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 design studio, Hazard House, 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

 “As I saw more light in everybody else, I seemed to have more myself.” ―Victoria Moran This week has been characterized by amazing women; phenomenal yoga instructors, truly wonderful women at my hostel— for surfing and chatting and sitting around on sofas eating breakfast, women who come together from all over the world to chill in their bikinis eating beans and rice and connecting over similar experiences. When people ask if I’m lonely and afraid traveling alone— there are 7.6 billion people on this planet— people everywhere waiting to connect.  “Love is not consolation. It is light.” ― Simone Weil While sitting on the beach in Nicaragua, three dogs came running up and sat around me while I watched the sunset— camera bag by my side, three dogs at my back.  “Suspecting and knowing are not the same.” ― Rick Riordan ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ There are three ways to cross the border from Honduras to Nicaragua— Guasaule, El Espino, and Los Manos. I’ve been chatting with the US Embassy, bus companies, my hostel in San Pedro Sula, other motorcyclists and people in the ground on Nicaragua, trying to figure out the best route through and what the situation is currently like on the ground. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ My plan is to cross into Nicaragua via Guasaule this Saturday morning at 5 AM, where (hopefully) there will be less roadblocks and people around. My route avoids all major cities (particularly Managua, Estilo, and Masaya where there’s been a lot of violence) and arrive in Popoyo (a surf town on the South Pacific coast in Nicaragua) late afternoon Saturday.  “I am the wisest woman alive, for I know one thing, and that is that I know nothing.” ― Plato ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ This week has been a runaround of going from one government agency to the next, popping into the Suzuki shop for an update, going to the US Embassy, researching the unrest in Nicaragua, and route planning. Antonio, who has been patiently driving me around, explains to every person we meet when we need a part or to ask about paint about this gringa who needs to fix her bike to head towards Argentina after being hit last year. ⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ Jorge at the body shop yesterday exclaimed, “Alone!?” and made the sign of the cross. We pulled the motorcycle parts out of the trunk of the car and he told me about the Harley Davidson he painted last year.  “I'm the one that's got to die when it's time for me to die, so let me live my life the way I want to.” ― Jimi Hendrix ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ A little throwback to Indonesian waves, and a thank you to @soundonpodcast for chatting with me about Lone Rucksack, storytelling, and being a land pirate. Link to podcast in bio!
 “When you sit in silence long enough, you learn that silence has a motion. It glides over you without shape or form, exactly like water. Its color is silver.” ― Anne Spollen I’ve spent a lot of time in these hammocks already. After arriving soaked from riding through several storms on Saturday from Nicaragua, I’ve been doing yoga, surfing, and working from this awesome little town on the Pacific Coast of Costa Rica. My hostel is right on the beach, so every day I grab my board and walk off the deck onto the sand and into the ocean.  “The greatest hazard of all, losing one’s self, can occur very quietly in the world, as if it were nothing at all. No other loss can occur so quietly...” ― Søren Kierkegaar Spending time on the beach yesterday in Popoyo, Nicaragua, was such a treat after the madness of the weekend— finally getting MotoBike back, heading off into Honduras, crossing through Nicaragua. I can’t believe I’m finally on the road again, and able to sit on a beach and watch the sunset like the past 11 months never happened— like I entered a wormhole and was taken back to a time when I wasn’t hit, and crossed into Nicaragua without ever knowing that experience at all.  Ahoy everyone! Tomorrow I’m giving a Webinar hosted by @cloudpeeps with CloudPeeps' Social Media Lead, @katloughrey on the Art of the Sell about how to package your services and get the kinds of clients you want, based on my experience running my own design business. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ I’m frequently asked about what I do for work, and this is a great opportunity for anyone interested (or currently running) their own business to get some great tips and ideas from this great community. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ Link in bio— hope to see you there!  “I desire the things that will destroy me in the end.” ― Sylvia Plath ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ MotoBike Update: he looks so much better than I expected! The Villanueva family who helped me so much here last year, and who have been storing my bike for the last 11 months until I was well enough to come back and pick it up, washed my bike and had it sitting in their backyard waiting for me. I couldn’t believe how little damage there was— a lot of external parts were damaged (the cover for the exhaust, turn signals, smashed tachometer, tail light, rear brake lever, etc.— but the frame is fine, my @giantloopmoto saddlebags protected the bike. The biggest issue is the cover for the oil filter— when the bike skidded across the highway, it sheared off the bolts, which need to be drilled out again and the cover replaced. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ Luckily, the @suzukicycles shop here was able to order the part, so MotoBike sits outside waiting for some love and new parts. We’re (MotoBike and I) are hoping to head out beginning of next week.  “Mostly it is loss which teaches us about the worth of things.” ―Arthur Schopenhauer ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀ 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.
©2017 Lone Rucksack