How to walk the Camino de Santiago – how to be a good pilgrim

How (not) to be a Good Pilgrim in 25 Easy Steps a.k.a. how to walk the Camino de Santiago

Camino de Santiago has turned up to be coined for spiritual enlightenment, getting closer to God, and growing the pilgrims from the inside by walking with all the discomforts and pains of the way. While nobody can argue with the positive effects of walking the Camino de Santiago, or St. James Way, it’s also quite hard not to deal with everyday stuff. Stuff that can help your enlightenment, but stuff that can also be quite frustrating. We decided to sum up the good pilgrims’ etiquette in 25 steps of how to walk the Camino de Santiago.

While walking our fourth Camino de Santiago – the Portuguese Coastal (and mostly Litoral) way from Porto to Santiago, we decided to show you another side of the Camino. In this post, we’re going to talk about some pilgrims’ behaviors that don’t exactly align with the highly elevated spirits of the Camino. We’re taking the sarcastic approach of dealing with not-a-good-pilgrim behavior and hopefully, we’re getting better at being good pilgrims.

How to walk the Camino de Santiago - how to be a good pilgrim

If you’ve walked the Camino already, then you can count how many of the 25 simple steps you’ve checked. If you’re about to walk your first Camino de Santiago, then make sure you (don’t) follow (any) none of them. Buen Camino y que seamos peregrinos buenos! Let’s be great pilgrims!

1. Wake up early and make sure everyone in the albergue follows your wakeup time.

2. To be sure everyone hears you – get as many plastic bags as you can and pack your stuff so you can make the most noise and wake up everyone and also kill the planet – it’s a win-win-win!

3. Be sure to turn your torch, headlamp, and phone light while packing your bags in the sleeping room. Packing outside is not for your majesty, the pilgrim. If there’s still someone who pretends to be sleeping, then on the general light. 

4. Don’t forget to triple-check all the plastic bags – open and close, and make noise. You get extra points for filling one with air and smashing it.

5. Start chatting loudly with your friends. If that’s not enough, start laughing on a random subject, i.e. how those pilgrims around you are still sleeping.

6. Make sure you’re super rough to your lower bunk neighbor – that a**hole has taken the better bunk so they need to suffer! Shake it, jump on it, hit their mattress – get creative!

7. Never ever remove the bed covers and trash them as instructed – those lazy hospitaleros need to do some work!

How to walk the Camino de Santiago - how to be a good pilgrim

8. If you see the toilet paper is over, don’t tell anyone – they’ll be able to experience the nice surprise first-hand!

9. Make sure you use all the toilet paper you need and all you don’t need so fewer people will be able to use some after you.

10. Leave your trash in the bathroom – anywhere except for the trash bins – they are for losers.

11. Make sure you make the most noise and smell while cooking your breakfast or making coffee – everyone should know who’s the king/queen of the kitchen.

12. Washing dishes and wiping up your mess is for, you guessed it, non-royalty pilgrims! Plus those hospitaleros really need to deserve their salary (even if they are volunteers).

13. If the sink is stuck, leave it like that. It will magically disappear after a spell or two in Spanish.

14. If some of your food is way beyond the expiry date, leave it in the sharing sector – it’s easier to get rid of it like that, plus someone desperate would probably enjoy it and say thank you.

How to walk the Camino de Santiago - how to be a good pilgrim

15. Plugin your charger and remove someone else’s without even caring if they just put it. You need that battery for clicking photos and posting smart Camino thoughts. Plus your art is much more important.

16. Don’t talk to hospitaleros after you finish with the check-in. They are robots who are there for doing their duty and don’t want to communicate with pilgrims and non-robots at all.

Bonus tip 16a. If you stay at a donativo albergue, you don’t need to leave a donation. Somebody else had probably left much more so you’re the equalizer.

17. While walking, avoid greeting others with Hola, Buen Camino, Que Tal. This is just too much stuff to learn in Spanish and you’re not there to get your head full of useless Camino stuff. 

18. In fact, you don’t have to greet other pilgrims and passers-by at all, even in your language! Why would you greet strangers?

19. If you eventually find someone as cool as you, then it’s totally fine to communicate with that pilgrim. You can discuss how ridiculous the rest of the pilgrims on the Camino are.

20. Make sure you get your best gear all set up! Only losers walk the Camino without 200-dollar hiking shoes and a 300-dollar backpack. Give any of those you meet an evil judgemental look so they know they’re not eligible for the Camino.

21. You deserve your Compostela the most so feel free to try to cut the line in the Compostela office. Less important people can wait for 3-4 hours.

How to walk the Camino de Santiago - how to be a good pilgrim

22. Make sure you get as many certifications as possible – don’t limit yourself to a Compostela! There’s also Finisterrana, Muxiana, Padronela, etc.

23. Make sure you put to shame anyone who didn’t bother to get the Compostela – because the paper with the 8-Euro tube is the only authority that can put a value on a Camino experience!

24. Post as many updates and photos on your social media so everyone who can’t be on the Camino gets inspired (read jealous).

25. If you come back to walk the Camino again be the annoying know-it-all and broadcast your precious experience to Camino newbies – they need to know the best way to walk the Camino (a.k.a. your way).

We hope nobody felt offended by our meant-to-be-funny-but-also-sarcastic list of easy steps to be a good pilgrim. Follow all the steps and you’ll be everybody’s favorite pilgrim, for sure. Sometimes we don’t observe our social behaviors enough and it’s easy to forget about Camino etiquette. So let’s grow together and turn into a better version of ourselves. 

P.S. we discovered that we might have done 3-4 steps unwillingly. Apologies to all the fellow pilgrims we bothered. How many of the steps did you catch yourself doing and have you ever met “good” pilgrims? 😉

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