Who the hell is Iris Veldwijk?

cropped-tumblr_nctgahpRDS1sj84ggo1_1280.jpgHello! I’m a hitchhiker and my name is Iris Veldwijk. My passport is from the Netherlands, but you can rarely find my arbitrary country of birth. Usually, you can find me somewhere next to the road, smiling, with my thumb out, trying to flag you down and take me somewhere cool – if you have a vehicle. At other times, you can see me sleeping with my head on a table inside a petrol station or pitching my tent somewhere probably illegal. I do this because I enjoy doing this, not because I have to.

On my website Mind of a HitchhikerI write about the way my (mostly solo) travel works, which also involves lots of couchsurfing, freecamping, busking (guitar) and occasionally “dumpster diving” everywhere I go. Welcome to No-Budget Travel. It’s very different from low-budget traveling! I hitchhike everywhere I have friends and if I don’t have friends somewhere, I’ll make new friends on the go. Planning is not really my thing and for 50% of questions my answer is “I don’t know”. Not because I’m reluctant to answer questions, but because I really don’t know and I’m comfortable with not knowing things. Sometimes that’s very liberating. Discomfort is my comfort and the term “comfort zone” is one I don’t understand.

I don’t enjoy talking about the numbers, but since so many people are asking for them: I’ve been to 68 countries so far, hitchhiked in nearly all of them (there was a time before hitchhiking when I also traveled) and did so mostly alone. Some of the most exciting countries I’ve hitchhiked in are Mexico, Ukraine, and Iran. What makes them exciting is mostly the absence of any expectations – and expectations ruin everything. Mentioning those countries makes some people really nervous, but I like to challenge the myths we’ve created about these places. While traveling full-time, I’m also trying hard to write a book about hitchhiking through Iran. You can read more about that project here.

Feminism is why I can do what I do and I’m a super serious feminist at heart, but it’s tough and tiring to fight the patriarchy every fucking day. Therefore I sometimes hide from society in my little tent to reset my “bullshit-tolerance” button. The next day I’m ready again for the “real world” – a world that desperately needs a myriad of changes. I used to be a student at an international university in the Netherlands. I hated it so much I quit in November 2013, but technically I’m merely on “pause”. If any immigration officer asks what I do, I’m still a student. I just don’t know what to answer and these people make me very nervous. ETA: after January 2019, I’ve officially graduated said shitty bachelor’s degree. I’m officially a BA in Bullshit & Nonsense. Yay me!

I can also knit, touch my nose with my tongue and sleep for 24 hours straight. My favorite car is the Lada Niva, an indestructible piece of Soviet shit. I have a driver’s license and I’m quite the badass driver, but as a hitchhiker, I’m perpetually stuck in the passenger’s seat! One day a driver will ask me to take the wheel and mean it. One day…

I also speak seven-ish languages (Dutch, English, Spanish, Russian, Portuguese, German and French) and I’m trying to improve on them and learn Farsi, Turkish and Arabic too. Dutch schools are really into teaching languages as the Dutch language itself doesn’t have a whole lot of speakers, so we kind of have to learn other languages for survival. I’m really happy I paid attention during the language classes of middle/high school, as I reap the benefits of language learning now.

As a blogger, I’m part of the “Solo Female Travel” subgroup and it’s really awesome to be part of such a badass community. However, I’m not always doing everything alone! I often join forces with other hitchhikers (male/female/other) for a day or a few weeks and I’ve managed to find love on the road. I’m currently (2019) mostly traveling together with my partner, which has several benefits besides the obvious. I’m still venturing out alone, and I’ll always advocate solo travel. Traveling alone doesn’t imply loneliness – something I never am as long as there is WiFi. I’m always super happy to enjoy a chat and a beer or coffee with anyone, anywhere on this little planet of ours. Conversation with strangers is the key to writing the stories on this website.

Enjoy my blog! You’re always welcome to comment on posts, share what you enjoyed, and ask me a question in my FAQ!

30 thoughts on “Who the hell is Iris Veldwijk?

  1. Hi Iris,

    This is Saul at GPSmyCity. We are interested in sponsoring a giveaway on your blog for mutual benefits. If you wish to know more about this opportunity, please reply to my email at your earliest convenience. Thank you.

    Kind regards,
    Saul Tarasoff

  2. Hi Iris,

    I’m Katie from featherytravels. I’m just writing to you personally as I am trying to compile a post of magical wild camping spots. I know you have a much bigger following than me, so it would be quite a big favour, but I wondered if you would consider including something? All I would need is between 100-400 words, a photo or two of the place, a very short bio and any links you want including.

