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Hey guys, welcome to NOMADasaurus, Australia’s biggest adventure travel and photography blog run by us, the award-winning travel writers and content creators, Alesha Bradford and Jarryd Salem.
Thanks so much for swinging by our little corner of the internet. We’re so stoked that you found our site and want to know a bit more about us. So grab your favourite drink, pull up a chair and let us fill you in on just what the hell we are about.
What is this travel blog about?
That probably is the most obvious question, isn’t it? We started this website at the end of 2013 as a way to document our overland journey from Asia to Africa without flying. A few years later and this is now one of the most popular adventure travel blogs on the internet, and we have to admit we’re pretty proud of that!
We never thought this site would grow into what it is now, with the blog being our full-time jobs, having nearly a million readers a month and over 250’000 social media followers from around the world all checking in to see what’s happening as we travel non-stop.
In fact we didn’t even want to start a travel blog in the beginning! We’d already been on the road for 5 years when we started our overland journey, and it was only because so many of our friends told us to make one that we did.
Read about the evolution of NOMADasaurus here.
This site has changed a bit over the last few years. Today we specialise in adventure travel, sustainable tourism, detailed travel guides, off the beaten path destinations, photography and creating a lifestyle around travel.
We document these experiences with a journalistic style of writing, coupled with captivating photography. In recent years the blog grew to a level that we couldn’t keep maintaining on our own, so we’ve slowly introduced a bunch of amazing travel writers and editors onto our team who help fill in the content gaps.
Over the years we’ve had our stories, adventures and photos published by some of the biggest media outlets in the world, including:
- National Geographic
- The Washington Post
- The Guardian
- Lonely Planet
- and plenty more…
As well as appearing on TV segments and radio shows in Australia and abroad. You may have seen us on Channel 7’s Sunrise, Channel 10’s Studio10, ABC Australia, NBC News, CBS Canada, Kyrgyz network television and dozens of podcasts.
We are both professional travel photographers, and in 2020 Jarryd was selected as one of eleven official Sony Digital Imaging Advocates for Australia and New Zealand.
Want to keep up with us in real-time? Check us out on Social Media:
Ah, I get it now. So what’s your story?
Thanks for asking! Well, you didn’t really ask now, did you? But we’re going to tell you anyway. We’ve decided to literally write out our entire travel lives so it’s a bit of a long one, and we’ll forgive you if you skip through it. We promise it’s interesting though!
As you already know we are Alesha and Jarryd, otherwise known as Lesh and Jazza. We are an Australian couple who have been travelling the world together since 2008.
But before that, we both were solo travellers, with Lesh exploring Australia, New Zealand, the UK, the US and Canada, and Jazza hanging out in the US and Canada being a ski bum and full-time partier.
2008 – 2011 – Adventures Across Canada
We met in a hostel in Vancouver in the sweet summer of ’08, then spent the next few years travelling 40’000km around Canada and living in our awesome van, Latoya.
It was during this time that we fell in love with overland travel, particularly road trips, and some of the happiest days of our lives were spent being dirt poor, eating crackers and sleeping inside of our van.
Not wanting to stop travelling, we made plans to drive Latoya to Alaska in 2011. However fate had other plans for us. Just 3 weeks before starting our next big road trip Latoya decided that she didn’t really want to keep driving anymore and snapped her driveshaft in southern BC. In a fit of spontaneity, we sold Latoya to a friend for $500 and bought one-way tickets to Guatemala.
2011 – 2012 – Wandering Around Central America
Central America became our new home over the following year as we bounced around from place to place, hanging out, learning Spanish and studying the Mayan culture. We managed to fit in a whole bunch of fun adventures, from scuba diving in Mexico’s cenotes to trekking to El Mirador.
At some point we found ourselves crewing on a catamaran and learning to sail as well. A freak storm off the coast of Nicaragua forced us to abandon that dream and we set back off to Honduras, where we were quickly detained under suspicion of being drug smugglers. Once we were released we decided to abandon the sailing life. On the day we left the yacht we met some backpackers on a bus in San Pedro Sula who convinced us to travel with them, and our plans changed once again.
When we weren’t breaking world records with our backpacker friends, having wheelchair races, slacklining in Mayan temples and hitchhiking between remote villages, we could be found eating mangos, sleeping in hammocks on the beach in Mexico and smoking cigars in Cuba.
