For many, walking the Camino is ideal for ‘getting away from it all’. Unfortunately, that doesn’t mean you can head off on the journey with an empty wallet. Here are some tips on managing your budget on the Camino.
How much money you’ll need for the Camino will depend on the length of your trip and how extravagant, or frugal, you plan to be. Most people suggest budgeting about €20-40 per day. Of course, you could survive on less, and you could certainly spend more (champagne and lobster for lunch anyone?) but €20-40 would be an average daily budget.
Accommodation is something you have to factor in. Municipal albergues cost between €3 and €10 per night. There are some donativos which simply ask for a small donation for your stay, while private rooms cost €40 a night for a pension and up to €90 for a 3 star (5 star Paradores would go up to €280 per night!). So if you are staying in hotels, you should budget separately for that. Trekking all day will work up an appetite. Luckily food in Iberia is generally reasonably priced. To get you going in the morning, a coffee and a pastry/ toast for breakfast costs usually under €2. For your main meal, A menú del día at a cafe/restaurant costs between €8-14 euro. Normally, this includes a soup or salad, a main course, and dessert usually with wine included – all for one price. It’s probably the most economical way to eat out in Spain. If you’re looking for mid-day snacks, shops are relatively easy on the pocket too.
Regarding gear, shops in Spain may be slightly cheaper but not by much. In which case, I would recommend bringing most of your gear from home. You don’t want to be shopping over there, rushing with less choice and advice (they may not speak your language). You will be using cash mostly rather than credit or debit cards as a number of places do not take them. It can be impractical to pay €4 by credit card for a bocadillo (sandwich) and soda. ATMs, where you can use a debit card to obtain cash, are relatively frequent on the Camino route. But they can be quite sparse on certain stretches. Try not to take out small amounts frequently. You are usually charged by transaction rather than as a percentage of the money withdrawn.
ATM/ Credit Cards and Insurance
You’re also better off taking out enough to last you a few days. Just in case you are unable to find an ATM during that time. Many walkers carry cash in pouches around their neck or in a money belt. Withdrawing €100 to €150 at a time should bring you a long way. Banks typically charge less for making transactions on debit cards than on credit cards. But many walkers choose to bring a credit card as well in case of emergencies. Alternatively, if you need to have money wired to you, all the larger towns on the Camino routes are listed with the Western Union. Most debit cards these days can be used internationally. A plus or a cirrus symbol on the back of your card usually indicates this. However, it is always worth checking with your bank.
If you are travelling from outside the EU, especially from the USA, you should notify your card-issuing companies of your plans before leaving. Sometimes, as a security measure, cards are automatically blocked when they are used in a country outside their origin. Pre-notifying your card provider should prevent this from happening. Many people walking the Camino who come from outside the Eurozone, swear by travel prepaid cards. After lodging cash onto them, they can be used just like a regular debit card but with some distinct advantages. The point of sale usage fees and ATM fees are low. You can load and monitor your card online and they usually ensure the best exchange rate. There are a number of ways to save money but skimping on medical and travel insurance should not be one of them.
Check the links here and here for insurance providers. Insurance is inexpensive and provides great peace of mind. If you are looking to cut down the cost of your trip you should check out the discounts we offer here. Discounts include an early bird special for a booking made two or more months in advance and a loyalty discount for return customers. The Camino is about relaxation and enjoyment, and money troubles don’t fit into either of those categories. But if you prepare and budget well, and are sufficiently covered in case of emergencies, you’ll have nothing to worry about.
If you have any more questions about saving money on the Camino, the Camino de Santiago tours or anything else, please don’t hesitate to contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Originally published on 27th September 2015