Most blog posts will ramble (I just can’t help myself sometimes), but this will be short and to the point!
Hopefully, the advice given here will be out of date soon, but for now (March 19th), this is how I see bookings panning out. It can be broken down into two simple points. In a nutshell, look at booking for 2022 (and not 2021) but start to think about making that booking now. Let’s break those two down a little.
The Camino will wait – aim for 2022.
I have no idea when I’m going to get vaccinated – nor when I might reach the head of that queue for that matter. We just don’t know how 2021 is going to pan out in Ireland. The mood music at European level upped in tempo this week with the suggestion that, hopefully, some form of a travel “passport” up and running by June. So it’s possible that foreign travel for non-essential reasons will be a reality for the later part of the Camino season, but we just don’t know nor will know for some time to come yet.
If Camino adventures are possible in August, September or October 2021, take that as being better than expected. There’s nothing stopping you from trying to make a last minute booking if that’s how it works out – it will probably be a quiet time for international bookings anyway. If so, I know of a tour company that would be happy to take that phone call or email!
So the advice is to sit tight for now and aim for 2022 – let anything else be a bonus.
But – hurry up for 2022….
2021 is/was a Holy Year – St. James’ feast day falling on a Sunday makes it so. Holy Years usually lead to a spike in numbers (indicated by the yellow bars), though of course Covid has put put the mockers on that.
Acknowledging that so many people really depend on the Camino (and for a variety of reasons), Pope Francis recently decreed that The Año Santo of 2021 will be extended into 2022. There’s no precedence for this in over 1,000 years of Camino history – for the first time ever, St. James’ Day will fall on a Monday in a Holy Year.
Between Holy Year spikes and pent-up demand, 2022 could end up being extremely busy on the Camino. I don’t think I’ve ever failed to find some form of solution to late booking requests but I fear 2022 might be different. This will be especially true for any group bookings – anything that requires more than one or two rooms. 2020 saw pilgrim numbers collapse by 85% because of Covid – that’s a lot of people eager to book again as soon as it’s safe to do so.
Already, Gabriel in Casa Teodora in Arzúa has informed me that there has been a marked increase in interest for 2022. So be warned! The same Gabriel is the man who once informed me that I had slept in Mary McAleese’s bed, but maybe that’s best left for another day…
If you have ambitions for a group to walk the Camino in 2022, I’d urge you to start that conversation now; otherwise you could be looking at having to wait for another year. Schools, parish groups, friends – whatever the group’s connection, it’s already time to start working on it.
So start getting geared up for 2022 asap – you know where to find Camino Groups with any questions you might have!