On a bus in Yucatan one day Alesha told me that she wanted to go to Africa, so we started making plans to backpack around the continent. Later that night we were drinking some cervezas and the idea kept growing, more countries kept getting added to the list, until we finally settled on travelling from Cape Town to Thailand without taking a single flight.
There wasn’t any real reason for this overland adventure other than it sounded like a fun challenge, and we were drunk at the time.
2013 – Working in Australia and the Start of NOMADasaurus
We returned to Australia, bought another campervan to live in and started saving some money to fund the next dream.
I worked on the mines doing civil construction and machine operating, and Alesha worked a variety of jobs in hospitality, became a swimming teacher and studied remedial massage. It was all to serve a purpose though, which was to get back on the road.
In October 2013 we decided that we would start a travel blog and came up with the name ‘NOMADasaurus’. I learnt how to build a website after work on the mines and sent the site live with a handful of random stories from our time in Canada and Central America.
About this time I was then offered a promotion within the company to go to another mine site and work my way up towards a leadership position. The money was great, it was a huge opportunity and part of me thought it was the right thing to do. “Just for another year or two, we’ll save so much more money!”
A few weeks later I was playing card games with the boys on a rain-day at work and said I wasn’t sure if I should take the job or not. One of my mates nonchalantly said, “If you don’t work towards building your own dreams, someone else will hire you to build theirs.”
I have no idea what he meant when he said this, and I’m sure he doesn’t remember it. But it shook me to my core. That night I called Alesha and said we had to hit the road asap. She agreed, and the next morning I handed in my notice at work.
Let the adventures begin!
2014 – Adventures in Southeast Asia
At the last minute we flipped our ‘Africa to Thailand’ trip in reverse, bought one-way tickets to Phuket to attend a friend’s wedding, and started slowly wandering towards Cape Town.
We bought motorbikes in Laos, rode 15’000km around Southeast Asia, got engaged inside the biggest cave in the world then finally moved into China after 15 months in Southeast Asia.
2015 – China, Mongolia and the Stans
We hitchhiked along the edge of Tibet, caught buses and trains through the mainland and four months later we entered Mongolia. Another hitchhiking adventure ensued, then we travelled across to Central Asia, explored the Silk Road, road-tripped along the border of Afghanistan, crossed the Caspian Sea on a cargo ship and somehow ended up in Istanbul, a full two years after we landed in Thailand.
Behind the Scenes – The Blog Becomes a Business
During that time travelling through Asia though, something else had happened, which we haven’t mentioned yet. And this is where the story of our online business comes into play.
Jarryd entered a writing competition on a whim one boozy night in northern Thailand, and much to his surprise won the World Nomads Travel Writing Scholarship.
This kickstarted a career as a freelance travel writer, and he started being published by outlets such as BBC Travel, CNN, News.com.au, Yahoo, BuzzFeed and many more.
All of a sudden we were getting paid for our travel stories. An editor told us one day that if we had good photos they would buy those to go with our articles as well, so Alesha studied hard to improve her photography, and we got our first real idea that we might actually be able to sustain a new life on the road.
After a year of NOMADasaurus being live, we had also gathered a pretty decent blog and social media following, before the golden age of Instagram and TikTok (ahhh, did we just show our age??). This meant we started being approached for sponsorships on our blog, and we decided to start taking this new, random business seriously.
We worked our asses off across Asia. When we weren’t out on adventures or navigating strange lands, we were cooped up in hotel rooms and cafes cranking out content, trying to build an online business.
By the time we got to Istanbul, the blog was making alright money. But it was at this point everything changed for us. We were exhausted and had no energy to tackle Africa after our mammoth mission across Asia with no flights.
Our lives had turned into a difficult balance between blogging and travelling, and our relationship and health were suffering. Alesha went home to Australia for a break from it all, and we wrote an article about spending some time apart (that subsequently went viral, with us even being interviewed about it on breakfast TV in Australia).
When Alesha came back to Turkey we decided that our overland mission would have to be put on hold for the sake of our relationship. We jumped on a flight back to Thailand to start fresh.
2016 – Backpacking Europe, Getting Married and Starting the Next Chapter
Naturally, we got bored after 3 weeks in Thailand, found super cheap one-way flights to Germany (we sure do love those one-way flights), booked those and spent the summer and autumn of 2016 hanging out around Central and Eastern Europe. The blog continued to grow, and by the end of our time in Europe we were making more money than we were spending.
