Is the Camino de Santiago (St. James's Way) safe? Many pilgrims who travel on any of the pilgrimage routes for the first time ask themselves this question. And the answer is clear, quick and concise: it's an unqualified yes, the Camino de Santiago (St. James's Way) is safe. Even if one is doing it alone, it is one of the best options to intensely live the experience.
Spain is among the 25 safest countries in the world and is ranked ninth on the list of countries with the lowest homicide rates. The Camino de Santiago (St. James's Way) is a priority for the Spanish Government itself, which increases security measures on the different routes during the times of the year with an increased influx of pilgrims such as summer and Easter. Furthermore, the inherent spirit of the route and the companionship that is exuded therein facilitate that the biggest problems which the pilgrim may find in his/her Camino are petty theft, getting lost along the route or small sections in which the walker and vehicles must share the road.
Guaranteed safety on the Camino de Santiago (St. James's Way) is no longer a pilgrim just taking a series of precautions to minimise risks and make the route easier for other walkers.
Tips before leaving
- Bring suitable material and get into shape physically for the Camino. Muscle aches, blisters or sore feet are the pilgrim's most common woes. To try to reduce these woes to a minimum and in order to avoid major problems it is recommended to get into shape physically before starting the walk. And do it with the right material: adjustable anatomic backpack; lightweight comfortable and already used hiking shoes; technical t-shirts and a small first aid kit.
- Bring only the bare essentials. We all like to have a photographic memento of the Camino (Way), listen to music, buy a souvenir or two or watch something on the Tablet when we arrive at the hostel. But for greater security it's better that whilst you walk, take only the bare essentials. That way you don't have to worry about the small stuff and focus on what is important: enjoy the Route. Remember that Correos (Spanish Postal Service) has services to help one in these situations such as the Backpack Paq, with which we transport your luggage from stage to stage daily; or the Pilgrim PAQ, with which you can send packages with your purchases or excess baggage to any point of the Camino (Way).
- Don't carry large amounts of money with you. It is always recommended to take some money with you for occasional expenses. You can use the credit card in all the towns of the Camino (Way), as well as using the automatic teller machines (ATMs) in the event of needing money. Also, if you wish to enjoy the Camino (Way) worry free and live the experience to the fullest, you can request our Tarjeta Correos Prepago Mastercard (Correos Pre-paid Mastercard). This will allow one to pay at any establishment, make internet purchases or withdraw money without requiring the card being linked to a current account. You can only spend the money that you have previously topped up the card with. The Tarjeta Correos Prepago Mastercard (Correos Pre-paid Mastercard) is also available in Google Pay, that's why you can also directly pay using your mobile phone.
- Follow the signs. All the itineraries of the Camino de Santiago (St. James's Way) are signposted with yellow arrows, stone markers, signs ... Always follow the signs and when in doubt, ask. There will always be someone willing to help you. Technology is also at the service of the pilgrim, that's why you have at your disposal maps and apps which allow one to obtain his/her geoposition and specify the route.
- Uphold road safety. Most of the Camino de Santiago (St. James's Way) runs along trails and forest tracks. But sometimes one must make the pilgrimage on asphalt. When this happens, walk on the left side of the road (on the opposite direction of the road of the oncoming traffic) so you can see the cars coming. And if there is a hard shoulder, always walk on the hard shoulder. If travelling in a group, it's best to walk in a row one at a time. And when crossing the road, avoid doing so on a bend or elevation change. If walking at night or with low visibility, try to wear reflective or eye-catching clothes.
- Keep an eye on your belongings. The largest number of petty thefts or robberies occur in hostels. Although the pilgrims are governed by Jacobean values such as solidarity, companionship and fraternity, it's best thing to keep an eye on one's belongings when sharing space with other people Increasingly hostels have lockers to keep one's belongings safe.
And the cycling pilgrims?
- Wear an approved helmet
- Caution on the road. When on a road, cycle on the right and use the hard shoulder. If travelling in a group, in a maximum two by two row and always cycle on the hard shoulder.
- Keep an eye on your bike. The bike is the companion of all cycling pilgrim. Therefore, in order to prevent thefts, it is recommended that you to stay in hostels which have a secure location to their storage, and always leave them in plain sight at lunchtime or when taking a break and use padlocks and alarms along your route
If along the Camino de Santiago (St. James's Way) you suffer from any mishap, remember that the emergency number in Spain is 112. We hope that all these tips will help you to have a safer Camino de Santiago (St. James's Way). Have a good Camino (Way)!