What it costs

This is the tricky bit –

Travel:
For those of us coming from Australia or nearby, Europe is about as far as you can travel around the world before you start coming back again.  For that reason travel can be rather expensive.  If you have plenty of time to plan and scan for cheap flights and play around with fares then more power to you but if you don’t, there is always skyscanner for comparing airfares.  Companies like Air Asia often have sales and often have quite cheap base fares but remember – these are base fares!  Be aware that many prices listed on budget airline websites do not cover checked baggage, airport taxes etc, meals and, of course, if you wish to chose your own seat that will be extra also.  Sometimes it works out to be the same price after all that as it would have been to go with another airline like QANTAS.  Sometimes you just get lucky and happen upon a sale – remember, booking return flights tends to be cheaper than two single way tickets and (a handy tip I learned recently) check the price coming from the other end – there might just be a convenient sale on!  That being said, expect to pay anywhere between 1500 to 25oo for your flights alone from Australia.  If you’re coming from somewhere closer then congratulations, you’ll need less time fro recovering from jet lag (and your flights should be cheaper)!

The Camino is tough and a fair distance from any starting point so you will need to be as fit and healthy as possible.  You want to be well rested before starting so, if you had to change your clock on your way, make sure you remember to allow some time for adjusting to a new time-zone.  Coming from Australia generally takes around 5 days to adjust.  Why not take advantage of your jet lag recovery time and explore a bit while you’re there!  There are many options for getting to your starting place on the Camino once you are in a place where you can do so.  There are train, bus and flight options to most places along the way.  It is quite easy to get to the Camino from anywhere in Spain or France.  Alsa bus lines run extensively throughout Spain (including along the Camino), Rail Europe can find a way to get you there by train – but their booking system has given me nothing but grief and missed out on my overnight rail booking.  I ended up getting a direct flight from Paris to Leon with IBERIA for $190AUD that I found through Skyscanner which will only take 2 hours instead of 10; yes, sometimes it is worth paying an extra $30AUD!  And IBERIA are one-world partners so I can get frequent flyer points!

There are also transport options available along most of theCamino if you need a day off, fall behind schedule or want to miss a bit.   Alsa bus lines run along the Camino and fares start from 3 Euros for a trip of around half an hour.  There are also trains available for some parts – they are faster but more expensive and don’t stop at all the towns or follow the Camino exactly.

Once you begin walking the Camino you should expect to pay between 20-40 Euros per day for all food and accommodation.  The Albergue’s cost between 5-10 Euros per night and are reserved solely for the use of Pilgrims.  Otherwise cheaper accommodation is around 20-40 Euros per night depending on the area and type of accommodation.  Many restaurants and cafe’s along the way offer a menu del peregrino (Pilgrim’s menu) for between 9-12 Euros usually including 3 courses and wine.  On top of that is breakfast, lunch and the essential morning (+ afternoon, + evening, + whenever) coffee.  Apparently bars and restaurants etc will all let pilgrims fill up their water bottles from the tap for free and without complaint – particularly if you practice your Spanish on them as you do!

Getting home again from Santiago de Compostela is easy if you want to go to another location in Europe or the UK.  Trains, busses and planes again run frequently from Santiago de Compostela.  If you need to go further try a halfway point with more available travel options and a bigger international airport like London, Paris, Barcelona etc.  My direct flight from Santiago de Compostela back to Paris is with Vueling airlines and cost me $90AUD.

I’ve managed to get all my travel costs (including train fares, bus fares and all flights) under $2500AUD – a bit of achievement if I might say so myself, although it could have been lower – I waited too long.

Gear:
Expect to pay $500AUD+ for the right gear unless you have it already.  The most expensive items you will need are; boots, hiking pack and sleeping bag.  After you for out for those you’re most of the way there.  Good gear can be quite expensive.  Kathmandu often offers cheaper options but, as I’ve said before, cheaper isn’t always better.  They do still have some great stuff!  Easter sale time is a great time to pick up some bargains at outdoors stores and it pays to join the store clubs – they often have special deals for members only or you can sometimes pick up sale items for even cheaper!  Ask for help if you need it, staff tend to be very helpful and knowledgable about the products they sell – outdoors stores tend to employ backpackers and outdoors enthusiasts so they should know a few tips and tricks and sometimes will advise you of a more appropriate product for you that they don’t stock (but don’t tell the boss!).

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