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1. A needle
A single needle should be one of the essential items on your packing list.
So many pilgrims suffer from blisters and a needle for making 2 clean hole incisions in the blister is a valuable tool in preventing the blister from bursting or getting worse and becoming potentially infectious.
2. Ear plugs
Trust me, you will need them.
Ear plugs are great on the plane if you are taking a long haul flight over to your Camino starting point and are an absolute must when sharing communal sleeping space (which you will be doing a lot) with fellow – more than likely snoring – pilgrims in albergues. Purchase some and bring them; you will thank yourself so much for doing so later 🙂
3. Essential medical supplies
I write essential because you don’t want to be lagging along on the Camino a complete first aid kit box. It is advised though to make sure that you have packed some basic first aid items, such as anti-inflammatory pills, plasters, antiseptic, aspirin, pain killers. There are chemists/pharmacies along the way but often than not a village or small town won’t have one and opening times at weekends and national holidays can be unpredictable at best.
4. Your smartphone
Smartphones are quickly becoming an increasingly prominent feature on the Camino.
Apart from the obvious benefit of being able to call or text, the alarm feature on your phone is perfect of course for planned early morning rises and you can take photos of your journey with the built in camera device, which is something I completely recommend doing. With multiple wifi (wireless) internet options along the way (the Camino Frances/French Way in particular), your phone will also provide you with a virtual link home should you feel the need.
5. Headlamp or torch
A headlamp or (small torch) are perfect for very early morning starts to the day when the sky isn’t yet light enough and when you can’t see the Camino signs clearly, and also of course for any night walks which you plan or get roped into. Also very useful in albergues when you want to find the toilet at night, locate something in your back pack, or leave very early in the morning when other pilgrims are sleeping and when it would be pilgrim etiquette suicide to turn on the main lights and in doing so wake everyone up. Out of the two options I recommend a headlamp because you can easily attach it to your forehead and you won’t need to worry about lagging it around in your hand.
6. Fishing line
Fishing line? Yes! 🙂
Fishing line is super-strong and yet practically undetectable by the naked human eye.
Wrap the line around your belongings and then tie it against a fixture when you sleep in crowded albergues or when you are relaxing in a crowded place on the way outdoors; it will prevent a worst case scenario in the event of someone wanting to steal your belongings and you will also grab some free entertainment at the same time 🙂
7. Vitamin pills
Even if you eat a meal from the Pilgrim Menu every day of your trip, you will still probably find your diet lacking in sufficient amounts of vegetables and fruits. Lots of pilgrims grab a Pilgrim Menu meal here and there in between gorging on the Camino snacks of choice, such as ham/cheese bocadillos (sandwiches) and Spanish tortillas (omelettes made from eggs, potatoes and oil).
Supplementary vitamins will help with keeping your body more in balance as you walk with a heavy backpack, covering many km per day and through often intense climate conditions.
8. Scanned documents
Before you leave I strongly recommend scanning your important documents, such as passport and proof of health/travel insurance. Upload the scans in PDF document file format (which is universally readable) and then send to your own email address. In the rare event that you lose or have your documents stolen, you then have possibility of access to print out copies; something which will help you in an emergency and which will speed up the process of obtaining new documents.
If you have any questions about lightweight packing for your Camino or if you wish to add information, then please feel free to leave a comment or question in the Reply box below.