5 Reasons I am Nervous to Walk the Camino

posted in: Travel | 22

Soon my husband and I will begin an ambitious journey on the El Camino de Santiago. We will walk 500 miles in six weeks. And although I am excited, I am a little scared as well.

What would the world look like if everyone gave in to their feelings of anxiety and fear? I imagine a rather boring place with no risks, no excitement, and an environment where nothing gets accomplished.

Unfortunately, fear of the unknown, fear of change and fear of what others might think, hinders most of us from being our better selves. It’s hard to let go of fear and trust that you’ll figure it out one way or another.

“Your largest fear, carries your biggest growth.”

I am nervous to walk the Camino. There I said it. But guess what? I’m still going to do it!

Here are the five reasons I’m nervous to walk the Camino, but am doing it anyway.

#1 I have never completed a thru-hike. What if I don’t like it?

A thru-hike is a long distance hike that is completed from end to end. The Camino Francės is 500 miles from start to finish. It may not be the longest that exists, but long nonetheless. Compared to the Appalachian Trail of over 2,000 miles, it is short. But for a person who has never walked day after day after day, it is a hefty challenge.

Weather changes everything. Rain or fog for an extended period of time can put a damper on any hike. Now multiply that by days at a time! The path gets muddy and the landscape is dreary. Oh how I hope we don’t run into a rainy season in Spain.

The main concern here is what if I don’t like it? Waking up and walking 12 – 15 miles on average is not something you know you like until you do it. I keep telling myself it’s only six weeks long and worse case scenario, I ditch my husband and bus it to Santiago. He will find me wearing heels (just because I can) with luxuries such as a fourth pair of underwear in the drawer of the hotel room that I have all to myself. Although I don’t think this will happen, I will hold on to this fantasy with every step if I have to.

#2 I have to carry all my belongings on my back.

Not only have I never done a thru-hike, I have never carried all I am traveling with on my back. My two concerns with backpacking are the physical challenge of walking with it on every day and packing for a three month long trip (we are road tripping through Portugal and southern Spain afterward) into a small bag.

Backpacking requires a simple lifestyle. The goal is to keep the backpack weight at 10% of your body weight. That leaves me with 12 pounds to work with. I bought a new lightweight bag to help me keep the weight down. I can’t wait to try it out.

#3 I have a funny feeling hostels and snoring do not equal quality sleep.

I need my sleep. Every now and then missing out on a few z’s is not a big deal. BUT if there are multiple days in a row where I cannot get quality sleep, I’m afraid a monster will appear on the trail. And that monster will be me.

Yes, I am bringing ear plugs. And yes, we can get private rooms or stay in hotels. But I would like to experience the trail as a pilgrim, keeping costs and expectations low. I guess I can catch cat naps during the day.

El Camino de Santiago

#4 I am fearful my feet will betray me.

I bought new trail runners and have been breaking them in for the last few weeks, but you never really know if a shoe has issues until it’s too late.

I bought a pair of cute but functional shoes that were fine for 5-7 mile jaunts. After a 20 mile day in New York City, I realized they were garbage.

An injury and/or blisters are the two concerns I have regarding the walk. We are not leaving home without duct tape (because you know that works for everything), mole skin, ointment, pain relievers, and bandaids. Hopefully we are prepared and I will report no major issues.

#5 I’ll be smoked by a few baby boomers.

I know the Camino is not a competition or race, but I can’t help but worry that a random baby boomer is going to make me feel horrible about myself.

Imagine. I’m slowly bumbling along the trail asking myself how many more steps I can take and a person thirty years older than me breezes by with a smile and a look of absolute bliss. No pain. No concern. They are just happy as can be making their way on the path.

I know it shouldn’t bother me. I should feel motivated and inspired by such a thing. Instead I’m wondering if I will be able to hide my look of frustration and utter disbelief that I was smoked by a boomer!

Despite all these worries, I am going to put my walking shoes on and take it one step at a time… literally.

Why you ask?

I am young, I am free and I am healthy. So why not? It’s time to put my nerves aside and do something out of my comfort zone.

Will walking till my legs feel like they are going to fall off be the best experience of my life? I can’t say until I try it, but at least I am willing to try.

I urge you to do something out of your comfort zone this year. Life is short and full of surprises. We don’t know how long we will be here so why not do something that challenges our norm. You never know what you’ll learn from it.

Camino here we come!

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Reasons why I am nervous to walk the Camino but am doing it any way. Don't give in to your fears about hiking the Camino!