The trip was great, a welcome change after more than two years in Asia, but we felt like it was time to do something different again. We were our own worst enemies, not being able to say no to adventure even though we knew it was time to take a break.
After much thought we decided to fly home, get married and do some soul searching. For 2 months we bounced around Australia, trying to make a decision about what we should do. We were invited to a speak at a tourism conference in Turkey, and the day before we were due to fly out it was cancelled. So we decided to fly back to Thailand and rented an apartment for 3 months in Chiang Mai while we ‘figure things out’.
2017 – Living in Thailand, Our First Trip to Antarctica and Exploring South America
It was the first time in three years that we had stayed in one place for more than 19 days, and we focused all our energy on hanging out with friends, eating healthy, going to the gym, studying SEO and affiliate marketing, and growing the business. It was exactly what we needed.
Feeling rejuvenated, at the beginning of 2017 we flew to South America and went on an 11-day expedition to Antarctica. At the time a sponsored trip to Antarctica was considered the pinnacle for travel bloggers, and we were so thankful that the company took a chance on us. It was by far the greatest place we had ever visited, and kickstarted a love affair with the polar regions.
For the rest of the year we wandered around Argentina, Chile, Brazil, Peru and the Galapagos Islands. During that time we were hired for an incredible campaign to mark hiking trails in Kyrgyzstan, one of our favourite countries in the world, but for the most part, we travelled overland around South America.
The blog kept growing to crazy levels, and we were hired by Australia and New Zealand’s biggest adventure gear company Kathmandu to be one of their brand ambassadors – a partnership that lasted for 4 wonderful years, and one of our proudest moments as bloggers/influencers/content creators.
At the end of the year we flew to Ireland to speak at a travel blogging conference. We rented a campervan, road-tripped around the country, and then found mega cheap flights (again!) to Iran. We spent a month backpacking independently with no itinerary with two close friends, then flew back to Australia for Christmas.
2018 – Finding a Base and Starting a Tour Company in Kyrgyzstan
2018 became the first year that the majority of our travels were ‘sponsored’ or part of larger work campaigns.
It’s a common question we get – how much do we travel for fun vs how much for work. In 2018 it became primarily for work, but don’t get us wrong, we love our jobs!
As soon as we landed we were hired by the car company Volvo to drive one of their brand new cars across Australia and take photos of it. Afterwards we arrived in Sydney, Australia and decided it was time to take another break. We set up a temporary home on the Northern Beaches, signed up for a gym and cranked out as much work as possible.
We also launched a digital marketing company called Peak Evolution Media, which was our first real foray into creating an online business that we could scale into other industries.
Home is never home long for us though. We took a 5-week campervan trip to New Zealand, working with the tourism board and falling in love with the country.
Our brand started to become associated with travel to Central Asia, and we were getting daily emails from people who wanted to know more about how they could explore this beautiful yet off-beat part of the world. After answering hundreds and hundreds of emails we decided to take a leap of faith and try our hands at running our own tours in Kyrgyzstan.
When we announced them they sold out in less than 24 hours. Clearly people were as excited about Kyrgyzstan as we were.
Halfway through 2018 flew off to Central Asia to run our first ever NOMADasaurus PhotoVenture tours to Kyrgyzstan! They were a huge success, and we are stoked to have pulled it off.
Before we knew it we were road tripping around Canada on a campaign with the national tourism board. Fun (and thousands of photos) ensued, then we headed down south for another epic work trip to South Georgia in the subantarctic. Afterwards we backpacked around Peru and Bolivia, flew to Canada for a week of snowboarding then returned home.
At the beginning of the year we headed back to Sydney to make a temporary base once again. 2018 was a crazy year, and there was a lot of awesome things on the horizon for 2019. It was time to get to work again
2019 – The Year of Tourism Campaigns and Business Growth
We headed back to Canada for a winter campaign with the tourism board, visited the Cook Islands, spoke at a conference about community-based sustainable tourism in Czech Republic and explored some offbeat parts of Thailand.
Next was a snowboarding trip in New Zealand to photograph Kathmandu’s new Styper ski gear range.
