Anna is one of The Travel Women Ambassadors and a freelance photographer and writer based in Austin, Texas. READ MORE ABOUT OUR AMBASSADORS HERE.
1. Why do you travel?
I travel because it makes me feel alive—truly and completely alive! Travel is education. I find travel (especially India) to be my greatest teacher.
2. What do you think of when you think of a woman traveler?
As a woman who has traveled solo to almost 45 countries, I consider a woman traveler to be an independent and fun-loving individual. She is the type of person who smiles and finds the courage to live her daydreams despite even the toughest circumstances. She constantly inspires others through her adventurous and relentless spirit!
3. What was your favorite travel experience?
When the economy tumbled in 2008, I quit everything, booked a flight to Australia and never looked back. Recessions aren’t ideal for freelance photographers. It was a bold move in uncertain times, but I gained one valuable asset—an abundance of time. I drove the Great Ocean Road, hiked Kakadu National Park in Darwin and went scuba diving on the Great Barrier Reef. I traveled solo or with people I met along the way.
It was both the best and most difficult journey of my life. Traveling solo gave me the courage and confidence to build a life I wanted—not the life society wanted me to live. In hindsight, the recession was a cleverly disguised opportunity to start living my daydreams and travel for a living. I regret nothing about that decision.
4. Which place(s) do you want to go next, why?
Next week, I head to Iceland. It’s going to be one of the most amazing (and expensive!) trips of my life. It’s a photographer’s dream – waterfalls, glacier lagoons and fluffy horses! Eastern Europe is also creeping higher on my list – Prague, Budapest, Berlin and Croatia. I’d love to make it to Greece, too. And, Zanzibar… The list never ends.
5. When did you start traveling?
All I have ever wanted to do is travel. I didn’t grow up traveling, but I found a way to make it happen. The first time I stepped on a plane, I was 19. The next year I moved to England to study abroad. The best part is that I went solo. Getting on that plane to London literally changed my entire life. I fell in love with traveling and photography. Fast forward a decade, I’ve traveled to five continents and lived in five states and five countries.
6. Who do you prefer traveling with?
Hands down, traveling solo. The majority of my travels are long-term so traveling solo is the most practical. (Although, on my seven-month trip in Latin America last year, several friends were able to meet up with me for short periods of time!) I love being master of my own schedule and budget. It’s so much easier to meet people when I’m solo because it makes me more approachable. I don’t ever feel alone. The best part is that on road trips, I can sing horribly loud to the radio with no one to judge me!
7. Why do you enjoy photographing/writing about travel?
Everything I do in life is for the story. I was born a journalist. (I have a Master’s degree in photojournalism from the University of Missouri.) Writing and photography help me process my experiences—the good and the bad. I always keep a paper journal when I travel to write down everything – how I feel, the people I met, the colors of the sunset, etc. I always have my camera by my side so I can document every second.
The main tool I use to inspire people is Alfred, my globe-trotting gnome. I photograph him in iconic places across the world. If a tiny little gnome can travel the world, why can’t you?
8. What is your favorite souvenir?
My favorite souvenir is a strand of turquoise Tibetan Buddhist prayer beads I bought in McLeod Ganj, India, which is home of the Dalai Lama. The next day, I was lucky enough to get a photo pass to photograph one of the Dalai Lama’s teachings at this temple. It was one of the most amazing experiences of my travels and life. I consider the prayer beads to be blessed since they were in his presence. To this day, I still wear those beads around my arm every time I travel.