What is a pilgrimage? Does it have something to do with pilgrims? Do you have to be religious to undertake one? While a pilgrimage is traditionally a religious journey to a sacred spot, pilgrimage walks today can be taken for many reasons, including for personal growth, learning the joy of living fearlessly and with intention, or for the physical challenge. The walks can take anywhere from a day to weeks at a time. Below are a few tips for choosing and planning such a walk.
Know Your Budget
Knowing your budget can help you determine how long you can take and where you can go. The cost of these types of walks varies a great deal. Along the many Camino routes in Spain, you can stay in albergues or hostels for around $10 per night. You’ll generally spend more than that walking the Shikoku Pilgrimage in Japan. You may also need gear, such as a good backpack, walking shoes and a warm jacket. If you are short on cash and need help, you could look into taking out a personal loan to pay for the trip. With low interest rates and a quick process to find out if you are eligible, this can be a convenient option.
Know Your Time Limits
As tempting as it might be to walk away from your job and everything else, most people aren’t able to take off weeks to do a long walk. If this is the case, you could choose a shorter route or the shorter portion of a route. Many walk only the last 100 miles of the Camino Santiago, from Sarria to Santiago. This can be done if you just have a week. You could even take a single day. The Way of St. Augustine in England is just 19 miles, while the journey to the sacred Sri Pada or Adam’s Peak in Sri Lanka is less than five miles although the climb is an exhausting one.
Choose Your Destination
As you can gather from some of the above suggestions, most pilgrimage routes are in other countries, and they can be found throughout the world. In addition to thinking about cost and how much time you have; you should also consider what kind of journey you want to take. While walking is the traditional way to complete this type of trip, some people cycle. Taking a bus is a popular way to complete the Shikoku Pilgrimage. You may also want to consider accommodations. Do you want to be able to camp? Will you require something more than simple accommodations? Consider your purpose for the journey as well. Most pilgrimages attract a mix of secular and religious travelers. If you are in the latter category, you will want to choose one that reflects your own tradition and beliefs.
You may need to boost your stamina and work on your conditioning before you go. On some routes, such as the Camino Frances, there are companies that will take your baggage from one accommodation to another, allowing you to only walk with a day pack, but you still need to be able to walk several miles consistently, usually one day after the other. People of all ages and various conditions undertake these journeys, so you don’t have to be an athlete, but you will enjoy yourself more if you plan ahead.