Before starting the Way of Saint James, it is important to inform yourself properly and to take a number of things into account. Take note of the following tips:
- Decide which route you’re going to take. The French route begins in Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port, although many pilgrims set off from Roncesvalles, the first place on the route in Navarre. It is possible to get there from Pamplona with the Artieda coach company.
- Plan your journey. Split the distance you want to travel into stages. People normally walk about 25 kilometres a day, but you need to adapt this distance to your possibilities.
- Train. Accustom your body to walking before setting off and, when you start, gradually increase the length of each stage you travel. Don't forget to rest after a certain number of stages.
- Avoid the hottest hours. It is important to get up early to avoid walking during the middle of the day, when it is hotter, especially in summer. You will also reach your destination earlier if you get up early and ensure you get a bed in the pilgrims’ hostel.
- Follow the signs. The route is signposted every few metres with yellow arrows or scallops on a blue background. On sections along roads, walk on the left-hand shoulder, facing the traffic.
- Eat and drink properly. It is important to replenish fluids by drinking plenty of water and to eat food rich in carbohydrates, like bread, rice, pasta, nuts, cereals and fruit.
- Don’t weigh yourself down. Your backpack shouldn’t weigh more than 10% your own weight. Try not to take unnecessary things and wear lightweight, anatomical, breathable clothing. Carry heavier objects in a vertical position close to your back. Keep the things you use most in the easy-to-reach pockets.
- Don’t forget a first aid kit. You will probably need to dress small wounds or take some kind of medication on the way. Always take a first-aid kit and don’t forget to include sunscreen.