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How to Create a Haphazard One-Sheet

August 5, 2010

I’m heading to the Willamette Writers Conference in Portland, OR today, and I just finished printing out all the promo documents I will hopefully run out of as agents and publishers clamor to throw money at me and my Camino memoir. Hopefully.

Below is a my one-sheet, which I learned about yesterday. After much research I think I have  a good grasp as to what makes up a one-sheet, so maybe this will be a helpful example or template for other prospective writers. It should also give you a bit more info regarding what my Camino memoir will include. (Turns out it’s going to include massive wine consumption.)

The bad news is I only learned about one-sheets yesterday. That means I had just a few hours to whip something up in Word with my minimal design skills, then throw words haphazardly at what is supposed to be the most professional looking document a writer produces.


Well, as this will be my first writing conference, I’m fully prepared to take my knocks and learn as much as possible. Without further ado, my one-sheet:


High Quality Video Brings Camino to Life

August 2, 2010

The host won’t become the next Ryan Seacrest anytime soon*, but the high production quality of this 6.5 minute intro to the Camino really brings the pilgrimage to life. The fact that the host is walking the route himself really adds to the effect. Watching it, I couldn’t help thinking “Yes! That’s what the Camino actually looks and feels like.”

SO if you want to get a good sense for the different terrain and towns along The Way, or if you just want to step back into nostalgia, watch the video already!

Watch the HD version here:

*Be sure to catch the punchline to the question “Why do cows wear bells?” around the halfway mark on the video. It’s cheesetacular.

The Under 20 lb Camino Packing List

July 28, 2010

In my last post I gave you my 3 keys to keeping the weight off (your backpack, not your backside), and in this post I’m going to show you exactly how to do it. By sacrificing the unnecessities, getting the lite version, and buying after I flew, I was able to trim my pack down to a reasonable 17 lb. That 17 lb easily could have been 13-14 lb had I made some minor adjustments, but anything under 20 lb should keep your back from rebelling too much. Follow the links to see what lightweight options I chose.*

ORIGINAL CAMINO PACKING LIST_________________________________

Big Items:

Stuck in a fence

Even a light backpack can get you stuck in a fence

  • lightweight backpack – My pack weighs just 29 oz. while providing great support. I recommend getting fitted for a pack at an outdoor store.Your shoulders will get sore on the Camino, but a well-fitted pack can minimize thediscomfort.
  • lightweight sleeping bag – My bag weighs barely more than a pound. Sure, it’s only rated to 45 degrees F, but you’ll be sleeping indoors.
  • travel pillow – Pillows are usually provided in hostels, but very helpful for plane/train travel. Mine weighs 12 oz. and rolls up to a relatively small size.


  • 2 lightweight t-shirts, one cotton t-shirt – For all your clothing, lightweight is key. Additionally, anti-microbial (less smelly), moisture-wicking (less sweaty), and quick-drying are huge bonuses. Most travel outfitters carry shirts of this type, but if you want a good combo of style and practicality, Prana clothing is super chic, though a bit pricey.
  • micro-fleece jacket – Fleece is both warm and lightweight. Layer it with a water-resistant, wind-cutting jacket to get complete protection on cold, wet, and/or windy days.
  • lightweight rain jacket – I went with a breathable, wind-cutting Marmot jacket weighing 8 oz.
  • 2 pairs of lightweight shorts – I snagged some shorts/swimming trunks – multi-use ftw!
  • lightweight cargo pants with zip-off shorts – You might want 2 pairs of pants and only1 pair of shorts if you’re walking Oct-April.
  • Shoes on a wire in Santiago

    Don't buy shoes you hate so much you throw them onto a telephone wire once you reach Santiago

    beanie – I didn’t see one other person wearing a beanie, but it worked wonders for me on cold mornings.

  • Footwear: FiveFingers and flip-flops – FiveFingers are a somewhat extreme option, but definitely an example of getting the lite version. This also eliminated my need for socks. (1 lb total)
  • long-sleeved cotton shirt
  • 3 pairs of cotton underwear


  • water bottle – Get a bottle you can hook onto an easily accessible area of your pack. Taking off your back to get your water bottle out will get old by mile two.
  • packing cubes – Packing cubes help separate your clothes and other items into different compartments for easy access. Not a required item, but the convenience to cost/space/weight ratio is impressive.
  • small lock – The Camino felt very safe in terms of theft, but don’t let feelings get in the way of precaution.
  • 2 books and a journal – Two books should tide you over until you can find an English-language bookstore in one of the bigger cities: Pamplona, Logrono, Burgos, Leon, and Santiago to name a few.
  • 2 pens – I ran out of ink three times from all my journal scribblings, but pens aren’t hard to come by.
  • toiletries kit – razor, deodorant, tweezers, toothbrush, toothpaste, bug repellent… adjust necessities to gender
  • Dr. Bronner’s all-in-one soap – I used Dr. Bronner’s to wash my body, hair, clothes, and anything else that needed washing. Heck, you can even use it to wash your teeth! (I’m not that hardcore.) A great example of a multi-purpose item. My favorite type is peppermint.
  • microfiber towel and wash cloth – Microfiber towels save space and drying time.
  • small tote bag – The tote I use weighs less than 2 oz. Great carrying option for short trips away from your hostel.
  • earplugs – Most earplugs don’t work for me. These do. Don’t let a roomful of snoring pilgrims keep you awake.
  • pack mule

    If you need a pack mule, you're doing it wrong

    safety pins – For hanging your clothes when clothes pins aren’t available.

