your backpack but it sure is useful in plenty of unforeseen situations.
Packing for the Camino is tough, especially because you want to feel prepared. First of all, you won’t be… but that’s the beauty of the entire journey! The Camino is one big suberb surprise that’s going to be way more enjoyable with a little less just-in-case-crap in your backpack and, of course, with these five things you cannot live without! Happy walking!