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Hey guys, welcome to NOMADasaurus, Australia’s biggest adventure travel blog run by us, the award-winning travel writers and photographers 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 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 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, CBS Canada, Kyrgyz network television and dozens of podcasts.
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. It’s a bit of a long one, so 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.
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 broke down in Southern BC. In a fit of spontaneity, we sold Latoya to a friend for $500 and bought one-way tickets to Guatemala.
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 one 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.
We returned to Australia, bought another campervan to live in and started saving some money to fund the next dream. At the last minute we flipped the trip in reverse, bought one-way tickets to Thailand to attend a friend’s wedding, and started slowly wandering towards South Africa.
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 14 months in Southeast Asia. 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, 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.
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 social media following. 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.
Naturally, we got bored after 3 weeks, 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. In the end we decided to fly back to Thailand and rented an apartment for 3 months in Chiang Mai.
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 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. It was by far the greatest place we had ever visited.
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 still exists today, 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.
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 we’re very excited about.
Home is never home long for us though. We took a 5-week campervan trip to New Zealand, and halfway through the year 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!
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 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.
That didn’t stop us from travelling through, and going back to our roots, we ended up buying a Mercedes Sprinter campervan to explore Australia!
We couldn’t be more excited to be travelling around our home country in the van. We’ve even made a brand new blog to document our experiences, and you can check it out over here at Van Life Theory.
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?
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) Lesh quickly grew wanderlust for the bigger world and left home at the age of 20 to explore her home country and its neighbour, New Zealand.
When farther flung places called her name, she leapt over the ocean to the US and Canada where she worked and partied her way across the continent. With more than a handful of countries already under her belt, she stares out into the distance and constantly dreams about what is on the other side of the horizon. She’s grown tired of just wondering and now is taking the next step to discover for herself what is out there.
Bringing a dose of sensibility to the partnership, Lesh adds direction and purpose to the adventure and is the humble photographer 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 Jazza has very little skills and attributes in, but that doesn’t stop him from trying.
Born in Sydney, Australia, Jazza 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. 8 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.
Jazza is the chief author of the stories and writings found on NOMADasaurus. 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.