On his very first day at the University of Washington – and having just moved to Seattle – Brad Benner headed straight to the Office of International Programs and Exchanges. The year was 1996, and from a very early age, Brad dreamt about studying abroad. He spent the next two years completing the prerequisites required for two separate programs – one in Oaxaca, Mexico, and another in Cádiz, Spain. And exactly two years later he was on a plane headed south. After spending a year studying the language, history, culture, and politics of these countries, Brad returned to earn a degree in Spanish Language and Literature.
After graduating from UW in 2001, Brad was hired by Rick Steves – another lifelong dream – where he worked as a guide on a day 21-day tour of Spain and Portugal. He was on his second-to-last tour of the season when the attacks on 9/11 occurred.
The tourism industry became one of the many business causalities the following year, so Brad decided to explore his other passions – technology and entrepreneurship – which dated back to high school, where he developed an application to manage membership records for his local chapter of the National Honor Society. After adapting it for a variety of membership tracking purposes, he successfully marketed the software to over 250 organizations throughout the country.
In 2002, Brad founded X-BAR, an IT services company that provided technology consulting and support services to small and mid-sized businesses in Seattle. Taking a direct hand in client and project management while serving as X-BAR’s lead solution architect, Brad simultaneously managed one of the Northwest’s most nimble, innovative, and “green” information technology agencies. In 2008, the U.S. Small Business Administration named Brad the Washington State & Region 10 (Washington, Oregon, Idaho, and Alaska) Young Entrepreneur of the Year.
Having accomplished many of his business goals with X-BAR, Brad decided to sell the company in 2010 so that he could once again return to his passion for travel. Now, as the How-to Traveler, he combines his extensive travel experience, creative problem-solving abilities, and his knack for breaking down complex topics and ideas to help make your travel easier and more enjoyable.
An accomplished gluten-free baker, Brad does Crossfit, practices yoga, runs, and swims on a regular basis. He has also been cancer-free for 11 years.