We always look for company, a group to join. But, have you given a thought to doing the Way to Santiago alone? We all think about loneliness differently: there are people who love it and others who hate it. Doing the Way to Santiago alone can be an opportunity to confront it. If you decide to do it, it is for sure going to be a different experience.
If you choose to do the Way alone, you’re going to depend on your own rythm. This means you won’t have to wait for anyone, being able to rest when you want. Pilgrims make stops of different lengths and frequency, as all of them have different necessities. If you do the Way to Santiago alone, you can stop whenever you prefer.
March to the beat of your own drum, but remember to be organized. The “pilgrim timetable” can help you doing so. It’s not an official method, but it helps the walkers to have some standards. It is recommended to wake up early and to start to walk after a big breakfast. Early lunch is also advised, as arriving in the next hostel at midday is the best option (even though you’re not going to have trouble with space if you walk alone).
Take advantage of your time now and prepare a nice Way to Santiago guide before you start walking. This will keep you in the right direction, as you’ll get to know the route that you’re going to do beforehand.
Yes: you’re doing the Way alone, but you also have to keep in mind that you’re going to stumble upon other people during your journey. Groups are more frequent than individual pilgrims, so don’t worry: if you’re willing to meet new walkers, you will come back home with many friends.
Meeting new people will be an opportunity to share advice, doubts or experiences, as well as getting to know different cultures and people from many countries.
There’s positive and negative points to consider. On one hand, if you do the Way to Santiago alone, you’re not always going to find someone to walk with. Your personality will have an effect on this: not everyone needs company and maybe you’re looking for some space, so this is a good ocassion to enjoy the silence! On the other hand, you could end up being by yourself even if you feel like socializing. Everything depends in what you are looking for and how you are.
This may be the aspect that most people worry about when thinking about doing the Way to Santiago alone. In the last few years, news of incidents with pilgrims have been spread. However, you shouldn’t worry too much: keep in mind that this is a very small percentage of problems compared to the number of pilgrims that do the Way every year. Moreover, one of the elements that characterizes the Way is the hospitality of the walkers and locals. They will help you with all the problems that you may have and give you the information you need, as well as explaining the Way signs to you.
Regarding security, another important point is to avoiding walk at night. Walking during the day is a good security measure. The pilgrims that decide to walk at night do it because of the weather or because they need to be alone. The first problem is easily solved though: you just have to start off your day early, taking advantage of your morning.
Finally, don’t forget to charge your phone, something logical but important. If you are going to do the Way to Santiago alone, you should have a communication tool. With it, you can warn of your location if you get lost.
If you want to live the Way in a different way, enjoy and discover yourself making the Way to Santiago alone.
Text: Fátima González-Besada Gómez