  • headlamp – The average pilgrim wakes up pretty early, which means waking up in the dark — especially in fall, winter, and early spring. A headlamp can serve as a flashlight as well.
  • alarm clock – I used a phone, sans calling ability, to keep track of time and wake up.
  • camera
  • first-aid/blisters kit
  • wallet/passport
  • sunglasses
  • sunscreen

Total weight: about 17 lbs

Weight of big items (backpack, sleeping bag, pillow): under 4 lbs

Weight of clothing (including footwear): under 6 lbs

HINDSIGHT CAMINO PACKING LIST ________________________________


  • Eating yogurt without a spoon

    My girlfriend also mastered the art of spoonless yogurt ingestion

    packframe poncho – They make you look a little bit like the front end of a two-person camel costume, but you’ll be glad you have a packframe poncho at the first sign of rain – I didn’t have one the first time I was caught in a downpour, and it left me cold and miserable. The next day I bought a poncho and was surprised by how little room it took up.

  • corkscrew – Not all hostels have one, and your bottle of wine will mock you if you have no way to reach its delicious innards.
  • utensils – Although I became expert at eating yogurt without a spoon, I could have spared myself the rigorous learning curve by bringing a set of reusable utensils.


  • 3 pairs of cotton underwear lightweight underwear – Maybe I wouldn’t have gone for the skimpy man panties (manties) I saw most European men wearing, but cotton boxers took up more space than I expected and took forever to dry. I often had to pin them to my backpack to day the day after washing – not an attractive look. Instead, go for a moisture-wicking and quick-drying option.
  • cotton long-sleeve shirt, cotton t-shirt lightweight long-sleeve shirt and t-shirt – Though I did buy a few articles of lightweight clothing, I thought throwing in a few tradition cotton/poly blend shirts wouldn’t hurt. It did. Washing a sweaty cotton shirt is no fun, and drying takes ages. A moisture-wicking, anti-microbial shirt works wonders for quick-drying and holding the stink at bay. Rely on layering: a t-shirt, long-sleeve shirt, lightweight fleece jacket, and lightweight rain jacket should be the most you ever need. If you’re still cold, you’re probably not in Spain.


I did pretty well here. I took the lightweight packing challenge seriously and only ended up with a few necessary changes and additions, but no items I would consider unnecessities. If there are changes/additions/subtractions you would make to this list, I’d love to see them in the comment section!

YOU MAY ALSO WANT TO BRING___________________________________

  • Camino guidebook – I didn’t bring one and I enjoyed the mystery of not knowing exactly what was around each corner,  but if you want to know what to expect here’s a great list of books that won’t take up too much space.
  • CamelBak hydration system – I prefer water bottles, but the convenience and carrying capacity make this hydration alternative very appealing, especially in the sweltering summer months.
  • Sun hat – If your dome is bare or your skin is sensitive to the sun, a quality hat is vital.
  • Hiking poles – I used a walking stick occasionally, but for the most part I believe hiking poles are an unnecessary hassle. Anything that changes your natural gait is trouble on a long walk. As with prescription medication and cake: use only as needed.
  • Moneybelt A moneybelt is an excellent option for your passport and credit cards, though I confidently rely on the humble pocket for my security needs.
  • Hiking shoes/socks – I went for an extremely minimalist approach to footwear and loved it, but near-barefoot isn’t for everyone. Practice in whatever footwear you plan on using for at least a month prior to the pilgrimage. That said, I’m entirely convinced – from research and experience – that lighter is better. Go for lightweight hiking shoes over the bulky, clunky alternatives. I’ll discuss my personal story regarding minimal footwear in future posts.

Lightweight packing keywords:

moisture-wicking, microfiber, quick-drying, anti-microbial, multi-purpose or -use, waterproof, breathable

* Note: I relied heavily on my local REI, but many other retailers provide the same or similar options to those I listed (Rick Steves’ travel store is another great online option) By all means shop around for the best price.

The 3 Keys to Fitting Your Life in a Backpack

July 23, 2010

Want to walk the Camino with a backpack weighing less than 20 lbs? It’s more than possible, and your back will thank you for taking the necessary steps to ensure you don’t herniate a disk.

