SOJRN, the Study-Abroad Program For Remote Workers - Full-Time Travel

SOJRN, the Study-Abroad Program For Remote Workers

Sojrn, the "Study-Abroad" Program For Remote Workers  

If there’s one thing that keeps us moving forward and sustains us through life’s stagnant or difficult periods, it’s the notion of potential. The potential that wonderful things lie ahead. The potential that everything will work out in the end. The potential of what we might do and who we might still become.

Potential has been hard to come by in the past year, but as vaccine doses go into more arms every day it’s poised for a comeback. I have a hunch that the types of trips we take in 2021 will help us explore our potential – to learn, to connect, to achieve, to challenge the status quo. 

My interviewee this week is helping travelers do all of the above. I first spoke to Tara Cappel, the founder of For The Love of Travel (FTLO), back at the very beginning of the pandemic, when we discussed the importance of sustainable travel in the post-pandemic future. In the interim, she’s launched a new, very timely offering. It’s a “study abroad program for adults” called Sojrn, which takes remote workers to a foreign place for a month, secures them accommodation and a work space, and provides opportunities for learning during their free time. The curriculum of activities connects to the destination: wine in Tuscany, fashion in Paris, art & architecture in Barcelona, cuisine in Mexico City, philosophy in Athens, wellness in Bali, Spanish in Medellin. Check out the full list here and get inspired to explore your potential this year.

Wine in Italy | Photo by Anny Richey

Esme Benjamin: The last time we spoke it was the beginning of the pandemic. How have you been since?

Tara Cappel: Last time we spoke I was still fairly optimistic that travel would come back in 2020, and I was very wrong. Eventually, I really had to face the music, furlough some of the team and focus on selling 2021 trips. In the downtime I started to think about how the pandemic would affect the way people live and travel in the long term. The initial thought process around Sojrn was – what might people be looking for if they can work remotely from anywhere? The other part was the opportunity the pandemic presented for the discovery of passions and interests. Sojrn is really about going somewhere for a longer period of time and creating the space to focus on topics that interest you. And to learn about those with the destination as your textbook. 

EB: It feels like 2020 was a bit of a lost year. Everything came to a grinding halt and little progress was made, so not only are we wanting to travel, we’re wanting to learn new things and improve ourselves – to believe in our own potential again. Can you explain the concept of “chapters?” 

TC: The chapters are a combination of the destination and the theme. We chose themes that were relevant to that place – philosophy in Athens or design in Stockholm – because we really wanted the destination to be the teacher. With Sojrn we have solved all the logistics for you and you have a community you can connect with who are also interested in this topic, but it’s more about independent exploration than an FTLO trip. You have your work to do and then in your free time you have this menu of activities to learn about the topic and discover the culture and destination through the lens of the theme, too. 

Philosophy in Athens | By Sam Bentley

EB: You touched on remote work already but are there any other lessons or readjustments from the pandemic that inspired Sojrn?

TC: The pandemic really illuminated that life is short and we are so blessed to have options. I think people are going to appreciate their lives outside of work more. Also, as we spoke about last time, it’s illuminated the importance of taking care of the environment and our communities. I hope it will move people more towards sustainable, slow travel, and Sojrn is part of that. 

EB: I think we will go on longer trips, less often. And while I don’t think that corporate America will suddenly give employees unlimited vacation days, at least with remote work we can enjoy more flexibility and the opportunity to spend more time getting to explore a new place through programs like Sojrn. 

TC: Absolutely. If you think about the week-long vacation, it’s really a terrible model in general. By the time you’ve relaxed enough to enjoy yourself you’re already stressed about the work waiting for you when you get back. So if you can extend the trip to three or four weeks you have the time to feel part of the community, find your favorite local coffee shop, walk about without Google Maps. And even if you’re working during the week you have the weekend to travel locally and explore tiny towns you would have never set foot in if you’d only been there for a short break. I don’t think everyone is about to become a digital nomad. People will continue to have a home base, but I think they might explore new bases periodically. 

EB: What are some of the logistical things you had to consider for Sojrn? 

TC: Logistics for FTLO cover a lot of transportation and group meals and things like that, which we took out for Sojrn to keep it affordable. Logistically, Sojrn is much more independent and self-guided. We take care of accommodations and finding you a work space with WiFi, we have a “water cooler” partner cafe where you’re kind of like a local from day one, and we include one activity a week, but then the rest of the curriculum is entirely optional. Guests can book activities separately and do them whenever is most convenient for them. 

Design in Stockholm | Courtesy of SOJRN

EB: What are examples of activities that people can do? 

TC: This is my favorite part. In Tuscany we have a winery visit where you go experience the vineyard and meet the winemakers, or a wine pairing workshop with a local sommelier. In Stockholm we have a “design and drinks” night where you do a bar hop through these carefully selected bars that are very design-forward. For philosophy in Athens we have a workshop that takes place in the space which was once Plato’s Academy. 

EB: A lot of the trips are scheduled for fall 2021. How confident are you that travel will be up and running smoothly by then? 

TC: I am cautiously optimistic. With the vaccines becoming more widely available I’m hoping there will be safe, responsible ways to move across borders. I am hopeful and I also think even if logistically it’s more difficult, like there are testing corridors or specific requirements you have to execute before you’re able to go, going for a month makes it worthwhile versus, say, a three-day trip. 

EB: It’s also pretty affordable for such a long trip. What does the cost cover?

