“How were you able to take so much time off from work to hike the Camino?” a reader asked a few weeks ago.
The short answer is this: I resigned. However, you don’t have to leave your job behind in order to walk the Camino. If you’ve been thinking you’d like to take the journey to Spain to walk The Way, but are not sure you can take six weeks off, here are a few suggestions:
- Ask. I met a young Canadian woman who decided to walk the Camino after watching the movie “The Way.” She was a hairdresser and wondered how she could get the time off, but she was determined she was going. She first told her employer about the movie, saying, “I’d really love to do it.” To her surprise, her employer said, “Oh, you must go!” Then the hairdresser started telling her clients, all of whom loved the idea. She received tips and gifts and prayers of support — and assurance that her job would be ready to take her back upon her return.
- Do a shorter Camino. The last 100 kilometers (62 miles) of the Camino can be walked in less than a week. It is the minimum mileage required to receive a compostela (a certificate of completion). However, there are no other rules for where a pilgrim must start or how long they must walk. Many people do the last 100 kilometers just for a “taste” of the Camino, only to come back years later and walk the entire way.
- Start small. I met Remy on the second day of my Camino. He’s a Frenchman who walks for three weeks each year. Many Europeans start their Camino 800 kilometers from Santiago in St. Jean Pied-de-Port. They walk one, two, or three weeks their first year, then return the following year to where they left off. They continue in this way — some taking seven years to complete the route.
- Resign. I know it’s a bit drastic, but some people are just ready for a change. You might be one of them. Many people walk the Camino at a time of transition in their lives. My Australian friend Julie had just resigned from her nursing job. My South African walking companion Mona had just retired. I met at least a half-dozen people walking after they left a relationship or lost a loved one.
- Wait. I first heard of the Camino 12 years before I actually walked it. When the time was right, things started falling into place. If it’s too difficult to walk the Camino now, maybe the time just isn’t right. Listen to what your heart, your intuition, your gut, your faith are telling you.
Do you have other questions about how you can plan your own Camino? Let me know and I’d be happy to answer them.