Bria Celest, aka the Queen of Vacay, turned her ability to capture beautiful moments into a career in photography. Her work as a sought-after photographer afforded her the opportunity to travel the world while doing what she loved. Now, she’s sharing that love for travel and photography in two helpful e-books geared towards making globetrotting easier for others.

Travel Noire got the opportunity to sit down with Bria Celest to discuss her e-books, Trippin, how she balances work with vacationing, and why she decided to share her travel knowledge with the world.

Photo by: Bria Celest

Travel Noire: How do you balance traveling and your career in photography?

Bria Celest: It’s actually really easy to balance both as I do a ton of traveling with photography in mind. Most cities I go to, I’ll announce when I’m going and let people know I’m taking photoshoots, (if I am).

The amount of slots really just depends on how much work I want to do. I sometimes overbook myself and that can definitely be overwhelming when I also want to explore a city more but now that I’m in my 5th year or so of traveling, It’s easier to figure out the sweet spot, as in how many shoots to do to continue my livelihood but also having enough downtime to really see the city. 

Being a photographer also comes in handy because I’m out seeing the city and meeting locals and getting more insight about places, which is awesome to get that local perspective firsthand. I talk about making time for traveling in my 2nd book as well and detail just how anyone can make time for travel even with a standard 9-5!

Travel Noire: What inspired you to write “Trippin’”?

Bria Celest: My friend pushed me to do it (Thanks, Jerome lol). I was literally on a plane coming back from Colombia and I had just done my usual travel thread on Twitter, discussing costs, things to do, my experience etc., and my friend was texting me on the flight and basically asked, “Why haven’t you written a book about all this yet? I’d definitely buy it. People could use this knowledge.”

Writing a book has crossed my mind before, like a year ago, but it wasn’t something I pursued just because I thought it’d be way too time-consuming and I was just too busy. But in that moment on the plane, something clicked, and I started doing my research on how to even begin. I had no idea how to even write a book, where to write it, how to publish and sell etc.

So, shout out to YouTube for being the world’s best teacher. Once I figured out how I just started writing down the answers to the questions I’m constantly asked. I really enjoyed the idea of a book because it would have all my info in one place which is so convenient for people to learn from; I’ve really always just wanted to help people realize travel isn’t always what it seems, in multiple aspects and teach people how to do it on their own without their wallets taking a major hit. That’s always been my biggest goal which is why I’m very transparent with how I travel.

Travel Noire: What can readers expect to learn from Trippin?

Bria Celest: From both books, readers can expect to learn where to find deals and how to find the cheapest flights, little tricks to save on a vacation, how to pack efficiently (carry on only!), what to bring, where to find the best accommodation deals, how to pick a good Airbnb (I get this question a LOT surprisingly so I detailed how I look for them), and how to budget. I even created a 10-step planning guide to save the most amount of money for a trip! It’s the steps I use for every single trip I take. There’s a ton more information that I’ll save for the books 🙂 

Travel Noire: What’s the difference between the first e-book and the second?

The biggest differences are book 1 is really for the fundamentals of traveling. It’s for people who really don’t know much about it and are just wanting to get started. Book 2 is for the more experienced traveler who is looking for more info on traveling and traveling affordably. 

Photo by: Bria Celest

Travel Noire: What kinds of tips have been most helpful when it comes to your personal travel needs?

Bria Celest: For me, a big lesson and fairly recent one, has been about packing. I went on a month-long trip to South East Asia at the end of last year, and I was just considering baggage fees and how they can add up so quickly, especially on budget airlines where they’re usually more expensive. I decided to do an experiment, just to see if I could do it, and decided to take only a backpack.

So after spending a month in Asia with just a backpack, I came back a new woman. Not really but nearly! It was so relieving not having to lug around a bunch of stuff and have a huge suitcase and I easily saved $100. If you’re someone who travels a lot, that money can add up yearly. Even if you don’t travel a lot, having an extra $50-60 ($25-30 each way of a trip) in your pocket for spending is never a bad thing. All that being said, becoming a ‘carry-on only’ traveler is my most helpful tip and you really don’t need much of what you’re bringing most likely, anyway. I go through exactly how to become a ‘carry-on only’ traveler in my first book; I have a whole section for packing and how to do it efficiently.

Another huge lesson is shop around and don’t take the very first deal you see, as it may not even be the best deal.  I can be super impulsive and just want to jump on the first deal I see but now I take the time to look around and check out different sources to see if anything better exists. I also do my research on price trends and figure out if it could be better. I love getting the very best deal I can so I try not to just jump on the first thing I come across. I go into that in the planning section of my 2nd book. 

Travel Noire: How many countries have you visited so far?

Bria Celest: So far, I have been to 9 countries: Canada, Italy, France, Colombia, Japan, Jamaica, Vietnam, Thailand, Indonesia. And I’ll be adding Greece, Turkey, Croatia, Spain, and Jamaica before December.  I’ve also done about half of the U.S. as well.

Travel Noire: Which destination is your favorite?

Bria Celest: I literally fell in love with Thailand. I went to three cities and I contemplate moving there every day. The people are so friendly, It’s incredibly affordable and downright gorgeous. I wish I could wake up to the Bangkok skyline all the time. It’s truly an amazing place. 

Sunset in Bangkok from Airbnb window | Photo: Bria Celest

Japan is another place I fell in love with. It’s like another universe. There are just so many cool things happening, and to see and the FOOD is just perfection. I’m going to Tokyo for the 2nd time next month and then again for cherry blossom season next March/April. I can’t get enough!

Cartagena, Colombia is another place that really stood out for me. There is so much Black history there. I had no idea how deep our roots run there, it was so enlightening. I did a history tour around the city and it was overwhelming to find out just how much we’ve had to endure in just one single place. It rocked me, for sure. It’s also just a gorgeous place and so full of beautiful, Black People all over. I met so many locals. they were in love with my Afro & constantly told me how I looked like the murals that are all over. It was just so nice being surrounded by people who look like me and share my story. I would love to go back for an extended period of time. Oh and also, two words: SEA. FOOD. Nuff said

Photo by: Bria Celest

Travel Noire: What do you look for when looking for your next travel destination?

Bria Celest: One huge motivator for me is food. I love to dive right into new food cultures and experience local cuisine. Nothing brings people together quite like a good meal and I’ve met a ton of people just being out to eat different places. It’s always so cute how locals beam about their different dishes and restaurants. It’s a great talking subject and place of pride for people.

I also love a good photo so a big driving factor for picking a destination is the pictures I see online. I’ll see a picture of something from one of those aesthetic travel accounts or from a blogger and be like, “Wow, I need that photo too!”

Seafood dish in Cartagena | Photo by: Bria Celest

When I first began traveling, it was oftentimes centered around music festivals going on, but now I’ve expanded to world celebrations. I went to Yi Peng last year in Thailand and it was so magical. I’d like to do a lot more cultural celebrations such as Carnival in Brazil, Caribana in Toronto, New Year’s Eve in Sydney, Holi in India, La Tomatina in Spain, Songkran in Thailand, Mardi Gras, Comic-Con, etc. I love the idea of diverse groups of people all coming together in celebration/harmony of one central idea. That is really cool to see and be a part of so I’d def love to do more things like that in the coming years and document it. 

Travel Noire: Where can readers pick up your books? My books can be found at Book 1 is $7 and book 2 is $8 OR you can get both in a bundle for $13.50! The final book, Book 3, will be coming out in November/December and I plan for it to be even more in-depth than the other two. I also plan to start doing travel guides on the places I go as well.