About Lone Rucksack

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Lone Rucksack documents the escapades of Dani Bradford, a dirtbag solo adventurer and digital storyteller who has traveled extensively across the globe. In 2015, Dani completed a 4,500 mile+ cycling journey through 15 countries from Portugal to the Republic of Georgia. She has trekked across Northern Ethiopia, lived in Cape Town and South America, swam in Victoria Falls, traveled upriver in rural Albania, traversed jungle in Peru, shot video in Indonesia, and photographed fishing villages in Senegal.

Dani is a Wilderness First Responder, former National Geographic creative, fire-building expert, and sleeps outside more often than in. 


Dani is an ’80s kid, who grew up on goblins in Labyrinth, Star Wars, and Indiana Jones. She was an avid painter and reader, and spent summers taking apart lawn mowers and working at small automotive shops to learn about engines. When she graduated high school she couldn’t decide whether she wanted to be an electrician or artist, so she spent two years at community college, paying her way through school by working several part time jobs, one of which was at a Racecar and Metal Fabrication facility. 

She moved to Baltimore in 2006 to attend one of the top college programs for Graphic Design at The Maryland Institute College of Art. She loved business, and wanted to apply her artistic sensibilities to commercial principles. Dani graduated from MICA in 2008 with a BA in Graphic Design. While in college, she helped found a Racecar Fabrication business, and upon graduating, started freelancing for Inside Lacrosse magazine and Johns Hopkins University. She bought property near the UA campus in Baltimore and starting designing and building a house. 

Before the house was finished, she started working as a videographer in Washington, DC for an international NGO that worked on policy in developing countries dealing with poverty and malnutrition. She started traveling around Africa and Asia for work, helping set up conferences at in-country offices and surrounding areas, running the photography and video side of the conference, as well as shooting video and photos in the field. She traveled to Senegal where Dakar became almost a second home, interviewed the former President of Ghana (John Kufuor) in Accra, Ghana, and made presentations about incorporating video into researcher’s work in Abuja, Nigeria. She ran photo and video teams in Lebanon, India, and Indonesia. In 2012, burned out from construction on the weekends of her house in Baltimore, and commuting back and forth to Washington, DC and traveling, she decided she wanted to set off on her own. She left her job, and spent the next year+ traveling around Africa. She backpacked in Ethiopia, traveled to the farthest reaches of Senegal to shoot markets, and traveled overland from South Africa all the way to Malawi, camping with elephants in Botswana, jumping into Victoria Falls in Zambia, and shooting markets in Lilongwe, Malawi. She ended up living in Cape Town for a short period of time in the Gardens area, before returning to the US in May 2013.

Back on the East Coast in Baltimore, she started avidly rock climbing, and working for Under Armour on the eCommerce team. She began art directing photo shoots, and worked with an amazing team of stylists and photographers, and subsequently developed a love of the eCommerce business. She was part of the team that launched a newly re-designed responsive site at UA in 2013. 

At the end of 2014, Dani decided Under Armour had run its course, and she started freelancing with the portfolio and high level projects and clients she had worked with over the previous 6 years. She worked on a 3 month contract project with USA Today before embarking on a 6 month bicycle expedition across Europe from Lisbon, Portugal to Batumi, Republic of Georgia. 

When she returned in the fall of 2015, she started working for National Geographic, art directing photo shoots and working with photographers and stylists to tell a great story through the National Geographic brand. She worked on a new launch of the National Geographic responsive store site, and was responsible for the creative overhaul and UX design of the new site and launch. She created a new brand guide for the store, and pitched ideas across teams to utilize National Geographic’s massive resources. It was here she discovered the name for what she had been doing the last few years on her own— digital storyteller— and fully realized with her background in the eCommerce industry and in photography/video what she wanted to be doing full time with her own brand, Lone Rucksack.

In 2016, she left National Geographic to live in Ecuador, improve her Spanish (and surfing skills) to continue her work as a photographer and work on a side project in the Peruvian jungle, as well as work on the Lone Rucksack brand, telling great stories from the road. 

At the beginning of 2017, she returned to the US to launch her own freelancing company, and in May left for a solo, unassisted motorcycle tour from Washington, DC to Patagonia, Argentina. She’s currently on the road south sharing stories from the road!