    Let me know if you’re interested, but I wont be offended if not!

    Keep being awesome!



  3. Waoo me encanta tu blog y tu actitud positiva!
    Please come to Colombia!! You are more than welcome here 🙂
    Keep being awesome !

  4. Hi Iris, love what you’re doing! I help organise a night in London called Tales of Adventure where we have 2 in-person speakers talk to us about whatever adventure they have just been on and we do a ‘live call’ to someone currently on an adventure. It’s just a 5-10 minute Skype / phone chat about where you are and what you’re up to. What you be interested??? I’m sure the audience would love to know about your trip! Please let me know if you are and I can pass on a few more details. Many thanks, Anna

  5. Hi Iris, nice job you’ve got, eh. Well, next year I’m going to hitchhike around Europe and Probably Georgia too. I wanted to know, do you have any tips? (It’s not the first time I hitchhike, but it will be the first time I’ll go to Europe). Also I’m going on a really low budget, pretty non-existant, you know if I can find a job? I mean, just for like a day or two.
    Thanks, Saúl.

    • Hey Saúl! Are you going to Europe in summer? That’s by far the easiest time to find temporary work, like in hostels and fruit picking. Europe is quite different every 300km so there’s no specific tips. A lot of people speak English, but everyone loves it if you can say “thank you” and “cheers” in their languages, instant kudos!
      Happy travels!

  6. Hi Iris,

    I’m an Aussie Girl living in Scotland at the moment, but planning on making my way across Europe, Turkey & Asia in a few months while heading back to Aus. I just read an article about you and LOVE what you do. If you happen to be travelling around Europe in November and want a travel buddy I’d love to join you! 😀

  7. Sounds awesome to me. That’s exactly how I travel, but I have only been doing it for a few months and still have to learn a few more chords on the ukulele to play on the streets ;D I am also writting about it on http://www.lucidlucas.com if you would like to check it out and leave some feedback! ^^ I will definitely follow you on your adventures, finally found a travel blogger that suits my style. 🙂

      • Thank you so much I just published my first guide on how o travel the world on a low budget it would mean a lot to have some feedback coming from you 😀

        • Hey Lucas! Nice article 🙂 I like how you point out how much eating out costs vs. buying food in the supermarket. People may realize this is one of the factors that’s killing their travel budget. Keep it up!

  8. i enjoy your style of writing, and your interests in hitchhiking and illegal camping especially (two of my favourite things). Ive been living a similar existence abroad for over two years now but only just starting to get motivated to share some it on my website. Ive been searching through other travel websites for how others do things and it really does my lid in how everyone suddenly becomes an “expert” at travel (if that even is a thing) the moment they start a website. such bullshit. Its refreshing to read some down to earth stuff. Ill keep an eye on your blog in future maybe one day we will pass on the road even 😉

    • Hey Lost Aussie thanks for the compliment! 😀 Travel can change quite a bit once you share your shit on the internet – for better or for worse! – but it’s been a rewarding experience so far. Just don’t forget to keep doing fun stuff like freecamping and catching rides while you’re at it, we don’t do it just for the blogging! Happy hitchin’ 😉

  9. You are so inspiring! I wish I could Skype with you because I have so many questions regarding hitchhiking in South and Central America (: you are really brave (: go girl!

  10. Hi Iris,

    It’s Boysterous. We are currently in Bora Bora sailing around the world. Going on an adventure just like you. 😃

    • Hey Vickie and Joe! 😀 Nice to hear from you again! So you crossed the Panama Canal already? :O That’s really amazing. I hope you have a speedy voyage from French Polynesia to wherever the next leg of your trip takes you. I still look back with joy at our trip to Malta (and since then I’ve quit smoking so I can be better crew) back in 2015. Cheers from Colombia!

  11. Hey Iris,

    This is J. I am a hitchhiker, too. I hitchhiked to where I am now, Colombia, from the United States. I have not met any other hitchhikers since leaving the states, though I have met several backpackers. I discovered your website, along with others, through hitchwiki.org. If you are up for it, I would like to hitch a few kilometers with you, as I could use a few pointers. I am almost completely broke and I am looking to buy a guitar so I can avoid starving to death. Thank you for maintaining a website, because I usually feel like the only one living like this. Buen viaje, Mind of a Hitchhiker.

  12. hi iris,
    I was wondering why you didn’t hitchhike Africa (don’t tell me it’s scares you or something like that don’t believe social media …just go there and explore ) Africa is magic …also I know a lot of my friends who hitchhiked and cycled the whole Africa , and they loved it so much
    keep hitchhiking you’re a great person …
    where I can find your book?

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