We expanded our team and hired a bunch of new writers. The NOMADasaurus Tour Company continued to grow, and along with our epic Kyrgyzstan trip, we ran our first adventure tour of Tajikistan!
While Jarryd ran the tours, Alesha worked with the Swiss and US governments on two different international tourism development projects in Central Asia, where she documented a few new hiking trails and promoted emerging destinations.
After Central Asia we travelled to Japan for 3 weeks on another tourism project, visiting some lesser-known prefectures.
When Japan was over we jumped on a flight to the Philippines and spent a month exploring this island paradise, with no plans and no itinerary. The country lived up to the hype, and we couldn’t believe just how beautiful it is.
2020 – The Year We Made the Most of a Shi**y Situation
2020 started with another work trip to Japan, this time promoting winter tourism, before Jarryd flew over to Kyrgyzstan to showcase some of the best backcountry skiing and snowboarding in the country.
There was a lot more planned for 2020, but that pandemic of course hit hard. We lost about 90% of our income in a matter of weeks and contracts were cancelled left, right and centre. But we were healthy and ‘stuck’ in an incredible country with world class healthcare and a government that at least tried their best to look after their citizens, so in hindsight there’s nowhere else we would have rather been.
The pandemic didn’t stop us from travelling through, and going back to our roots, we ended up buying a Mercedes Sprinter campervan to explore Australia!
Dodging border closures we managed to spend a year living out of Marlee (we name all of our vehicles), visiting Queensland, New South Wales, Victoria and Tasmania.
We even made a brand new blog to document our experiences, and you can check it out over here at Van Life Theory.
Oh Yea, So We Bought a Home Too
Something else pretty big happened during this road trip. Something that changed our lives forever.
One day we randomly got an email from our wedding celebrant asking how we were doing, and saying that if we ever find ourselves in Queensland that we were welcome to go and housesit her new place on little spot called Magnetic Island.
The timing of her email was uncanny. We were about an hour from Magnetic Island and were talking about how desperate we were to get out of the van for a while and get some work done. We gave Kate a call, and after a quick chat we jumped on the ferry to Magnetic Island for a month of rest and work.
This island completely stole our hearts. The community, the natural beauty, the adventure, the laidback vibes, it was like being in southern Thailand. We’ll save the entire story for another post, but after just one week we found ourselves popping into a real estate office ‘just to have a look’.
Long story short, we ended up buying a block of land on Maggie with the dream to build our dream home one day – A stunning quarter-acre with huge mango and paperbark trees with lots of birds and animals living there.
We signed the contract one day before we left the island, then we made a beeline for Tasmania to see out the year.
2021 – Getting Locked Down
For the first few months of 2021 we cruised around Tasmania, ticking off some of our big bucket list hikes like the Overland and Three Capes, then headed back to the mainland in April.
It’s about this time I had a bit of a mental breakdown. Our digital marketing agency had started to grow like crazy, our van life blog was blowing up and NOMADasaurus was starting to gain momentum again. As work got busier and busier I really struggled with the day-to-day challenges that comes with van life.
We decided to drive back to Sydney and stay with family for a few weeks while we got on top of the business. For those few weeks everything was going great; we started running again, the workload became manageable and we landed a few new clients. Then COVID reared its ugly head and Sydney went into a full lockdown.
We thought it would be for a couple of weeks. The lockdown lasted for nearly 5 months. Luckily for us we were in a safe, comfortable place and used this time to work as much as possible. The work paid off, and as the rest of the world started to open our website and income started to grow rapidly. We hired back most of our team and kept scaling up.
At the same time we designed our home and contracted builders in Queensland to start construction. Managing our first-ever home build from afar was extremely challenging but our builders were fantastic with communication.
At this point we sadly sold Marlee. We still had so much of Australia to explore, but the realisation that once borders opened we’d likely move to Magnetic Island meant that the van wouldn’t get the use we hoped. We sold Marlee to a lovely lady in Tasmania and bought a Toyota Prado 4×4 for smaller adventures.
New South Wales opened their borders, GoPro sent us to Lord Howe Island for a fun little content trip, and the Thailand tourism board hired us to be on the first flight into the country the day their borders opened to promote the country.
2022 – Travel is Back, We Move Into Our Home, and Alesha’s Tragic Health Scare
In January we moved to Magnetic Island and rented a house so we could keep an eye on the rest of our home build. We fell even more in love with the island, and instantly found ourselves a community. Something we had missed in our now 15 years being on the road.
