Preparing yourself for the Way

Pilgrim's boots
Photo:  Sandra PaulinhaCC BY-NC-SA - Some Rights Reserved

​Equipment

For pilgrims travelling on foot, it is necessary to ensure that your equipment is appropriate for the time of year and suits the physical characteristics of each person. As a rule, the following is advised:

  • Knapsack – must be comfortable, light and waterproof. Avoid filling it with items that won’t be used before or during the journey. It is recommended that clothes are chosen carefully in order to avoid carrying anything unnecessary. Items should be arranged in an orderly fashion in the rucksack to make the most convenient use possible. The maximum weight advised is 45 litres or 8 kg.
  • Footwear – it is recommended that appropriate trekking footwear be used, which is comfortable, waterproof, has non-slip soles and is suitable for the feet. It is preferable to use footwear which is one or two sizes larger and worn in (do not use new shoes). Pumps and sandals are not recommended. A second pair of footwear should be provided for use at the end of each stage.
  • Clothing – should be suitable for the season. In summer, light cotton clothing is suggested, while in winter warmer woollens and fleeces are recommended. In addition, consider a hat, cap, woollen hat or beret, depending on the time of year.
  • First aid – it is advised that pilgrims carry the basic first-aid essentials: a small pair of scissors, sterilised bandages, plasters, disinfectant, alcohol, anti-inflammatory cream and painkillers. You should always carry a water bottle.
  • Staff – very useful for walking on slippery surfaces, maintaining a regular pace and balance and ensuring good blood circulation in the arms and hands. The pilgrim’s staff and scallop shell can be obtained in Porto at the shop Arte Sacra, at Rua da Assunção, 36 (Tel. +351 222 016 021).
  • Documents – a personal identity document is obligatory, as well as the pilgrim’s passport (Credencial). It is also advised that you carry a personal health card. For pilgrims from EU Member States, a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) is recommended.
  • Mobile phone – this is an essential piece of equipment which should always be on and, as such, it is recommended that the roaming service be activated.

Physical preparation

It is recommended that you are physically prepared to begin the pilgrimage. The stages should be planned according to one’s physical capabilities. Regular breaks, at longer or shorter intervals, are recommended, depending on each person’s individual characteristics.

In the event of a lack of physical preparation or use of inappropriate footwear, the feet are the first part of the body to suffer. Therefore, it is necessary to use well worn-in shoes and two pairs of socks (a cotton inner pair and a thicker woollen outer pair) to avoid blisters. Another potential result of long-distance walking is muscle strain, which can be relieved by massaging the affected area, stretching, a hot bath and rest, while keeping the legs stretched and raised.

Sunburn can be avoided, but it is advisable not to travel when the sun is at its hottest, especially in summer, to avoid burns and dehydration caused by excessive sweating. It is essential to use a hat. Sun cream and after sun are recommended. To avoid dehydration, drink bottled or tap water. Water from rivers, streams or fountains is not recommended.

Fresh food should be eaten 4 or 5 times a day, instead of a single, usually heavier, daily meal.

It is recommended that at least one shower or bath be taken per day and the body fully dried. Pilgrims should come equipped with towels and their own personal toiletries.

Healthcare

Pilgrims should carry a personal health card or European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) in the event that they may require assistance at a health centre.
In the larger cities and towns that the route passes through it is possible to find pharmacies easily.

Published 05-04-2014
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