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  • Writer's pictureJustin from broadn

Why I started broadn

Updated: Sep 2, 2022

Travel has always been a priority for me. Ever since I was a little kid, I’ve loved every aspect of it. From packing my bags to plane travel, to arriving in a foreign, unfamiliar country. Traveling and exploring new cuisines and experiencing different cultures was a staple. I certainly have my parents to thank for #broadningmyhorizons ;)

Once I gained my freedom by breaking away from the traditional office environment, digital-nomadism, for me, was inevitable.

I’ve been working remotely for almost 6 years now. I first started out by testing the waters, working from my house in Austin, TX. I was a remote customer success manager for a tech startup based out of Penang, Malaysia. I would travel back and forth to Malaysia every few months and stay for weeks. Maybe stopping off for an extended layover in another place like Singapore or Hong Kong.

The whole time I was abroad, I’d be working from airport lounges, planes, the company HQ, or from cafes and coworking spaces around Penang or elsewhere. Maybe even a beach (in Krabi)! I’d spend my nights hunting the best char kway teow from food stalls, grabbing cocktails in Southeast Asian speakeasies, and ending the night hoarse from singing private-room karaoke (the only way to go in my opinion) at the top of my lungs.

Working remotely from the beach in Krabi, Thailand
Working remotely in Krabi, Thailand

I was hooked. I loved having the freedom to set my schedule, to change the environment I was working in, to experience a different culture as if I was living there. Having an awesome younger sister who works for American Airlines certainly helps :) (Thanks for the buddy passes, Lindsey!)

I did the same when I moved abroad to Tokyo, Japan for two years. When I wasn’t stuffing my face full of sushi and ramen, I was exploring more of Asia-Pac. I had been more times than I could count to the Philippines thanks to having family in Manila and near Boracay. I also ventured often to Malaysia for work but hadn’t explored much more than that beyond Singapore, Korea, Bali, Hong Kong, Cambodia, and parts of Thailand.

I tried to take advantage of the strategic geographical location of Tokyo by making a list of every place I want to travel to and work from. I then systematically cranked through that list - including many places in Japan itself. Only countries missing: Brunei, Myanmar, and Laos. But I wanted more.

Coming back to the States back in 2018, I made it my goal to take full advantage of having this freedom. I was doing a decent job, giving up my apartment in Austin and cramming my things into my parent's house in Dallas to travel untethered. Heading to Central and South America, exploring more of Europe. Then COVID-19 reared its ugly head.

Argentina Wine Country
Wine country outside of Mendoza, Argentina

Before all of this though, my friends and family would always ask for travel recommendations. Where to go, what to do, what to see. I would keep a running list for places I had been to as well as places I hadn’t.

This is what gave me the idea to start broadn. I figured why not combine my love of remote work and travel? Especially since I've been back on the road since mid-to-late 2020.

I want to help others take advantage of their location-independence status and guide them towards working outside of their home city or country and living, at least for a while, like a local. Appreciating the world from another point of view.

With the COVID-19 current situation, so many people are finding themselves working from home. More companies, big and small, are asking their employees to stay home. More companies are giving up their offices in favor of a company-wide remote situation. More people will find themselves working from home permanently once we are done with this mess.

When it’s safe to travel, people will want to spread their wings again. This time, with work-life balance and extended days in mind.

When I heard the major tech companies were finally letting their employees go full-time remote, I wanted to build an advantageous resource for the newly-free employees. Remote has been something that we’ve hoped companies would adopt sooner or later. More importantly, working while traveling, I knew would appeal to some. Once you get beyond the logistics of an apartment, pets, significant others, family, etc., another difficult part awaits. I know that we sometimes don't have time or energy to plan. We can also be intimidated by the unfamiliarity of someplace new, or by the sheer number of things to do, restaurants to eat at, bars to drink at.

I want broadn to be the go-to “where-the-hell-should-I-go-and-what-should-I-do” resource for newly-minted remote workers and fledgling digital nomads.

I want broadn to be the resource that the location-independent thinks of when they want to travel and work somewhere besides their apartment or neighborhood coffee shop. People shouldn’t have to spend a ton of time on every single detail of every single moment in their digital nomad adventure. We offer stories, guides, and for those that are interested, travel planning. Once you’re in a country, hopefully for an extended amount of time, you live your life as if you’re a local.

It’s never too early to start day-dreaming of your next destination, your next adventure, your next adopted city/country. This challenging time will pass. And when you’re ready to pack your bags, rent out your apartment on Airbnb, hop on a plane and embrace the next adventure, broadn will be waiting to help you #broadnyourhorizons.

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