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Reasons for Doing the Camino de Santiago

Updated on June 19, 2016

In 2012, 192488 people completed the Camino de Santiago pilgrimage either on foot or by bike. Popular starting places include St-Jean-Pied-de-Port (790 km), Leon, Pamplona and Sarria. But why? What causes people to leave their homes for up to six weeks and hike across the top of Spain, in some cases spending years of vacation time to do this one trip? In a world of fast cars and technology with ever increasing capabilities, it seems what people really want to do is slow down and enjoy the simpler things in life. Have a meaningful existence. In 2013, I completed the Camino de Santiago and along the way learned reasons other people were walking the Camino. Below is a compilation of some of the answers to that question.

I saw the movie

By far the most popular response to "Why are you doing the Camino de Santiago?" was some variation of the answer 'I saw the movie, it seemed interesting and so I decided to give it a try'. The movie in question, of course, is 'The Way', an inspirational movie starring Martin Sheen about a father whose son dies on the Camino and the father decides to walk it for the both of them. It's well worth a look (unless you don't want to know what is along the way and would rather be surprised).

Some other answers

To give thanks for my life.

To give me inspiration for my work as a painter.

To find myself.

To lose myself, and spend some time unstressed from work.

I lost a lot of money in my business. I told God that if he turned things around and I started making money, I would come and walk the Camino. And here I am.

Part of the healing process after a death in the family.

A friend did it and loved it. I wanted to experience what they did.

To have a more meaningful and spiritual holiday than normal.

People have done this walk for a thousand years. I wanted to be a part of it.

I don't know.

To be closer to God.

To gain clarity about what I want to do with my life.

I've done it before, enjoyed it and wanted to do it again.

I've done a part of it in the past and wanted to come back and finish it.

I've wanted to do it for years and it's now or never.

I just got fired and wanted to see what doing the Camino would do.

Why now?

Often, thoughts of doing the Camino can be ruminating for years and there is a trigger that causes the person to decide now is the time to undertake the journey. Some of these immediate causes included:
Being fired
Quitting their job
A relationship breakup

Other reasons

Reasons for doing the Camino can be very personal, and some people may choose to not share these inner reasons in casual conversation, instead sharing a surface reason.

Every person does it for their own reasons. Some are relatively simple reasons, whilst some are multifaceted and complex. None are more valid than any other reason, and whatever it is that motivates you is perfect.

Have you done the Camino?

Have you walked all or part of the Camino? What was your reason? Leave a comment below!

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