If you are reading this article is because you have considered doing the Camino de Santiago organized by an agency. Or maybe you still don't know whether to organize it on your own or hire a specialized agency like Proguías to do it for you. Here we tell you the advantages (and disadvantage) of opting for professionals.
Organised Camino de Santiago? Better with specialists
The Camino covers a multitude of different routes, with different requirements, different locations, accommodation and places to visit. Lots of information that you should know before you start and that can overwhelm the pilgrim who decides to venture on the route. Especially if it is the first time or you have not had much time to go discovering all the options offered.
It is true: organising the Camino de Santiago is no easy task.
Even general travel agencies often use the services of specialised agencies, as they have a better knowledge of the terrain. It is not just a matter of selecting the right accommodation (as you will be staying in a different place each night as you go). You should also make sure that they are close to the Camino, so that the experience is as relaxing as possible. And that they offer a good night's sleep, ruling out some "bargains" that end up being expensive.
Moreover, as the Camino de Santiago passes through mainly rural areas, the number of available places, both in hotels and in hostels, pensions or inns, is not as great as it is in urban destinations. As a result, in high season (May to September), getting a place in worthwhile accommodation can become a real headache if you have not done so well in advance.
When we talk about organising the Camino de Santiago, "enough time in advance" can mean several months, depending on the dates you want to travel and the route you want to do.
It can also be a headache if you restrict yourself to accommodation search engines such as Booking, Trivago or others. Many of the accommodations on the Camino are not offered on these sites - and most of those that are offered do not, in fact, offer all of their rooms.
However, specialised agencies, such as Proguías, are able to reach these rooms beyond the big platforms. Why? Because they deal directly with the accommodation. In our case, in fact, we know many of these establishments personally and we visit them periodically to see what's new and learn about their services, their strengths and weaknesses, and their evolution.
And, as we mentioned, it is not just about accommodation.
There are a number of additional services that are increasingly in demand, such as the transport of backpacks during the stages or the specific insurances which are more difficult for generalist agencies to manage. For specialised agencies, on the other hand, they are their bread and butter.
Organised pilgrimage to Santiago vs. the Camino de Santiago on your own
We know that, sometimes, thinking about organising the Camino de Santiago makes it lose some of its charm. A good number of people simply decide to carry their backpacks on their backs and travel "seeing as they go along". As far as the Camino de Santiago is concerned, this can work well in some cases and at some times of the year, but it is a risk. Especially in the high demand season (May to October).
The large influx of pilgrims in recent years has meant that, in some localities, many have been forced to sleep on the streets or to assume unexpected and excessive expenses in order not to be left without a roof over their heads. Sometimes, this even means being obliged to move from one place to another at the end of the stage, when their strength is most lacking.
This also includes the hostels. Bunk beds in public hostels are given on a first-come, first-served basis and there is no possibility of reservation. That is why many pilgrims who opt for this type of accommodation leave even in the early hours of the morning to be the first to arrive at the next hostel and have a place, always with that uncertainty in their Camino.
Of course, it is possible to do the Camino this way, especially if you have experience on the route and know your way around. But let's face it, not everyone can or wants to do it that way. And, in those cases, having specialists to help you secure the important things and leave room for the rest is essential.
4 advantages of organising the Way of Saint James with Proguias
1. Constant communication by various means
One of the advantages that people who travel with us most often tell us is that it is very easy to stay connected with us when necessary. Whether by email, by phone, by Whatsapp or using any of the social networks or the chat on this page. We are there to offer you advice from the first minute to the last.
If you do not know which Camino is right for youJust ask us for advice and we will tell you the pros and cons of each route. This way you will be able to make a more reliable choice, making the important decisions based on real knowledge.
2. Saving time and increasing safety
If you do not have time to search and contract each of the services you need to do the Camino (this is the case of most people), delegating to a specialised agency that has a wide range of suppliers is the best way to do it. Forget about making reservations (daily accommodation, transport, insurance, etc.).
What's more, a specialised agency like Proguías certifies that each of the bookings has been made correctly, that they are confirmed in writing before you make any payment and that everything is in order in each of the locations where you will spend the night and for each of the additional services you hire.
So it's not just about saving time. It is, above all, a question of peace of mind.
3. Personalised reservations for each pilgrim
Our working policy is to treat each case in a detailed and personal way. In other words, when you contact us, the person who takes care of you will handle your entire booking from start to finish.
This way we can make sure that we understand your needs and adapt the Camino to you, as far as possible. This includes everything from rearranging stages to make them more affordable to scheduling complementary activities or changes that you may need during the Camino.
Some agencies give you a choice of dates to do the Camino. We want you to be able to choose your own departure and arrival dates. We will be the ones to adapt and advise you.
4. Transparency and no surprises
Nobody likes surprises when booking a trip, right?
That's why we give you all the information before you make any payment. For example, if you don't like any of the accommodation you have chosen, we can look for new options for you - although this doesn't usually happen, because we always book the best available accommodation within the category you have selected.
The downside: is it more expensive to book with an agency?
So far we have talked about the advantages of booking your Camino de Santiago with a specialised agency. Now it's time to talk about the downside. Because - let's be honest - booking with an agency means having a bigger budget.
Does this mean it is more expensive? Yes, if you only consider the final bill. But...
...the time you will save on all the formalities, the peace of mind of having the backing of professionals and their knowledge of the terrain, and the personalised attention end up paying off.
We do not say it: say the thousands of pilgrims who each year rely on a specialized agency to have their Camino de Santiago organized.