I’ve never been one to count countries. It makes travel feel more like a competition and less about the meaningful experiences and encounters were lucky enough to have throughout these adventures. Some destinations I’ve visited left an impact, and others are faded memories without much meaning.
As my 30th birthday is approaching, I wanted to gift myself with a piece of jewelry to celebrate and remember the significant places that I feel sentimental about. I came across El Camino bracelets and was more than excited to commemorate my travels though their concept of collecting steps, similar to a Pandora bracelet.
A variety of stainless steel and glass beads are waiting to be collected to create a stylish yet minimalist travel memory bracelet. These beads are held together on an incredibly durable woven cord and kept together with a stainless steel, hand-polished clasp. El Camino calls these charm beads, "steps," which come in the form of a country, region, landmark, city, ocean, or adventure. You can also create your own custom step if you don’t see what you’re looking for.
Browsing through the El Camino website, I was excited to see their new collection of steps - "Sea Steps." This got me thinking about an empowering trip I took a few years ago – I had been on plenty of shorter vacations, but this was the big one.
Leading up to the trip, I broke up with a (very) long term boyfriend, quit my (very) long term job, put all of my belongings in boxes in my parents attic, and bought a one-way ticket with a rough plan. That plan was to travel from Portugal to Greece alongside the Mediterranean Sea.
I often think about this adventure I had, the stories I tell over and over, the incredible people I still keep in touch with, the delicious food I ate, and of course, the unforgettable landscapes I saw.
After checking out the El Camino website, designing my own travel bracelet felt like the perfect way to capture these memories in physical form and carry them with me.
The Mediterranean Sea glass bead was first on my list, then following, I decided to add Italy, Croatia, and Greece, and here’s why:
My memories of Italy
In my experience, Italy was a land of contrasts. I was blown away by the intricate architecture and lively culture, the landscapes and of course the food! It was also one of the hardest times for me as I was in Italy when I found out my Grandad was diagnosed with cancer. So far from home, I felt hopeless and wanted to book a flight instantly. Instead, I took the night to reflect and decided to stay.
In Italy, I learned that I am strong and capable. After taking time to consider a situation, I know it’s possible to deal with hurdles on my own.
Heads up: The doctors caught Grandads cancer in the early stages, and while he still has it today, he’s doing alright!
My memories of Croatia
I had heard of Croatia’s beauty from many people. I recall seeing an episode of Getaway with my dad years before which featured Plitvice Lakes. While we were watching it I turned to him and said, "One day, I’m going to go there." When Croatia appeared on my Mediterranean path, I made it my mission to visit Plitvice Lakes, not realizing exactly how far it was. From Italy, it took two days, including a train, and two buses to reach, but I’ll never regret it. Plitvice Lakes was just stunning, and I met some pretty cool people along the way.
Croatia taught me that when I plan and put the effort in to get something I want, I’ll be rewarded.
My memories of Greece
Greece was the last stop on my trip. By this stage, I was so exhausted and worn down. For over three months, I had been changing locations every three days or less. There wasn’t much energy left to make decisions on my own. I met a fellow Australian in Croatia, we're still friends today, and he told me to join in the tour he was taking through Greece. I kept saying that it was too late to join and that I didn’t want to inconvenience anyone, but he persisted. They managed to squeeze me in, and it ended up being an incredible experience.
In Greece, I learned that if you don’t ask, you won’t ever receive.
Travel is more than just visiting new places and meeting new people. Through travel, I’ve experienced plenty of life lessons and couldn’t think of a more appropriate way to pay homage than to wear those lessons "on my sleeve" with a charm bracelet.
Here's my El Camino bracelet review:
What I like about my El Camino bracelet
- They have a variety of bracelet sizes and colors so you can customize yours to suit your taste
- There’s a variety of beads to choose from so you can mix and match the look of your bracelet, including the coconut spacers which come with your silver steps
- The materials are of high quality; the clasp is made from surgical grade stainless steel, the spaces are sustainably made from coconuts, and the glass steps are made in England. What I like most is the durable high strength cord, which can withstand a breaking strain of over 34kgs.
- You can keep adding to your bracelet and can start with as little as one step
- It matches my travel day wear and isn’t so flashy that it’s likely to get stolen
- Tom and Candace from El Camino are trying their best to be environmentally conscious! I’m not a huge fan of their old packing – each bead was in its own little plastic pouch. However, their new packaging are little biodegradable bags – awesome work guys!
Final thoughts on the El Camino Bracelet
Since putting it on, I haven’t taken the El Camino bracelet off my wrist. It’s quick to dry once I get out of the shower and isn’t too loose that it gets in the way. I’m a huge fan of the sturdy materials, as I’m talented at breaking everything I own. A negative is that the price can creep up with the more steps you add, but it also makes a great gift idea for my friends and family. As I travel a lot and don’t own many material things, gifting me new steps will make their life much easier I’m sure.
I hope this El Camino bracelet review will help you choose to gift one to the traveler in your life.
Search their website at elcaminobracelets.com
Save 5% when you spend £30 with discount code Travel5. Save 10% when you spend £75 with discount code Travel10. Save 15% when you spend £150 with discount code Travel15.
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I was provided with this product in return for my honest review. All thoughts and opinions expressed in this article are my own and not influenced by the company.