TC: It depends on the accommodation tier. We’ve tried to accommodate as many budgets as possible, so $2,500 for four weeks is the most affordable option for a room in a shared apartment or basic hotel, and it goes up to $6,000 if you’re looking for luxury accommodations. That cost includes housing, a workspace, access to a partner cafe with wifi, connection to the program community, a welcome and farewell meal, one themed activity per week, access to a list of vetted optional activities and help booking them, help with pre-trip logistics and planning, and a host who is there to troubleshoot and be your local friend who knows all the good things to do. We also are partnering with a company called My Place which can help you rent out your home while you’re gone, which helps offset the cost of the program as well. 

Wine in Italy | By Zach Fack

EB: What are your hopes for 2021?

TC: This idea of cross-cultural understanding and getting out of your bubble has always been the true north of FTLO. I really feel that Sojrn is the natural progression of that and it’s been enabled by the changes in society because of the pandemic. So, as difficult and as heartbreaking as this experience has been, I really do hope there are positive outcomes from it. I’m hoping slow and sustainable travel is one of them. I also hope people will continue to create space for the things they are passionate about, and not wait for retirement. That’s what we are trying to do with Sojrn - normalize taking a chunk out of the year where you focus on your passions, and your boss and society are ok with it. That doesn’t mean you have to unplug from your job, but you still get the chance to prioritize other things that make you happy.  


The Christmas market in Frankfurt, Germany, transforms Römer square into a festive haven with twinkling lights and charming stalls. Aromas of roasted chestnuts and mulled wine fill the air as visitors explore handcrafted gifts and traditional treats. The iconic Christmas tree and live performances create a magical atmosphere, making this market a cherished holiday tradition.

Reel: @pillter_

163 0

It`s cabin season where crackling fireplaces and peaceful solitude creates a magical and cozy atmosphere in the winter time.

Reel: @dirtandglass 📍 @evergreen_cabins

585 2

We love a pre-winter adventure just before the water freezes into ice. @jaspernationalpark

Reel: @ninadefilla

399 4

Throughout November, the mountains surrounding the well-known abodes of Shirakawa-gō begin to adopt the colors of autumn. 🍂 ...

107 0

"The wait is over... it`s that time of year again! Every year from November to early March, millions of butterflies blanket the high altitude forest in central Mexico in a mesmerizing display. It`s truly spectacular to witness." - 🎥 @jess.wandering @everchanginghorizon ...

247 1

In the latest episode of our podcast, an award winning editor, writer and producer and the host of the podcast, Travel That Matters, @brucewallintravel travels through Central America with his then fiancee to enjoy what they imagined to be their last big adventure before settling down. It was a trip that gave Bruce a new travel ethos, that travel gets better the more effort you put into it. 🎧 Link in bio to listen! ...

41 1

When fall meets winter in Utah.

Reel: @ashleylporter

133 1

Ethereal moments from a sunset in Scoresby Sound, Greenland.

Reel: @kylekotajarvi

113 0

Autumn in Lago di Saoseo, a stunning alpine lake in the Poschiavo Valley of Switzerland, is a magical experience. The season transforms the surrounding landscape into a picturesque tapestry of vibrant colors. The dense forests that encircle the lake burst into a riot of reds, yellows, and oranges as the leaves change, creating a breathtaking contrast against the crystal-clear, emerald waters of the lake. The cool, crisp air of autumn adds to the tranquility of the scene, making it an ideal time for peaceful hikes and nature appreciation. It`s a time when the natural beauty of Lago di Saoseo truly shines, making it a must-visit destination for nature enthusiasts and photographers alike.

Reel: @jakeguzman

323 1

6 Spooky Fall Adventures (An Hour from NYC)

Follow this guide from @steffy where everything is Halloween themed
including the street signs!

- @pumpkinblaze
- @harvestmoonorchard
- @lyndhurst_mansion
- @ Sleepy Hollow Cemetery
- @sleepyhollowbookshop
- @horsefeathers for a spooky drink
- @castlehotelandspa to stay!

48 1

Zhangjiajie, located in China`s Hunan province, is a stunning national park known for its towering sandstone pillars, deep ravines, and lush forests. It gained international fame as the inspiration for James Cameron`s "Avatar." The park`s surreal and otherworldly landscape, particularly the "Southern Sky Column" (renamed "Avatar Hallelujah Mountain"), served as the muse for the film`s floating mountains and lush forests. Zhangjiajie remains a popular destination for travelers seeking to witness the real-world beauty that inspired the cinematic masterpiece.

Reel: @cyn_cynti

124 0

The scent of crisp, autumn air fills the atmosphere of this picturesque region in southern Germany. Allgäu turns into a patchwork of fiery reds, golden yellows, and rustic browns as the leaves change color.

Reel: @_marcelsiebert

373 3

Host of our very own podcast, The Trip That Changed Me, and this week’s Travel That Matters guest, Esme Benjamin (@esmebenjamin), tells us about her year-in-the-making five-month-long road trip across the United States.

On the podcast, Esme starts by telling us the things that happened in her life that led her to take this life-altering adventure. Then, we hear about her path through the following incredible places: Black Hills & Badlands (South Dakota), Glacier National Park and Bozeman (Montana), Cody (Wyoming), Boulder, Rocky Mountain National Park, Gateway Canyons Resort and Spa (Colorado), Monument Valley, Antelope Canyon, and the Grand Canyon (Arizona), Indiana Dunes National Park (Indiana), San Francisco and Los Angeles (California), and more!

🎧 Link in bio to listen and to explore the transformative power of travel.

56 1