If you have decided to walk alone, you do not need to walk the Camino in fear. The Camino in Spain is one of the safest places in Europe, and it is likely that you will never encounter a threat of any kind.
Pilgrims are easily recognized in the cities, towns, and even little villages on the route to the Camino. Generally people will be friendly and helpful, simply because you are dressed as a pilgrim. Pilgrims have a certain protected status in Spain. Townspeople are generally helpful because these Camino towns have been hosting pilgrims for centuries. Their ancestors going back as far as they can trace were hosting pilgrims, too. As a pilgrim, you are part of a long ribbon of history and no one wants to see anything bad happen to a pilgrim.
“Solitude shows us what we should be – society shows us what we are” – Lord Cecil
Can I walk the Camino alone or should I walk with friends?
This is a very common question and of course ultimately the decision is a personal one. That having been said however, you may find yourself in the position of having decided to walk or cycle the Camino but you haven’t been able to find a companion to go with you. And the idea of taking this on solo is daunting. If you don´t want to walk alone, there are several approaches to a solution:
• Advertise. You might consider posting your request for companions on one or more of the Camino-related forums or Facebook pages on the Internet. Pilgrimage to Santiago is international and very highly regarded.
• Socialize. If you are at all receptive to meeting other people, on the Camino you will very quickly find yourself being part of a westward-moving community of friends. Indeed a large number of people make life-long friendships on the Camino. A pilgrim alone becomes part of a larger loose group very quickly, some refer to this group as their Camino family. You walk each day and many people walk at the same pace, you see these same people in the morning, at cafes along the way, and in the hostels at night. The conversations with your new friends are likely to be deeper, more open, and more honest than I would probably have with people you have just met.
“Solitude can actually be stressful at first. We become ‘afraid to confront who we are when stripped of our `doing’ nature. We feel a need to be surrounded by people, by activity.”
Is It Safe Walking the Camino de Santiago Alone?
One of the most common questions when you are planning to walk solo– is it safe to walk the Camino de Santiago alone? My opinion is yes, it is safe, I would think safer than many local walking routes in most countries; safer than walking home in any large city on a Friday or Saturday night.
During the busy times of the year on the Camino Frances, July & Aug, you are rarely out of sight of another pilgrim.
Even though the Camino Frances is incredibly safe don’t be crazy. Perhaps one of the reasons there are so few reports of any mishaps regarding pilgrims is that they are normally in bed by 10pm; and sleeping 5 minutes later.
Some of the misconceptions about Spain can be quite funny, if you don´t know much about this country. Firstly, Spain is not a third world country, it has a fairly good internal travel system, its banking system is the same as the rest of the world, you will recognise the food, its healthcare system is great, most things that you forget you will be able to buy locally.
Now after all that bear in mind that the Camino Frances goes through some of the most rural areas in Spain. Outside of the main towns you will find it difficult to buy much apart from food – but you will not probably need anything but food.
You left for the journey by yourself. Did you meet people along the way and walk with them or continue on your own?
It is inevitable that you meet people on the Camino. Everyone is in the same boat… away from family, phone, work and distractions. Another gift of the Camino is the way pilgrims are stripped of pretensions and worldly status. Almost everyone encounters some hardship on the trail and the people you share your days and nights with become close beyond explanation.
There is a certain ethic on the Camino regarding other people. Pilgrims attempt to develop an attitude of service and charity towards one another. This is by no means universal, but it is stronger and deeper on the Camino.
Enjoy your solitude on the Camino
Solitude has got a significant and specific meaning for each pilgrim. Some think that it´s impossible to feel solitary in such a crowded Camino Frances in July and August, this is clearly a physical conception. However, others consider that this feeling grows inside when you walk solo even though you are surrounded by other pilgrims. Solitude is the reflection of self truth, in silence, reflecting of your life in the proximity of others, wherever you may seek it.
You are never really alone along the Camino de Santiago!
Buen Camino, amigos!