The normal pilgrim “rhythm” is to get up around 7am and end with a normal Spanish lunch around 2pm. While you will not be able to do this with kids – you should still aim to wake up around 8 and be on the trail by 9. No need for a big breakfast as an “almuerzo” or morning snack will be fun to look forward to at around 5k when you take your first break.
We tried to only use our phones for pictures. We kept calls to a minimum, zero emails, social media, etc. There were a few times our kids wanted to chat with their grandparents and it was a great time for them to walk and talk – a welcome distraction when they were losing steam at 2pm.
This was precious time together and it flew by. I’m glad we kept our eyes on the countryside and not screens.
Most cafe stops have olives, tortilla de patata, and toast with tomato – this selection is the Spanish standard and feels repetitive after day three. Pack fruit, nuts, and treats that will be nutritious and something to look forward to. Plop down in a field and enjoy a snack break.
STAY AT A HOME STAY
Two of our favorite nights were at home stays. This is a great way to get your kids interacting with locals as they will be completely doted on. Think B&B for pilgrims. You will call the homeowner and they will pick you up for free from wherever you are on the trail and drop you off the next morning wherever you’d like to resume. They cook dinner for you from their garden, light a fire, and pour you a gin and tonic. We met kind people and got to see a bit of the countryside that was off the path. I highly recommend both of our home stays: Casa Roan and Casa Lucas.
GO AHEAD OF YOUR FAMILY IF POSSIBLE
My amazing husband knew that I wanted a solo Camino experience so that I could find myself and all that spiritual hooey;) I spent 5 nights on the Camino alone and I treasured this time. There’s something about the quiet, friends, and the challenge that make being alone, longer than a 10 minute shower, extra special. Meeting up with the kids and hubby at the 100km mark is a memory I cherish. If you can arrange this – do not hesitate. It’s the best of both worlds.
PLAN YOUR STAYS AHEAD OF TIME
The Camino, like lots of European hotels, does not cater to families. Most beds are single and most rooms are for 2 people maximum or are sleeper dorms of 12 people. If you pre-plan your stays it’s a guarantee that you can all sleep in the same room and avoid decisions made in hanger and desperation. Remember, you can always call a cab but you can not always find an albergue for 5 people!
SEND YOUR BAGS
For only 3 euro per bag, you can have a van drop your bag to your next destination. Simply put a tag on your bags from the reception area and have them packed and in the lobby by 9am. They will magically be waiting for you in your next hotel room. Don’t even TRY to carry your pack with your kids – you’re walking painfully slow and just taking it on and off your back to get a sip of water for the 59,000th time will make you crazy. This is a very common service and there’s a reason why.