JWT Travel and Travel Awakens have launched a unique Wellness Camino tour, aimed at those looking for personal growth and meaningful change while walking the trails to Santiago de Compostela.
Elena from JWT Travel chats with Sonia Cruz Oro, founder of Travel Awakens and creator of Journeys of Self-discovery programme, to find out about this very special transformational experience.
A certified coach with a degree in both Psychology and Leadership, Sonia will be the coach on our Travel Awakens Wellness Camino tour, departing this October, helping people discover the truly meaning and purpose of their travel to Santiago.
- Welcome Sonia, what is the Wellness Camino and who is this experience designed for?
I like to define the Wellness Camino as a Camino catalyst. It is specially designed to turn the volume up to all those benefits and transformational powers that the Camino has itself and it is designed for people who are looking for a positive change in their life, people who are at a crossroads in their life, looking for clarity or maybe even looking for healing.
Nowadays we are always busy, there is stress all around. We are connected through technology but we are somehow disconnected from who we really are and what we want. These people know that they have to invest in themselves and they are ready to do that. They are going to step away from busy-ness and all this noise that has been around to give themselves time to focus on themselves and their well being and the main question is ‘how can I make the most of this investment?
- How did the idea of the Wellness Camino come about? What inspired you to create this special pilgrimage?
I’m originally from Spain and I always heard about the Camino since childhood. I did it myself several times and since my background is in Psychology, I was always interested in speaking with pilgrims and asking them about their reasons to be there.
We were having this meaningful conversations and I was surprised by how many people could arrive at the end of the Camino at the Cathedral in Santiago de Compostela and say ‘yes, I enjoyed the experience, it was a great experience but now I go back home and what do I do?’ Because every day they were waking up with the only purpose of walking about 20ish kilometres each day, arriving to the next stage and the next and at the end was ‘well, what now?’
So I realised there was something missing there. But the problem came from much earlier because they were not preparing for the experience with intention. They weren’t walking every day intentionally. Their only concern was about how many kilometres were left to arrive and thinking about the future, when they arrive, how many days are left.
It wasn’t their fault, as we are trained to behave like this, we are programmed by our society and all the responsibilities, running from one place to another, it’s difficult to be present. These changes, this clarity that people are looking for happens during the Camino.
If you are waiting for fireworks when you arrive at the Cathedral you are going to be disappointed, it is important to be prepared and be clear about what you want to get from this experience and have this intention in mind and be present but also the other problem was that emotion is also an important factor if we are looking for change. If the experience doesn’t move you, it is not going to change you.
You would be shocked by how many people walk the Camino and don’t even know who Saint James is, his life, they have an idea but I’m not talking just from a religious sense but from a historic point of view. What do you expect when you arrive at this powerful moment, when you walk down to the crypt to the sepulchre of St James? They don’t understand what they are seeing. They just see an ark and this makes me sad because at this moment when people are queuing you shouldn’t be impatient to arrive, you should be shaking with emotion because this was the moment you were waiting for.
All this made me realise there was something missing, people were doing the Camino with this meaningful intention but they were missing the preparation and the incorporation of these changes and that’s why I decided to create the Wellness Camino.
“If the experience doesn’t move you, it is not going to change you” – Sonia from Travel Awakens
- That’s great, Sonia, and what sets the Wellness Camino from a traditional Camino pilgrimage?
The Wellness Camino is not only a 7 day pilgrimage you will find with other tours. It starts well before departure, with a preparation where we are going to get crystal clear about what people want out of this experience so we can approach it with more purpose and make it more meaningful. There is the incorporation afterwards because if you don’t take the time reflect on the benefits and the changes that happened during this experience chances are you are going to fall back to old ways of thinking or habits and if you are looking for lasting change we need to do something about that.
There is preparation and incorporation but also the experience itself is designed around the idea of the ‘hero’s journey’. The concept of hero’s journey is very popular for movies and books, like Harry Potter the Lord of the Rings. There is a hero that leaves the comfort of their home and embarks on an adventure into the unknown and then has to overcome challenges, s/he also meets allies and eventually comes back home, changed. And he has these benefits and gifts. This is not only in movies and books but also has been well researched by Professor Joseph Campbell for example where he explains why people change as a result of adventure experiences.
We base our experience on this concept and also because today travel is too accessible it has lost all its meaning, it’s too easy to travel but in the past when pilgrims were doing the Camino de Santiago they didn’t know if they would go back home, it was dangerous.
We are going to prepare from this perspective and when you prepare for this theme I’m going to show you how to make the most of it
- To finish, tell us a little bit about the trip itself, for instance, about the Camino route you will be walking.
We are going to be travelling from the 15th October, 7 nights and we are going to be doing the Coastal Camino Portugues from Vigo to Santiago. We are going to walk from stage to stage staying in a different accommodation each day, they are all 3 and 4-star quality and we won’t have to carry our big backpacks as they will be moved each day for us. So we don’t have to worry about the weight we just need to be present and enjoy the experience.
The preparation starts in September so we can meet all the participants online and we will do all this before travelling and of course, after the trip we will have this ‘incorporation’ until November so it’s a full experience, a comprehensive tour.
- Thank you so much Sonia for chatting with us today and we wish you a Buen Camino!
The Wellness Camino 2023 runs from September to November 2023, with the trip taking place from 15th-22nd October.
For more information and details go to: WELLNESS CAMINO 2023 or contact the JWT Travel experts.Contact Us