Many hikers (called “pèlerins,” or pilgrims in French) discovered disposable linens for the first time by frequenting the lodgings along the ancient Way of Saint James. The annual pilgrimage across the southern half of France continues the length of the northern coast of Spain until those brave enough to meet the challenge reach the Atlantic coast. Hikers typically start out in Paris, Vézelay, Le-Puy-en-Velay or Arles, and end their several week- (and sometimes month-) long journey at the main Cathedral of the Galecian city of Santiago de Compostela (in Spanish, or Saint-Jacques-de-Compostelle in French). Hikers and hotel owners have posed us many questions regarding the journey, so we wrote this article to explain what solutions we provide.
First, the hiker wonders, “Will I sleep comfortably in disposable sheets“? No question here — this first issue is quickly resolved because the walker will sleep like a baby, no matter what. First of all, because he or she will be exhausted after a long day of walking! More important though is the fact that disposable sheets look and feel exactly like traditional cotton cloth ones. The disposable linen, whether it be a flat sheet, a stretchy fitted sheet or a sleeping bag, is always soft, flexible and tear resistant. They weigh less than traditional cloth sheets (meaning they are lighter to carry), but the non-woven material provides better heat insulation and more warmth than cotton on cool nights, while still allowing the body to breathe, perfect for tents and rural guest houses.
The second most common question is, “Why has the accommodation chosen to use disposable sheets? Is it because they cost less? While this is often true, it’s not the sole reason. Price aside, there are also benefits to disposable sheets in terms of hygiene. First about the price: more often than not, the hiker will only stay one night at each stop along the way, moving onto a new town or village the next day. Every hotel and inn owner knows that changing the sheets every day is a pain and costs a fortune. Yet, the hiker is often not willing to pay more for his or her room simply because he or she is staying one night, and everyone still wants a clean bed upon arriving to the accommodation after a long day of walking. We all know nothing is worse than sleeping on sheets that have not been changed!
Thus, the best solution for the hiker is the disposable sheet. Each sheet can be used between one to three weeks, depending on the hiker’s preferences and their cleanliness. The requirement for hygiene is solved for the hotel owner by providing always clean sheets, which prevents complaints from customers.
However, the main reason hoteliers tell us they choose our products is hygiene. Over the past five years, bedbugs have started to appear in rural guesthouses that welcome the march participants. Hikers have accused these cottages of a lack of hygiene or care, without thinking that it was in fact their own journeys into the forest that carried the nasty critters into town from nature. Routine use of hygienic, disposable mattress sheets, protectors and pads helps prevent mattresses from bedbug invasion, which presents a very difficult (if not impossible) problem to eliminate once it has appeared.
Finally the hikers bring with them another major concern: They walk all day, every day for a long period of time. To relieve the pain and blisters they experience, they often apply lotions and pain-relieving ointments. Unfortunately for the host, these oily, thick products are extremely difficult remove from conventional sheets and bedding.
Disposable sheets (such as a fitted sheet placed on top of a waterproof mattress pad) are often the best option to provide consistently impeccable linen quality.
It is clear that for more than purely financial reasons, the use of disposable sheets and linens ensures an excellent level of hygiene that the clients have the right to expect, even if they are only staying one night or paying very little for their rural lodging.
Caractère wishes a happy, safe and hygienic hike to all of this year’s participants in The Way of Saint James!