Toiletries

I LOVE the Eagle Creek bags for incredibly light (Eagle Creek Pack-It Spectrum products) packing and traveling. They are light, clean easily, and dry quickly. I also love this green toiletry kit (although they come in many different colors).

Eagle Creek also offers lots of other shapes and sizes of bags and I used one for my First Aid kit, too!

As for what toiletries to pack...well, it's totally up to you. The basics are going to be plenty.

For me, well, I'm rather low maintenance, so a bar of soap, small GoToobs of shampoo, a toothbrush, toothpaste, razor, Q-Tips, nail clippers, small scissors, and a hotel style mending kit. That was it for me.

I did carry an extra bar of soap because I love my brand and two bars got me through almost the entire 7 weeks I walked.

For the women, the Australians I walked with wore no makeup and seemed to maintain as basic a routine as the men when it came to toiletries.

Of course, the choice is yours. I recommend to keep it light and simple. Weight is an issue and every extra thing in your pack is going to be reevaluated during your Camino--and you most likely will be dumping the things that you don't need in an attempt to let go of every extra ounce. Everyone who has walked says this, but I don't know that most people truly get it until they walk.

Laundry

Life becomes rather simple and directed while walking the Camino de Santiago. At the most basic level, you walk, bike, or ride your horse from one village to the next, find a place to stay, shower, do laundry, and then have something to eat. Part of the daily routine (most days) is laundry.

Everywhere you stay will have laundry facilities. While occasionally you’ll come across a machine or a service for a few Euros, most days you do a quick hand wash of your clothes and hand them out on a line or drying rack.

So, you’ll need the basics: laundry soap and clothespins.

Many use bar laundry soap and a brush to clean their clothes. They travel easily and well and are effective at cleaning clothes. Personally, I chose to fill a GoToob with All laundry detergent. I love GoToob—they have locking lids. (I used them for my shampoo, too). One drop of liquid detergent was more than enough to wash out a pair of paints, underwear, a shirt, and socks: a quick swish, rinse till the water runs clear, a solid ringing, and then up on the line or rack.

It’s worth noting that most hiking clothes now include antimicrobial elements, so they don’t get smelly. While many pilgrims wash clothes everyday (it becomes the routine), you could certainly go a few days between washing. As with all things, this is a personal choice.

For clothes drying, I left behind the clothespins, choosing instead large, diaper-size safety pins. The upside, the safety pins kept the clothes on the line no matter the wind and they could be used for other things. The downside, clothespins keep the clothes in one place on the line while safety pins slide. Maybe a few of both would be a good choice.

Another consideration: you might want to pack a few feet clothes line (or retractable one). There were a few refugios that didn’t have enough space or that didn’t have any lines. Being able to string your own for a few hours could make a difference. The cord could also certainly serve multiple purposes. I didn’t have a retractable line the first time, but it would be a nice addition on my next Camino.