About Lone Rucksack

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, Wilderness Badass Ambassador, fire-building expert, and sleeps outside more often than in. 


Dani is an ’80s kid, who grew up on goblins in Labyrinth and 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!


 “You're going to be fine. You're at the bottom, you're only going up from from here. Everyone is always looking to the past but history is happening right now.” —Brian Bradford ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ This may not look like much, but it’s an x-ray showing my foot is fine, which was an indescribable relief. In 2 weeks I find out if I need any additional surgery on my tibia. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ This past month I’ve been in a dark place, finding out there were complications with my leg, not knowing what would happen, feeling like I was drowning in my inability to do anything about my current situation. I’ve spent the last month+ indoors, watching the clouds drift by through the window, the light slowly shifting from pale dawn to harsh afternoon to soft evening— waiting and wondering, seeing the world outside go by, wondering what it would hold for me, after the motorcycle accident. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ I’ve still got a long way to go, but for the first time in weeks and weeks, I feel a little bit of hope there’s another side. That this is the bottom, and the only way is up.  “Change will force you to step off the path… to close your eyes and dive right in, knowing that the greatest opportunities in life are found in the sink or swim, do or die moments.” ― Stella Payton ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ Throwback to riding around Isla Mujeres. It’s been just over one month since I was hit in Honduras, and there are still so many unknowns— when I’ll be able to walk, if I’ll need another surgery. Recovery seems very much like staring out into the horizon at an end I can’t see, but keep telling myself is there— in the meantime, onward.  “A map provides no answers. It only suggests where to look: Discover this, reexamine that, put one thing in relation to another, orient yourself, begin here... Sometimes a map speaks in terms of physical geography, but just as often it muses on the jagged terrain of the heart, the distant vistas of memory, or the fantastic landscapes of dreams.” ― Miles Harvey ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ The last stop I made— where my motorcycle is, where my wreck was, where I’m going. Soon.  “At the time, my life just seemed too complete, and maybe we have to break everything to make something better out of ourselves.” ― Chuck Palahniuk ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ Small things are a struggle, trying to get into a fridge, bending my knee, opening a door. I repeat my PT exercises several times a day, counting the repetitions like a mantra, 1,2,3,4,5… holding onto the idea that with every number, I’m a step closer to walking. To standing up on my own. To camping. To riding a bike. Four fractured bones, surgery, road rash, lacerations, thousands of dollars in damage to my motorcycle and hospital expenses. 3 months until I can walk again. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ I have so many emotions about the accident: from not being able to work and having to stop the trip, from the callous guy who hit me in Honduras, to arriving back in the states to victim blaming— being told I shouldn’t have been in Honduras in the first place, as if the accident were somehow my fault instead of the guy who drove across the road into me. Hearing ridiculous rumors I had been arrested, that somehow family members were going to be locked up and held in Honduras due to my being hit by a truck, that I should have left my motorcycle on the side of the road and fled the country, and I was irresponsible for receiving treatment in Honduras. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ It’s an unfortunate reality of being a woman traveling alone, you more often hear ‘you should be more careful’ than you do anything else, like ‘people should be more careful driving’. At the core the message is, this world isn’t safe for you, and it’s your fault if something happens. Listen up— there’s no place in this world that’s ‘safe’ for anyone. Drive hard, go places, challenge yourself— and when things happen, crazy things you didn’t expect, push yourself through that too. Life moves on. Struggle makes us better.  “People often believed they were safer in the light, thinking monsters only came out at night. But safety – like light – is a façade.” ― C.J. Roberts ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ Mornings in Honduras and the path through the jungle. I woke up to the morning light at 5:30 to wander through D&D Brewery, the light filtering through the dense vegetation and the sound of insects in the air.
 “Nobody has ever measured, not even poets, how much the heart can hold.” ―Zelda Fitzgerald  “In the midst of chaos, there is also opportunity.” ―Sun Tzu  “So many people, they risk so little. They spend their whole lives avoiding danger, and then they die. I'd risk everything to get what I want.” —Petyr Baelish ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ Explore. Wander. Push yourself to the limits. Take risks. Find those delicate, beautiful things hidden in the mundane. Watch the sunrise.  “Yesterday is gone. Tomorrow has not yet come. We have only today. Let us begin.” ―Mother Teresa ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ Really excited to read the book I was interviewed for last year by the amazing @kathmo — and it’s now on Amazon. For all those people asking questions about freelancing and travel— this book is for you! Link to book in bio.  “No matter how dim the light filtering through the trees is, you can still try your best to grasp it.” —Kaien Cross ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ Cat vs. Machine
©2017 Lone Rucksack