A good personal hygiene is important for a bunch of reasons we won’t dive into.
Taking the appropriate gear with you to be able to take proper personal care of yourself is not difficult. It only gets a bit tricky when you are used to having a complete arsenal of toiletries at hand. Something that on the Camino means only one thing: more weight.
On this page we will not focus only on what to take, but we’ll also give a few light-weight tips.
Toothpaste, Shampoo, showering gel, hair styling products, shaving foam, creams: they should be packed in small amounts because they significantly add up to the weight your carrying. There are multiple travel bottles/cups etc on the market. It’s important to test them so you are 100% sure they do not leak. In our shop you can find the ones that passed our tests.
Like with everything you carry with you, double-roles for utensils is key.
Wash anything with all-in-one soap: it’s your shampoo, showering gel, laundry-soap – all in 1 small bottle.
If you prefer to smell differently than your clothes, you might consider soap leaves. Very light-weight and if you are not particularly a fan of lots of foam, you’ll be happy with these leaves. They come in different versions for different purposes (laundry, hair, body). They run out quite fast and it won’t be that easy to re-supply. We just took one pair for ’emergency’ situations. As an alternative, a simple mini-bar of natural soap will do the trick!
Another double-role we can mention is your towel. Microfiber towels come in different sizes and dry really fast (if you have the right ones). You will see a lot of pilgrims using them. However… we found something slightly different, that dries up faster than microfiber towels AND is actually very pleasant to use AND is a great addition to your wardrobe! Hamam towels, also called Turkish towels are light, dry quickly, have the same ‘touch’ as normal towels and are great to wear sarong-style. They are simply the perfect travel towel. They could also double as baby wraps (yes babies do the camino too), bath towels, tablecloths, picnic rugs, throw-overs.
We have them in our little pilgrim shop :-). We also had a small version made that is even lighter. Whether you are a ‘Basic’, ‘Standard’ or ‘Comfy’ style pilgrim, you will find a double use for this one!
Hit the showers
It can be very crowded in albergues, so having a plan of action will make sure you are not the last one leaving (and the last one arriving in the next albergue).
If you are not one of those who need a shower in the morning to help you wake up, you might consider showering only in the afternoon. If you do need that morning shower, then it’s wise to pick a bed as close to the showers as possible so you won’t disturb other pilgrims too much during your morning ritual.
Most albergues have lockers. Use them and don’t leave your gear unattended! If there are no lockers you can use, make sure you have your valuables in a water resistant pouch and take them with you into the shower facilities.
Don’t forget your flip-flops! Don’t want to get athlete’s foot.
Pilgrims can smell nice too
There is no reason for a pilgrim to smell bad. Some can’t do without their deodorant or an extra eau de toilette. Beware of the ‘extra’ odors though: bugs in nature might think you’re a flower and feel attracted to you.
If you decide to take them: consider travel-sized products. This is what we use for our eau de toilette. For our deodorant we actually refill a Jaico stick. It’s for mosquito-bites and comes in a pen with a small rolling ball as dispensing method. This pen is great to refill with your deodorant of choice.
Assuming you won’t be carrying your complete wardrobe with you, let’s share some clothing cycle tactics. Which one you choose will all depend on your personal preferences. Here are some examples from other pilgrims:
- Pack 2 pair of clothes. Wear one while walking, hit the showers upon arrival and wash that pair. Put the second pair on after showering and hang your washed pair in the sun. Walk the next day in the pair you put on the previous evening.
- There are pilgrims who even avoid the weight of sleeping wear: they sleep in their undies.
- Some pilgrims sleep in the pair of clothes they will wear the next day: it saves a lot of time in the morning. Beware though: this is usually the main lift-method bed bugs use to get to the next albergue, especially if you are an early riser and disturb them while they are still in the ‘drive-in’ enjoying their meal! Ha! You didn’t actually think of that possibility did you? Well, it’s true: think about it and keep a good personal hygiene, which does not involve sleeping in the clothes you will be wearing the next day…
Our way may work for others as well:
We don’t like to be doing the laundry every day and we usually take 3 pair of clothes with us. In addition, we love to plan a resting day to be able to sit and relax all day and meet pilgrims that check-in or out during that day. We do the complete laundry on those days. For those of you who think we must have very heavy backpacks: nope… mine is 6.5 kg and my iphone is the heaviest item on board ;-).
Need it or not?
Some pilgrims will not shave during the walk and some may decide not to floss.
Depending on your own needs, you’ll need to consider packing;
A comb or brush
A Toothbrush (normal or electric? It makes a big difference in the result by the way…)
Tampons and/or sanitary napkins
This post is also available in: Dutch