Antonette Spaan is a Dutch hiker and travel writer who really loves to spend time outdoors. She grew up in a small city in the eastern part of The Netherlands where the 'outdoor lifestyle' still has a somewhat dusty impression on the people. But that didn't stop her. Antonette took it as an inspiration to do the things she loves the most such as camping, hiking, kayaking as well as sharing stories about her travels.
She used to be working a full-time job while trying to stay active like other outdoor enthusiasts. It was her normal routine for 18 years but during the summer of 2017, everything changed. Antonette decided to quit her job and explore the world instead. Now, she's dedicating her time to freelance travel writing and running We12Travel, aiming to motivate more individuals to go outside and get a little taste of nature.
On we12travel (“we want to travel”), I share my personal travel stories and try to encourage my readers to get outside more often and travel the active way. Even though I’m not a native English speaker, I try my best at writing in a foreign language. However, I have not studied to become a journalist or how to write compelling stories the ‘perfect way’. They come from the heart though and in all honesty, I believe that it’s all that matters…
Can you tell us about your outdoor travel blog We12travel and the story behind it?
I started We12travel as an online photo album to share my travel photos with friends and family all across the globe. When I traveled to New Zealand for six weeks in 2011, I added a blog and realized I actually liked the writing a lot. Nowadays We12travel is the biggest outdoor & adventure travel blog in The Netherlands.
We've heard that you used to combine your full-time office job with an active lifestyle for 18 years, can you share some tips on how to obtain that?
Yes, that’s right. The most important thing is that I got my priorities straight. So I’d have a tight schedule with my office job, got up at 6:00 am each morning to get some blog work done and skipped out on parties and social activities a lot. Then I’d usually cycle or walk to work (instead of taking a bus or the car) and I planned my weekends off around hiking. My family was used to not having me around for holidays such as Easter. Plus I never watch tv, that also helps.
What made you decide to finally give up your job and do freelance travel writing instead? Did you have any regrets?
Combining my office job with lots of travel for We12travel became impossible. Although my boss was understanding, I wasn’t able to buy extra time off, work less hours or find any other way of compensation. At some point I worked 60 hours on two jobs (office and blog) a week and then realized I couldn’t go on like that. I saved enough money to take two years off. The first nine months I spent traveling all across the globe and now that I’m back in Holland I’m trying to set up my business as a freelance writer. It’s not easy because there are many travel writer wannabe’s but I’m sure that within a year I’ll have enough income to cover my cost of living. Not working in an office full time anymore has been an amazing decision so far, so no regrets at all!
If you were given a chance to try out a new outdoor activity this year, what would it be and why?
I’ve already tried many (didn’t enjoy all to be honest!) but one thing I’d like to get better at is mountaineering at a Ferrata. This is relatively well known in Europe, where there are many Ferrata’s, which are also known as iron ways. I’d also love to get my PADI at some point during the next few years. Does that count as an outdoor activity?
What are your top three favorites among the places you've visited so far and why?
New Zealand, Alaska and Iceland. New Zealand has stolen my heart many years ago and I want to live there one day. It’s beautiful, easy to travel as a solo (female) traveler and there are countless hiking trails and mountain huts. Alaska because it’s so rugged and Iceland because it’s entirely different than anything I’ve ever seen before.