8 Life Lessons from the Camino de Santiago

8 Life Lessons from the Camino de Santiago

In the six months since I boarded my flight dwelling from Spain to the United States, my thoughts has swirled with reflections on my expertise strolling the Camino de Santiago. When I first arrived dwelling, I questioned if the 500-mile, 33-day pilgrimage would immediate a serious epiphany or spur an enormous life change after I returned to my life in Los Angeles, California. 

Would I lace up my sneakers and go for an extended stroll each morning? Would I keep in contact with fellow pilgrims I met in France and Spain? Or would I return to my life and act like nothing had ever occurred?

Since returning, I’ve answered these questions and gained additional perception into the classes the journey has meant for me and for a lot of others who’ve walked the Camino de Santiago. 

What is The Camino de Santiago?

Before we begin, let’s discuss slightly about The Camino de Santiago. Also generally known as the Way of St. James, it’s a community of pilgrimage routes resulting in the shrine of the apostle Saint James the Great in the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela in Galicia, Spain.

This historic pilgrimage, which dates again to the Middle Ages, attracts 1000’s of pilgrims from round the world annually. Traditionally undertaken for spiritual causes, fashionable pilgrims additionally stroll the Camino for religious progress, journey, and cultural exploration. The routes differ in size and issue, with the hottest being the Camino Francés, which begins in St. Jean Pied de Port in France and spans roughly 500 miles (800 kilometers).

Jen Pellerito shares right here classes discovered by strolling this historic route, and now that we have now learn it, we’re extra decided to deal with this unbelievable pilgrimage in 2025! If you’re planning your Camino de Santiago hike, learn Jen’s submit about Where to Stay on the Camino de Santiago

Time strikes slower once you’re strolling

camino de santiago walking
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When you stroll the Camino, you’ll be able to cowl a distance of 5 to twenty miles per day, which takes anyplace from 5 to eight hours. It’s a stark distinction to routine life at dwelling, the place we will drive, fly, or prepare our approach round.

When you stroll, you journey at a slower tempo. The results of actually shifting slower contributed to a way of getting extra time on my fingers.

I felt like I may see the passage of time. I observed the the solar fell at totally different instances of day, how the climate patterns modified, and the way the flowers bloomed as the days handed. 

I discovered that nothing ever stays the similar. My each day routine continued to repeat itself, but all the things in the world continued to evolve, even by seemingly mundane moments.     

You’ll by no means have a look at your toes the similar approach once more

camino de santiago feet take a beating
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On the Camino, my toes took a beating. It wasn’t simply blisters that grew to become a problem — it was the impression of strolling on onerous surfaces, particularly when going downhill. Read extra tricks to Staying Safe and Healthy on a Hiking Adventure

I noticed my toes swell like they’d by no means swollen earlier than. I noticed my toes bleed from blisters that risked an infection. And finally, I noticed my toes heal. 

I spent hours worrying, speaking, and, sure—complaining—about my toes. For the first time, I discovered how one can look after them. 

I utilized Vaseline on my toes and heels a number of instances a day and discovered about the greatest sort of cloth to maintain them cool and as dry as potential in high-heat situations (it’s wool, by the approach)!

I bandaged my toes, prayed for them, and thanked them once they finally grew to become stronger.

Your toes can take you a lot locations, however provided that you care for them alongside the approach. 

Community and connection 

camino de santiago community at hostel
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Five days into strolling, I used to be sitting in my Airbnb host’s sweltering kitchen, sweating bullets. My toes have been full of blisters, and my host was going to pop them for me. I used to be terrified.  Check out How to Pack a Travel First Aid Kit

Admittedly, I’ve by no means handled blisters a lot in my lifetime. I knew nothing of how one can look after them, deal with them, or forestall an infection. Especially in a state of affairs the place I needed to maintain on strolling – with no time to relaxation.

My host, who had been a nurse in her dwelling nation, spoke no English and little or no Spanish. She used a translation app on her telephone to assist us talk in bite-sized phrases, one line at a time. 

My head swam, queasy. Would this go terribly incorrect?   

Finally, after what felt like an hour going forwards and backwards by her translation app, she popped my first blister. Then the subsequent. It damage loads lower than I imagined. 

I’d simply met her moments earlier than, and she or he was caring for me in my most grotesque second. It introduced in an entire new degree of vulnerability and humility. 

Walking the Camino will present you that we’re all on this, collectively. 

The Camino offers

camino de santiago route
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It’s not nearly foot care. Sharing meals, medication, language, and, merely, the firm of others creates a community of care. On the Camino, assist isn’t simply out there; it’s given. 

People are able to look out for one another, proving that even once you’re strolling alone, you’re by no means really alone.

