The answer to the question; Do I need cash on the Camino? Is yes. You need pocket money to pay for incidentals and your daily needs. In this blog post, I share my points and experience.
On the Camino you can run into shops, cafés, and more importantly Albergues that do not have a card payment option. When your tired after a long day on the Camino, and you would have to hunt for a ATM or Cash machine you can have a big peace of mind that you have some cash on hand. It will save your butt when you need it most.
Spain, Portugal, France, Europe, home of the debit card
Europe in general is home of the debit card, where credit cards are not used by a lot of people, debit cards are used by all. In Spain, Portugal and France you will be able to pay with card for a big portion of your daily stuff. Credit cards are sometimes not supported however, so I recommend to take a debit card if you have one. On the Camino you dont really need a credit card, unless you are planning to spend a lot of nights in fancier hotels.
I recommend paying as much as possible with card, so you can save your cash for when you really need it. This also logs the payment, for when you need to calculate or look something up at a later date. Which is sometimes nice or even needed.
How much cash to carry on the Camino de Santiago?
I tended to carry around 150 euros in cash with me, and topped it up wherever I could. On the Camino you pass a town, village and larger cities every day. So you can always top up cash at least every week. And most of the time every day. It is however not nice to have to hunt around for an ATM machine, and carrying less than 100 euros I would not recommend.
In the worst case scenario where you maybe have to get a taxi or get surpised in a restaurant where you cannot pay with card. 150 euros should be enough to pay for those situations without a problem in Portugal and Spain. So if you want you can carry more than 150 euros, but I would not recommend less than 100 euros.
Small bills and a few Euro’s in change
Its possible that this is clear as day, but dont have all the cash in big bills. Try to get some smaller bills and not just 50 euro incrementals. Its als nice to keep a few euros in small change on hand. In case you stumble upon the many Donativo stands along the way.
Does it cost money to withdraw Cash on the Camino?
With pretty much any bank it will unfortunatly cost money to withdraw cash. Try to look out for the reputable machines and proper banks for withdrawing cash. As these have the least steep fees for withdrawing. Banks like Santander, ING, and CaixaBank can be used to withdraw cash effortlessly and safely for a small fee. The fee will always be displayed before you withdraw cash.
I recommend double checking with your bank that you are allowed to withdraw cash while abroad, and to make sure you have enough funds on the bank account. The total amount of money required on the Camino varies wildy, but around 30 to 50 euros a day is regular. Depends heavily if you eat out, or go the grocery store route. You can then multiply that with the amount of days on the Camino, the Camino Frances I did in a total of 33 days. I plan on making a seperate article where I discuss the topic of how much it cost to walk the Camino. So look out for that and follow me on Social media.
Where to carry the cash and keep it safe?
Your cash like all your important stuff can be carried in a variety of ways, I just like carrying a lightweight wallet made out of tyvek. And then keeping that on me at all times. Lots of people however carry around a lightweight fanny pack or hip bag to keep their belongings safe. I recommend reading my earlier article on How to keep valuables safe on the Camino if you want to learn more about it.
Are you prepared to take on your Camino? It can be walked on a tight budget or you can treat yourself like royalty. Its up to your budget.