When Jamie and I decided to walk the Camino Inglés, one of several route options of Spain’s famous pilgrims’ way the Camino del Santiago, we made two choices that changed the way we plan to travel. First, we decided to carry our packs on the pilgrimage rather than have them transferred each day. And second, we chose to fly into Santiago de Compostela and continue to Ferrol, our starting point, by train.
Ryanair offered attractively priced round trip tickets from Valencia to Santiago – about €111 total for the 90 minute flights that took us clear across Spain and back again. And their luggage policy is geared toward micro-luggage and even tinier carry-on’s, so this was the perfect airline to make us pack light for the 5 days we’d be walking more than 120 km on the Camino Inglés.
The Ryanair baggage rules allow one personal carryon item and that can be a small backpack as long as it fits under the seat in front of you. So that’s what we aimed for.
Our First RyanAir Flight
This was our first experience with Ryanair and we’d heard stories of their gauntlet of fee add-ons and draconian strictness. Naturally, we were a little nervous about the size of our daypacks. So nervous we ended up packing even lighter than we ever thought possible. Our packs ended up weighing less than 5 kg (11 pounds) each. Essentially, we each carried a single change of clothing to cover the range of temperatures we expected 13C – 25C (55F – 78F)
Since I was a newbie, I worried. What if I needed to check my daypack? So I set up a stuff sack with all my personal items – those things I would ordinarily carry in my purse. Things like my wallet, phone, train tickets, etc. I certainly didn’t want these items winding up in the hold of the plane.
The roving Ryanair gate attendant indicated that our bags were “small” and wouldn’t be a problem, but I was firmly instructed to put my stuff sack of personal items inside the daypack. When they allow you to carry on one personal item, they mean ONE personal item.
It turns out that we had Ryanair’s micro baggage policy to thank for the eight-hours every day that we spent walking with lightweight daypacks. A couple of the days we walked were so long (up to 34 km), I’m not sure I would have managed with a heavier pack. And having only one change of clothes was no problem on the Camino.
The couple additional days we spent in Santiago de Compostela after our walk had me wishing for some fresh clothing, but not enough to have hauled them more than 120 km on my back.
And when we saw the size of the backpacks carried by others and imagined how much they must have weighed, it just reinforced to us that going light on “The Way” is the best way.
So, thanks Ryanair, we’ll be traveling with micro baggage on most of our future journeys.
Jamie’s Packing List
- 1 pr walking shorts
- 1 pr travel pants
- 2 wool long sleeve shirts
- 2 tee shirts, 1 long sleeve
- 2 pr underwear
- shortie pj’s
- 4 pr socks
- fleece jacket
- rain jacket
Toiletries: insect repellant*, razor, toothbrushes & toothpaste, ibuprofen, microfiber towels*
Susan’s Packing List
- 2 pr convertible pants
- 2 long sleeve shirts
- 2 tee shirt
- 2 pr underwear
- 2 pr socks
- 1 pr sandals
- sun visor
- puffy jacket
- rain jacket
Toiletries: sunscreen, face wash, moisturizer, lip balm, brush, small scissors, moleskin, reading glasses, shampoo*
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Susan Carey retired in 2017 after a long business career most recently in animal welfare leadership. She writes about her experiences as a recent retiree living in Spain. Susan lives in Valencia, Spain with her husband, Jamie, and the senior pets they brought with them from the United States.