Recessions aren’t good for freelance photographers. When the economy tanked in 2008, my income slowly started to disappear. But instead of worrying, I decided to quit everything and spend a year globetrotting. It may seem like a bold move in uncertain times, but I gained one valuable asset: an abundance of time.

I booked a flight to Australia, applied for a work visa, and never looked back. I arrived in Sydney with roughly $10,000 in my bank account, no set plans and unlimited freedom.

A few weeks later, I found a job bartending at an old hotel with an amazing view of the Opera House. Within a few months, I had met with every major media company in Sydney and started photographing bands for the Australian edition of Rolling Stone. (So much for quitting everything, right?)

Still, my gain goal was to explore. I drove the Great Ocean Road (the Australian version of Pacific Coast Highway), hiked Kakadu National Park in Darwin and went scuba diving on the Great Barrier Reef. I took the three-day train from Adelaide to Perth in an attempt to grasp the vast size and scope of the country. And through it all, I traveled solo, sometimes with people I met along the way.

Australia wasn’t my first solo trip but it was definitely the most transformational journey. It gave me the courage and confidence to build a life I wanted—a life of nonstop adventure and travel. Photography stuck with me, but I reordered what life as a photographer might look like. 

Once I started living my daydreams, it redefined the possibilities of the world. There is a clarity that comes from traveling solo and being 5,000 miles away from everything familiar. The more I tried to focus on a traditional career, the more life pushed me to go travel. And I discovered that when you go do the things you want to do, the world starts to notice.

Anna Mazurek is a travel photographer and writer based in Austin, Texas. Follow her adventures and travel advice on Instagram at @annamazurekphoto and TravellikeAnna.com.

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