Do you want to experience the Camino De Santiago? But you are wondering if there is a way to do it on very little money. Yes, you can save more money hiking the Camino De Santiago, then you would if you were traveling anywhere else. In fact, you can spend less than $800 on the whole month long pilgrimage.
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Saving Money on the Camino De Santiago
You are going to have to be frugal in order to save money on the Spanish Pilgrimage known as the Camino De Santiago. This goes a long with the main premise of embarking on the Camino. This premise is, “you don’t need anything to be happy”. This makes it that much easier to spend as little money as possible on the month long trail.
There are really only a couple of things you will spend any money on, that will go towards the $800 during the 31 day long trail. And if you take my advice on a few things from my other article Spanish Pilgrimage – 10 Tips You Should Highly Consider in order to prepare, then you will definitely be able to spend under $800 on the actual Camino De Santiago. Note: If you are planning on taking longer than 31 days, then you are most likely going to spend over $800 on the Camino. But, 31 days is very reasonable for anyone who is in decent shape. It took me exactly 31 days. However, I took 3 rest days. So I could have done it in 28 days. Let’s just say that it takes you 31 days, like it did me. See How does the Camino De Santiago Pilgrimage Change You As A Person for more information on how it will effect you physically.
The good thing about the Camino is that you can stay in albergues night after night. I don’t even know how many other cities in the world actually have albergues. An albergue is basically just a little less nice version of a hostel, that holds more people. If you are planning on doing the Camino, get used to staying in albergues. It’s not that bad, and creates a lot of comradery.
You save money by staying in Donativos. This is the Spanish word for “donation albergues”. So technically, you can stay there for free if you want. However, I would recommend leaving 5 euros at least when you stay at Donativos. The people taking care of these places have to get paid somehow. This is your cheapest option available, because it is up to you how much you spend. The next best option is other albergues from 5-10 Euros. If you can keep your spending on albergues close to an average of 5 Euros a night, you can potentially spend less than $200 on the whole trail. Remember, the conversion rate for the US dollar to Euro is currently sitting at 1 US dollar=.878 Euros. Which makes this a little bit tougher than when I went on the trail in October of 2015, when the US dollar was about .93 Euros.
Or you could spend an average of 6 Euros per night. Here’s the math. 31*6=186=$211.91 If you can average about 5 Euros per night it would be 31*5=155=$176.59. Either way, both 5 and 6 euros per night is pretty damn good!
This is going to be your largest expense most likely while walking the trail. And from already experiencing the trail, it’s very hard to manage this aspect. Because you are walking long miles every single day, so naturally your body needs extra food to keep you going. And there are a lot of tempting restaurants a long the way. This happened to be on the trail when we arrived in Burgos. We got into town and all of a sudden, we saw a Dominoes pizza. I don’t eat Dominoes pizza in the US. Dominoes sounds like the best food in the world though when you have been surviving on bocadillas every single meal! There will also be times where you decide to splurge on a nice restaurant after walking 20-30 miles that day.
Watch out! Because this is where you will start spending TONS of money unnecessarily.
You save money on food, by going to the markets, and then making your own food. You can’t be lazy in this aspect or you will spend way over the $800.
If you can average about 10 Euros a day for 31 days, then it comes out to 310 Euros=$353.19.
Be creative as well. You can split a huge meal with everyone, and only have to pitch in a few euros, instead of buying everything for yourself. Plus, those are some of the best meals, with all the wide variety of cultures coming together.
There were some nights where I would have Korean food from my South Korean friends, and other nights where I would have an amazing dinner from my Lithuanian friend who was a chef. They knew how to cook!
And there are going to be times when there isn’t any market, and you have to either eat food that you brought with you from another city, or go to the local bar for food.
What is a cheap go to option to save money on food that is convenient? Some people don’t like them, but they are extremely nutritious and have some great flavor in my opinion. And they are cheap. Not to mention, you can easily carry them in your backpack. I would eat sardines a lot. You might think that is disgusting! But they are really good! They are a solid meal and only cost 1-2 Euros!
You aren’t going to get through the whole trail, without drinking some beer or wine. It’s just not possible, unless you are totally against drinking. My suggestion on this is to buy wine! In every market, you can buy bottles of wine for as little as 1 euro, and that’s enough for one night. And you can pitch in with a group, to get a few bottles to share. I would say on average I spent 3-4 Euros a night on drinking. Hey, it’s just what happens on the trail. You can easily spend less than 4 Euros, but I am going to go on the high side, because you might spend some at a bar some nights. 31*4=124=$141.28 A lot of people also smoked hand rolled cigarettes as well.
Currently, we are sitting at $706.38.
Yes, water is on this list. The reason for that is, carbonated mineral water is in abundance on the trail. And I can imagine they make a ton of money on it! My suggestion is to get your water as much as possible from the wells on the trail. It’s free, and it usually has a sign telling you that the water is safe to drink.
The last thing to factor in is anything extra you might need on the trail. Unfortunately, I had to spend money on shoes once I got to Logrono, because my current shoes didn’t hold up. And then I also spent a little money on a rain jacket. But the farther you get into the trail, the less you will spend on miscellaneous expenses. The extra 93 Euros should be more than enough for miscellaneous expenses.
If you take my four suggestions for each category of where you will spend your money seriously, spending less than $800 is definitely doable. Just be careful to not splurge with your Euros, as it is easy to do, because it feels like everything is so cheap.
There are a lot of different situations that you could spend more money or less. For example, you could camp for free if you have a tent. And spend even less. But what I talked about above is a very realistic representation of how much you will spend if you stick to the certain suggestions. Buen Camino! Make sure you check out the Cost Calculator on another site dedicated to the Camino, as this might help you understand expenses a little bit better.