We at Wetravel are so obsessed with travel that we’re always looking for tips, tricks, and new and exciting trips (unintentional rhyme, we swear). So to help you as you plan your travels, we’ve decided to talk to “Travel Influencers.” Travel Influencers are people who love to travel! So much so, that they’ve planned numerous trips or are currently doing so. Seeing as they’re extremely knowledgeable and experienced, we at Wetravel figure that these Travel Influencers can provide a ton of information that can help or inspire you during the planning stages of your trips.
So for this week, we’re talking with Thomas van de Loo and Roos Apotheeker of the Knapsack Collective about their travels, their experiences organizing group trips, the inspiration behind the Knapsack Collective and how it all began, and what’s in store for their journey on the Camino de Santiago!
How did you start your journey on the Camino de Santiago?
Roos Apotheeker: About a year ago, I felt that the time had come to do things differently. Back then, I didn’t really know how or what exactly, but enough momentum had built up for me to quit my job and start a new phase of exploration and reflection. So one day, I decided to buy myself a ticket to Portugal. I put on my hiking shoes and embarked on a ‘Camino de Santiago’ hike from Porto up to Santiago de Compostela and on to Fisterra (also known as ‘the end of the world’). I didn’t really know what to expect, but I soon found out that I had made one of the best decisions of my life. Hiking day in and day out and meeting so many inspiring people showed me more about myself and my next steps.
What inspired you to start the Knapsack Collective?
Thomas van de Loo: When Roos and I met a couple of months ago, she had just returned from her Camino. I could see that she had changed; she seemed relaxed and somehow very clear. And it made me curious about what had happened and if and how her hiking had influenced that process.
Roos: Hiking really helped me to zoom out, to slow down, to relax, and to feel free! It wasn’t always sunshine and happiness (think of blisters, tired and painful feet, wrong turns, etc), but every time you reach your destination, life is so simple and sweet! And there are many times when you simply feel grateful for all the things around you and for being alive. I had not felt that in a long time… if ever.
You never know which difficulties or enjoyments you will encounter on a hiking day. However, at some point, you’ll know that it doesn’t actually matter either way. This is freedom! And it gets even more interesting if you can apply this to ‘everyday’ life…
Thomas: For me, this was a super interesting story! As a life coach, I’m meeting many people who’d love to gather such insights about themselves and their lives, and who would definitely be interested in this if they could go about it in such a playful and outgoing manner. So we began to think: wouldn’t it be great if we could offer these experiences to small groups? Three drinks later, and The Knapsack Collective was born. The Knapsack Collective is all about the fruitful combination of hiking, (peer) coaching and group travel.
Were there any particular events in your lives that encouraged you to travel?
Roos: I’ve always had an interest in the world and all of its people. So as soon as I turned 18, I left for Australia, New Zealand, and a bit of Asia. And I’ve been traveling ever since. I’m actually talking to you from the Brazilian Chapada Diamantina National Park right now where I’m about to start a four day hike!
Thomas: Although I’m just at home right now, I too have this neverending love for the road. After a day of travel, I do like to arrive somewhere. But the next morning, I usually find myself thinking, “So errr… where to today?”
What do you enjoy about group travel?
Roos: Whether it is sharing experiences, food, and stories or enjoying long walks and great nights, being with and as a group creates this very special atmosphere. Within 1 or 2 days, it feels like you’ve known each other for years and when you have to say goodbye after a week or so, it feels like the end of an era. It’s vivid and quite amazing really!
How did you decide on this destination?
Roos: Santiago de Compostela was a destination that inspired me. But it actually wasn’t about the destination, so much as the road towards it. So after I came back from this wonderful trip, I felt like sharing this experience. And there’s simply no better way to do so than by taking other people with me on a similar trip! Along with this, the road to Santiago has great infrastructure for the hike we plan on doing.
Tell us a little bit more about the activities that you have planned during the Camino de Santiago trek. What are your goals and aspirations for this trip?
Thomas: For part of this trip, we plan to rely on Roos’ experience. She knows all there is to know about “camino-ing,” like what to pack, where to eat, which hostels can be booked ahead, etc. Along with our hiking programme, there are daily group sessions before, during, or after our walks. During these sessions, we’ll discuss whatever comes up and share questions, ideas, insights, and so on. These sessions will amplify group dynamics and speed up one’s personal and/or professional development. In addition to this, we will also engage in one-on-one conversations, or whatever comes up during one of our hikes, while enjoying a glass of beer or wine at night. A very important goal of our trip is to simply have a really good time!
Why do you think people would enjoy this adventure on the Camino de Santiago?
Roos: We think that many of us tend to wonder about comparable things – professionally and/or personally. Taking the time to walk and creating some distance to what you are doing at work or at home can help you tremendously in seeing things clearly again. Our group and personal sessions will speed up and aid this process. On top of that, the road to Santiago is beautiful, so there’s enough scenery to enjoy! And lastly, you’ll be hiking with a cool group of people. Making new friends and creating experiences together will be really, really awesome!
What are your plans for The Knapsack Collective in the upcoming year? Any future destinations?
Roos and Thomas: We’re also currently setting up an edition in Hong Kong, where a hike-loving friend of ours lives and works during part of the year. All we need is a good trail and enthusiastic people who want to participate, but of course, it won’t be hard to find those! So if you’re reading this and you’re thinking to yourself, “Hey, I’d like to do a similar trip in Location X,” then do not hesitate to contact us!
We want to thank Thomas and Roos for taking the time to talk to us about their upcoming trip along the Camino de Santiago. If you’re interested in joining their trip, check out the Knapsack Collective listing on our site. Loved hearing about the Knapsack Collective and want to learn more about their group trip along the Camino de Santiago? Then, check out the Knapsack Collective and all that it has to offer!
Featured Image Source: Roos Apotheeker