I can’t stress enough how important it is to keep your backpack light on a long pilgrimage like the Camino; next to foot care, it is probably deserves the most attention when planning your trip. Luckily it’s not too difficult to accomplish an under 20 lb load. Use these 3 strategies to help get the weight-monkey off your back:

1) Sacrifice the unnecessities

Don't end up hunched over (and going the wrong direction): pack light!

You don’t need 10 pairs of underwear just in case. Underwear can be washed. You don’t need your hairdryer or formal clothing. Everyone on the Camino looks a bit grungy after a few days, and the locals don’t expect pilgrims to wear tuxedos to dinner. During the first week of walking, many pilgrims can be seen abandoning their extra possessions like they’re aboard a sinking ship. They’ll leave expensive thermal jackets, books, and shoes behind at hostels, hoping to relieve their aching backs. Trust me, chucking off extra weight will become a rewarding hobby by day two.

2) Get the Lite version

Go to the travel section of your local Target or Wal-Mart and you’ll see travel versions of already lightweight items – toothbrushes, wallets, shampoo. How much weight is a tiny toothbrush going to save you anyway? Half an ounce? Instead focus on the big weight/space hogs on your packing list. This would include clothing, footwear, and your sleeping bag. (Nearly everyone sleeps indoors on the Camino; you don’t need a bag tested for the weather conditions at the summit of Mt. Everest.)

3) Buy after you fly

Spain is not a 3rd world country. They have clothes, food, and drugstores aplenty. Don’t worry about running out of toiletries or not being able to find Ziploc bags; Spain’s Supermercados have almost everything your local grocery store has, just on a smaller scale. English-language sections of bookstores can be found in the larger cities.

Perhaps the most important pilgrim’s resource of all? Pharmacies. They are everywhere. When you run out of whatever your using to treat your achy muscles and blistered feet, look for the green plus sign. You’ll get medicine that is as good or better than what you’ll find in the states, so leave the medicine cabinet at home.

In my next post I’ll get into more concrete details on exactly what to pack and where to find it.  I’ll show you my Original Camino Packing List, my Hindsight Camino Packing List (which changes my original list based on my pilgrimage experiences/horrible mistakes), and a few extra items you may want to consider packing. If your antsy to get started, check out the other Camino resources I linked to in my first post – the Camino forums are an especially good resource for packing help.

Martin Sheen in Film About the Camino

July 20, 2010

A movie starring Martin Sheen and filmed along the French route of the Camino de Santiago is currently in post-production. You can watch the trailer for the film, titled The Way, by heading over to the official website. The only embeddable YouTube trailer I could find was dubbed over in Spanish:

Although not the best movie title for easy internet searching (try Googling “The Way”), I’m stoked to see how this turns out. The trailer’s a little cheesy, but in the hands of a fine actor in Sheen, I’m sure it has a chance to be a poignant film. Honestly, I just can’t wait to point at the screen and yell “I remember that place!” or “A pilgrim wouldn’t say that!” or “Don’t eat the garlic soup!”

The Way is a ways away from finding its way toward theaters, but all signs point to a late 2010 release. Will Sheen’s film spark more mainstream interest in the Camino stateside? There’s only one The Way to find out…

NEXT POST: Fitting Your Life in a Backpack

Welcome to Walking the Camino

July 10, 2010

First, a little about me and why I started this blog:

In a four-month span in 2009, I was laid off from my job, underwent knee surgery, and lost my father. Needing time to heal both emotionally and physically I escaped to Spain, embarking on a 500-mile pilgrimage known as El Camino de Santiago – walking the entire route (almost) barefoot.

But that’s merely what led me to the Camino. This blog is more about you.

Walking the Camino‘s goal is threefold:

1) Spread the word about the Camino de Santiago pilgrimage. The Camino is an unparalleled traveling opportunity: safe yet adventurous, thrifty yet fulfilling, foreign yet accessible. So why didn’t I hear about it until I was 25 years old? It’s practically a crime how few Americans know about this amazing pilgrimage. There are many great Camino resources out there (,,, and I hope to put my own unique spin on the experience.

2) Provide helpful information on how to make your pilgrimage both easier, and more experimental. This will include everything from packing lists to more experimental suggestions such as, you guessed it, walking as close to barefoot as possible.

3) Shamelessly promote my Camino memoir/guidebook Walking: It’s Like Riding A Bike. Okay, so this part of the blog is more about me. My book will contain everything this blog hopes to offer as well as a more personal look at my day-to-day adventures along the Camino. Through my experiences I hope you will gain the confidence to know that you too can walk across an entire country, and that it’ll be ridiculously fun and rewarding to do so. I’m currently about halfway done with the first draft of the book, and frantically looking for unsuspecting agents/publishers to pounce on and harangue until they fall in love with my book proposal.

NEXT POST: The Camino goes Hollywood

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