Welcome back to La Princesa del Camino de Santiago! Today I am going to get a little personal. Yes, you read that right, so if you want to keep your eye on the prize you can skip down to “Travel Tips”.
Project Chicken Coop
Remember the last post when I mentioned I had a minor medical procedure? Well days before departing for the Camino I did the first part of IVF – egg retrieval. The month leading up to the procedure I was jacked on hormones and poked and prodded by some of the most talented doctors in San Francisco. I called this procedure Project Chicken Coop.
After my break up I was angry. I was angry that things didn’t turn out the way I wanted them to and that I was going to have to start all over again at age 35. I was scared no one would want to marry and start a family with a woman in her late 30s, and even if that man materialized what if I could not have a baby?
There is so much in this life we cannot control, but with some time, money and the magic of modern medicine, I could freeze time or the foreboding biological clock at age 35. I was going to take care of this and then head out on the Camino for my journey of self-discovery and healing. Bring it.
So, I was pumped! On the morning of my procedure surrounded by doctors and nurses, including the anesthesiologist, I proclaimed to the room, with my hang ten gang sign in the air, “Let Project Chicken Coop Commence” and then fell into a deep sleep.
I woke up in the recovery room with the news that the procedure was a success. (Potential suitors reading this: you can check the ‘no issues with making babies one day’ box!) I was told to lay low for a couple of days which suited me fine because I needed to take care of some final logistics for the Camino and finish packing.
While resting I packed two bags – my carry on and my checked bag. Also, I sorted out the logistics of the first 24 hours in Spain. Check out these final travel tips to prepare before heading out.
Here are a few tips to avoid travel pitfalls and to help kickoff your trip on the right foot.
Airlines lose luggage. I was at dinner last night with a good friend of mine who summited Mt. Kilimanjaro a few years ago. The airline lost her bag so she had to do the weeklong trek in rented gear and borrowed clothes from friends and fellow hikers. I mean this girl had to borrow underwear!! She was miserable.
Tip 1 – Bring a carry-on with one solid trekking outfit, a warm layer, your preferred hiking shoes, two pair of socks and underwear, pajamas, and your toothbrush!
This way if the airline loses your luggage you can stay on your schedule and have a courier send your belongings to you without interrupting your trip.
Also, I recommend taking a photo of your belongings just in case the airline loses something. It will save you time to pull up your photo to show the airline employee rather than referring to a sometimes dated catalog of black suitcases.
Logistics are a pain in the tookus. How do you get from the airport to your hotel? How do you get from your major airport in Europe to your starting off point on the Camino? You need a plan, Stan.
Tip 2 – Make a detailed plan for the first 24 hours of your trip.
Book your first night hotel in advance. If you have a long journey you will be tired, jet lagged and the last thing anyone wants to do is start to research affordable hotel options in a stiff airport chair when all you want is a hot shower and a rest. Do it, trust me.
Figure out how to get from Point A to Point B to Point C. I landed at Barajas airport in Madrid, Spain (Point A). I booked my first night at an airport hotel that had round trip transit to and from Barajas (Point B). The next day I took a charter bus from Barajas to Pamplona and walked to my next hotel (Point C). The only logistical question I had to ask during the first 24 hours was “Where do I buy my bus ticket in Barajas Airport?” The rest of the details I had already figured out.
Decide if you are going to get an international cellular data plan for your mobile. If so, you can operate like you do at home and call the hotels and look up transit options on the fly. If not, I recommend looking up the information in advance and taking screen shots of bus schedules, map routes, phone numbers, so that you are not wasting time in country trying to communicate in a language that might be difficult for you.
There is WIFI (in Spain they say “wee-fee”) everywhere now so you don’t have to buy an international plan, but if you are on the fence I would buy the plan before you leave home. The roaming prices abroad are exorbitant and no one wants to return to a surprise +200 USD bill.
Jet lag is legit. The first few days I am in Europe I feel that pain in the late afternoon. I feel sluggish, have a blistering headache and just want to curl up in bed and fall asleep to the sound of American cartoons.
Tip 3 – Once you arrive at your local airport pretend you are in the new time zone. That means adjust your watch, eat the appropriate meal and sleep at the appropriate bedtime when you board your jet plane. Also, drink a ton of water throughout your journey to Spain or France.
I am very susceptible to jet lag so I drank water like a boss on the airplane and when I got into Spain. I even took hydration pills. For sleeping on the plane and for the first few nights in Spain, I brought Tylenol PM. Some people need something stronger than Tylenol PM to sleep. Consult your doctor. I don’t have that kind of hookup.
Hope you enjoyed this post and my over-sharing. Next time we will begin in Pamplona and discuss essential last minute pilgrim errands and how to treat yourself like the princesa del Camino! If you like this blog, please subscribe to my newsletter.