Every pilgrim has horror stories about the thoughtlessness and calloused behavior of others walking the Camino. The Golden Rule of “do unto others as you would have them do unto you” is a good start at a list of Camino etiquette rules. Following are the top twenty-five guidelines gathered from my experiences and the advice of fellow pilgrims.
Top Twenty-Five Pilgrim Etiquette Guidelines:
1. Be respectful to the volunteer albergue hospitalero and staff. Don’t expect special treatment or exceptions to the alburgue rules. Do not demand. Be a grateful guest.
2. Pay your donativo as soon as you sign in and get your stamp. Be generous.
3. Leave the albergue, fountain areas or other places cleaner than when you arrived.
4. Do things for yourself. Be self-reliant. Don’t be bumming supplies, funds or food.
5. After cooking, wash your dishes, utilities and clean the kitchen area. You do it.
6. Don’t put your dirty sweaty backpack on the bed. Who knows where it has been.
7. Chairs are for sitting, not a storage shelf for your pack or clothesline for wet gear.
8. Do not hog the clothesline space and clothespins. Remove your items when dry.
9. If you are able-bodied and lucky enough to score a lower bunk, offer your more convenient bunk to elderly or obviously suffering pilgrim who straggles in later.
10. The space under the bunk is for both occupants. Save half for the other pilgrim.
11. Observe the alberque curfew times and be back beforehand to get ready for bed.
12. Turn off your cell phones overnight and don’t use alarm clocks others can hear.
13. If you are an early riser, prepare your pack the night before to minimize shining lights and the racket of plastic bags and zippers made as you get ready to depart.
14. If you tend to snore, find your sleeping position or location in the room that reduces the reverberations. Don’t be upset if others wake you up to turn over.
15. If you get a cold, stay in a private hostel room a few days to avoid spreading it.
16. Take short showers to give others a chance to clean up and have some hot water.
17. No matter how buff you are, don’t prance around in your undies. Modesty please.
18. Take only what you need and leave what you can. Donate unwanted shampoo, hygiene products, books, clothes, food and supplies for other pilgrims in need.
19. Don’t steal the toilet paper. Trailside, respect of the environment and use biodegradable tissues when you can. Bury all tissues for visual and health reasons.
20. Be a goodwill ambassador and respectful to citizens and villages you walk through. Be courteous, law abiding and support the local economy. Don’t litter.
21. Pride has no place on the Camino. Do not make comparisons or brag about how far or quickly you have walked, your heavier pack, trekking in difficult weather or spending the least amount of money. Respect that everyone’s journey is unique.
22. Don’t fall into categorizing other pilgrims into hierarchies of (1) “real” self-propelled long walking pilgrims (2) cyclists as decaffeinated pilgrims (decafeinados) or (3) last 100 kilometer or car pilgrims as “tourists”. Don’t judge.
23. Look after each other. Share, help, protect and advise other pilgrims when needed.
24. Be kind, thoughtful, informative, supportive, sympathetic, generous and helpful.
25. Stay positive and cheerful to others. Shout out “Buen Camino!” and mean it.