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Travel with Children to La Palma, Spain, Canary Islands

June 25, 2019

Just off northwestern Africa lies La Palma, one of Spain’s beautiful Canary Islands. This volcanic island, with its black sand beaches, forests, and natural beauty is one destination that I hope to return to soon with my family.

Our May trip to La Palma was a blend of trail racing, business, and family time. The weather in La Palma was consistently beautiful, and there was always a breeze near the ocean. The kids spent nights sleeping outside in the hammocks under the stars, my husband and daughter spent time trail racing, and I spent time scheming my future business project, reading, and enjoying quiet time.

Checking out La Palma’s coastal landscape.

How to Get to La Palma

The kids and I took a direct flight from London to Gran Canaria, the third largest island among the Canaries. It is there where we met up with my husband, who flew to meet us from the USA. We then grabbed a Binter flight and flew directly to La Palma. Binter was amazing! The hospitality was lovely. The kids received lollipops, chocolate wafers, breath mints, and fresh towelettes. Note: we also took Binter on our return trip, however, we had a brief stop and plane switch in Tenerife, and it was equally great in terms of hospitality.

Where to Stay

There are many AirBnbs and hotel options to choose from on La Palma. We preferred to have our own space, so we rented a beach house along the water south of the airport on the eastern side of the island. The rental owner was really helpful and nice, but the house itself, while remarkably beautiful and surely in the prime of its day absolutely jaw dropping, needed some TLC. The experience served as a good reminder that to improve the chances of a positive AirBnB experience to go for not only positive reviews, but recent ones.

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Camino de Santiago Destinations Spain

The Best Women’s Backpack for Walking the Camino de Santiago

April 13, 2018

In 2012, my husband and I, along with our 4 children (then ages 2, 5, 7 and 9) walked the famous ‘Way’ pilgrimage: The Camino de Santiago.  I remember spending weeks researching the right gear for the trip.  One of the essentials most important to me was my backpack. I spent hours pouring over online reviews.  I wanted a pack that would fit well with my smaller frame, but promised to be comfortable.  After all, I would wear it for hours each day for days.

The pack I ended up purchasing, and one that I have subsequently recommended to friends and to-be pilgrims was/is the Deuter ACT Trail 28 SL Hiking Backpack.

You might ask, why are you writing about this backpack 6 years after you walked the Camino de Santiago?  Well, I am now planning another big hiking adventure and my (now) teenager needed a backpack.  I wanted to find a lightweight, women’s fit backpack and guess what pack once again appeared consistently at the top of all reviews?

Yep, you guessed it.

The Deuter ACT Trail 28 SL Hiking Backpack.

So, I bought it.  Comparing the pack to my six year old pack, it seems there are few changes, if any, besides the removal of a strap and a less bulky hip belt pocket–changes which I assume help reduce the weight of this already light pack.

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Blog Camino de Santiago Destinations Spain

The Way: Can You Walk the Camino de Santiago with Children?

September 24, 2015

In 2012, I walked “The Way” of St. James, also known as the Camino de Santiago, to Santiago de Compostella with my four children, then ages 2, 5, 7, and 9.  The movie “The Way” with Martin Sheen had just come out.  Once I watched the movie, by the time the credits rolled, I immediately knew I had to walk the way. It didn’t take much to get my husband on board with the plan.

A short time later, our family of six landed in Spain, ready to begin our pilgrimage–an experience that would forever change everyone of us.

Can You Walk “The Way” with Children?

Absolutely.  In 2012, when our family walked the Camino de Santiago, it seemed like we were celebrities.  At that time, before the movie popularized the Pilgrimage, comparatively few Americans walked the route, and even fewer as a family.  When we arrived in Santiago, we were greeted by cheers and applause in the Pilgrim line.  It was an emotional finale.

camino Kids

So how did we do it?  I like to wing travel, with little planning.  We didn’t book hostels or rooms in advance.  We woke the kids very early each day, walking with headlamps until the sun made its appearance.  It was much cooler this way and made the adventure even more exciting for the kids–they still say their favorite part of the Camino was walking in the dark.  After lunch, we would begin looking for a place to stay for the night.  Only once were we turned away from a hostel/hotel–it was apparent the owner wasn’t thrilled with the idea of children staying on the property.  This treatment was the exception.  The Spanish LOVE, LOVE, LOVE children.

Is it safe to walk The Way?

Recently concerns have emerged about the safety of walking the famous Camino de Santiago, when a 41-year old American Woman, Denise Thiem, went missing and never made it home to Arizona.  Obviously, this is a scary, tragic, and very sad ending to what should have been an inspiring and positive experience.

However, the reality is that no place is immune from crime, and that anything can happen anywhere–at home, at the local grocery store or movie theater, or abroad.  Millions of people have walked and walk the Camino de Santiago without incident–and have come home with lovely stories of an experience that has permanently and positively changed them.

When we walked the Camino as a family, the only real concern I ever had was with dogs.  We did encounter two instances of vicious, unleashed dogs, and heard or saw many, many more behind property fences.  A cow also came out of nowhere while walking in a small farm town and almost ran into my oldest daughter–a close call, but all turned out just fine.

camino safe kids

Staying Safe when Traveling with Kids

Staying safe while walking the Camino with kids in tow means taking similar safety precautions that you’d take anywhere when you travel to a new, unfamiliar place.  Some of these precautions include:

  1. Keeping your valuables out of sight.  This means not being being flashy with expensive electronics.
  2. Keeping your passport and money tucked away in a secure spot.  This might involve wearing a passport pouch with your passport (and your child’s passport) around your neck, which you wear under your clothing.
  3. Making sure you are aware of your surroundings at all times.
  4. Never leaving your kids alone or unaccompanied.
  5. Creating a family plan in advance should someone get separated from you or your group.
  6. Giving someone (not traveling with you) your travel itinerary and checking with that person periodically.
  7. If walking at dusk or in the early morning hours, wearing appropriate reflective gear and headlamps (or carrying flashlights) for better visibility and so you can have a sense of what and who are around you.
  8. Don’t touch stray animals, including seemingly friendly dogs or cats.

If you are thinking about walking “The Way” with your children, it could be one of the most wonderful and exciting travel adventures you ever do.  With some planning and good common sense to mitigate risks, you will likely discover why walking Camino is truly, positively life changing.

If you have walked the Camino or hope to walk it with your children, we’d love to hear from you! Please leave a comment below and tell us about your adventure!

Buen Camino!