Would you like to travel with your travels? El Camino Bracelets are a fantastic way of documenting your adventures in an attractive but practical way. Each one is unique as it tells your own story, can be personalised and you can alter and change it as often as you want to. The only downside is fitting all of your experiences onto one bracelet!
Made with travellers in mind, El Camino (meaning a way, route or journey) are bracelets which reflect the individuality and adventures of the wearer. Designed to be sturdy and worn constantly, they are perfect for backpackers or for those who just want an everyday piece of jewellery with a difference.
I first came across the company when searching around the internet looking for travel based products. I wasn't looking for anything in particular but was instantly excited by the concept of a charm bracelet that can be added to over time. Over the years I have tried other charm bracelets that have been en-vogue but with tiny, child-like wrists, most of these looked daft and were cumbersome to wear on a day-to-day basis. Not only that, but with many companies charging over £30 per charm, these bracelets quickly become a very expensive investment and almost too pricey to wear everyday (and certainly not advisable to take abroad with you). With this in mind, I had reservations about El Camino but quickly became impressed with the size and the price of the products available.
Fashion and accessories are a big part of my overall look. I love unique and quirky items that tell a story either of me as a person or have their own story and history. It's one of the reasons that I love vintage clothing - wearing items that have seen a whole life before I owned them, wishing they could tell me the things that they have seen. For me the El Camino Bracelet holds its own story that can be added to at any time. My bracelet has become a talking point with many different people I have met and I have even used it as a teaching tool in the classroom to get my pupils curious about the wider world.
I love to support small, independent companies where possible, which makes them even more attractive. Their customer service is fabulous and the simplicity of ordering online couldn’t be easier. In addition, their social media is engaging and exciting with competitions and travellers sharing stories and tips together. I've headed here many times to ask for advice, whether it be about a trip we are planning or to get opinions for a blog location we are putting together.
The first big decision I had to make when starting to fill my shopping cart was which bracelet to begin the journey with. The bracelets come in a variety of colours and at different times of the year you can get your hands on limited-edition colours, for example during February there is a pink Valentine's Day edition available. To be honest, I loved them all for different reasons! After quite some time of procrastinating, I went for the single bracelet in purple. It was a fun enough colour to enjoy but wasn't too 'out there' that it would clash with my many, many outfits and I figured that a darker shade would be more serviceable for day-to-day wear. When you work with paint and glue on a daily basis this is a big influencing factor!
The stats about the bracelet were reassuring. The four woven cords can withstand up to 34kg of strain and the stainless steel used in both the clips and charms are of a surgical grade. At first, I had concerns that the reasonable price of £21.99 for a single bracelet would reflect the quality but I couldn't have been more wrong. I've never felt that the cord might be compromised or break - and I've put it through some tests! The bracelets come in two lengths; single length and double length with the cost of the double being £31.99 and available in the same colour range as the single bracelets. Some travellers use the double bracelets, which wraps twice around the wrist, as a necklace holding the most special memories here. For me that doesn't really suit my look but I love the idea that each wearer can make their own treasure depending on their individual style, or even swap between wearing it on their wrist and neck.
The steel engraved steps can be purchased by country or by city location. However, if you can’t find what you are looking for or wish to have something less generic then you can also have a step personalised with an engraving of your choice! I decided that there was no way I could buy all of the countries I've visited in one go - although having said that, with the charms only costing £8.99 each, I was able to get a decent chunk without making my bank balance weep too much! I started with the most memorable countries - Norway (where I completed a teaching placement during Uni), France (our Honeymoon location), Spain (as it represented several holidays with different friendship groups and with Chris) and Republic of Ireland (my very first journey abroad).
Each step is engraved with the location name and filled in black. It's clear to read but not overpowering. You can also switch things up a bit with spacers, which not only look nice but help to stop charms scratching each other. These come in three styles; light wood, dark wood and sustainably sourced coconut. I opted for coconut as it seemed the most exotic and brought added interest. What I didn't realise initially was that you get a spacer included with each charm that you buy. So I quickly had a fair few things to add when my first parcel arrived! As a company, El Camino listen to their customers - after feedback about concerns over use of plastic packaging they have made them more environmentally friendly. I love this! It's here that I should mention that the packaging is awesome anyway with funky little aeroplane shaped paper clips holding your order together! The unwrapping process is a gift in itself!
You can also purchase glass beads at £10.99 each, which represent different continents or regions. El Camino have recently added a new range of glass beads representing the five oceans of the world, costing a little more at £15.99 but with a gorgeous marbled effect. These add some colour and interest to your bracelet if a lot of metal isn’t your thing. At the moment I have the Europe bead which is dark green and countries I have visited; my continents list isn't so varied! It doesn't have an engraving but I don't think it really needs one - the colour does the talking! My next one will be Scandinavia (a purply, red shade) which I can't wait to add. You'll find you just want to buy more and more! In total there are 12 region glass beads covering every continent plus the Middle East, Scandinavia, the Caribbean, Oceania and Central America. Whilst it's quite an achievement could you create a rainbow with some or many of these areas on your own bracelet?
I'm now up-to-date with my countries after several more purchases. I now have 11 country steps, 16 coconut spacers, 1 glass bead and 1 city location (Chris’ way of telling me he was taking me to Paris for my 30th birthday was a location step hung inside my birthday card)! With a total of 29 on my bracelet I can probably fit 1 or 2 more on here but obviously this depends on which steps and spacers you opt for. By the end of the year I will need to start deciding whether to upgrade my bracelet to a double length one or to buy a second colour and start filling that up! I can’t wait!
My El Camino bracelet is now part of me - I wear it constantly and on those rainy, dull days when I’ve got a stack of jobs ahead of me, I can look down at my wrist and be back on the many adventures I have had and think about the next ones ahead. It’s that little reminder of fun and excitement in everyday life. It’s a low-cost way for me to document my travels and spending the odd £20 here and there to update it is easily achievable. But with this product it is safe to say that low cost does not mean low quality. I guarantee that if you start your own El Camino journey you will see its praise and recognition as a leader in unique travel accessories is a well-deserved accolade. Where will your journey take you?