The great pause of 2020 gave chained-to-your-desk office culture a shakeup that was long overdue. Combine that with pent-up wanderlust and you have the perfect recipe for a growing work-from-anywhere movement. With that in mind, Tara Cappel, founder of FTLO Travel, a group travel company for young professionals, launched Sojrn in April 2021 to inspire remote-working professionals to take their careers abroad.
“I started looking at how the pandemic would change the way people would live, work, and move because they could bring their careers with them,” Cappel says. “More than that, I was so inspired by people who were picking up hobbies and discovering dormant interests that were really bringing them joy and purpose during the lockdown.”
A fusion of work from home and study abroad, Sojrn offers aspiring digital nomads a turnkey solution to live, work, and learn globally. With rates starting at $2,800, each Sojrn “chapter” lasts four weeks and includes workspaces with top-speed Wi-Fi, a local host, and a curriculum of themed activities to immerse yourself in your temporary home base. Private accommodations, typically in a studio, private room in a shared apartment, or your own room in a four-star hotel, are also included. The 2021 chapter lineup—which is already selling out—kicks off in September with Philosophy in Greece, followed by Wines in Tuscany, Mental Wellness in Bali, and Spanish in Colombia.
While anyone age 21 and up is welcome, so far the average age of participants is around 34. Most are American, but there are 2,500 future sojourners from 54 countries currently on the waitlist for 2022 travel dates.
No more study abroad FOMO
Having studied abroad and lived in five countries, Cappel is no stranger to living and working overseas. But for those who didn’t grow up traveling or have access to study abroad opportunities in school, international travel can seem intimidating and out of reach. With Sojrn, Cappel hopes to usher in a new genre of travel that is sustainable, immersive, and meaningful while making the study abroad experience more attainable for those who missed out in college, even if they now have a full-time job.
“When you go on a weeklong vacation, you can, in essence, vacate your real life,” she says. “But when you go somewhere for a month, you take your reality with you and get to experience it through a completely different lens. That has powerful potential to shift perspectives and open minds.”
In addition to a workstation in the accommodation of your choice, Sojrn provides access to two additional workspaces including a coworking space and a partner café, both located within walking distance of your home.
Because participants may be committed to unusual work hours or international time zones, the Sojrn experience is designed to offer more independence than other group trips. You’ll have the opportunity to connect with anywhere from 15 to 40 like-minded adults in your chapter should you choose to make new friends, but the one group-oriented activity included each week will offer at least two session times to accommodate different schedules.
During the Wine in Tuscany chapter in October (which is already sold out for 2021 dates), participants will be based in the province of Siena and have the opportunity to work from a Tuscan vineyard, learn to read a wine list, take part in a pairing workshop, and have their taste profile analyzed by a professional sommelier.
The slow travel ethos
Because being conscious of the cultural and economic impact of travel is a core principle of Sojrn’s ethos, every activity is selected in collaboration with locals. Not only is it important that local suppliers benefit from dollars being spent in their community, but they genuinely look forward to welcoming new people to the neighborhood. “Our local partners are equally as excited about Sojrn because these travelers aren’t just passing through,” Cappel says. “They’re joining the community for a month.”
In addition to learning new skills through the organized classes, Cappel hopes that each traveler will have the time to slow down and appreciate the little moments abroad. By the end of their four-week program, participants should expect to know the local café owner by name, navigate the neighborhood without consulting Google Maps, and ultimately become someone the locals will remember beyond another passing tourist.
“Of course, Italy is great and the Colosseum is incredible, but I think you get more out of sitting in the piazza and watching the Italian nonni play chess,” she says. “That’s where the magic is. It’s those intimate experiences in other cultures that teach us that we’re more alike than different and it’s such a powerful lesson.”
How to book it
Rates start at $2,800 depending on the type of accommodation selected and do not include flights and meals. However, if you sign up with a friend or partner and share a room, you’ll each get 20 percent off the package. Although many of the inaugural 2021 chapters are already sold out, Sojrn has started to add 2022 dates and has opened up a waitlist for upcoming experiences such as Conservation in South Africa and Technology in Tokyo.
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