Have you ever thought about making the pilgrimage to Santiago with kids as part of your group? It might sound complicated at first, but we can assure you that it usually turns out to be an amazing experience for the whole family! The little ones tend to do just fine in pretty much any of the Camino routes. They will also learn a lot of valuable lessons for their everyday lives, such as the importance of taking care of our landscapes, and the fact that all efforts come with a reward.
Even though different situations call for different needs, we want to give you some advice on how to make the Camino with children. Making hostel reservations early, taking good care of your feet, and paying extra attention to what you carry in your backpack, are some of the keys to make sure everything runs smoothly.
1. What is the best age for children wanting to make the Camino? Between 7 and 14 years old.
What is the best age to make the Camino? This is one of the questions that we ask ourselves when we are thinking about involving the little ones in this adventure. We recommend that the kids are not younger than 3 years old. If they are younger than 6 years old, you should consider taking some kind of supporting tool with you, such as a trolley or a chair where they can rest or sleep. If we had to choose the perfect age, it would be between 7 and 14, but this varies enormously depending on the kid’s personality and behavior. At these ages they are more aware of what it really means to make the pilgrimage to Santiago, and they will look back at these memories as a very special time in their lives.
2. When in doubt, opt for the French route
Why is the French route the best one to take with children? As it is the route most pilgrims choose to take, it has more services and housing by km2 than any other route. It is always important to have the resources to solve any unforeseen circumstances that might come up when you go with children. Planning your route is always the first step, it very important to have it all organized ahead of time, especially when children are part of the group. Taking into account the degree of difficulty of the different routes, the French route is the easiest one for children.
3. You should start with a shorter route and, if possible, without much heat.
You should choose easier and more comfortable routes; this is very important if you are taking a trolley with you. For example, you could start the French Way from Sarria. This would be a great option if you are making the Camino with children. It is also important to avoid the hottest days of the year, and the heat waves, as these will drain the children from energy.
4. Distance is important, try to schedule rest times every hour
You should choose the journey according to the child’s age. The older the child, the longer the journey, you should never walk more than 15-20 km a day. There should be a progressive increase in the number of kms you walk a day, you should start by doing shorter walks, and increase the number of kms you walk as the days go by. Walking hours should be like working hours, every hour of walking comes with 5 minutes of rest.
5. Prioritize the mornings to take advantage of all the energy
Children tend to start their day with a lot of energy, but this energy will fade throughout the day. Therefore, mornings are the best time of the day to make the most out of the energy they have. Also, mornings tend to be cooler than afternoons, you should walk during these hours and spend the remaining of your day enjoying the places you chose to stay the night in.
6. Mentally prepare yourselves with fun hiking routes.
Some months before starting the Camino children should start getting used to the environment in which they will spend their holidays. Going on little hikes before doing the pilgrimage can be a good idea as it will help children to get comfortable with these types of environments.
7. Choose your footwear
Footwear is as important as previous preparation for the Camino. They can not be wearing shoes for the first time when starting the route to Santiago, they should use shoes they are already used to, and that are comfortable for them. This will help preventing them from getting blisters and other wounds in their feet.
8. Every day motivation
Keeping the children motivated is key. This shouldn’t be too hard as everyday there are new environments and things to discover. Having their input when planning your pilgrimage can be a great way of keeping them motivated.
9. Housing reservation
Rest is key for the whole family to enjoy the adventure. You should make reservations in those places that have everything you need to sleep and eat within the environment of the pilgrimage. You don’t want to lose the essence of the Camino. By making reservations you will avoid crowds and unexpected housing unavailability.
In Pensión Portomiño we offer different types of rooms depending on the pilgrim’s needs, these rooms are perfectly adaptable for children. We also offer hotel rooms and restaurant service, so your stop in the Camino is as comfortable and easy as possible.