Whether you want to pass customs with the right documents in your pocket, or want to show the albergue that you’re a true pilgrim to be able to get a bed. Here you’ll find the list of essential documents for a pilgrim. Don’t forget to pack them!
Most of you will have this in their Contacts app in your smart phone. But just in case, we didn’t want to leave it out of this travel documents list.
You might want to send your family and friends a post card to let them know, the old fashioned way, that you’re all right and having a good time.
Important phone numbers to include (besides your personal contacts) would be the ones from albergues. If your guide only mentions 2 or 3 in the area and their full – you might want to ‘call’ around. For more tips around the ins and outs of albergues, check THIS page.
You will need your health insurance policy/card and the documents you received when (and if) you booked a travel insurance. Don’t forget to take them with you.
You’ll need your tickets too. It’s obvious right, but still… Don’t throw your tickets away – in case of any issue with the insurance company they’ll need something to prove when and where you were, and a copy of the tickets is the easiest way to meet that potential need.
You won’t forget about this one, will you? Take good care of it, in Spain it is also mandatory to be able to identify yourself at any moment in time when requested by the local authorities.
In most albergues they will want to take a copy or quick snapshot of your ID. They actually use it to register in an official and mandatory system.
Having said that, you won’t get out of your own country without the official travel documents, so we guess you’re good.
A Credit Card is the most convenient and safe way to have your financial resources available at all time without taking any risks by carrying a lot of cash with you. Check out the Safety on The Camino page to read more about how to safely carry a CC with you to avoid identity theft. Don’t forget to inform your CC company/bank that you will be travelling so they don’t block your card for safety reasons once you start using your card abroad. American Express and Diner’s Club cards are not usually accepted along the camino.
The CC is best used in shops, hotels and restaurants. You’ll usually need cash to pay for your accommodation. To make cash withdrawals it’s less expensive to use your debit card since it will not be subject to daily interest rates. Check with your bank what the fees are; if they charge anything you might want to open a new account at a bank where they do not charge any fee. Else, the best way is to withdraw 200 Euros every two or three days depending on your needs. Be aware that you will be needing a 4-digit pin!
If you don’t own a credit card, make sure you know in which places they have cash withdrawal possibilities, and plan accordingly: don’t carry too much cash (twice your daily budget should be more than enough and already very appealing to ‘bad’ folks on the road). There are plenty ATM’s along the Camino. You can actually find them pretty easy by opening Google Maps and searching for ‘ATM’.
A CC is often needed to make reservations at accommodations (not always but often enough for us to mention it here).
The good ones are usually big and/or heavy. It’s really not recommended to take a complete guide with you. One of the advises that is sometimes given is to take out the pages of the travel guide (we don’t like that idea to be honest… it just doesn’t feel right to ruin a good book). What we can recommend though, is to download an app like Buen Camino or Wise Pilgrim (there are a lot of them).
Also, the website gronze.com is a perfect resource since it lists a lot (if not all) accommodations.
The ultimate pilgrim’s passport. You need it to sleep in albergues along the way and you’ll need to show it at the Pilgrim’s Office to obtain your Pilgrim’s certificate “La Compostela”. You can read all about ‘La Credencial’ at the official page of the Pilgrim’s Welcome Office (in English): Pilgrim’s Welcome Office.
While it is possible to simply obtain the credential in most of the big cities, you might want to order it upfront.
Be aware there are a lot of unofficial credentials out there. You should make sure you obtain one issued by the Cathedral of Santiago through the Pilgrim’s Office, or by a specifically authorized organization (like the confraternity of Saint James in your country). The Pilgrim’s office issued a communication on this topic in which they made clear that only the official ones will be accepted for issuing the Compostela.
It is nice though to obtain it before you leave, since that will give you the opportunity to stamp it in your local town – I’m sure at least the church will have some official stamp of their own.