How ItchyBoots Became A YouTube Sensation

ItchyBoots, whose real name is Noraly Schoenmaker, is a Dutch motorcycle adventurer who has ridden more miles around the world than most of us will ever do, not to mention the years she has spent backpacking and working as a geologist. I first came across her YouTube channel a couple of years ago when she was riding near Afghanistan and I’ve been hooked on her adventures ever since. Her very first video started in Delhi, India in December 2018, shortly after she bought a Royal Enfield Himalayan motorcycle that she named Basanti after renting one for a few weeks. Since then, her Himalayan has taken her nearly halfway across the world through countries such as Malaysia, Iran, Central Asia, Russia, Caucasus, The Balkans, and other countries on her return to Holland.

Why Is Noraly So Popular?

You don’t need to be a motorcyclist to enjoy her adventure videos because she doesn’t go on about bike technical details, but rather she informs us about the places and people she is visiting. Her style is relaxed, she always has a welcoming smile and usually starts her motorcycling day by telling us where she is, what time it is, and with the help of a large map, points out where she will be travelling that day. Naturally, being a motorcyclist myself, I enjoy watching how she copes in difficult situations such as dealing with punctures, the weather, and other events that crop up. That prompts me to ask myself what I would do in a similar situation. The Himalayan is very much an off-road bike and in 2019, she was riding on a dirt road a couple of hundred kilometres south of Buenos Aires, was caught out by a thunderstorm, and sought shelter in a nearby school. Later on, the road had turned into a quagmire of mud that even the Himalayan couldn’t get through, so she managed to find lodgings at a nearby ranch. Both instinctively correct decisions which show that she won’t take unnecessary risks.

Her cheerful disposition also helps her with the many border crossings she has undertaken, many of which require the patience of a saint due to the red tape involved and while many of us may curse at the bureaucracy involved, she takes it all in a philosophical and smiling manner.

Good Editing Makes For Great Videos

Her first video from December 2018 was about five minutes long, in 1080p, and set the tone for what was to follow. Since then, her videos have grown to around thirty minutes, she has added dramatic drone footage and each one is edited professionally at the end of her day’s travel with great intros and only a little music for effect. As I type this, she has already crossed into Canada from the US, having initially started her Alaska tour from Buenos Aires in October 2019. This was later interrupted by the pandemic when she had to abandon her bike in Lima, Peru, and then restarted again in December 2021 in Quito, Ecuador.

Each video is a story in itself, recounting how the day’s journey is to start, then the people she meets, obstacles to overcome, and the magnificent sights she films along the way. Clearly, we can’t all follow a similar, carefree lifestyle such as hers, but she does inspire others and reminds us that there is a world of exploration waiting for us out there.

Which reminds me – I have a trip planned for Patagonia that’s been brewing away for some years. Time to dust off the maps.

Here you can find ItchyBoots’ channel.

2 thoughts on “How ItchyBoots Became A YouTube Sensation”

  1. Interesting to see an article about Itchy Boots here. I found here channel 2 or more years ago when she was in Iran. Haven’t missed a single video since, and also caught up on most of the backlog.
    The Iran videos were very touching, portraying Iranians in a light that you usually won’t get in mainstream media. People are nice, helpful and hospitable all around the world, and Noraly seems to have a talent to both get the best out of people and also catch it on camera. Somehow not a single bad thing happend to her even in dangeous countries. An amazing channel with adventure, amazing landscapes and a shining personailty.
    The only channel that comes close or even surpasses her in terms of free adventurous spirit and positivity is Iohan Georguiev, a bikepacking legend if there was ever one. Sadly he passed way before his time.

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