Life on the Road With Remote Year: Tech and Design Professionals Share Their Stories
Written by Catalina Todd
Have you ever wondered what life on the road with Remote Year is like for professionals working in tech and design roles? Today we’re sharing the stories of 7 individuals who decided to take the leap and join a Remote Year program.
Every day, tech and design professionals log on in Lima or start coding in Cape Town - truly making the most of their remote roles on Remote Year Trips and Journeys. Some are looking to disconnect from their laptops and reconnect with themselves. Others join to meet fellow talented professionals and engage with the vibrant Remote Year community. While the reasons people join Remote Year are as varied and diverse as our global community, all of our program participants have one thing in common: a shared sense of curiosity and thirst for adventure.
From software engineers and iOS developers to web designers and IT experts, see what these program participants have to say about their Remote Year experiences.
Multiple Remote Year Programs
Current location: Fort Lauderdale, Florida, USA
Jelani is a software engineer from sunny South Florida, USA with 10 years of experience in the field. Jelani recently transitioned into health care after working in the law enforcement sector to better align with his passions and purpose. He first decided to join us on the road after becoming bored with his routine in Florida (and as an alternative to skydiving), and has since joined 4 Remote Year programs!
What would you tell other professionals in tech considering a Remote Year program? If all you truly need to get your work done is a good internet connection (pushing code, meetings, etc...) then you have the basics for working abroad. Used to having an additional monitor or two? There are some great options for portable monitors. Need to separate your workspace from living space? Remote Year has access to some amazing co-working spaces. Any and all "obstacles" have a solution.
1-month Trip, Medellin
Current location: Austin, Texas, USA
After majoring in Graphic Design with a concentration in Psychology at a tech institute, Theresa knew she wanted to approach human-centered problems with visual solutions. A product designer for Funsize Agency, she spends most of her days putting herself in the shoes of her user and using data to predict their next move within an interface or digital ecosystem. She first joined a Remote Year Trip in Medellin, and is already looking forward to her next adventure with us in South Africa!
What made you decide to take your tech career on the road with Remote Year? I think the ultimate guide to empathy is understanding other humans and there's no better way than to travel the world. What makes my role as a User Experience designer hard is creating a visual solution that works for many different types of people, in different languages, different parts of the world, with varying degrees of accessibility to technology.
Tell us more about living and working on the road! What did you like about living a work and travel lifestyle? I always feel more inspired and more productive when I'm working and traveling, especially with a set group of people. There's something special about being in an atmosphere where everyone is grinding together and holding each other accountable. I maintained a routine pretty easily, especially because the rest of the group was also very disciplined. Working and traveling just really makes you appreciate every day and every moment more. Nothing feels monotonous because there's always something new to experience.
Chief Technology Officer
12-month Journey, World
Current location: San Francisco & New Jersey, USA
After studying physics and mechanical engineering, Tammer began a career in software engineering. He worked at a few startups before being hired to run engineering at a small software consulting company while on Remote Year. Recently, Tammer started his own company with a friend and previous coworker, and they will be launching their first product together soon!
What made you decide to take your tech career on the road with Remote Year? After leaving my job at the time, I wanted to take a break to travel and work on projects of my own. In the past I had mainly traveled solo, but over time I began to suspect that there was a lot I was missing by not sharing those experiences with others. Remote Year offered me the opportunity to travel with a group of people that might share similar interests and skills -- potentially opening the door to more meaningful (and memorable!) travel experiences while helping me grow in my professional pursuits.
What would you tell other professionals in tech considering a Remote Year program? In today's world, it's easier than ever for people in tech to move to remote work. If you have that option at your job, or if you're already remote or looking to change jobs, then you should ask yourself this: why am I here, in this location, at this time? If the reason isn't something overwhelmingly positive and worthwhile, you should take the leap. Who knows what you'll find.
12-month Journey, World
Current location: Austin, Texas, USA
Steven has been programming since the age of 6, and has spent most of his career working as an independent iOS developer. His longest-running project is a San Francisco public transit app that was one of the first 500 apps in the App Store the day it launched in 2008. He originally joined a Remote Year Journey in 2017, and loves meeting up with other Remote Year groups when he gets the chance. Most recently, he hiked a volcano with Remote Year’s Rivera program in Antigua, Guatemala.
