The Portuguese way to Santiago is an experience that people all over the planet dream of having in 2023. However, the costs of the crossing can be an impediment to this adventure. Especially for those coming from outside the country. That is why we wrote this article, to give you some tips on how to save money on the Camino in a way that does not restrict your comfort.
To understand how to save money on the Portuguese Path to Santiago in 2023 you have to know how much the crossing will cost, more or less. That’s right, despite the trail being an incredible experience, you always have to spend some money, even if it’s just to eat.
Also, it is important to recognize that everyone has a different pilgrimage style. Although most try to trek close to the rest of the participants, with hostel stays and taking advantage of all the delicious discounts on pilgrim menus, no one is the same. Thus, this next excerpt is only suitable for people who walk the pilgrim way.
That said, there is sentence taken from the book by our pilgrim writer, Agostinho Leal, who tells us the following:
(…) there is a maxim that works for most pilgrims: one euro per kilometer! That’s right, five to ten euros for the hostel, ten euros for the pilgrim’s menu and ten euros for the rest of the meals (…) you do the math”
So, we have an average of 1 euro per thousand meters. That is, if you leave Porto, you spend between 250 euros and 300 euros. If you don’t get lost, of course.
But this is just the price along the way. Before that there may also be other expenses.
We are talking, of course, about the equipment and travel to your starting location. This first one, depends on what you already have. If you need to buy everything new, try to acquire only the essentials. That is:
The backpack itself, should not weigh more than 1 kilogram. And second, it must have room for at least 35 liters. 40, at most. It fits everything that is needed. Get a backpack that has a rigid frame and waist adaptation straps, to distribute the weight over the shoulders and waist.
It may be indispensable. Although some hostels offer sheets, not all of them do. Plus, nights can be cold even in Summer. So the best thing to do is to take a slightly heavier sleeping bag in the Winter and a lighter one from May onwards. You have to play with this information and with the weight you can/should carry in your backpack.
You don’t need more than two changes of clothes (three at the most). There are washing machines in almost every hostel – for a fee – and you can always wash them manually and hang them for the next day. Bringing traditional blue and white soap is a good idea. The idea is to always have a change of clothes for the next day until you get to Santiago de Compostela.
Whether it’s raining or sunny, it’s always good to bring a waterproof cover for the journey. The weather can be unpredictable, so it’s better to be prepared. A hat is important to avoid sunstroke and protect from the sun. To prevent athlete’s foot, it’s best to bring flip-flops for the shower. And after a full day of walking, they feel like little clouds on your feet.
Hygiene and First Aid
Toothbrush and toothpaste, those 3-in-1 shower gels to save space, and sunscreen. Try to put everything in a small pouch to minimize space. In another pouch, keep basic first aid supplies. For foot blisters, there’s nothing better than Compeed. It’s like a second skin and provides pain relief. In case of emergencies, dial 112.
Food and Drinks
Don’t overpack. Bring something to eat midway and plenty of water. There are shops along the way where you can replenish your supplies. There’s no need to go burdened.
These are some of the important documents for a hassle-free Caminho de Santiago journey:
Just like in any journey we undertake, it’s important to have proper identification in case of any incidents. Some hostels even require identification to ensure only authorized individuals stay in their accommodations.
This is the certificate that grants you access to the benefits of the Path de Santiago. For example, it provides access to public hostels and pilgrim menus, and in the end, you’ll receive an official document showing the kilometers you’ve traveled. To earn the diploma, you only need 2 stamps per day. Don’t worry, churches, cafes, hostels, they all have a stamp for you. The credential can be obtained at places like Porto Cathedral (Sé do Porto) or in many of the public hostels in cities along the route.
What about the cost of the trips?
It depends on where you’re coming from, of course. If your idea is to leave from Porto, then you have an excellent transport network to the undefeated city from anywhere in the country. But the important thing to have in mind here is this: the earlier you buy your tickets, the cheaper they will be.
How to save money on the Camino to Santiago in 2023?
As you have seen before, those who plan ahead get better prices on the Path to Santiago. In other words, if for you it is important to save during the crossing, planning has to be your favorite word.
1. Do the Portuguese Path to Santiago in the “low” season
Most people who make the millennial trek hit the road in August, or the remaining Summer months. Now, that’s not a problem in itself, but it forces you to think about the law of supply and demand. If more people are trying to take advantage of a service, then its value increases.
So think about taking the adventure in the Spring, or well into September. Here the routine of the warm months is over for most people, leaving the road clear and your wallet full.
This way, you can choose the places you want to stay more calmly, without the fear of not finding space in the hostels, and even have greater freedom in deciding whether to keep advancing throughout the day or to stay in a pre-booked accommodation.
Which brings us to the next point of how to save money on the Portuguese Caminho de Santiago:
2. If you go during the summer months, plan your trip in detail
The problem with the “high” season, as you’ve realized, is that most public hostels get full quickly. If that’s the case and you don’t want to be worrying about it, book your stay before you start your adventure.
This will force you to think about what steps and what path you really want to take. So every day has to be well planned. If you need help with this you can study the routes on our website. Here you will find what you need to organize yourself. Furthermore you have information about shelters, hostels, restaurants and much more.
3. Try taking the less traveled road
Still on the trails to choose. There are many Portuguese Roads to Santiago. From the Central, the Coast and even the Interior, among others, all have their beauty and particularities. So, whatever your choice is, it is the right one.
However, it is important to reinforce that the less walked on, may be more affordable. After all, if fewer people walk this ground, there will be less competition for public hostels.
Figure out which one is best for you and make your choice!
4. Eat as if you were (always) at home
Most of the places where you will stay overnight have a kitchen space for you to prepare your meal. In fact, it’s in these places that pilgrims gather to chat about their adventure and rest their fatigues with good food and even better friendships.
So when you get a chance, you can buy everything in the markets adjacent to the town you are in. This way the cooking is cheaper, allowing you to save some money on the journey.
If you’re in the mood for a more composed lunch or dinner, try taking advantage of the pilgrim menus. These are excellent opportunities to eat like an ancient feudal lord for a very small amount of money.
These menus for walkers usually include a main meal, a drink, and even dessert. You just need to prove that you’re a dedicated pilgrim. In other words, having your credential on hand is mandatory. One more stamp to collect!
5. Finally, the best memories are the ones you take with you
Along the way it is normal to feel the urge to take something for your favorite people. However, a souvenir here, a souvenir there, and there goes your budget for the Path to Santiago.
Photos, sent at just the right moment, are excellent ways to share these moments. What’s more, the memories you’ll cherish the most are the ones you tell vividly when they ask you, “So, how was the Path to Santiago.”
There is no harm in buying souvenirs. It’s just a way to save money if you have to.
And you, tell us: do you have any tips to save money on the Portuguese Path of Santiago?
Now that we’ve given you some ideas on how to keep your wallet healthy on this journey, we want to hear your opinion.
Answer in the comments!