For a few months we worked on some local tourism campaigns and kept the business growing while managing the construction of our dream home.
Throughout the pandemic we were worried that when borders did eventually open up that our business wouldn’t rebound. Short-form video such as TikTok and Instagram Reels had taken over, and we felt like we missed the bandwagon.
It was the complete opposite.
In April we went to Western Australia, in May we went to the United States for a massive tourism campaign and on June 10th we came back to Australia just in time to move into our brand new home.
The home, which we named ‘Maggie Mango’, is everything we ever could have wanted, and proved to be the best decision we’ve ever made.
About two weeks after we moved in we flew to Canada to work with the tourism board, then made our way to Iceland for a campervan trip before flying to Greenland to start a month travelling the Arctic with Quark Expeditions.
When we finished our month onboard we flew back to Canada, caught up with friends in BC then came back to Magnetic Island for 4 days.
Why just 4 days? Because GoPro had invited us to Switzerland for their bi-annual GoPro Creators Summit with 40 other members of the GoPro Family. An opportunity that we couldn’t turn down.
Returning to Aus we had about 5 weeks to finally try and get settled into our home then crossed the ocean to South America to start our first-ever NOMADasaurus Antarctica Tour.
We took 20 amazing people with us on a life-changing adventure to Antarctica, South Georgia and the Falkland Islands.
In the middle of December we returned home, and that’s when everything changed.
Alesha’s Cardiac Arrest
On December 17th, just a week after we returned home, Alesha had a sudden cardiac arrest in bed.
We won’t go into the entire story of that fateful night here on this post. But with no warning, no shortness of breath and no signs or symptoms, Alesha’s heart stopped.
Thankfully I was right next to her when it happened, and started CPR while waiting for the paramedics arrived. After shocking her with a defibrillator and bringing her back to life, she was transported to the emergency department at Townsville Hospital and placed under the most urgent of care possible.
According to the cardiologists and test results, Alesha’s chance of survival was 3%. But nothing can slow Alesha down, not even a cardiac arrest, and she defied all odds and bounced back.
After two weeks she was discharged and we came back home to our entire Maggie community with the arms and hearts wide open.
2023 – A Year of Recovery and Ticking Off the Bucket List
Watch this space……..
The dream of overlanding through Africa is still there, but we’ve decided to pick it back up in the future when we’re ready to hit the continent properly.
And that’s about it for our little travelling lives. It’s been a lot of fun, it’s been tough at times, but we couldn’t be happier with how things have panned out. Cheers for reading this far! We hope that gives you a bit more of an idea about who we are and what this site is about.
Hope to cross paths with you on the road. We’re always down for a drink and to talk travel.
Want to learn more about this website and how to make your life an adventure?
Meet the NOMADasaurus Team!
Now you’ve read all about who we are personally, but we want to introduce you to the rest of the NOMADasaurus team!
Co-Founder, Creative Director
With an insatiable appetite for adventure, happiness, prosperity and hilarity, Alesha is someone who has never accepted the unremarkable to be a part of her life.
Raised on a farm in a small outback town in Western Australia (when we say small, imagine 200 people and her closest neighbour being 10km away), Alesha quickly grew wanderlust for the bigger world and left home at the age of 20 to explore her own country and its neighbour, New Zealand.
When farther-flung places called her name, she leapt over the ocean to North America, where she worked and partied her way across the continent (until she met Jarryd of course). With nearly 100 countries now under her belt, she stares out into the distance and constantly dreams about what is on the other side of the horizon. She doesn’t let dreams stop her though, and she’s always jetting off to do things like go trekking in the mountains of Tajikistan or go kayaking in Antarctica.
Bringing a dose of sensibility to the company, Alesha adds direction and purpose to the adventure and is the humble photographer and creative director behind the majority of the wonderful images seen on NOMADasaurus. She is also the harmonica player, despite not knowing how to play the harmonica.
Explorer and anthropologist. Writer and teacher. Musician and artist. Philosopher and travel guide.
These are all professions that Jarryd has very little skills and attributes in, but that doesn’t stop him from trying.
