There are two ways to go: wing it or plan in advance. We did both. We began our journey with advance reservations for three nights, and then every few days, asked our current hosts to make two to four calls ahead, which they cheerfully did. Deposits were never required and credit cards rarely. It was often enough for our host to simply say that “deux Américains” would show up next Thursday. We thought this might allow us to adjust our pace or take refuge if the weather was bad – but neither proved necessary. Our pace for the terrain (walking dirt roads and well maintained trails) was the same as in the U.S., and the weather, when bad, wasn’t that bad, never enough to hold us up.
A bit uncomfortable with the precariousness of the above (with a few no-rooms-at-the inn), we subsequently elected to make advance reservations while still the U.S., with the proviso that while on the trail we could always adjust if necessary. With the magic of the internet, this was a pleasure. Booking.com (with last minute cancellations possible) was excellent, direct emails arranged for additional stays, and in the end we only had four or five phone calls to make (if possible, with the help of a French or Spanish speaking friend). Didn’t at all miss the suspense of “Are we okay or not?” It made wandering on worry free.
And if you ever do get in a jam, be assured that local folk will be there for you, to make phone calls, drive you to off-trail lodging, or whatever. The Camino is their lifeblood and their pride. They’re not going to let their pilgrims down.