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Pilgrimage is a unique journey with a sacred purpose which requires both physical and spiritual preparations. And we all want to have a unique and wonderful experience.
Wondering what to do now that you have decided to embark on your journey of sacred purpose? You can have a head start by walking the Camino to feel nature’s beauty, build new friendships and reflect on life in general. To help you have the adventure of your life and successfully complete your pilgrimage, here are some things you need to know:
Key Points To Consider When Planning Your Pilgrimage
There are two key points to consider when planning your pilgrimage:
➢ You must go with your pilgrim record and make sure you get it stamped. This gives you access to pilgrim hostels and also serves as evidence of your journey.
➢ You must qualify for a compostela.
Having settled with all the above, there are some other questions you may need to ask
Where Do I Start?
First, determine how many days you have for walking, considering when you want to start and when you intend to finish. You should also put into account your days for rest and maybe some days you intend to spend after your pilgrimage.
It is also important to know the distance you intend to cover in a day. In this context, you will need to consider the place you can reach using the available means of transport, bearing in mind the minimum distance you should cover in a day.
When Is The Best Time To Go On A Pilgrimage?
The season for pilgrimage is usually between March and October. You can choose a date within this period considering the weather that is most suitable for you. You may also want to consider which time will be most suitable for you.
How Do I Get There And Back?
You should know the available travel routes and be able to contact your travel agencies. This you should do after factoring in the amount of time you intend to stay there.
Get information on all the possible routes to travel and choose which of them you are most comfortable with.
Things To Pack
Just like any other journey, there are various items you need to pack for your pilgrimage. The following are some necessary items to pack for this journey:
➢ Boots: Go with a good and comfortable pair of boots.
➢ Clothes: You should choose clothes that dry easily so that you have no problems getting them dried. Your clothes should include something to sleep in, a sweater or pullover and also warmer clothes.
➢ Socks: It is important to go with more than one pair of socks. Similarly, you should consider taking the ones that dry fast.
➢ Toiletries: This should include towels and soap.
➢ A waterproof backpack or bag to carry while you walk.
➢ Sleeping bag: Choose a light and affordable sleeping bag. The last thing you need is an extra baggage weighing you down.
➢ Walking poles or sticks: This is optional as some people can do without it.
➢ Other items; You may also need a rain/waterproof gear, a coffee mug, medicines, water bottles, a diary, snacks and of course money to spend on the trip.
Planning Your Path
Choose your travel destination: Before you embark on this journey, you have to first choose your destination. In doing so, you must consider its significance to your religion. This is important because there is an endless list of places to visit.
- Know your route: After you have chosen your destination, the next thing to do is to plan your route. To do this, you can research your geographical route using Google map or ordinance maps to mark them.
- Book your transport: Booking transport is a very important aspect of your travel. Make sure your passport and travel insurance documents are ready. It is also important to book your transport and in order to secure the cheapest fares.
- Book your accommodation: it is important to book accommodation well in advance, at least for the first night. Accommodation facilities differ depending on where your destination is and the amenities offered. Some places have hostels which accommodate only pilgrims who have their pilgrim records. Other places have hotels you can book. Booking early ensures you get a good space and at a cheaper cost.
- Consider getting a pilgrim passport: You should consider getting your pilgrim credentials prior to your travel.
- Get a guidebook: Last but not least, get a guidebook.
Physical/ Body Preparation
Start training walks: It is important to begin training walks months before your journey. You can do this by getting a trainer to walk with you if you are not an experienced walker. You should gradually increase your distance. Remember to take your rest days and drink enough water as you train.
Break in your boots: New shoes can be uncomfortable sometimes, that is why it is important to break into them. To avoid problems with your shoes, you should practice with them and get comfortable before the journey.
Practice in your clothing: you should practice walking in the clothing you plan to travel with. This will help you know the ones that could give you problems and help you choose the ones that fit you best.
Identify the essence of your journey: Pilgrimage may have a deep meaning to you or could be completely meaningless. Clarify what your goal for the journey is and your purpose for embarking on it. Reflect on why you want to do this and what you intend to achieve at the end of it. Pilgrimage has different meanings to different people. You should know the essence of your pilgrimage.
Prayerfully prepare: While taking your walks, you should do so prayerfully. Make it a time for connection with God. Take the opportunity to pray in solitude to God and feed on his word. Seek Him to help you know the purpose for which you want to embark on the journey.
Be prepared to make sacrifices: During the journey, there are a lot of sacrifices that are to be made. It could be going without food, experiencing pain, tiredness, the harsh weather conditions, self-denial et cetera. You may have to go through all of these to reach your goal and find your purpose.
Have a daily focus: You should make every day of your journey count. Therefore, you should outline a daily focus. It could be new ways to get closer to God or plans to rebuild your faith in Him. Some activities could be prayers and fasting, meditation as you walk, and generally feeding on God’s word.
Pilgrimage is a journey of purpose which seeks to renew the spirit, body and build the mind. It is a journey of religious significance which seeks to satisfy human curiosity and often marks the renewal of the soul.
I am sure your journey will be swift and easy if you follow the guidelines stated above. Remember, the purpose for the journey should override anything else.