By Alison M. Brown
Half-way through my last quarter in college, a couple friends and I explored a local hostel in Santa Barbara, California. One of the walls was decorated with a brightly colored mural, depicting a life-size map of the world.
"Let's go on a trip after graduation," I said to my friends.
"I'm going to close my eyes and wherever my hands land, that's where we'll go."
I gently closed my eyes and stepped towards the wall. I laid my fingertips against the cold paint and let my imagination guide me. The wall was bumpy and smooth, and my fingers wandered from left to right. When I felt the time was right, I slowly opened my eyes and saw that my hands had lead me to Southeast Asia.
Later that year, my friend and I agreed to backpack through Asia for five months together. Graduation was approaching, so we booked a roundtrip ticket to Bangkok for $1,000 USD with a two week layover in Tokyo on our way back.
During that five months of travel, I learned more about life than twenty-three years of living. I learned how to save money, how to live on a strict budget, how to negotiate on the spot, how to talk my way out of difficult situations, how to be a good judge of character, how to communicate without words, how to be open, how to make friends quickly, and how to feel confident in my ability to navigate the world and make connections with people from all walks of life.
I saw how other people lived with less and were happier than a lot of people I knew back home. It taught me how simplicity is key, and how little you actually need to be comfortable.
Ever since this trip, I've had an insatiable curiosity for other cultures. In 2011, I packed up my life and moved to Australia for nearly four years where I worked in the environmental industry and completed a dual master's degree.
From an American point of view, excessive travel is indulgent, but for me, it's a necessity. It's how I thrive, and it's shaped the values that are most important to me. This September, I'm heading to a wedding in Hanoi, Vietnam in September, followed by one month in Bali where I'll be staying at an artist residency in Ubud, then six weeks in Melbourne, Australia, a.k.a my second home. I'll primarily be focusing on my photography and spending countless hours marketing myself and also making connections with people from around the world. I'm going to be working out of two co-working spaces, one called Hubud in Bali and the other called One Roof in Melbourne for female entrepreneurs.
Please check in on my website for updates + new content! I'm going to be writing more frequently and publishing images from my experiences over the next several months. You can also follow me on Instagram @alisonbrownphotography.
Let the adventures begin :)