Amanda Foshee loves exploring other cultures and lands through travel, and her work as a travel advisor at Brownell Travel allows her to share that same passion with her clients. Now, she’s spearheading an entirely new journey at Brownell, inspired by the several months she and her husband spent living in France in 2015. The Sojourns program allows travel-hungry remote workers to truly immerse themselves in life overseas while maintaining a sense of community that Amanda views as crucial to an unforgettable long-term travel experience. Launching early next year with a three-month trip to South America, Sojourns is revolutionizing luxury long-term travel for those who want to live abroad while working remotely. We are so pleased to introduce you to today’s FACE of Birmingham, Amanda Foshee!
How did you first discover your love of and passion for travel?
I inherited my love and passion for travel from my grandmother. She and my grandfather traveled quite often (they were even in Alaska for the birth of their first grandchild — me!), and I was hooked from our first family trip to Alaska when I was a teenager. Subsequent trips to Europe, plus a summer studying abroad in Spain, cemented my love of travel before I left college, and I had a goal of visiting all seven continents by age 30, but I don’t think I’m going to make it to Antarctica before August!
What then led you to Brownell?
I graduated from Auburn with my masters in accounting and went straight to work at a regional CPA firm. After a couple of tax seasons, I knew that accounting was not my future, but I wasn’t sure what path I wanted to take. I decided that to leave a career I had worked so hard to reach, I could only switch to something I was truly passionate about. Travel immediately came to mind, and I knew of Brownell as my family had used them for years. I stalked the website for six months until a position opened up!
What do you love most about your work as a travel advisor?
My favorite part of my job is getting to see how travel really can change people’s lives! Whether it’s someone’s first trip or their 50th, it’s my role to make that trip special in a way that is unique to them. We are helping create memories that people have for a lifetime!
What inspired you to create the Sojourns program?
After studying abroad in college did not quite satisfy my desire to live abroad, my husband and I moved to France for three months in the fall of 2015. It was like a “trial” Sojourns, and that’s where my idea for this program really developed. We learned a lot from that experience, and my biggest takeaway was how important it is to have a sense of community and network when you’re traveling while working remotely. We also learned how important a central location is to facilitating exploration, and that having a reliable workspace makes all the difference in the world.
How is Sojourns different from other long-term trips abroad?
Location, luxury, access and safety. There are a number of really great remote-work programs available, but none that cater to luxury travelers. Our guests want private, high-end accommodations like they have at home, in centrally located areas. We also can provide so much more than if you tried to take a trip like this on your own. Brownell has been in continuous operations for 130 years and has a pristine reputation with suppliers all over the world. We have the luxury of working with the best of the best to make sure our guests are well looked after and have access to authentic, local, “real” experiences. Behind the scenes, we’re working with our partners on plans A, B, C and D, so the Sojourns experiences are executed flawlessly.
How did you select South America as the destination for the first Sojourn? What excites you the most about this trip?
A number of factors went into choosing South America for our first Sojourn and, specifically, Buenos Aires, Montevideo and Santiago. These cities each have their own unique culture with similar core aspects. They each are gateways to the rest of their country to make it easy for Sojourners to explore, while also large enough to offer the quality of accommodations and experience for which Brownell is known. All allowed us to chase warmth (escape winter in North America for great weather in the southern hemisphere), a minimal time difference from the U.S. (only 1 hour ahead of EST) and a consistent language.
Why should a potential traveler consider the Sojourns experience?
If you’ve always dreamed of living abroad, didn’t get the chance to study abroad or want to take advantage of a point in your life that allows this type of adventure, Sojourns is for you! It’s for those of us who are jealous of those travel bloggers who gave up their steady 9-to-5 for an entirely new lifestyle, but don’t want to take that drastic step ourselves. Sojourns makes a big step like this possible by taking care of all the details. And you don’t have to give up your career to do it!
What do you envision for the future of the program?
In the future, I would love to have multiple Sojourns running concurrently in Europe, Asia and South America so that Sojourners can choose the destination, time of departure and length of trip that best suits them. They can do just three months or combine trips to be traveling for a year or more! We still have a ways to go, but I would love to reach this point.
What is one “hidden gem” in Birmingham that every resident should visit or explore?
The Birmingham Botanical Gardens! It doesn’t seem like a “hidden gem” on paper, but there are so many parts of the gardens that many of us never even realize are there.
How do you like to spend your spare time?
My favorite hobby is definitely traveling, but when I’m at home, I love to cook or curl up with a good book.
What is one of your guilty pleasures?
Getting a pedicure before every trip — and using a nail polish color that matches the destination where I’m headed. OPI always has destination-themed names!
What is your best piece of advice for traveling internationally?
Learn about the locals! Try to learn a few words in the local language — “hello” and “thank you” will get you far — and spend a little part of your trip off the typical tourist track, whether that’s meeting locals or trying local food or traditions.
Name three lighthearted or frivolous things that you absolutely can’t live without.
A good charcuterie plate, the Harry Potter book series and my clothes steamer. Without these three, is life even worth living?
Thank you, Amanda! Learn more about Sojourns by Brownell at brownellsojourns.com.