See the Latest

 Thanks to @womenontheroad and @she_explores for the opportunity to read my essay “In Which I am Hit by a Truck” for their Women on the Road podcast (link in bio). It was incredibly emotional for me to read as I prepare to fly back to Central America this weekend.⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀ I’ve spent the last 4 months taking a break from adventure travel, boxing in Asia and eating my way across Europe. Tomorrow, I fly back to Central America to pick up my motorcycle to continue the journey that was stopped last year when I was hit by a truck outside of San Pedro Sula, Honduras. All good vibes appreciated, it’s going to be a rough week seeing my wrecked bike for the first time since the accident, being back in Honduras, and starting the journey again after almost a year of recovery.  “In the depth of winter, I finally learned that within me there lay an invincible summer.” ― Albert Camus ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ Yesterday, I found myself climbing the three flights of stairs in the hostel two at a time— the first time since the accident. All of sudden, I was running up the stairs and there was no pain, and I cackled with glee and bounded up the remaining stairs to jump around on the landing to celebrate. What I’m saying is, if there’s no one there to celebrate with you, celebrate with yourself. Support yourself. Love yourself. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ Every day is about making the most of what we’re given— not wishing something hadn’t happened, or to be someone else in a different place, or circumstance, or life. The only thing we can change is ourselves— if you can only walk, walk, and when you can sprint, run up three flights of stairs two at a time and celebrate that blinding, all-encompassing moment of joy.  “Do or do not, there is no try.” —Yoda ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀ I’ve had a blast here this past month— and I do mean right here in this spot, as I’ve barely left this compound save to go running in the mornings or grab an iced green tea out on the main road. ⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀ I found such an awesome, supportive community here in Muay Thai— training twice a day in 90 degree heat sweating on and hitting each other has been the best time. It’s taken me years to accept endings, to not mourn for places I’ve left and people I’ve left behind, but every new beginning has an ending somewhere and life marches onward- hopefully with a new skill and a new place and amazing people added to that life roster. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ I’ve been eyeballing my down climbing jacket hanging on my door here for the past few weeks, and when I roll out of bed tomorrow at 5 AM to catch my flight, I’ll be wearing it all the way to the airport to celebrate the cooler weather coming. Romania here I come. Onward.  “I changed what I could, and what I couldn't, I endured.” ―Dorothy Vaughan ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ These past few weeks in Thailand will be a period of time I’ll remember forever. Getting stronger every day, sweating buckets, walking along these tiny highways to get a soda water or fresh fruit or walk to my running route in the morning. Waving to small kids, shouts of ‘Muay Thai?’ walking down the street in this residential neighborhood, because if you’re not living here you’re probably training at Sor Vorapin Muay Thai. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ I’m grateful for these moments to be present in one place, to learn a skill and meet amazing people and train with World Champion boxers (one of whom, before learning his identity, I accidentally missed the pads and kneed, and spent the rest of training under an ice pack. As I sat on the bench, he came up showed me a video of him fighting Danny Romero (and winning) in New York City. #humility  “In three words I can sum up everything I've learned about life: it goes on.” ― Robert Frost ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ Throwback to one of my favorite places— Montañita, Ecuador. The first few nights I ever spent here were at Hidden House Hostel, and even after I left they let me creep in and shoot some photos sitting in a hammock under their colored lights.
 “The meaning of life is that it stops.” ― Franz Kafka ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ There’s something incredibly humbling about staring at a pile of bones, and skulls, and recognizing our own mortality. Life always, always moves on.  “Every city is a ghost.” ―Libba Bray ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ Being in Europe feels like such a luxury— backpacking from hostel to hostel surrounded by beautiful streets and markets and bakeries and beautiful architecture is food for the soul. Every day I’m pouring over city maps and working in cafes, drinking gallons of coffee and squealing inside at the piles of crispy bread and stacks of pastries.  “You are defined by you.” ― Kailin Gow ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ I’ll miss walking along these little roads when I fly out of Thailand this weekend. This past month training here outside of Bangkok has been an adventure, in a really different way than I’ve ever experienced—it’s been peaceful and stressful and challenging, and I’ll remember this time forever. The most important commodity we’ve got is time— I lost so much of it last year after the accident, being stuck inside and not able to move, and being here feels like a beginning.  “Dawn is the time when nothing breathes, the hour of silence. Everything is transfixed, only the light moves.” ―Leonora Carrington ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀ My perfect little narrow room, where I’ll be living for the next month while I train in Muay Thai, sits in the upper level of Sor Vorapin Muay Thai gym, and at the far end there’s a little open-air common room with a small sofa and bookcase that overlooks the compound. The boxing ring below, I watched the sun rise over the palms in the distance while the sky turned dusty pink.  “I shut my eyes and all the world drops dead; I lift my eyes and all is born again.” —Silvia Plath ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ When life on the road gets overwhelming, I like to hide inside for at least 24 hours sitting in bed with my laptop, eating double-stuffed oreos one at a time over and over— wafer, cream, wafer— until I wake up sugar-high covered in crumbs wondering what happened and why I’m surrounded by cookie wrappers but ready to face the next day out in the world.
©2017 Lone Rucksack