“This makes 107 countries,” chuckles Marine Officer Brie Burgett from her room in Bulgaria. She had recently returned from a military ball in Vienna and was already packed to head to Uganda for an assignment the following day. She shares her adventures with readers on her blog (The Brie Adventure) and on Instagram (@thebrieadventure).
But her jet-setting lifestyle is only one part of her day-to-day; Brie is also a Marine.
Brie’s love of travel and adventure come naturally. Her parents worked with a variety of relief organizations, which led the family to live abroad as well as in the United States. Spending a good portion of her childhood in Hungary, Brie grew up appreciating what she could learn from other cultures. She graduated from Ohio University at age 19 and decided to join the United States Marine Corps to serve her country, work with exceptional people, and see the world. “The opportunities they give you when you’re very young are unparalleled,” says Brie.
As a Combat Engineer, Brie gets to work on building infrastructure in various places around the world. While stationed in Okinawa, Japan, she worked as part of a team that provided Humanitarian Aid and built schools in Thailand and the Philippines. While there, she hiked Mount Fuji, found local waterfalls, and took ferries to all of the surrounding islands. She did all of this while serving full-time as a dedicated Marine.
Since transitioning to the Marine Corps Reserves, Brie has become a Sub-Saharan Africa Regional Affairs Officer, now serving in Stuttgart, Germany. “When you’re flexible, you find yourself traveling to Africa all the time,” she said.
“It’s all about careful planning,” she says of balancing travel with military responsibilities. “Take advantage of both short and long weekends. Save your money and your leave days for travel.” By planning out her available free time intentionally, Brie is able to stick within her budget while experiencing trips of a lifetime. While on Temporary Assigned Duty in Morocco, she was able to extend her trip by four days to explore the area. Only paying for her lodging and personal expenses, Brie took a camel trek into the desert, seeing the sunset over the Sahara.
As much as she enjoys globe-trotting adventures, Brie notes that travel doesn’t have to be exotic to be memorable. “I try to have the mindset of taking advantage of what is local and close by,” says Brie. She has always made it a point to explore both well-known landmarks and sights that are off the beaten path where she has been stationed. Brie has been stationed internationally and right here in Hampton Roads, Virginia. There is a lot to see and do within a short drive from most military installations. She encourages everyone to find out the best way to get around where you are and start exploring!
Brie’s must-see attractions in Virginia
Shenandoah Valley: This nature-lover’s paradise is just a short drive away from Washington, D.C., and has plenty of activities that are free or cheap to enjoy. With over 500 miles of trails, campsites and backcountry camping opportunities, fishing, and special exhibits and events, Shenandoah National Park has something for everyone. Active Duty military members and Veterans can often take advantage of reduced prices, making this the perfect adventure for those wanting to get outdoors. Make it a weekend trip by combining your visit with a stop by nearby Luray Caverns and a tasting at a local Virginia vineyard.
Croaker, VA: When Presidents Park in Williamsburg, Virginia, went into foreclosure, no one knew what to do with the 43 twenty-foot tall busts of our nation’s leaders that had been part of the park’s open air exhibit. Local man Howard Hankins took them to his farm, where they now sit, ready for exploration. The eerie feel of the giant weathered statues makes the perfect backdrop for photos. While this is not an official tourist attraction, Brie loves to explore “really cool, unique things,” and this sculpture graveyard is exactly that.
Town Point Virginia Wine Festival: Festivals and special events are a great way to get to know what’s in your area. Every spring, over 200 vendors set up tents in Norfolk, Virginia’s Town Point Park. Guests can sample the best wine and foods from all over Virginia and the east coast. Brie recommends choosing a few vendors to check out after the Festival. This is how she ended up kayaking on Virginia’s Eastern Shore, culminating in a tasting and behind-the-scenes tour at Chatham Vineyards.
Washington, DC: There is so much to see and do in our nation’s capital. Brie likes to start with a run on the National Mall to see the monuments. She also recommends Restaurant Week, when diners can try the city’s most exclusive restaurants on their fixed-price menu. Take advantage of last-minute bookings to save some money on a hotel and you will quickly be enjoying a fun-filled weekend without breaking your budget.
What’s next for this intrepid Marine explorer? After reaching her goal to see all seven Wonders of the World before the age of 25, Brie has now set her sights on visiting all seven continents before she turns 30. She loves to share tips with other travel enthusiasts on her blog and Instagram. She’s worked with travel companies to reach a bigger audience and would love to continue showing the world that an adventurous lifestyle is possible for everyone.
“I just need Antarctica,” she laughs. While there, she plans to climb Mount Vinson. She has been training for the trek and has climbed Mount Kilimanjaro in Africa and Mount Elbrus in Russia. “If you stick with it, you’ll finish it,” she says of climbing higher and higher peaks.
From seeing the Northern Lights in Tromso, Norway, to enjoying a rooftop meal amid hot air balloons floating in Cappadocia, Turkey, Brie Burgett makes the military lifestyle travel-friendly. Whether she is building things as a Combat Engineer or sharing her latest trip insights at The Brie Adventures, you can find your inspiration from her stunning photos and amazing tips.
“Taking that first step, doing that first trip, is the best thing you can do,” she says. “You’ll find out it’s the most incredible experience.”