This spirit of camaraderie and help is what makes the Camino such a novel and particular expertise. Whether you’re a seasoned pilgrim or a first-timer, you’ll discover that there’s all the time somebody prepared to help or share a form phrase.

As you make your approach alongside the path, you’ll encounter folks from all walks of life, every with their very own story to inform. Some are looking for religious enlightenment, whereas others are merely searching for a brand new journey.

But it doesn’t matter what brings you to the Camino, everybody shares a standard bond of kindness and compassion.

We all stroll the similar Camino

camino de santiago getting stronger
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When I feel again to my time on the Camino, I bear in mind the days after I walked slower than many different pilgrims, even these a long time older than me. But after I lastly neared the final stretch towards Santiago, I discovered my stride, I grew to become stronger, and I walked a lot quicker than I had earlier than. 

Yes, some folks nonetheless walked quicker than me—or twice so far as I did in a single day—however lastly, after weeks of strolling, the first eight miles of the day grew to become a breeze, when it had as soon as been brutally inconceivable.

This expertise taught me that life isn’t a race. We all progress at our personal velocity, and there’s no worth in evaluating our paths to these of others. The Camino, very similar to life, is a private journey for every particular person.

Learning to maneuver in sync with others, slightly than in competitors, has introduced me peace and helped me settle for my present stage in life (my thirties) extra gracefully. It has additionally allowed me to understand my very own milestones with out measuring them up towards others’ successes.

The most necessary factor is, we’re all united by one widespread purpose — to achieve Santiago.

Achieving a purpose takes time

camino de santiago acheiving goals
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I’ll admit it. I’m a perfectionist. When I fail, I fail onerous. I change into so defeated that I by no means need to strive one thing once more.

Walking the Camino confirmed me that targets are completed by one million milestones alongside the approach. 

One day at a time, I moved additional towards my purpose of reaching Santiago de Compostela. I didn’t stop when it obtained onerous. I didn’t hand over when it felt like I’d already failed.

Yes, I rested after I wanted to. I took the bus on the days after I fell ailing, and my toes couldn’t deal with the ache any longer.

But that’s not quitting. 

The journey hammered dwelling the concept that perfection isn’t the purpose. Progress is the purpose. 

Each step moved me ahead. Big targets get completed by small wins. 

Real energy isn’t about how far you’ll be able to stroll in in the future. It’s about your persistence and flexibility, irrespective of the variety of miles.

You study to take heed to your physique


I took the bus after I actually needed to. I didn’t stroll each single mile of the Camino Frances, and it upset me at the time. But now, I understand that figuring out your physique’s limits is an indication of energy.

Recognizing when to push and when to pause is a type of knowledge. 

On the Camino, I discovered how one can tune into what my physique was telling me. The occasional lengthy stretch of silence whereas strolling alone additionally helped me take heed to my ideas extra fastidiously. 

Balancing ambition with self-care continues to be a problem for me. In on a regular basis life, it’s simple to miss our limits to fulfill our personal or others’ expectations. On the Camino, I discovered to worth self-awareness and the braveness it takes to honor my wants.

Grief occurs at any time when anybody leaves us

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On the Camino, you may serendipitously find yourself strolling with the similar group of individuals. Pilgrims name this your “Camino family.” Some folks stroll the complete approach with the similar group, whereas others, for one purpose or one other, find yourself separating. 

As I walked, I discovered myself weaving out and in of various teams, shortly clicking with of us I’d simply met. But when the Camino broke into two sections, and my buddies selected a special path, I needed to say goodbye. Saying goodbye to those newfound buddies was powerful, like a mini heartbreak. 

I questioned if our paths would ever cross once more. To me, it felt not not like the grief I’ve felt when somebody near me has handed away. These moments on the Camino have been stark reminders of how swiftly connections can type and the way painfully they will half, echoing the bittersweet actuality of the many relationships we have now all through our lives. 

But extra importantly, the separation served as a reminder to stay in the current. I grew to understand the firm of these I used to be with, in the second. Grief is a pure a part of the human expertise. 

I discovered to cherish moments of connection, even when they have been fleeting, and make peace with the inevitability of change and loss.

Embracing the Journey Ahead

Thinking again on my month strolling the Camino de Santiago, the causes for my journey have change into a lot clearer.

It’s like trying over your shoulder once you’re mountaineering. When you’re strolling, you’re immersed in the mountains, and also you solely see rocks and grime. Miles later, the full view of these mountains turns into clear.

At the time, I couldn’t grasp the full impression it will have on me. Now, trying again, I can recognize the significance of the classes discovered. 

Distance helps you perceive the immensity of what you’ve gone by.

And so, the stroll continues, one step at a time.

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