Svatojakubská cestaJakobswegWay of St. James

Practical advices

General Recommendations to Make Santiago’s Pilgrimage

Before starting the pilgrimage it is convenient to undergo a medical examination and train by walking or pedalling along longer distances on successive days.

Other recommendations:

  • If you are travellling at night, do not forget to use reflectors.
  • Always walk on the left side of the road.
  • Avoid to form groups or crowds.
  • Follow the recommendations made by the Organization, Spanish Civil Guard, Police and Red Cross.
  • The Emergency Units of the Red Cross carry out an important medical service. They should be called only in cases of urgent need. For injuries or accidents that could be suffered during the journey, you can consult with the members of the organization available for that purpose.
  • Try to keep refuges and campings clean and be respectful and kind with inhabitants. Value and appreciate the effort of the self–sacrificing people that run the refuges.
  • In cases of weariness due to high temperatures: take the person to a fresh place and give him a large amount of liquid (in a litre of water, dissolve half a teaspoon of bicarbonate and a teaspoon of salt). If strong cramps appear, add more salt.
  • Prevention of blisters and scratchs: they are usually caused by inappropriate or ill–fit socks; long or ill–cut nails; new or ill–fit shoes; seams, interior seams or deformations of the shoes. You should avoid all these.
  • Prevention of stiffness and muscular sores: they are generally caused by lack of training, excessive efforts,sudden changes of rhythm, stops in humid places...
  • It is essential to carry a 1st aid kit including bandages, gauzes and sticking plaster to bandage accidental ankle twists; antiseptics and disinfectants for blisters; medicines to cure mycosis (fungi); and anti–inflammatories.

Recommendations to Make the Pilgrimage on Foot

In order to enjoy a journey as bearable as possible and arrive in Santiago de Compostela without any wounds or blisters, you should follow these recommendations.

Wear loose transpirable clothes, to avoid rubbings that produce contact dermatitis, especially on the inner thighs. Along with a hat that would avoid sunstrokes, bring clothes according to the weather of the season when you make the pilgrimage.

Shoes are essential, they should be of high–quality. You should wear boots that tie around the ankle, because paths are irregular and they could cause you a twist which would call off your journey.

Apart from being high, the boots should be waterproof and transpirable, to avoid problems derived from feet perpiration, such as blisters and mycosis. Socks are also important, they should be made of wool or similar. You have to bring some pairs, since you will have to change them frequently.

Diet is as important as clothing. On the day before the journey, try not to eat a heavy indigestable meal. You are advised to consume large amounts of sugar, through honey and sweets. Fats should be taken in repeatedly and in small amounts.

It is not compulsory to eat proteins (eggs, meat, fish and milk) when you are walking, but you should eat them while you are resting or training.

The intake of Vitamins is essential. They can be found in fresh fruits, such as oranges, lemons... and also dry fruits such as walnuts and raisins.

Heavy meals should be eaten at the end of each stage. Make sure that you take drinkable water. Warm stocks and soups quench your thirst faster that cold drinks.

Recommendations to Make the Pilgrimage on Bicycle

Making the Way of Santiago on bycicle requires an excellent physical shape, because most of its 800 Km run through pathways, usually with cobblestones, that flood easily almost throughout the year. Approximately half the route runs through uneven surfaces, with continous inclines up and down and some important stops. The pilgrim can plan the route at his own discretion, taking into account his physical condition and the time he wants to spend.

Before setting out on the way, you should check the basic equipment on your bicycle. It consists of saddlebags and carrier on the back wheel, where you will carry most of your luggage and a triangular padded bag under the saddle where you can keep the tool kit. You can also fix some small bags to your handlebar containing your documentation. It is very important to distribute the weight in a balanced way.It is also convenient to set up a speedometer with milometer. It will make it easier to read maps and it will help you plan the route while you are travelling. The physical shape of the pilgrim is also a basic condition.

Experienced bicyclists should train on a regular basis and get used to some new elements that would be part of the route. For example,by pedalling on narrow paths or up steeps with the saddlebags full.

Inexperienced bicyclists should begin their training by getting used to the bicycle as well as to roads, pathways and uneven surfaces.

Another important matter is the itinerary. Santiago’s Route should not be considered a race to Compostela, therefore, you will have to take into account the time you can afford in order to plan your itinerary. Do not become obsessed with arriving fast and, instead, make the most of your journey.

The choice of a place to sleep will have to be made according to the route planning, with an alternative choice near the place chosen as the end of the stage. Do not forget that the pilgrims who travel on foot have priority in hospices. Therefore, it is possible that bicyclists will not have rooms for them.

The Pilgrim’s Passport

As most travellers, who keep souvenirs from all their journeys over the world, the pilgrims of the Route of Santiago treasure "la Compostela", an official certification given in Santiago de Compostela. It is granted by the Archbishopric or by Santiago’s Chapter to those who make the pilgrimage for religious or spiritual reasons. Through it, the Church recognises the pilgrims’devoutness.

In order to get this certification, you should make part of Santiago’s Route on foot (at least 100km), on bicycle or on horseback (200 km) and be able to prove it. In order to prove it, you can use the Pilgrim’s Credentials, a document where should be the stamps and signatures from the parish churches, hospices, refuges or representatives of the villages along the Pilgrimage.

If you do not have this document, you can keep a route diary, with the stamps and signatures from each stage of the Route.

The Credentials is a pilgrim’s passport given to those travellers who make the pilgrimage, either on foot, on bicycle or on horseback. You can get it before you start the journey –in Parish Churches and Brotherhoods– or in any of the Associations of the Route’s Friends.

With this document you can go in hospices, where you will get the stamps that prove the passing of the pilgrim through that stage of the route. Hospices also give Credentials, but you should get yours in the first hospice where you stop.