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Walking and Talking Across Spain - long distance walking chelates the chemicals that trigger my Multiple Chemical Sensitivities

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Using Backpack Transport


Alto Perdon sculpture showing the many (valid) ways Pilgrims travel the Camino.
You may have heard someone say 

if you want to do the Camino and be a “real” pilgrim, 
you must carry your backpack 
every step of the way.

Don't be hooked by this.  
Pilgrims have hired pack transport for various reasons 
since the beginning of the pilgrimage. 
Some were too ill to carry all they needed on their backs, 
some used beasts of burden, such as donkeys and horses,
and some just had the money to pay for it, 
so they did!


Think about the most famous pilgrimage of all, 
the one by the Three Kings to see the newborn Baby Jesus. 
They didn't carry their goods on their back, 
but packed everything, including themselves, 
by camel!
Were the 3 Kings not 'real" pilgrims?
The notion that using pack transport 
makes you less than a pilgrim is just silly. 
If you are physically unable 
or simply do not want to carry your backpack, 
there are wonderful companies 
who will transport your belongings each day.

I rarely carry my pack on the Camino Frances anymore. 
I did it the first time, because I wanted to 
and because I'd been told it was mandatory.
I'm older now, 
can afford to stay in private lodging,
and I love the freedom of walking without the extra weight. 
My feet and back are much happier when I walk unencumbered.



Pack transport is not that expensive. 
It generally runs between €6-€8 per pack, 
depending on where you begin your Camino 
and which route you are walking.

If you have prebooked your lodging, 
you can sometimes get a bit of a break on the cost 
by submitting your schedule to the company 
and asking what it will cost. 
 If you have a group traveling, 
it can be less expensive, 
because in general, the more packs going, 
the less each individual pack will cost.



You may have heard of pilgrim albergues 
that will not allow pilgrims to stay 
unless they have carried their packs. 
Often, they WILL allow you to stay,
but you are put at the end of the line,
behind those who have carried heavy packs.
This is only fair, really.

The Albergue Guacelmo in Rabanal del Camino is one example
of an albergue who will not allow you to stay
if you have used pack transport. 
So there are some and you should do your homework.

However, if you are booking private lodging, 
it is not an issue. 
If you are unsure, ask when you book the lodging.

If you are not on the Camino Frances, 
it may be a little more difficult to find bag transport, 
but not impossible if you’re willing to pay. 
 Often, local taxis will transfer your backpack for a few euro. 
 Ask at the hotel or at a bar if they can recommend a reliable taxi.

Here are a few of the services that I am familiar with. 
I'm sure there are others. 
One way to find out is to ask the host of the lodging 
where you have booked if they know of a taxi 
or transport company that works the route you're walking.

I will post a note saying whether or not I have used the service

FRANCE

Express Bourricot

Caroline will carry pilgrims and luggage 
from St Jean pied de Port to Orisson or to Roncesvalles. 
Her company operates in France only. 
All of the albergues in St. Jean will have a contact number
 for her taxi service. 
She speaks English and is very trustworthy. 
The cost for a taxi from SJPP to Roncesvalles is not inexpensive. 
You can find current prices on the website.

The cost is per TAXI, 
so if you have a group of people going, 
you can split up the price.
 She will also transport bicycles. 
Price to transport bags from SJPP-Roncesvalles
at the time I wrote this blog is €8 per bag. 

Services begin in March 2016. 
I use this company every year.

Le Puy Route




Camino Frances:


Caminofacil

Prices for bag transport begins at €6

The more bags, the less the cost.

Also, if you are prebooking your lodging 
and you know where you are staying, 
you might get a better price by booking your entire Camino 
with them up front.

I use this service every year. 

I have found them to be dependable and trustworthy.



Sarria to Santiago



Xacotrans
Tel. 608.581.206

I'm not sure what Xacotrans costs, 
but I do know bag transport is about half the price
once you reach Sarria.
Last I saw, Sarria to Santiago was running €3 per stage.



Camino Aragones

Jaca, Huesca Tel: 637 503 920 


Camino Norte

Le P'tit Bag 
Transports bags from Bilbao to Irun.

Jacotrans


The Peregrine Express 
Camino Norte between Irun and Santander.
Email: christel.langeveld@gmail.com
Contact number: 0034644589217


Camino Primitivo

Taxi Camino

Jacotrans


Camino Portugues



Camino Ingles



How does it work?

In general, you simply call ahead and book the day before. 
You must call before 8pm and
 I suggest you call before 5 pm if possible.

With Caminofacil, you can also book via internet on their website, 
which is convenient and less expensive than calling.

The company charges per etape, or per stage. 

A stage is usually considered a trip between two villages 
with a distance less than 30 km. 

If your stage is more than 30km, 

you may be charged for 2 stages.

If you are bicycling and/or your stage is more than 60km, 

contact them and get a quote.

Not all companies allow online order, 
but some do.
With Caminofacil, when you place an online order, 

you can also register on their website. 
Registering allows you to change 
or cancel your reservations later, if you need so. 
Please read their rules,
which they have posted on their website.


Tags

Once you have place your order with Caminofacil
 you’ll be able to download a set of printable luggage tags 
with the information of each stage on your route, 
so that you can print them and add them to your bags. 

If you are ON the Camino, and decide you need transport, 
and do not have internet access, 
most (not all but most) lodgings will have information available 
and tags available for local pack transport. 
Just ask your host.

Bag Transport Envelope is used with some companies
On the outside of a bag transport envelope
 is a form you fill out 
with your name and your destination for the day. 
You pop the cash into the envelope 
and attach it to your pack with the rubber band or string that is supplied.

In addition to the tag provided by the transport company, 
I suggest you put a sturdy luggage tag on your backpack 
with your name, your email address, and your telephone number.

Ask your host where the bags for transport should be placed. 

Generally, you will put your bag back 
where you picked it up the night before.




Most companies ask that your bags be ready to go by 8 am. 

This does not mean they will pick them up at 8 am. 

IF YOU MISS THE PICKUP THEN YOU ARE ON YOUR OWN. 
You will have to call and make private arrangements 
and most likely pay a much higher price.



THE DREADED BEDBUG ISSUE

With the Camino so busy, 

bedbugs have been a persistent problem in albergues. 
(Not so much in private lodgings.)
If you are using bag transport, or riding buses,
 I strongly advise you to spray the outside of your pack 
with permethrin before leaving home. 
Your pack will be riding touching many other backpacks
 who may or may not have been exposed to bedbugs 
where they stayed the night before. 
 A little precaution can save a lot of tears later on.

* * * 

If you'd like to walk the Camino
but prefer walking with a small group,
take a look at my website:

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