How has your Remote Year experience impacted you personally and professionally? Since our program wrapped up in early 2018, I've texted with or talked to at least one other Kaizen program participant every single day. Sometimes I still reflect on what a big decision it was to commit to a year of travel with 50 strangers, and then I think of the lifelong friends I would have never met if I hadn't. I'm moving to London next year, and even though relocating to a new country will be hard, I'm comforted knowing that there's already a welcoming group of fellow Remotes there. Remote Year wasn't always easy (few things that are worthwhile are), but I'm certain my life is much more full today than it would have been had I missed it.
Were you able to connect with other professionals in tech while on your program? To be honest, while a lot of the people I've met through Remote Year are in tech, the relationships I've built have been mostly personal. At home, so many interactions with new people are centered around the question, "What do you do?" One thing I love about Remote Year is that many new friendships instead begin with "Where are you from and where have you traveled to?". It's a nice reminder that what we do for work isn't always the most interesting thing about us.
12-month Journey, World
Current location: On the move in Portugal
Liz designs and builds websites for Teal Media, a Washington DC-based agency focused on working with causes and candidates fighting for social change. She initially went to school for design before becoming obsessed with coding, and has since shaped her studies and career to do both. Liz is passionate about working with clients to build website experiences that not only look beautiful, but work for them in their mission.
Tell us more about living and working on the road! What did you like about living a work and travel lifestyle? Much like life at an agency, I love variety. Even in an office pre-Remote Year, I moved my desk all the time. Changing up my workspace, apartment, and routine every month keeps me inspired and excited about what I do. Being in new places, but more so connecting with new people challenged me to do more with my career. I also found that I love co-working with people who I don’t actually work with. It removes the ego and workplace politics and encourages honesty, empathy, and learning from each other’s life experiences. I value work/life balance more than ever, but also have learned that balance can be defined in so many ways.
How has your Remote Year experience impacted you personally and professionally? Being a part of Remote Year and the people I’ve met along the way have influenced a whole new level of confidence in my career. It taught me about what is important to me in an employer, a client, and in my own lifestyle. But more importantly, that I don’t have to compromise on any of those aspects. Learning more about the world around me, I was more inspired to work with clients that values align with mine which is why I pursued my current remote position with Teal.
Vice President, Information Technology
Multiple Remote Year Programs
Current location: Cape Town, South Africa
Hunter has worked in IT for over twenty-five years. Initially, he specialized as a consultant helping small businesses meet their technology goals before transitioning to leading the IT department at Acronym, one of the largest independent search and performance marketing agencies. Five years ago, Acronym allowed Hunter to take his job on the road while traveling with Remote Year, and he never came back! Hunter is currently Vice President, Information Technology.
Tell us more about living and working on the road! How did you maintain a routine? I thrive in chaos, so I'm the wrong person to ask about maintaining a routine. For me, new locations, new adventures, and new challenges at every destination increase my happiness. Not having a routine helped me break away from the 9-5 schedule and now I work whenever and however I want. It has greatly increased my job satisfaction and overall productivity.
How has your Remote Year experience impacted you personally and professionally? I'm a completely different person than I was 5 years ago. Living the nomad lifestyle has changed how I enjoy the world, how I interact with other people and cultures, how I prioritize work and free time, and has allowed me to see problems, both technical and non-tech alike, with a unique perspective. It's been an incredible journey of exploration of both the world, and myself, and that all started with Remote Year.
1-month Trip, Split
Current Location: Leeds, UK
Originally from Egypt, David is a systems engineer working for the National Health Service in England. He started as a graduate engineer 5 years ago and he is now a tech lead. He’s currently working on a project to build a new platform for cancer screening programs.
Tell us more about living and working on the road! What did you like about living a work and travel lifestyle? The experience was amazing, it's like living the dream! It was like being on a long extended vacation while still earning enough money. The community of like minded people was the best part of it and helped me grow in all aspects of life. Before this experience, I used to see work as an obstacle for me fulfilling my passions, now I see work as a means to fulfill them.
How has your Remote Year experience impacted you personally and professionally? I have learned a lot about myself, my personality has changed in many different ways but most importantly I learned how to say NO to people and things, which was something I always struggled with before Remote Year. Professionally, this experience has made me aware of the fact that my job is very demanding. This experience has also revived a dream I’ve always had about starting my own business. Meeting other people on the program who share the same interests encouraged me to reconsider it, and since returning, I’ve started allocating free time in my schedule every week to make sure I start planning for this. Who knows - maybe I’ll be running a business on my next Remote Year program!
Looking for connection in your remote role or ready to work and travel with fellow professionals from our global community? Check out our upcoming programs.