Unpacking Wellness: Kristen Brown's Travel Essentials for a Balanced Journey wellness essentials unpacked kristen brown interview

Unpacking Wellness: Kristen Brown’s Travel Essentials for a Balanced Journey

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Get ready for an incredible journey that intertwines serendipity, travel, and the pursuit of pure joy. Close your eyes and imagine a brief, exhilarating 3-month stay in the breathtaking paradise of Tamarindo, Costa Rica. I was fortunate to experience this back in 2015 during my nomadic travel adventures. Little did I know that destiny had something extraordinary in store for me—a chance encounter with a remarkable soul named Kristen Brown, Lifestyle Photographer and Sunset Chaser of Samba To The Sea. Her infectious energy, zest for life, and her adorable sidekick, Gidget, swept me off my feet, instantly forging an unbreakable bond of friendship.

I’ve had the pleasure of interviewing Kristen on my podcast before, and her story is inspiring. Kristen fearlessly bid farewell to the fast-paced corporate banking world in New York City. She “traded her heels for a surfboard and camera, seeking solace and inspiration in the tropical paradise of Costa Rica,” as Kristen likes to describe her life-changing move. It didn’t take long for her extraordinary talent for photography to captivate hearts and catch the attention of prestigious publications like Harper’s Bazaar, Coastal Living, American Express, and Real Simple.

Driven by an unwavering passion for riding the waves, capturing breathtaking sunsets, and embracing the raw authenticity of each moment, Kristen has carved out two remarkable havens she proudly calls home: Tamarindo, Costa Rica, and Savannah, Georgia. With open arms and a warm heart, she extends an invitation to join her on an awe-inspiring journey filled with thrilling adventures, deep connections, and an unwavering celebration of life’s simple pleasures.

Kristen is an avid traveler from Tamarindo’s golden shores to Savannah’s enchanting beauty and everywhere in between; I was curious to know what Kristen’s Wellness Travel Essentials are! So let’s unpack this series and see what top five wellness essentials she always packs in her travel bag.


Unpacking Wellness: Kristen Brown's Travel Essentials for a Balanced Journey KristenBrown SambatotheSea Portrait

Wellness Bum: To kick things off, could you please introduce yourself and tell us a bit about your field of expertise?

Kristen Brown: Back in 2011, it was love at first wipeout after my first surf lesson in New York City. Within a year of that exhilarating experience, I bid farewell to the corporate banking world and embarked on an extraordinary journey that combined my passion for surfing and photography. I had the incredible opportunity to work alongside Robert August, the legendary surfboard shaper and “Senor Endless Summer,” in Costa Rica. As I discovered the magic of Costa Rican sunsets, my camera became my faithful companion, allowing me to capture and share the beauty that surrounded me. Today, I am grateful to be a professional photographer, dividing my time between Costa Rica, Savannah, GA, and wherever my photography takes me.

Specializing in natural light and lifestyle photography, my heart sings when I capture genuine moments bathed in the golden glow of sunrise and sunset. In addition to being a photographer, I also operate The Sunset Shop, an online print store where I sell my captivating sunset, beach, and landscape prints. I have collaborated with brands and businesses, with my work featured in esteemed publications such as Harper’s Bazaar and Coastal Living. From families to elopements and intimate weddings to honeymoons and engagements, I am a photographer for those who share my adventurous spirit and deep love for chasing sunsets.

WB: Wellness travel is all about maintaining a healthy lifestyle while exploring new places. What sparked your interest in wellness travel, and how has it become a part of your life?

KB: Living in Costa Rica in a small beach town, I’m surrounded by nature all day, from walking on the beach with my Chihuahua to surfing the ocean. Every day I’m reminded of how magical and amazing nature is and how fortunate we are to call Earth our home. Unfortunately, I also see the effects of us humans on nature every day – from trash on the beach to injured wildlife. Whenever I’m on the beach (or anywhere), I’m always picking up trash. I’m a proud member of 1% for the Planet, where I annually pledge 1% of my gross revenues to this amazing non-profit that fights to keep nature magical.

WB: Now, onto the essentials! We’re curious to know, what are the top five items you always make sure to pack in your travel bag for a wellness-focused trip?

  1. Lacrosse ball (my go-to for stretching)

  2. Tea bags

  3. Dry-fit workout clothing

  4. Reef safe SPF *

  5. My camera

WB: We’re all about finding balance here at Wellness Bum. Could you share one indulgent item you would like to bring along with your wellness essentials to treat yourself?

Dark chocolate!

WB: Travel can sometimes disrupt our routines. How do you manage to stay consistent with your wellness practices while on the go?

KB: When I travel, I try to walk everywhere vs being in a car. By nature, walking is slower, and it helps me explore at a slower pace and discover things that I might not have noticed in a car. Also, taking time to do a morning or evening meditation, and if I want to really get my heart rate up while traveling, I have a subscription for streaming workouts.

WB: Wellness can mean different things to different people. How do you define wellness personally, and how does it influence your travel experiences?

KB: It’s all about how I feel physically, mentally, and spiritually. It’s not about a number on the scale; wellness isn’t static; it’s an ebb and flow.

WB: We love hearing about personal experiences. Can you recall a memorable wellness travel moment that left a lasting impact on you? Feel free to share any details!

KB: All of my travels involving visiting natural places influenced me. From mountain tops to pristine beaches, I’m always in awe of how beautiful our planet is, and I feel so fortunate to have the opportunity to capture the beauty with my camera. My travels also always reinforce why I’m committed to doing my part as a human and a business to keep nature beautiful.

WB: For our readers who are embarking on their wellness journey and are about to travel, what advice would you give them?

KB: Go with the flow and get your hands dirty — the magic and growth happen when you least expect it.

WB: Lastly, we’d love to know what’s next for you in the world of wellness travel. Are there any exciting projects or destinations on the horizon that you’re looking forward to exploring?

I’m headed to Massachusetts at the end of August to photograph a wedding, and part of that trip I will be exploring the beautiful New England coastline. I also have a couple of Costa Rica locations on my list to explore + photograph this year — I can’t wait!

Chase sunsets and dance waves with Kristen Brown: sambatothesea.com & Instagram.com/sambatothesea. Listen to our 2018 Podcast Interview with Kristen Brown here.

* Reef-safe SPF: Not all SPF’s are created equal. Take a look at SaveTheReef.org and see the best (and worst.)

Hi, I’m Valerie!

I'm an Integrative Nutrition Health Coach and Registered Yoga Teacher (RYT-200), offering guidance to high achievers in aligning their lifestyle with well-being through daily wellness and self-care routines, promoting balance and harmony. Join me at Wellness Bum for tips on living well, and consider subscribing to my newsletter or booking a coaching session.