Hello! 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 Hitchhiker, I 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!