Boosting Happiness with Constructive Group Hikes: Spain, Portugal, and more!

December 18, 2015
Christina Nguyen
4 min read
Boosting Happiness With Constructive Group Hikes

At WeTravel, we’re passionate about the things in life that bring us happiness. Choosing experiences over material possessions are psychologically proven to boost happiness. This is why we’re passionate about travel, and in particular for today’s post, hiking.

Thinking back to sixth grade outdoor science camp, what I remember most were the hikes we took as a group. With the guidance of our counselors, we worked through our goals and issues in life while completing a challenging trail. Accomplishing a physical feat with others, sharing our thoughts, and learning from our leaders were all aspects of the trip that were not only fun but also contributed to self-growth. Until now, I didn’t realize there’s an upgraded version of this type of constructive hiking.

In our previous post we introduced Roos Apotheker and Thomas van de Loo, the masterminds behind The Knapsack Collective, who are two people who love hiking and meeting new people. This happy, nature-loving duo not only guides people through a beautiful trail, but also through coaching exercises for problem solving and self-reflection.

This past October, The Knapsack Collective held their trip through the Santiago de Compostela in Portugal and Spain. They walked along the last 115 km of the Camino Portugués (from Valenca to Santiago).

The Knapsack Collective group hiking along the Camino Portugues trail.

Group Trip Organization at it’s best

They stayed, as a group, at “auberges” (hostels with dorm rooms) along the camino. These auberges specifically serve the camino crowd and you need a special camino passport (which are handed out to the participants on the 1st day). Each time you’re staying at one of the auberges, you’ll get a stamp (and if you’ve traveled far enough, you’ll get the official camino “diploma” – your “compostela” – once you’ve reached Santiago de Compostela.) Thomas and Roos arrange all the sleeping places for the participants. One day you might sleep in a dorm, or on other days in small guesthouses.

The participants spend the whole trip together as a group, but during the hikes one might walk alone for a while, and then together with someone else, and then encounter 2 others again, etc. It’s an organic process. But Thomas and Roos organize the trip to regroup during lunch, dinner, coaching exercises and when the group arrives at the auberge.

Getting More out of Your Trip

I really liked the relaxed way in which we were able to explore ourselves during this trip. I also liked the open atmosphere in which people felt they could share their questions and dilemmas. I liked the way in which you were able to combine soul searching deep-dive sessions with just having a lot of fun! The peer coaching sessions were super useful, as well as the different games and exercises – very well organized!!” said one happy Knapsacker. 

Day 7: arrived in Santiago de Compostela, but in need of more energy to reach the Cathedral
Day 7: arrived in Santiago de Compostela, but in need of more energy to reach the Cathedral

The participants are asked to reflect on what they liked about The Knapsackers Collective.

“Dear Knapsackers, so amazing to have been present during the first Knapsack journey! It’s been very special to see that so much wonder, ecstasy and fun took place, even though our trip lasted just a week. Everyone experienced their own journey, but connected with others by sharing struggles and stories. I am sure you guys will organize many more trips and other activities. Nothing is stopping you. I’d like to thank you for this present.”

Working together in a group through these coaching exercises looks like a blast.
Working together in a group through these coaching exercises looks like a blast.

“I think this trip made me realize that sometimes you can make things very difficult by reducing decisions to A, B and C. The world is much more complex and there are opportunities everywhere. It made me realize I don’t have to be scared for the multiplicity of options in life: rather I should just go for it.”

The group reached their goal at the end of the Camino Portugues.
The group reached their goal at the end of the Camino Portugues.

Take an incredible hike, bring along like-minded people, and follow two wonderful coaches. The act of hiking is already to fulfilling in itself: training your physical health and clearing the mind. Thomas and Roos just found way to offer more constructive group hikes. They are offering two trips at the moment. One to Germany in March and one to Portugal/Spain in May. You can find more about this on their new website: Thanks to Thomas and Roos for sharing their group trip with Wetravel and providing images and details of the experience. Participants have clearly gained so much happiness-building experience that Wetravel is always looking for.