Meet Briona, a Black nomad, writer, foodie and a lover of adventures around the world. Briona’s life is inspiring, no doubt the glorious pictures of food or poetry excerpts help to convince us of that. More impressive? Her ability to forge beautiful connections wherever she touches down- all while documenting it to inspire Black people globally.
In this Travel Noire interview, Briona shares exactly how she ‘nomads’, her love for the continent, connecting with the Diaspora and her dos and don’ts of this lifestyle.
Tell us about yourself
My name is Briona (she/her). I’m from Baltimore, Maryland. I’m an award-winning travel journalist, Black history writer, and poet. All of my work is ever an ode to Black life, especially Black women. I’m a 2x London expat and am currently digital nomading around the world, recently spending a few weeks in Mexico City with shorter stints in The Dominican Republic, Dubai, UAE, and France.
I run a Black travel community called Buoyant–named for our people’s carefree and resilient spirits. We host group trips and meet up’s globally. Since 2019, our signature group trip has been to Ghana every December, and it’s one of my favorite things in the world (and a part of my life’s work) to connect Black diasporans with the continent. We’ve had Black folks from everywhere, including the US, France, Jamaica, Cameroon, Haiti, etc.
When did you start traveling?
I started traveling in 2016 during my first study abroad experience in London. It was a whirlwind of a time–in the best way possible–so I haven’t stayed put since. When I was a freshman in college, my mom heard about studying abroad from a coworker and encouraged me to learn more about my university’s programs. Honestly, it wasn’t something that ever crossed my mind because I didn’t know anyone personally who was globetrotting. I grew up on Southern road trips and traveling to amusement parks with my family.
By my junior year of college, I was off to London, leaving the US for the first time at twenty years old and solo–no one else from my school was studying in London that semester, so I was truly alone. It ended up being the best semester of my life, and it hands down made up for the biggest regret of my life: attending a PWI instead of an HBCU.
While studying in London, my friends and I spent spring break hopping around Europe. The entire experience taught me a lot about the world outside of what I was used to, and it sparked my career in writing about travel and food. In 2018, I went back to London again to study for my master’s degree, but honestly, a big part of my decision to go back was to travel and see more of the world. It’s the best thing I’ve ever done.
What attracts you most about the nomad life?
I enjoy the independence and “freedom” of living a nomadic life. As a Black woman in the US and the descendant of enslaved Africans, being “free” in the US is not something my people nor I have ever truly known. We experience pockets of freedom like at cookouts and family reunions, our being surrounded by Black folks at block parties or festivals, especially during celebrations like Juneteenth.
But these moments are fleeting, and being in a Black body in America means to be in a perpetual state of questioning, anger, grievance, and always under the thumb of white supremacy. It takes a toll on us all, and traveling elsewhere, particularly to Black majority countries, provides an unmatched relief where I can just be–even if temporarily.
I hope that as many Black people, specifically those born and living in white-majority countries, get to experience life outside our current realities. My full-time remote role and freelancing side hustle are the only way I can travel frequently. After getting my first taste of remote work during a college internship, I intentionally crafted my career this way. Whether it’s full-time digital nomadism or taking short vacations a few times a year, I want all my people to be as close to feeling liberated in their minds and bodies as possible, and traveling is just one way to do so.
Focusing on being a foodie, which are the best destinations for traveling foodies?
I’m a foodie through and through. Some of the best places I’ve eaten around the world are Mexico, Ghana, and my hometown, Baltimore. London is an honorable mention because I’ve eaten my way around the city for years, and it’s an underrated food city, but really, you can find almost every cuisine in the world there.
What are your dos and don’ts as a nomadic traveler?
My nomadic traveler do’s are: date in other countries, say ‘yes’ to new things as often as possible, document your experiences (whether journaling or posting content online), go to events/meet-ups to find other like-minded folks, meet locals, always find good food, look for other Black people everywhere and keep in touch with people you meet along the way.
My don’ts are: being close-minded, not sharing your location/travel details with loved ones, eating boringly, and staying in uncomfortable accommodations just to save a dollar.
Where is your favorite place in the world (so far)?
My favorite place in the world is Ghana, and my future favorite place in the world will always be on the continent. There is no place where I’ve ever felt truly free in this body except Ghana. When you live a life constantly surrounded by white supremacy and all of its ills, it’s impossible not to feel “at home” in a place like Ghana, where everyone looks like me, and I don’t have to fear for my life constantly. There is no better feeling. Beyond the relief, the people are beautiful, the food is immaculate, and every type of terrain (from beaches to mountains) exists there. I now consider it one of my second homes and will continue to return again and again for the rest of my life.