The Camino: Mentally Preparing

Preparations and Practicalities

You’ll hear the expression “It’s your Camino” a lot – for good reason: the Camino is a personal journey and it’s what you make it.  (The other expression is “the Camino will provide”, which is something that will become clearer along the way).

A note before I go any further: different folks have different perceptions and definitions for words/phrases/etc: I’ll be “Captain Obvious” here and say that this whole site is written from my perspective and definition.  Yours will vary. 

I’ll also be upfront and say that my travel style differs from that of many folks – I play it a bit by ear and tend to be flexible as I go along.  In business terms, I tend to lay out my strategy in advance – but my tactics may vary by each day.  Thus, left to my druthers, I’d make the travel plans as flexible as possible (sometimes that’s not possible – non-refundable/non-changeable tickets, for example, but I usually go for as much flexibility as possible)…  I know others want a day-by-day, hour-by-hour itinerary, but that’s not me and never really has been.

Preparation: mental (in other words, WHY am I doing the Camino)

The answer to this drives the preparation.  Some will be doing it for a spiritual experience (that can be either religious or non-religious), other will do it to clear their heads.  Some will do it as an adventure, others as a challenge, and still others as a race.  And there are those that go for minimalist… see how little they can live on.  It’s your Camino: why you do it and what you get out of it is yours personally.

For me, it’s more than just “the adventure”.  I’ve given it a lot of thought, perhaps over-thought. And the order changes a bit day-to-day.  My big reasons for doing the Camino are:

  1. To take the chance to step back and reflect on my life and where I’ve been;
  2. To learn about the journey and learn from my reflections;
  3. To meet other Pilgrims and learn from them (and perhaps have them learn from me);
  4. To challenge myself and learn from the results;
  5. To explore the land intimately by foot, rather than just arriving by car/transit, doing a few things, then leaving by car/transit – my hope is to learn more from a slow adventure than a fast pit-stop;
  6. And, take a break from my regular life… a sabbatical, if you will.

The mental preparation, then, is to consider all those things and consider how I might best learn things that I’ll remember for a lifetime.