Who This Trip is For
For years, parents have asked when we’re going to offer an adventure just for them. We’re happy to say: the time has finally come! This 2-week trip combines physical challenge, natural beauty, space for personal reflection, and extensive opportunities for connecting with other parents of self-directed young people.
Specifically, we created this trip for…
Parents excited for the challenge of a big hiking trip. We’ll be following the Camino del Norte (one of the Camino de Santiago pilgrimage routes) through the beautiful Basque Country of Spain’s north coast. The average hiking day will be 9 miles—with a few 15-mile days at the end—with a good amount of elevation change. You’ll hike a total of 88 miles across lush fields, golden beaches, tiny towns, and big cities, with terrain varying between dirt trail, gravel road, and pavement. This trip is appropriate for both experienced hikers and novice hikers who have adequately prepared for the physical challenge (more details below). This is not your typical Spanish vacation on the beaches of San Sebastián. While we’ll have certainly have time to relax, we’re going to earn it by hiking our butts off each morning. You’ll arrive at each destination tired and happy, having deserved the tapas and vino that will soon be coming your way.
Parents who embrace self-directed learning for their kid(s). This is a trip for parents who are serious about self-directed learning. It doesn’t matter how old your kids are (or if they’ve left the house already). It doesn’t matter what label you use (e.g. homeschooler, unschooler). What matters most is that you are passionate and committed to raising children who think for themselves, possess significant control of their learning, and enjoy large amounts of personal freedom and responsibility.
Parents who embrace self-directed learning for themselves. On Unschool Adventures trips we give our participants large amounts of free time to co-create their experiences. This goes for parents as well as teens. If you’re looking for a micro-managed trip where every hour is filled with a different scheduled activity—this is not the trip for you! On this adventure, Unschool Adventures will provide the “container” (i.e. the overall schedule), bring together a group of awesome parents, and leave the rest up to you. Your free time is yours to use as you see fit.
Parents seeking community. We’ll be spending a lot of time around each other for two weeks as we hike, eat, and share lodging together. This is an opportunity to connect with, learn from, and share your experiences with other parents with overlapping core values. Please apply to join this trip if you are enthusiastic about a community experience! You’ll also have the chance to meet interesting fellow hikers from across Europe and the world.
Life on the Trail
On this trip, life will be simple: each morning we’ll depart around 8am, hike for 4-8 hours, check into our next lodging, and spend the afternoon/evening relaxing, conversing, and eating. Repeat for 13 nights!
For lodging, we’ll be staying in double occupancy (two bed) rooms in local hotels, which are sometimes called albergues, pensions, or hostels in Spain (don’t worry, they’re not dirty youth hostels, they’re very nice). You’ll be free (and encouraged) to switch your roommates throughout the trip.
Breakfasts and dinners will be provided by Unschool Adventures; lunches and snacks are provided by you. The typical Spanish breakfast is a modest meal of tostadas (toast with jam) and cafe (espresso or cappuccino); these will be provided by our lodging or prepared by Unschool Adventures staff. Dinners are larger meals with a variety of offerings—meat, seafood, pasta, salad, etc.—and we will almost always eat out at a local restaurant.
At many of our dinners, Blake will facilitate discussions about parenting, learning, education, motivation, leading an adventurous life that inspires your kids to do the same, and other topics that the parents of self-directed learners often face. These will be casual conversations—and we’ll be careful not to let them dominate the trip—but they’ll definitely be a recurring theme. We hope that you’ll bring your own experiences and opinions to the table!
We’ll have a few rest days strategically spaced throughout the trip that will give you a chance to rest your feet and further explore some local areas.
June 21-22: Meet in Spain
- June 21st: Meet the group at San Sebastian airport (EAS) and move into our lodging in Irun. (If you’re already in the area, you may simply meet us at the lodging that evening.)
- June 22nd: We’ll do a brief orientation, make any necessary last-minute preparations, learn a little Spanish, and get plenty of sleep for tomorrow’s big first day.
June 23 – June 25: Hiking Stage 1
- Irun to Pasai Donibane (16km/10mi)
- Pasai Donibane to San Sebastian (10km/6mi)
- rest day in San Sebastian (0km)
June 26 – June 28: Hiking Stage 2
- San Sebastian to Zarautz (18km/11mi)
- Zarautz to Zumaia (15km/9mi)
- rest day in Zumaia (0km)
June 29 – July 3: Hiking Stage 3
- Zumaia to Deba (really: Ermita de Calvario) (18km/11mi)
- Deba to Markina-Xemein (18km/11mi)
- Markina-Xemein to Gernika (25km/15mi)
- Gernika to Bilbao (25km/15mi)
- rest day in Bilbao (0km) – optional visit to Guggenheim Museum
July 4: Adios!
