How To Be a Developer and Travel the World Par :Monique Danao, Iskender Piyale-Sheard June 16, 2017 Updated November 20, 2023 Estimated reading time: 6 minutes. The blog has been updated to reflect remote work as a developer in 2023 and beyond by: Monique Danao. We’re all familiar with the aesthetic day in the life TikTok featuring a remote worker with a laptop and a coconut cocktail on a paradisiacal beach with the caption, “my office for the day.” It's the dream for many people, and it’s not hard to see why. Having a job that allows you to make your hours and travel simultaneously is pretty cool. But it’s not always easy. So, let’s talk about how you can get started, some of the best resources you can take advantage of, and some things to remember. Set realistic expectations of remote work First off, let’s get one thing straight. The beach isn’t the most accessible place to work. We’ve all done it once or twice to make our friends back home jealous of our incredible new lifestyle. The beach has no WiFi, sand and salt mess up your computer (sand + Magsafe adapter = no fun), there’s sun glare, and once you’re over 20, your back starts to hurt. The reality of remote work is you’ll probably be spending most of your time in cafes, co-working spaces, public areas with WiFi and at home. And that’s great! There’s nothing wrong with that, especially when it’s a cafe in Spain! Challenges that remote developers face Some of the biggest challenges that remote developers face while working abroad are: Unreliable or slow WiFi Finding consistent places to work (daytime or nighttime) Being surrounded by people on vacation (while you need to clock in hours for work) Coordinating work with people in different timezones Finding places to hop on a call with your coworkers or clients Navigating the legal issues around working remotely abroad without a work permit Staying focused while making your own hours These may not seem like enormous challenges at first, but they start to pile up when you’re on the road for a while. And the more inconveniences you have, the more difficult it is to keep a steady routine. Benefits of remote work as a developer Now that we’ve cut through a lot of the complicated stuff? Why don’t we dig into the juicy bits? What makes remote work great? Remote work can be gratifying if you get into a good groove. One of the best things about it is that even if you are working 40–50 hours per week, as soon as you’re on a break, you get to pop out for lunch in Japan, go for an after-work surf in Bali, or zip home on your scooter through some luscious green rice paddies in Vietnam. You’ll start to notice that even if you don’t have many of the luxuries you might have back home (a car, a 4K TV, your blazing fast Wi-Fi), the novelty of living in a drastically different environment is a very fulfilling experience. The wonder of all the small interactions you have outside of work, the places you can explore on evenings and weekends, or a charming afternoon makes remote work extremely satisfying. Make friends with locals, learn as much of a new language as possible, and soak in all that incredible culture. Some of the remote work benefits include: Immersing yourself in new cultures Being able to travel while making money Meeting new people Learning new languages Exploring new places “To my mind, the greatest reward and luxury of travel is to be able to experience everyday things as if for the first time, to be in a position in which almost nothing is so familiar it is taken for granted.” - Bill Bryson How to become a remote developer There are a few ways you can get started with remote work, either by getting a new job, taking on freelance work, or negotiating with your boss. ###Remote job sites Find a remote job on sites like RemoteOK or any one of these 25 other websites. These sites have remote job opportunities all over the world. Here’s a list of some places to check out: FlexJobs Arc Remote.co JustRemote Virtual Vocations’ Pangian We Work Remotely Remotive Skip the Drive Remote OK Freelance Find freelance work opportunities through friends and acquaintances to build a client base, or try websites like Upwork or Toptal. Freelancing allows you to remain flexible and make your schedule. Go remote with your current employer If you are not currently working remotely, negotiate a few tiny baby steps for remote work with your boss first, then work your way up to fully remote. Try a couple of days of working from home, then a few weeks, until you are fully remote. Read this FlexJobs article on how to convince your boss. If you are already working remotely, you can ask for permission to work in another country and then figure out how to work from there. Digital Nomad Visas If you want to stay for an extended period of time, you can apply for a Digital Nomad Visa. There are dozens of countries worldwide that have Digital Nomad Visa available. These Visas allow you to stay for anywhere from a few months to years. Solo work vacations If you can’t commit to months- or year-long stays in another country, you can travel on your regular passport for business and stay for the allowed duration. Co-working retreats Some people call them coworking retreats; others call them coworkations. There are a million and one names for them these days. One way or another, you’ve probably heard murmurs or received ads on Facebook about how to travel around the world for a year with a group of like-minded people. That’s how I started my work-travel adventure. For a year, I was the Trip Facilitator for a group called Hacker Paradise. Today, these types of retreats are a dime a dozen. Everyone and their uncle has started some sort of travel+work, yoga+coworking, surfing+coworking retreat, and they can vary significantly in length, quality and price. Here’s a whole list of ones you can check out. My only advice here is to be careful and read lots of reviews before making a big commitment. Recent bootcamp grad? Have a long think about this decision. Immediately delving into long-term travel by yourself is a lot to take on. Your biggest goal right now is hacking on new projects, solidifying all the skills you’ve learned, and building upon them so you can land that first post-program job. That said, while you’re looking for work, joining a coworking retreat for developers for a few weeks could prove to be highly beneficial in getting you to collaborate with brilliant developers, hack on fun projects, and build an incredible network of people who could give you opportunities, connections and advice. Travelling remote work tips Maintaining a balanced, healthy, and sustainable lifestyle is the most significant factor in making your remote work experience successful. So, start establishing some routines. 1. Maintain a healthy lifestyle Eating out is always an easy (and delicious) trap to fall into. Make sure you find ways to keep a healthy diet and not be too frequently seduced by the tasty but junky tourist food. Work out? Find a gym, go for runs, or find some ways to get that exercise in. 2. Establish a routine Set some standard office hours for yourself and stick to them. Wake up early and get your brain working, make a cup of tea, walk, and get the day started. It’s okay to stray away from the routine here and there, but for the most part, keep it consistent. 3. Find your workspace Where are you going to be working from day to day? Find a cafe with decent wifi open during the hours you need to work. Need more? Then get a membership at a co-working space; hint they have fantastic places worldwide. Scout out some great spots on Workfrom. 4. Make a rough travel itinerary You don’t have to have things planned out to a T. But getting some opinions on lovely places with reliable internet and great 4G SIM cards (major bonus points for places like Thailand and Taiwan). The best place to start your search is on NomadList. You can filter by weather, ease of access, cost of living, internet speeds, etc. 5. Find other remote workers Hanging around in hostels can be challenging because everyone you'll meet will likely be on vacation. There are better scenarios for you, someone trying to take on sustainable long-term travel. Find others like yourself who are working remotely, and you'll benefit immensely. You'll meet many incredibly talented developers and entrepreneurs throughout your travels. One thing I'd emphasize is to take advantage of opportunities to meet them. Check out Meetup.com and find events near you. Go to co-working spaces and find local startups to meet with. Being exposed to developers and entrepreneurs worldwide is one of the most educational and rewarding experiences you'll have that will open your mind to diverse perspectives, philosophies and expertise. There's nothing like it. Long story short Want to work and travel? Awesome, find a way and make it happen. Talk to successful people you know who've done it and ask for advice. Just like in bootcamp, be comfortable being uncomfortable. DRY: Don't Repeat Yourself. Just like in programming, you don't need to reinvent the wheel. Take advantage of all the excellent tools and resources people use to make their work or travel lives more accessible and practical. Take advantage of the incredible people you'll meet and learn from them. Keep those connections close, and they will inevitably benefit you later. Good luck and happy travels! Questions? Feel free to reach me on Twitter @izzydoesizzy.