Sending Your Backpack Ahead
Not every pilgrim wants to travel with a full backpack, and walking is certainly a little easier when you let a taxi take it on ahead of you to your next destination. Many people do the whole camino in this way. Perhaps you may only want to be free of your backpack when doing the very steep climbs, or on days when you're body is sore from all the walking and you feel that you need a break. Whatever reason you have for wanting to walk with only a small daypack, then you'll be happy to know that there are camino carrier services that will help you in this regard.
Planning Your Daily Walking Schedule
If you choose to send your backpack ahead of you, you will always have to plan your next day's walk, making a firm decision about the distance that you will cover and where you will stay. You will have to do this for two reasons: the first is that only the private albergues, hostels and hotels accept bed or room bookings, and it is only these that are open all day and are therefore available to receive your luggage from the courier. The municipal and the associated albergues do not take reservations, and they only open at around 3 pm, meaning that even if you took the chance and sent your bag on ahead to one of these places, there is usually no-one there to receive your backpack and therefore keep it safe until you arrive.
The second reason that you have to plan ahead is because the luggage transfer service will only transport your baggage for a maximum distance of 25 km.
How to Employ a Luggage Transfer Service
This is an easy process. You tell the private albergue or the hostal/hotel receptionists that you want to send your backpack to a chosen destination. If you ask them to, they will contact the luggage transfer service of your choice. They will probably have the telephone numbers available, but make sure you have them listed on your phone or in your notebook. The receptionists will give you a special enveloped form on which you write the name of your chosen destination. You will place the fee in the same envelope, seal it and attach it to your baggage. You then leave the baggage in the reception area as you leave in the morning, and the courier will pick it up at an appointed time during the day. You simply pick it up at the end of the walking day as you check in to your new accommodation.
It is very rare for a pilgrim's bags not to arrive at their destination, or for a pilgrim to experience any form of theft. These services are known to be safe and reliable and have been used by many pilgrims over a good number of years. However, it is always a good thing to practice caution in case the car transporting your bags gets into some kind of accident. For safety purposes, you should adhere to these guidelines:
1. Only use official luggage transfer services: do not send your bags ahead with people you do not know. A list of official luggage transfer services is given below.
2. Do not leave your passports, money or any other important documents in your luggage: always carry them in your daypack or fanny pack.
3. Write the destination clearly on the envelope (get the right spelling), and always enclose the fee.
4. Remember where you are walking to!
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THE NORTH FACE Terra 65 Backpack
MALLOW ME 3-Season Sleeping Bag
SAPHIROSE Hooded Rain Poncho
ANYHOO Outdoor Breathable Sun Hat
Costs (A Rough Guide Only)
Around 7-10 Euro per pack per 25 km stage. Rates may be reduced for a large number of bags if you have more than just a backpack. Some couriers may cost slightly more.
Luggage Courier Services Along Different Camino Routes
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JACOTRANS provide a luggage transportation service that stretches along the entire Camino Frances route. They also help pilgrims with postal services (sending things back home). If you need anything (perhaps walking sticks, clothing items etc), they will provide them at a fee. Cyclists can also use them to assist with bicycle repairs.
BOURICOTT EXPRESS take your luggage over the Pyrenees from St.Jean Pied de Port in France to Roncesvalles in Spain.
TAXI BELORADO transport your luggage between all towns on the Camino Frances starting at Roncesvalles and ending at Santiago de Compostela.
CAMINOFACIL courier your backpack or other luggage along the Camino Frances
TAXI CAMINO operates along sections of the Camino Primitivo
LE PETIT BAG will transport your bags along certain sections of the Camino Del Norte. They provide different telephone numbers for different sections that you might want your luggage transported.
THE PEREGRINE EXPRESS also transport luggage along specific sections of the Camino Del Norte.
JACOTRANS LEON take your bags from Ribadeo to Santiago de Compostela (on the Camino Del Norte)
PATY SERVICES transport both luggage and people along a number of French routes to St. Jean de Pied de Port and along the Camino Frances.