You may think that pilgrimages are only for the religious. However, you’d be wrong. Not all people who walk the Camino de Santiago do so for religious reasons. Some have gone through a traumatic experience, others want to take a long break from their day-to-day life, or are looking for an adventure. Others still are in it for the exercise, or to meet new people from all walks of life.
Here are 8 of the many reasons you should walk the Camino de Santiago:
1 – Take a break
If you are looking to disconnect from your life, both literally and figuratively, the Camino de Santiago could be the perfect solution. You can leave all your gadgets at home, watch no TV, read no news, and surf no Internet for a month. Just image – no work, no chores, it’s just you and the road, and several thousand people whom you can get to know.
2 – Get some exercise
In order to walk the full length of the Camino, you will need to be at least a bit in shape. However, walking the nearly 800 kilometers of the French way for example will be amazing for your body and health overall. You might even find the motivation to start exercising before you head out on your trip, and thus get in a much better shape by the time you come back home.
3 – Meet new people
The individuals you are likely to meet along the way come in all shapes and sizes, and with their own unique stories to tell. You will be able to run into people you would have no chance to meet otherwise, and engage in conversation with someone you may have nothing in common with, except the road. You can also brush up on your language skills, since some of your fellow pilgrims will most likely not speak perfect English.
4 – Experience the culture
Walking the Camino will take you through many historic places. From villages to medieval towns and past charming markets and ancient castles, you can wander off the road and learn more about the history of France, Spain or Portugal. You can sample local dishes and embrace the diversity, as you walk to your goal.
5 – Soul-searching
There is no denying the fact that walking for a month will make you think of your life, and life in general. Even if this is not what you have set out to do, you will certainly start looking at things from a different perspective, simply because you have gained enough distance from everything, and are able to look at things more clearly.
6 – Up for a challenge
There is also no doubt that walking the Camino will be a challenge, both physically and mentally. You will need to get up and keep walking, even if you don’t quite feel like it. There will be milestones to reach and overcome, steeps to climb and heat to endure, but if you do battle through it all, the sense of accomplishment awaiting at the end of your journey will be like nothing you have yet experienced.
7 – Do it as a family
There are several routes you can take with your family, even if you have younger children. You don’t need to walk dozens of miles each day, but tackling the adventure as a family will bring you closer together, and provide unique opportunities to teach your children about life. They will surely enjoy the history and the new tastes they come across, and will have amazing stories to tell once they get home. You can teach them how important exercise is, and what diversity is like in the world.
8 – Going on an adventure
Ultimately, the Camino de Santiago is one huge adventure, and one you should not miss out on. Whatever you head out expecting of it, it will surpass. You will find yourself one night trying to fall asleep on a bunk bet in a hostel in a small French village, with your bunk mate snoring like crazy, the smell of the hot air will be drifting through the windows, and you will suddenly be hit with the realization that you are not quite the same person you were when you started out. You will have grown in more ways than one, which is something no other kind of holiday can do for you.
We hope you have an amazing Camino, and come home full of tales to tell, ready to tackle the next adventure life throws at you!