International travel is often the path to career success, and Brownell Travel is offering professionals the opportunity to marry the two in a unique three-month “digital nomad” program.
As many as 40 travelers can join a group being organized by the Birmingham, AL-based agency for the first “Sojourn,” departing in February 2018. The group will work, live and play for one month each in Montevideo, Uruguay; Buenos Aires, Argentina; and Santiago, Chile.
Travelers can continue to work in their current business role from a professional workspace in each city vetted by Brownell staff.
Living space includes luxury apartments with a private bathroom and kitchen, and organized weekend events to help travelers immerse themselves in local culture and learn more about the cities and countries they are visiting. There are no shared living spaces; each traveler has his or her own apartment.
Host and travel agent Amanda Foshee, who was inspired to create Sojourns from her own work abroad experience, travels with the group, helping with local experiences and serving as a contact for living and working needs.
Foshee and her husband found when they were abroad “they lacked a sense of community. There was no built-in group of peers and travelers to do something with together on the weekend. They also worked from home, and found they missed an office environment.”
The workspace, which will be within walking distance of the accommodations, will have high-speed Internet access, printers and even a full time employee to manage landline phone calls.
Brownell’s vice president of marketing and development Haisley Smith said the program costs about $4,500 a month. Travelers “apply” for the program, so Brownell can assess whether the traveler’s job and professional and personal needs match with the locations and experience Brownell has curated for them.
Local living and professional spaces were sourced through existing Brownell suppliers, Smith said. “The difference we provide is our trusted partners, our local surrogates in place. They will Facetime and Skype us from each accommodation, looking under every pillow and into every workspace, to show us what it looks like on the ground, before we select something for Sojourns.”
Inspiration came from digital nomad travel agent
Sojourns host Foshee was inspired to develop the offering after living and working remotely for three months in France with her husband in 2015. She realized how important an experience it was for her and her husband, both personally and professionally, said Smith. “They were completely connected to work and were able to keep their careers moving along while traveling abroad,” Smith said.
But Forshee, a Millennial, also realized that long-term overseas workers struggle to find the reliable, high-speed Internet, secure workspaces, centrally located private housing, and a community of peers that can help them thrive working abroad.
One of the innovations Foshee has brought from her working trip to France are the weekly “Wow” events, Smith said, which will include authentic and local experiences like cooking classes and dinners with a prominent local family.
“Sojourns have appeal to a fantastic cross-section of travelers including professionals who were inspired by their time studying abroad and telecommuters from the technology, research, and finance industries,” said Brownell president and CEO, Troy Haas.
Smith said that Millennials and Baby Boomers are the two age groups generating the most applications, adding that they reside in just about every part of the United States. “Common denominator is they are intrepid travelers who want the opportunity to live and work abroad. Otherwise, they come from every type of work status, from full employment, to contract work, to self-employed.”