A couple traveling from Thailand to South Africa without flying shares what it’s like to live and earn on the road

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Salem and Bradford, hiking the infamous ‘plank walk’ on Mount Huashan, China, a hike known as the most dangerous in the world.
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Jarryd Salem and Alesha Bradford

Jarryd Salem, 28, and Alesha Bradford, 31, met in a Canadian hostel in 2008.

After a year together in Canada, they spent nine months back home in Australia, paying off $23,000 of credit card debt and saving another $10,000.

They used their savings to partially finance an eight-month trip through Central America, and to make ends meet, “We took up any employment we could find, such as working construction, bar work, hospitality, cleaning, hostel jobs, anything that would keep us traveling,” Salem tells Business Insider in an email.

They then headed back to Australia to once again shore up their savings. In early 2014, they left, this time with the aim of backpacking from Thailand to South Africa without taking a single flight. In February, they got engaged in Vietnam, in the world’s largest cave, Hang Son Doong.

They document their adventures through their site, NOMADasaurus, as well as their Facebook and Instagram.

From Mongolia to Vietnam to Tajikistan, here’s what their life is like on the road.


“We always change where we are going next, and choose not to follow a set itinerary,” says Salem. “Our plans evolve constantly, usually after talking to other travelers and coming up with new ideas of where to go.”

In Tajikistan.


“Once we finish in Central Asia this year, we may spend 12 months in Europe, or we may head straight to Africa,” he continues. “Time will tell.”

In Haft-Kul, Tajikistan.


As they travel, Salem and Bradford work as freelance travel writers and photographers, and maintain their blog, which earns money through sponsored posts and affiliate sales. They started it in November, 2013 as a way to easily share information with other travelers.

The grasslands of Tashkurgan, near the borders of China, Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Tajikistan.


“We stay in small villages, travel for months at a time through undeveloped countries, try our best to find superb adventures to take part in despite the costs, and wild camp a lot,” says Salem. “We always put traveling as our number one priority over work.”

Two months have come and gone here in Mongolia, and it has been an incredible ride. We’ve rode camels in the Gobi Desert and hung out with fascinating reindeer herders in the North. Camped by lakes, in meadows of wildflowers and at the base of mountains, horse trekked through towering pine forests and stayed with nomadic families. We hitchhiked across the country with a couple of Kiwis in a giant overlanding truck and made new friends for life. We made plans to buy our own horses, but then found ourselves on a different path (check out our latest article explaining why). Hiking in national parks, climbing sand dunes, the adventures never ended. We also pulled our hair out at the unreliability and confusion of the transport system and struggled at times with the attitudes of the locals. Mongolia is not an easy place to travel, but that’s what makes it all the more special. Perhaps Mongolia has made it as one of our all-time favourite countries, but we will need a few weeks to reflect on everything that has happened here. For now we will re-enter China and start to make our way towards Kazakhstan. Thank you to everyone who followed along on our journey through Mongolia! Now it is onto the next adventure. #thankyou #goodbye #adventuretravel #Mongolia #exploremongolia #enjoymongolia

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In Mongolia.


But backpacking and visiting areas without regular or reliable internet connections means they have to get creative with their work schedule.

In Kashgar, Xinjiang, China.


When they do land somewhere with reliable internet and electricity, they spend three to four hours a day working on projects. “Often we go days or weeks without these luxuries, though, so we take notes on what to write and what to pitch, and then work longer hours when we do return to ‘civilization,'” Salem says.

Day turns to night over our campsite on the Great Wall of China. #China #greatwall #sunsets #beautiful #happy

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At the Great Wall of China.


In a typical month, their freelance work and their blog combined earns them $1,500-$2,000, although months where their location makes them unable to work as much can bring in less.

Climbing Mt. Huashan in China.


Their monthly expenses are currently about $1,500 a month. Some months they’re able to spend less by working with tour companies and hospitality companies in exchange for sponsored stays and activities.

On the Macau Tower in Macau.


Despite foregoing plane travel on their current trip, Salem and Bradford still find transportation to be the most expensive part of their travels. They try and keep costs down by hitchhiking where they can and by staying for a while in each new place.

Hiking over Tibetan grasslands to the Lhagang Monastery. #tagong #China #sichuan #explore #adventure #hiking

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Hiking over Tibetan grasslands to the Lhagang Monastery.


Because they’re always trying to reach off-the-beaten-path destinations, “we usually have to take shared taxis, or catch trains and buses that don’t usually have regular schedules,” explains Salem.

In Chengyang, China.


To keep costs down on the road, their best tip is to travel slow. “Staying longer in each destination allows you to cut down on transport costs, find out where the cheap eateries are and perhaps even bargain for accommodation,” Salem says. “We also like being self-sufficient by carrying our own camping and cooking gear.”

Riding what was once the highest railway bridge in the world in Myanmar.


And, Salem adds, don’t expect every day to be filled with cocktails and sunsets. “The majority of our time is spent catching transport, walking from accommodation to accommodation trying to find one that matches our budget, and doing everyday things like cooking and eating, laundry, and resting — or working.”

To all our friends and followers – Today sadly marks the end of the epic NOMADasaurus Southeast Asia Motorcycle Adventure. It has been a fascinating, gorgeous, and at times stressful, journey which we never expected to take part in. Who would have thought that our absent-minded internet search in Luang Prabang, Laos over 7 months ago would turn into one of the most incredible experiences of our entire lives. Today we rode into the town which we will now call home for the next 2 months (announcement on where that is tomorrow), and Gonzo and Disco will now be parked up and put on the market. Here are a few stats on our adventure: Bikes: 2 Days: 223 Kilometres: 14’000+ Countries: 3 Border Crossings: 3 Accidents: 0 Near Death Experiences: At least 10. Injuries: 2 (Alesha – Minor Exhaust Burn, Jazza – Stubbed Toe) Dropped Bikes: Jazza – 3, Alesha – 1 Animals Hit: Jazza – 1 Buffalo, Alesha – 1 Chicken, 1 Dog Major Breakdowns: 0 Minor Breakdowns: 2 (We managed to ride away) Police Fines: 0 Stopped By Police: 0 Bamboo Boat Trips: 3 Times We’ve Been Lost: Too many to count Mechanic Visits: 40+ Times Lesh Has Sworn At Jazza: 723’000 Kids Who Waved At Us: Thousands! Most Number Of Days Without Seeing Another Westerner: 8 Thanks to everyone who we met on the way, who we shared beers and laughs with, who we offered advice to and who we received it from. We would also like to thank everyone who followed along on our (mis)adventures, contacted us and egged us on. Now it’s time to go have a few cheeky beers to celebrate! #cambodia #laos #vietnam #motorbike #adventure #vietnammotorbikeadventure

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In Vietnam.


“It can be pretty stressful having to deal with things like visas and transport, especially when you do not speak the local language, and you do miss your friends and family back home,” he says. For this reason, he recommends travelers just starting out begin in “easy-to-travel places like Latin America or Southeast Asia, where you can keep your budget down and there is decent infrastructure for tourists.”

Wakeboarding in Vietnam.


For Salem and Bradford, long-term travel isn’t glamorous, but it’s what they choose to continue doing every day. “Our life revolves around experiencing new cultures, incredible interactions with the locals, exploring historical sites and trekking through pristine natural environments,” Salem says. “We wouldn’t change it for anything.”

The Tower of Belem. Another beautiful UNESCO World Heritage Site here in #Lisbon. @worldnomads #portugal #photo #europe

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At the Tower of Belem in Lisbon, Portugal.