No more suitcases, says 11 Albergues on the Camino Frances

Eleven albergues within the Camino Frances has announced that they will implement a new measure from around the third week of June.
The eleven traditional Jacobean shelters are prohibiting suitcases in the hostels managed by their associations, agreeing to be militant against what they term “attacks suffered by the route”.

Unprecedented May numbers of pilgrims

According to their press release there is an extraordinary level of pilgrimage at the moment, unprecedented in a May month of the last ten years. They are advising municipalities among the Camino to be prepared to open municipal facilities such as sports centres or other similar spaces, which some towns have reportedly already done.

Federation meeting

The decision to ban suitcases from these albergues was taken during a federation meeting in the French town Saint Jean Pied de Port.

“We are traditional Jacobean shelters that work for and with the pilgrimage to Santiago. Pilgrims travel with their belongings in a backpack, while tourists have their suitcases, which have no logical place on a natural path that is done on foot, by bike, or on horseback.”
“There are other accommodations that cater to the needs of tourists and we do not want to lose the essence that makes the Camino de Santiago a unique and worldwide phenomenon,” explains the French Way Federation.
They will also prepare a set of regulations that also emphasizes the need to bring your sleeping bag to carry out the pilgrimage in a traditional manner.

Locations of the albergues

The eleven albergues are:

  • Estella,
  • Los Arcos,
  • Canfranc (Aragon),
  • Logrono,
  • Najera,
  • Santo Dominga de la Calzeda,
  • Burgos,
  • Astorga,
  • Foncebadon,
  • Acebo and
  • Ponferrada.

One pilgrim, Susan Peacock that are currently doing the Camino Frances said on Facebook that the number of large suitcases being transported along the Camino and filling up the reception areas are unbelievable, especially with large groups booking most of the beds in an albergue.
This trend, along with more people adding on a leg of the Camino during their European holiday and increased usage of luggage transport in general are thought to be responsible for the tougher stance.

Confusion about the wording

Some confusion currently exists regarding the Associations’ use of the word “maleta” which can mean luggage in general and would then mean that these albergues are not accepting any luggage transfers at all.
For the moment it would be a good idea, if you are staying at these albergues and want to use luggage transfer services, to make sure that your luggage is not in a suitcase and to double check whether they accept backpacks via luggage transfer.

More to follow suit?

Some further albergues might follow this trend. The Albergue Villares de Orbigo for instance posted on their Facebook page that they fully support the initiative and that unless the suitcase is needed for medical reasons they will from now on notify guests during the reservation process that suitcases are banned.
“With this measure we hope to prevent reservations from tourist pilgrims who keep beds occupied for traditional pilgrims with backpacks.”.
They clarified that “using transportation services like NCS or Jacotrans is of course still possible but only for backpacks”.

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