Why you should do the Way to Santiago with children?
We have less and less time to spend with our kids due to the busy routine we usually have. That is why holidays, either spring break either summer are a perfect moment to do a small trip with our family. Can you think in a better plan than doing the Way to Santiago with your kids? The Way to Santiago de Compostela can be a familiar adventure in which kids and adults will enjoy to the maximum.
The Way to Santiago is an unforgettable and precious experience, but it is important to take some precautions. Don’t miss our general advices to do the Way to Santiago and continue reading to know our advices to realize the route jacobea with children.
We always say that there is not an age limitation to do the Way, because there are so many different routes and all of them are very flexible. However, it is not advisable being younger than 3 years old to do the Way. Besides, until your kids are 6 years old, it is advisable to have a trolley adapted to mountain so if your kids are so tired, they could rest there. But no one is going to know your kids better than you, so always trust your opinions.
Which route you should choose?
The best route to do with kids is the French Way. This is the easiest route, it is the most travelled path and it has a lot of places where you can sleep, eat and rest. As this is the easiest route, your kids would be less tired and they will keep motivated because they are completing the programmed stages. It is almost certain that you will find more kids during your Way, this will allow them playing and, again, staying motivated. In addition, as there is less distance between villages, you will be able to stop to rest more frequently.
The option that more families choose to do, is the last 100 kilometres of the French Way (from Sarria).
When is better walking?
The French Way is perfect to be done in spring, that is why spring break is a perfect occasion to do it. However, you can also do it in summer but you will have to pay more attention to the hot weather. It is very important to start walking early in the morning so you could avoid the hottest hours of the day. This is an advice for all pilgrims but it is important to pay more attention to this with the youngest pilgrims because their strength is not the same as on adults.
The Way to Santiago can be an important physical effort for all pilgrims, but specially for children. It is really important to calculate the length of the stages and the stops to rest. Ideally, you should plan your first stages shorter than the last and they never have to be longer than 20 kilometres per day (the most recommendable is making 15 kilometres per day with children, but if you think your kids are old enough to do more, you can do until 20km per day).
There is an eternal debate about if you need or not training before starting the Way to Santiago. A lot of adults start their ways without any previous preparation, however with children is really important to be well-prepared. We can start doing some hiking around our home-town one month and a half or two months before starting the Way. You can have a look in our page. If you are planning your kids will carry their own bag on the Way to Santiago, then it is convenient that they carry it on the training hiking routes too. Another important point is wearing the same boots or trainers, you should never use new shoes in order to avoid blisters. You can also buy special shocks in sport stores and keep your feet dry and hydrated to prevent blistering.
Children have to be motivated with the idea of doing the Way to Santiago. You can tell them more about this experience: what is the Way, why are you doing it… You can also tell them stories and legends about the Way. The more they know the more motivation they will feel, and if they ask something you don’t know, you can always ask us.
On your Way
Children need to feel that they are not just walking. Walking can be considered as a game. There are a lot of games to do while walking. One example is the stone game: a person has a stone and the stone will go from hand to hand when someone says a forbidden word (as “yes” or “no”). You can agree that whoever who ends the day without the stone would have a price in order to increase children’s motivation. You can also create a travelling notebook where they can draw or write their favourite part of the day. Another thing that will motivate kids is stamping the credential in hostels and other local business (they won’t be official stamps, but a nice memory). And remember that if you do 100 km. you can have the Compostela.
It is important to make several stops during every stage. You should have a 5 minutes break every hour, that is enough time to rest a little, drink water and eat something that gives you more energy to continue (juices, cereals, fruit, snacks…) You have to be more flexible because you are walking with kids, if you find a nice place where they can enjoy or play, do a longer stop.
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