It is easy and cheap to book a “backpack taxi” on the camino and it is a good solution if you have physical challenges and cannot carry your backpack
Backpack taxi or in Spanish “Mochila Taxi” is an accessible and cheap arrangement allowing pilgrims to have their backpacks sent ahead of them from town to town.
I was well prepared for my first caminos with no health issues. Backpack taxi service was not something I had prepared myself to use. But in the fall of 2018 I suddenly had to resort to this.
I found it difficult to accept that I had ended up here….
Who is behind this backpack taxi service?
The Spanish postal services, Correos, began this service. There are several smaller providers as well and you can find those on the various dormitories’ and hotels’ homepage. On Camino Portugues tuitrans.com is one of the most used companies.
I chose Correos and paid 15 euros for 4 stops – each of around 25 kms. Read more about Correos’ baggage transport here and book online.
If you want to stay in private dormitories, they sometimes include baggage transport in their prices – look for “Transporte de equipaje”
How does it actually work?
In the morning you place a note with your name and destination on your backpack and deliver it at the agreed pick up place – either where you are sleeping or at an agreed bar in town. Later that day the postal services pick it up and deliver it in the next town that you will be arriving at – your backpack will arrive at 2.30 PM at the latest.
What about the things you may need during the day?
If you are having your baggage transported it is really good idea to have a smaller and lighter “day backpack” (10-15 L) with you to carry your most essential things. Remember that although this backpack is small and light, it has to be good one and has to be carried properly when you are walking so many kilometers with it.
Day backpack vs. regular camino backpack. Saving a lot of weight ….
Do public dormitories provide backpack transport as well?
No. You cannot rely on having your backpack picked up from the dormitory. The mail man usually knows the public albergues well and is informed whether they accept backpacks to be picked up or not. If they don’t accept it, the mail man makes an agreed Plan B with you, typically with the closest bar as pickup point. A good tip is to enquire to the bar’s opening hours, so you know when you can start your walk. Usually they are open at 7AM. Are you an A-person and prefer getting started earlier, then this may delay you and limit you a bit, when staying at public dormitories.
What are the downsides of having your backpack transported?
Unless injured I will not choose to have my backpack transported again – even though everything went really well.
Part of my freedom disappeared as I was forced to stick with my set plan and stops, and I also had to communicate with the transport via mail all day. There was also an extra hassle of having to rearrange the day backpack every morning, and that kept disturbing me.
Can I change the stops when I use the backpack taxi?
I changed my plans several times and it was no problem. I just wrote that I had walked an extra 8 kilometers that day and would carry the backpack myself the extra way, and the mail man just picked it up the next day at the place that I was.
When I wanted to extend the services an extra day, I emailed them in the evening, and their quick response told me to just pay for that extra day by putting the money in an envelope that I could get at the bar. Easy, right?
Where on the camino can I have the backpack transported?
Are you travelling the camino through a travel agent it is usually possible to add baggage transport, regardless which camino you chose to walk. Beware that you pay much more when booking this way that booking yourself.
If you book through for example Correos, they cover all larger caminos – however only from Roncesvalles on the French route, from Tui on the Portuguese central route and from Ourense on the Via de la Plata route. Correos does not cover Variante Espiritual on Camino Portugues. But have a look at Tuitrans – they cover both coastal, central and Variante Espiritual.
A tough decision
It was a tough decision for me and also an ambivalent one when I had to resort to the backpack taxi. Having my worn down, old and beloved camino backpack live a life in the fast lane of “Mochila Taxi” was hard.
However it started in the summer of 2018, when I had to have my husband, Torben, carry my backpack along with his own, because of the unbearable pain in my heel from a plantar fasciitis injury. It was so loving of him and my heart melted.
The day after we had to return home. Three months and one hell of a heel infection I gave in to the fact that, if I were to walk the planned camino in the fall, I would have to use the services of mochila taxi.
I had many thoughts about it as I have always felt that my backpack was a part of my camino, reminding me of how I was feeling. It was much more than a mere container for my physical needs and gear. It was also a picture and mirror of all the experiences, memories, patterns and dilemmas I was carrying with me through my life.
Read more here “A pilgrim with two backpacks”
Before we left I really couldn’t imagine what it would be like to be separated from my backpack. Would it mean anything? Would I miss it badly? What happened was that the camino opened a whole new dimension inside me – regarding handling life’s ups and downs and about carrying each other’s burdens in a family.
More about this in my article on “The camino in good times and bad times”
Pippi slows down
Having the courage to trek with a small backpack was mildly put a change in a very dramatic way for me. I have always been Pippi, and rarely allowed myself any kind for weakness or vulnerability. However now after struggling for a year with a knee problem and now an injured heel, it was necessary to slow down and give myself care and allow myself to sit down and relax.
Both my physiotherapist and doctor gave me the green light to walk the camino, but I luckily also listened to my foot. “Walk slow, listen, feel me – and kindly book a mochila taxi?”. That is what I did and even then, my mochila taxi camino was the toughest camino to date. It kept me alert both physically and mentally and it has taught me to listen to my body!
A trolley is an alternative for backpack transport. This French couple are in their seventies, and they have walked the camino for 14 years with their Carrix trolley. It is super flexible and durable. It carries 2 x 10 kilos. A good alternative, if you need less strain on your back, but want to be free of bagage transport arrangements.
Se more about Carrix here