Born in Sydney, Australia, Jarryd was bitten hard by the travel bug early on in his life and at the age of 20 left his home to be a ski bum in Canada. 12 years later, he still wants to be a ski bum, but has instead substituted that life for one of discovering new, exciting places all over the world.
With an all-encompassing passion for snow, mountain and water sports, and a love of travel and adventure, he endeavours to bring his enthusiasm for life to the far corners of the globe and inspire others to do the same.
Jarryd runs the business side of things at NOMADasaurus and is the CEO of the digital marketing agency, Peak Evolution Media. He is also the chief editor for the site, and the author behind many of the stories you’ll find here. In 2020 he was selected to be an official Sony Digital Imaging Advocate for Australia and New Zealand. His writing skills peaked at the ripe old age of 12, when he was awarded the coveted “Letter of the Month” in an Australian surfing magazine, and as a result won a custom-made surfboard. He has continued to write to this day, still hoping that someone will give him another surfboard for his ramblings. So far this has been unsuccessful.
Meet Our Team
From Europe to South America and everywhere in between, Chris has been a passionate traveller and writer for almost 20 years.
A successful documentary filmmaker, teacher and businessman, he is now exploring North America in an RV with his wife Lindsay and two dogs.
Chris officially joined the NOMADasaurus team in 2019 as our Head of Content and Strategy, and now works as our Project Manager across multiple online business ventures.
You can follow his journey on their website, Called To Wander.
Gabby is our senior editor and rockstar assistant at NOMADasaurus. Originally joining the team as one of our amazing team writers, her years of travel experience, passion for content and ninja-like management skills has seen her rise through the ranks to the point where we don’t know how we ever survived without her!
Gabby is from a small town in Massachusetts, USA. After getting a degree in International Relations and studying in London, she started doing work exchanges all over the world to experience new cultures and learn new skills. She has bartended in Peru and learned permaculture in South Africa. She has worked as a tour guide in Italy, an apple picker in rural Australia, and a housekeeper in Portugal. You can learn more about Gabby on her blog, Budget Travel with Gabby.
When it comes to travelling and living in Japan, Australia, Europe or Southeast Asia, nobody does it better than our fantastic staff writer, Amanda!
Born and raised in Australia, Amanda has always loved international travel and adventure. After quitting her law career in 2016, she set off to backpack around the world and pursue her dream of writing and photography.
You can check out more of her work on her site Explore Wider.
Richard focuses on the intrepid and off-beat destinations on NOMADasaurus, being a real expert when it comes to travelling in Central Asia, New Zealand, Europe and China.
Richard is originally from the UK, and fell in love with travelling at an early age. A 6-month trip through South East Asia and the Pacific lead to 7 years living in Beijing running a school and working as a musician. After getting married in 2018 Richard and his wife Miranda packed up their bags and headed off on a year long trip across Oceania, the Caucasus, Central Asia, China and Japan. He is passionate about all things Chinese and is a fluent Mandarin speaker. Check out Richard and his wife Miranda over at their site, www.abearandapig.com
One of the longest-serving members of our official NOMADasaurus team, Sasha is the go-to expert for travel in China, Japan, South Korea, Mexico, Central America and other epic destinations.
Along with his lovely wife Rachel, they are the Grateful Gypsies – a world travelling, English-teaching, jamband-following couple passionate about travel, culture, and music. They kindly hosted Alesha and Jarryd on their couch in Kunming, China back in 2015, and have been friends ever since. From working in Beijing to studying in Bali to traversing the USA on Phish tour, you can follow them on their long, strange tour at Grateful Gypsies.
If you’re looking for travel and road trip guides on Australia, Canada and New Zealand, Laura is one of the best in the business!
Laura is a Canadian based content creator who has had the opportunity to call the Canadian Rocky Mountains, Australia, New Zealand and most recently England home. Her travel experiences have taken her to the volcanoes of Central America, the waterfalls of Hawaii, the castles of England, and much more. She thrives in visiting new places and exploring off the beaten track destinations on a budget. She began blogging before she even knew what it was and a passion for photography fueled her to create She Who Wanders where she shares all her travel guides and photos.
Lindsay is the better half of Called to Wander. A passionate photographer, Lindsay has been travelling across North America with her husband and her Australian Cattle Dog in their truck camper documenting their experience. She is attempting to travel from Alaska to Argentina while overcoming Crohn’s Disease in order to inspire others to pursue their travel dreams.