At 26, Brie Burgett has visited more places than most of us can even dream about going in a lifetime.
When I talked with the Lancaster, Ohio, native by phone almost two weeks ago, Burgett had been to six continents and 65 countries — including nine related to assignments with the Marines, which she joined in 2011.
By today, Burgett will have hit country No. 66: Gabon, on the Atlantic coast of central Africa.
The graduate of Lancaster High School and Ohio University can’t remember a time when she wasn’t in love with the idea of traveling.
“I grew up reading National Geographic,” she said from her home in Stuttgart, Germany. “One summer — I was about 16 or 17, lifeguarding in Ohio — I wrote out a bucket list of all the exotic places I wanted to go. And I’ve slowly just been marking things off.
“Everywhere I go, I find new places I want to go and talk to people who tell me about new places — and I add those to the list and keep going new places.”
Burgett finished active duty a couple of years ago. In Stuttgart, she is a reservist on full-time assignment with the Marines and coordinates U.S. training of African nations’ militaries. She squeezes in trips whenever possible and runs a gorgeous travel blog www.thebrieadventure.com.
“Travel pushes me outside my comfort zone, so I do things — like bungee jumping and dirt biking — that I never even thought I would in that first bucket list,” Burgett said.
Q: What are some of your favorite experiences?
A: Scuba diving at Easter Island, seeing the sunrise in Angkor Wat in Cambodia and the Seven Wonders of the World — those were some of my first really big bucket-list places I wanted to work out. Also, exploring the temples in Burma in Old Bagan. That’s the city where they have all of the temples scattered around. Right now it’s very low-key and underdeveloped, but in 10 (or) 20 years, tourists will flood it. I rented a bicycle and pedaled around and got to visit all of these old temples. They have different styles of pagodas. Some you can go inside, and some you climb up the outside.
Q: So much of the world seems anti-American right now. How have people reacted to you on your travels?
A: Most places aren’t nearly as anti-American as the media makes it seem. Especially when traveling, you get to know people one-to-one — they are generally very friendly and open. Even as a solo female traveling around, I’ve found that as long as you travel smart, it’s just as safe oversees as it is in most places in the States.
Q: I loved your blog post on the most incredible swimming pools you’ve been to.
A: The Singapore pool, that was the main reason I decided to go to Singapore. Swimming in a pool on top of a skyscraper was insane. It was at nighttime, and you can swim up to the edge, like 55 stories tall, and you’re looking over the entire bay. Fireworks were going off when I was there for the country’s birthday. It seemed like you were swimming on top of the world.
Q: Where do you want to go next?
A: I definitely want to go to Antarctica. I also want to hike Kilimanjaro. I hiked Patagonia in Chile and Mount Fuji in Japan, but this would be the first of my Seven Summits. I have it penciled in for this summer.
Q: A video on your website shows you eating a scorpion. Would you do that again?
A: Probably not. Sometimes you just end up eating these strange foods because you’re given something by a local and you want to be polite. I went to the Philippines with the Marine Corps. We were doing a humanitarian civic project — we were building a school. We had spent several weeks there with our foreign Marine counterparts, and, at the end, we had a big dinner to celebrate and they brought me balut. It’s an almost-formed duck or goose right before it hatched, and so you’re crunching through the little bones and feathers. I just ate it in one very large bite. That’s one of the more difficult things I’ve eaten.
Q: What’s your best advice for other travelers?
A: Especially for young people starting out, find a way to make it happen. There are endless opportunities — and, for students and college kids, they can take a summer instead of doing a small job in their hometown. They can find a way to get to Costa Rica or Puerto Rico, maybe work in a hospital, and they have the opportunity to explore a whole new area or country. It builds their confidence and problem-solving and independence.
— Jenny Applegate can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.