Walking the Camino de Santiago with Fresco Tours

If you’re an independent traveler, you might cringe at the thought of delegating vacation planning or trip planning to a company. I totally get that…because I’m the same way. My husband and I have been planning and traveling independently for over two decades. I wouldn’t say we’re high maintenance, but we are particular about certain logistics and itineraries. My latest book, The Great Escape, is about travel planning. In short, we can do travel planning in our sleep.

But sometimes a dream or an idea evolves into a goal you want to accomplish, and you realize that you don’t necessarily have the skills, resources and/or time to do the preparation to make it happen. That’s where Fresco Tours comes in.

Camino de Santiago_Fresco Tours_forest enroute to Orbenlle

You can read here about why we initially chose to use Fresco Tours back in 2011 when we walked the French route of the Camino de Santiago. When we decided to walk the Portuguese route of the Camino, we quickly realized that we spoke neither Portuguese nor Galician to correspond via email to book accommodations, and the route was less developed than the French route which meant fewer services. It took us about five minutes to decide to save a heck of a lot of time and run-around by once again using Fresco Tours.

I was impressed with them eight years ago, yet they managed to surpass my picky expectations in 2019. By paying such close attention to details, they continue to improve on greatness, which is why they’ve been honored with several Certificates of Excellence from the behemoth travel website TripAdvisor.com.

Walking 100km or more isn’t everyone’s idea of a vacation. For those who choose the Camino as their journey or sabbatical, not everyone likes the idea of walking for more than a week with a huge pack of gear on their backs, sharing hostel facilities with 20 other people, or worrying about where to stay at the end of each day. I have great admiration for the pilgrims who do choose that travel style, but since I prefer to use the Camino for relaxation, introspection and learning about culture, I opt to travel as medieval landowners did along The Way: with someone else hauling their supplies.

Months before you depart, the Fresco Tours team (Alissa was incredible) is there to answer questions, book extra hotel stays before or after your Camino, and connect you to reputable companies if you’re attempting to arrange separate excursions before or after your walk.

From the moment you arrive at the first meeting, everything you can possibly think of is taken care of: all logistics, all meals, all accommodations, all luggage transfers. The only thing that’s left for you to do is decide what minimal supplies you’d like to carry in your day pack. You can use the rest of your brain power for letting your mind wander and your physical stamina for concentrating on each step you take on the changing terrains.

There were 13 of us in our group, with half being over the age of 60 (including 79- and 82-year-olds!). Unless you’re a gym rat, the Camino is physically taxing even without carrying a backload of gear. We had various ailments and injuries along The Way, but Fresco Tours was there to assist throughout the day. When they weren’t curing our ills, they were working behind the scenes to make sure we were well-fed, well-wined and well-rested.

Our guide, Jeffery Barrera, was a true gem. Even before we found out we were his 51st Camino group, we knew that he had plenty of experience. The information he shared was thorough, so we had very few questions about the logistics for each day. He presented entertaining mini-lessons at major cultural and historical sites. I called him our Camino Elf because he’d appear out of nowhere on the trail to check on all of us. Jeffery whipped up sensational picnics. He was both educational and the host with the most!

Our driver, Raul Lopez, was at designated check points. He made sure we had plenty of water and snacks and that all of us were safe and accounted for.

Jeffery and Raul had to manage:

*a forgotten Pilgrim Credential

*three people with particular dietary needs plus one with nut allergies

*one sprained knee, which required a trip to the hospital and the pharmacy

*one monster blister

*a trip to a different pharmacy for a knee brace

*a stop at yet another pharmacy for a nagging cough

Despite these hiccups, every single person in our group said this was a trip of a lifetime, and they left with fond memories. Fresco Tours magically transforms walking 80+ miles into an incredibly fun and rewarding escape from our regular daily lives!

One of the productivity secrets that I teach is to take time out at least once a year from the rat race to give your brain a break and allow your soul to recharge. If walking the Camino is your idea of a getaway, and you prefer not to worry about planning, logistics and hauling supplies, Fresco Tours is the way to go.

Buen Camino!

About Helene Segura, M.A. Ed., CPO®

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