The Camino is one of the best experiences to confront solitude and spend time with oneself. For many people a pilgrimage has afforded them the opportunity to put to the test and overcome their fear of loneliness, and all who have undertaken this adventure claim to have emerged victorious. On the other hand, there are many experiences of pilgrimages with others – in a group, with friends, family or partner – that have resulted in an improvement in or deepening of affective bonds.
Whether one undertakes the Camino alone or whether one is accompanied, each will carry with it certain advantages, just as there will certainly also be some drawbacks. In this post we will try to consider the advantages and disadvantages of undertaking the Camino alone.
The first advantage of organizing a Camino alone is the independence it allows one for planning. It allows you to do what you want, make your own decisions about when or how to start, whether it be the initial point of departure or the daily distance of each stage, since the decisions can be made based on your own personal physical conditions. As for the night … the pilgrim can decide the type of accommodation in which he/she wishes to sleep, as well as deciding when and where to stop for meals.
Another indisputable advantage of undertaking the Camino alone is that you can stop wherever and whenever you want, and this means that if quiet reflection and meditation are among your priorities, these can be achieved with the greatest of ease..
Another of the great advantages that solitary pilgrims emphasize is that this way of travelling opens up the possibility of chance encounters and of cementing new friendships, and getting to meet and talk with others. Many pilgrims with several experiences of the Way behind them report that have made many lasting friendships on the Camino.
As regards the inconveniences, more than real inconveniences they are often fears and fears that are quite unfounded and which prevent many from daring to undertake the Camino alone. These resistances can be found in their own character. Overcoming this limitation is easy because any pilgrim knows and will tell you that one need never be afraid of being alone since he will always find people willing to talk to him and help him in whatever he needs, both pilgrims and the local inhabitant of the places he passes through.
Solidarity and help are values that are always put into practice in the Camino, the only thing that is required, certainly, is a bit of trust in others … But this mistrust may not be all that surprising when considering that there will be many people who are used to behavior that is not particularly supportive in our crowded modern cities and will have partly lost their trust in others. Well, the Camino is a good place to recover it and dare to open up and put a little trust in others.
Another inconvenience that many future pilgrims might imagine about taking the Camino alone is the possibility of getting lost or encountering situations of danger and emergency. The truth is that currently this problem hardly exists, on the one hand it is very well signposted but it is also very difficult to avoid meeting other pilgrims and, as we just pointed out, you can undoubtedly count on their help. And in any case, for those who choose times of the year and very little travelled routes, the technology will undoubtedly give them the necessary support.
Once the advantages and disadvantages are weighed up, the fundamental thing, certainly, will be to take into account your own personal situation. That is why we only try to offer information about situations and realities of the Way without recommending one more than another. Because we know very well that only the pilgrim who organizes his Way knows his situation, what he seeks and desires at that moment, with his strengths and/or his misgivings.
If it is tranquility, a certain solitude to reflect and the possibility of meeting new people are what you are after, then embarking on the Camino alone will, of course, be a good option.