Packing for the Camino: The Seventeen Pound Riddle


I’m leaving tomorrow! But I’ve been packing for months.

There are so many excellent packing lists online already for the Camino de Santiago that I won’t add another one. I used several of them for ideas and reference. I was aiming for a 17 pound pack and am in that range. Rather than a list of things I’m taking, I’ll share with you a list of questions I developed for each item.

Positive = Plus and Negative = Minus.  Each item had to come out strongly on the plus side.

Positive Indicators

  • Is it multifunctional? Can I use it for more than one thing? example: a tank top and shorts can double as swimsuit, while a sarong can be a towel, a seat, a privacy cover, a skirt and a shawl.
  • Will I really use it daily or almost every day? I ended up not taking a dress or skirt, as I didn’t think I’d wear them enough. I didn’t bring a tent or bivy sack.
  • Will it keep me warm and dry? I have been cold in southern European summers a lot.  I’m taking a small sleeping bag rather than a sleep sheet, and plenty of layers of clothing.
  • Will it add a lot to my physical or mental comfort? (Iphone for contact with Scott, a pillowcase, a little typing keypad for blogging on the Iphone.)


Negative Indicators

  • Anything bought ONLY for trip, that I didn’t own a version of previously.  I’m not counting a new shirt or guidebook here, but things like a tea heating coil. I never used one before and I won’t start on this trip.  Anyone need one?
  • “Just in case” items.  Apart from some things like a few over-the-counter remedies or basic first  aid, beware of the just in case.  A swimsuit was eliminated, as was an extra pair of pants, and a sleeping pad.  Just in case items included anything “extra” or duplicates.
  • Can I buy it easily in Spain if I do need something?  This is a yes to most items.

My Luxuries

  • Don’t scrimp on certain items.  I’m an artist and a lover of European history, art and culture. I bought a good sketchbook with a hard cover and plenty of pages, and TWO guidebooks.  I may well get rid of one of the guidebooks, but maybe not.  I am traveling by myself and I do enjoy the deeper knowledge offered by a guidebook.  I also brought earrings and a tiny amount of makeup.  I left a camera behind, though I brought a mini tripod for the iphone for long exposures or videos, and to use to hold the phone as I blogged.  Your luxuries should reflect what you love most.

My Advice:  Bite the bullet and get a little scale that weighs up to 11 pounds.  Weigh everything.

Here’s something interesting.  Get some opinions from others on what you should leave behind.  You’ll find that other people are anxious for you to give things up– rather than do it themselves.  My hairstylist, a beauty professional, said that I should bring no makeup at all.  A painter friend who has tons of art supplies suggested that bringing two differently colored eye liners was too much.  Their suggestions had an unintentional irony— but that’s the human condition for you.

And the nasty part is that all those criteria of positive and negative I listed above should probably be applied to ALL our everyday possessions!  But this is one reason we might need to be pilgrims sometimes.

Now to try to get my fully loaded pack, including collapsed trekking poles with rubber tips stowed inside, on three flights as carry on luggage!  I will report.  Wish me luck!  Suzanne


12 thoughts on “Packing for the Camino: The Seventeen Pound Riddle

  1. Que le vaya con Dios, Suzanne! I hope to follow in your footsteps someday. Thanks for your inspiration. May your pilgrimage fill your soul with fresh beauty!
    A request to tuck into a spare corner of your pack: If you run into anyone named Cabrera or Hornos, would you ask them if they know a Concepcion Cabrera y Hornos? (my birth mother, whom I’d love to meet. long shot, and not your quest, I know …) Thanks and Blessings on your way!


    1. I know that serendipidity will travel with Suzanne and I would wish with all my heart that the two of them together, Suzanne and Serendipity, will bring you news of your birth mother.


  2. I’m so impressed that you are doing this, on your own, Suzanne, and thrilled that I will be able to share it with you. thank you so much!!
    Here is one of my favorite Irish blessings to send you on your way. Rosi

    “May the road rise up to meet you
    May the wind be always at your back
    May the sun shine warm upon your face
    And the rain fall soft upon your fields
    And until we meet again
    May God hold you in the palm of his hand”


  3. Great planning. You’ll be happy to have a lighter pack. So many people have to dump gear in their first few days because of poor planning. Buen Camino!


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