- Depart independently from Bilbao airport (BIO)—or do whatever you want! You’re full-grown adults, after all.
Note: Our hiking route is excellently served by trains and buses. In case of illness, injury, or severe weather, you will almost always have a public transport option to the next night’s destination.
Frequently Asked Questions
Please read our general FAQ in addition to these trip-specific FAQ.
Who’s leading this adventure?
The leaders of this trip are Blake Boles and Carole Sanchez. Both Blake and Carole speak Spanish, and Blake holds a current Wilderness First Responder certification. Learn more about the leaders.
What are the extra costs on this trip?
Beyond the program fee, participants are responsible for:
- Their own transportation to San Sebastian airport (which is the the closest airport to the city of Irun, which is our meeting point) and from Bilbao (at the end of the trip)
- Lunches, drinks, snacks, and other incidentals (estimated @ $10-$20/day)
What do I need to bring?
All you’ll need is a light daypack with a few changes of clothing, water bottles (2-liter capacity suggested), and toiletries. You won’t need a sleeping bag, because we’ll be sleeping in real beds each night. The less you bring, the better, because you’ll be carrying everything with you each day! On our first full day we’ll do a communal gear check and ship any unneeded items ahead to Bilbao.
How do I prepare for long-distance hiking?
To be successful in the hiking section, you should be prepared to hike on uneven terrain for 10-15 miles a day while carrying a light backpack. While there are public transport options between our destinations in case of illness, minor injury, or severe weather, our intention is to only use those in necessary circumstances. Please plan on joining us for the entire hike! Here’s what you need to know:
- Come with a pair of broken-in hiking shoes. These should have good grip on the bottom, but they don’t need to be full-on boots. For some people, running shoes are fine; for others, mid-level hiking shoes will be best. What’s most important is that you find a pair of shoes way in advance and do multiple practice hikes in them. If they’re comfortable, supportive, and don’t give you blisters, then you’re good to go!
- Before departing for the trip, you should be able to hike two 15-mile days with elevation change, back-to-back, with a light daypack (10 pounds). If you can do that, then you can handle the hikes on this trip! (Trip leaders will provide advice for working up to this in the months before the trip.)
- Most people can walk 10-15 miles on flat terrain, given enough time. But our trails have a lot of up and down! So your preparation should definitely include hills. It will be important that you strengthen your ankles and knees before joining the trip.
- If you’re a faster hiker, feel free to hike ahead and meet us at the next meeting spot (or day’s final destination). If you’re a slower hiker, we’ll make sure that you’re never left behind! You may hike with anyone you like, or alone.
What kind of weather should I expect?
June/July is a great time in Spain! Most days will be sunny with highs in the 70s and lows around 60. There is always the chance of rain, but mostly it will be t-shirt-and-shorts weather.
Can you accommodate my special diet?
Yes! Vegetarian, vegan, and gluten-free diets can be accommodated on this trip. As in North America, you might need to search a little harder for your meals (the Spanish do love their pan and jamon!), but you’ll always get fed. For more complicated dietary needs, please contact us before applying.
I want to make this part of a longer trip to Europe. Is that cool?
Totally cool, and totally encouraged! We hope that you use this trip as an excuse to further explore Europe. Any time that you spend in Europe before this trip starts has the added benefit of helping you avoid jetlag.
How is this trip related to the Spain 2018 trip for teenagers?
After putting together the itinerary for the hiking section of the Spain 2018 trip, Blake realized that it would make a perfect 2-week trip for parents. And he was already going to be in Spain, and he loves hiking, so why not stick around Spain for another few weeks and hike it all again? An obvious win-win situation.
To be clear, this is not a trip only for the parents of the teenage participants of the Spain 2018 trip. This trip is open to all parents!
How can I stay in touch with people at home?
Free wifi is ubiquitous in Spain. We recommend bringing a wifi-enabled device (like a smartphone or tablet) and using email, Skype, and/or Whatsapp to stay in touch.
What’s the application process, and when are payments due?
The application process for this trip is different from our other trips: it is first-come, first-serve. After filling out the application, we will follow up with you via email or phone. If there are no additional questions, you will be immediately offered a spot on the trip. At that point you’ll have two weeks to submit the trip paperwork and $1500 non-refundable security deposit to secure your place. The rest of the program fee will be due 3 months prior to departure.
In the unlikely case that this trip does not meet minimum enrollment numbers, we will decide to cancel by December 31st, and we will fully refund your deposit and application fee. (Please do not purchase your plane tickets until we we meet our minimum numbers!)
What if I have another question?
Wonderful! Please write U.A. director Blake Boles (email@example.com) with any specific questions about the trip, or write our digital office manager (firstname.lastname@example.org) with any general questions about applications, enrollment, etc.
I am so, so excited. Where do I apply?
Right here :)
We look forward to your application!