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Angela E. is a travel writer from the Chicagoland area who has visited all 50 states in the US and has traveled extensively around the world. She is passionate about exploring the great outdoors and hiking in particular. Her love for nature has taken her to some of the most beautiful locations on the planet. She has written extensively about her travels on her own website, Dang Travelers, and has been published in collaboration with other travel websites and multiple visitor bureaus around the country.

22 Responses

  1. Drew Pistilli

    Quick tip to help avoid blisters on the Camino- when you stop to take a break, change your socks. Letting your socks (and your feet) dry out will help a lot. I learned this from an old Austrian pilgrim who was walking to Santiago (from his house in Austria) that I met on the way in 2002 after I was struggling with blisters just a few days in on my Camino.

  2. kristi

    I’m a little late to this blog, but my big fear this year was doing the four day hike in Torres Del Paine, Patagonia, Chile. I too had to carry everything on my back hiking up and down hills (and what we found, rocks) for up to 16 miles in a day. My husband and I barely trained more than six miles (although, at least I had marathons under my belt) and only used the backpacks once or twice with half the weight we planned. We were both very nervous, but we did it. I would go back again, but my husband wouldn’t.

    • Dang Travelers

      Congrats Kristi! It is no easy feat AND you were probably carrying a way heavier pack. I’m assuming you had to bring camping gear too? Not having to carry all that was one reason I wanted to hike the Camino vs anything else for our first go at a thru-hike. I’m wondering what your husband didn’t like about it? I’m on the fence about whether or not we will do it again and it’s partially because I am still having pain issues with my feet. We haven’t had much down time since the hike (walking and sightseeing for another 6 weeks) so I’m hoping once I can relax the pain will go away. I’m so proud of you for trying something new!! Kudos to us 😉

  3. Jenn and Ed Coleman

    Solid advice on changing socks. Not only do you want to keep a fresh pair on you get the dirt out of your shoes on a regular basis. Also, tech socks are really nice. Tech underwear are nice too. The only thing that could really make you life miserable would be blisters, chafing or sunburn. Just remember to have fun and that this is a transitive experience so let it work on you.

  4. Gokul Raj

    Hiking is always physically demanding. I have signed up for a hike over a Volcano in Indonesia next week. I am gonna see how that turns out.

  5. Elena Nemets

    So have you done it already or you are still at the start? I would be curious to hear how it worked out in the end. I would love to hike Camino (although I am not a Christian), but have the same concerns as you… plus a lack of vacation days 🙁

    • Dang Travelers

      We did it! We walked 500 miles and it was an unforgettable experience. I tried to write every day as we went along, you can read all about in on the blog.

  6. Lara Dunning

    Those are all valid fears. My feet have been betraying me lately, so I stock up on the blister band-aids (they are different than regular bandaids), they are lightweight and compact so no biggie. As far as snoring sleeping companions I have that same issue and therefore I sleep with a sound machine to help, but that is practically impossible to do on the trail. Although you might be so tired each night that sleep comes anyway and it won’t be an issue. Good luck! Looking forward to hearing about your trek!

  7. Jennifer

    I had similar fears when I did the Camino, but everything (mostly) turned out well. It will be hard, but it’s supposed to be. And don’t worry, you will be so tired at the end of the day, the snorers in the hostels won’t keep you up at night;)

    • Dang Travelers

      Congrats on finishing the Camino! The challenges on the hike are many, but well worth the effort. I did have issues sleeping, but my husband did not. Probably because he could be lumped in with the snoring crowd!

  8. Nathan

    I have a friend that is planning to do this! I can understand these hesitations. It sounds interesting but I don’t know if it’s for me.

    • Dang Travelers

      Final thoughts: tough but worth it. I wouldn’t say it’s for everyone though. It’s not something you sign up for unless you are truly excited about it.

  9. Miranda

    Girl you are awesome for even wanting to do that! 500 miles in 6 weeks; you’ll have some fantastic stories to tell afterwards! Looks like you’ll be pretty prepared in regards to shoes. I’ve had some shoes that I’ve realized are garbage even after walking 5 miles!

    • Dang Travelers

      Well I walked a lot to break them in and still had issues. I just wish I realized sooner. Oh well, you live and you learn right?

  10. Sandy N Vyjay

    Fear of the unknown is something that haunts most if not all of us. But if fears were not there, the excitement of life would not be there! The thrill is going beyond the fear and feeling the thrill of victory. I am sure you shall walk your way to glory.

  11. Lauren Meshkin

    I can totally relate! I’d like to go when it’s not too hot and definitely bring a friend. Interesting read, thanks for your honesty!

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