Should I Work and Travel For 12 or 4 Months?
What's the difference between 12- and 4-month programs? We're weighing the pros and cons and breaking down the details of each experience for you.
The world of work and travel is exploding. People around the world are becoming more and more interested in the idea of remote work and the flexibility that it provides. They want to experience their lives in a way that doesn’t involve limits. They know that the freedom they’ve been searching for is no longer out of their reach - it’s just one life-changing experience away.
If you’re considering a work and travel program, one of the first decisions that you’ll have to make will be in regards to duration. Today, there are many different options for itineraries, from the year-long program, to 4-month programs, and even 2-week mini-retreats to launch you into the remote lifestyle.
When there are so many options to choose from, how do you know which program is right for you?
Work and travel programs travel to different cities around the world, but itineraries do differ on Remote Year depending on whether they are 12-month or 4-month programs.
12-month programs typically travel to three or more continents, covering twelve different cities over the course of twelve months. We’ve seen communities live and work in Asia, Africa, Europe and Latin America, all in one 12-month program. But, if you have a preference as to which regions you want to concentrate on, and which you want to save for a later experience, there are itineraries that focus on one or two regions for longer periods of time. For example, Remote Year Sonder started their journey in Europe, hopped down to Africa for a couple of months, then spent six months in Latin America.
4-month programs tend to focus on one continent in order to give participants a cohesive experience. There are Latin America-focused 4-month programs, Europe-centric programs, and Asia-specific programs. If you are interested in crossing one area of the world off of your bucket list at a time, a 4-month program could be the ideal way to do it.
While it’s true that a group on a 12-month program has more time to get to know one another and bond, the magic of a work and travel program community isn’t determined solely by its duration. It’s created by the people who are a part of it.
There’s something unique about people who join a work and travel program. They’re incredibly diverse, but are share similar values like openness, freedom, empathy and community. They believe that travel has the power to positively impact their future. They gravitate towards others who are passionate, open-minded, and supportive. They know that in taking the leap and leaving behind a conventional lifestyle, they are opening themselves up to change and allowing themselves to grow. These are the people that make up work and travel communities and, no matter which program duration you choose, these are the people that you’ll connect and share experiences with.
The cost of a work and travel program does differ depending on duration, so it’s important to consider your financial situation before choosing a program. Though the cost may seem initially intimidating, it’s important to think about the areas of your budget that you’ll no longer be using once you’re working and traveling. For example: say goodbye to your monthly rent and utility bills because you won’t be paying those when you’re on the road!
Remote Year experiences are paid for over the course of program, with a down payment up front and monthly payments from that point on.
The total cost for participating on a 12-month Remote Year program is $32,000 USD
The total cost for participating on a 4-month Remote Year program is $12,000 USD.
But don’t worry - you don’t have to figure this all out on your own. Remote Year has an onboarding team that is specifically focused on helping you prepare for your time on program. They’ll help you reallocate the money that you are currently spending on rent and other fixed costs in your current life to determine how a work and travel program can best fit into your lifestyle.
Whether you choose a 12-month or 4-month experience, you’ll have access to the same amenities. In every city you will have a private, furnished apartment in a building with other Remote Year participants (though you may share a common space), a kitchen or kitchenette, linens and towels, heating or air conditioning in destinations with extreme temperatures, 24/7 access to a local coworking space with high-speed WiFi, and the support of the local City Team.
City Team members are people who live in the city that you’re traveling to. They have the inside scoop on all of the best places to eat, work, see, dance, shop, and even get a pedicure. They’ll make sure that you not only get a feel for their city, but that you have a VIP experience.
In addition to on-the-ground amenities, you will also have the support of the Remote Year Travel Team, no matter the duration of your program. The Travel Team is in charge of your transportation between cities, and can help you make arrangements for the side trips that you’re interested in, ensuring that you’re getting the best flights and that your experience is as comfortable as possible. Door-to-door transportation between itinerary destinations is included in the cost of your program, so you can kick back, relax and enjoy the ride.
It all depends on your work environment, but we’ve seen equal success from people who have asked their employers for the ability to participate in 12-month and 4-month programs. We’ve found that it’s all in the way that you approach and shape the ask.
A 4-month program can be used as a trial period to see if remote work is a good option for your company’s future. Because they tend to be regionally-focused, it could also be a benefit to your company to send you on a work and travel program that has destinations in key areas for your clients or an emerging market. For example, because Latin America is an increasingly important market for many companies, work and travel program participants who travel there on a 4-month program can take a deep dive into the local culture and identify the needs of this new clientele.
If you’re interested in a 12-month program, it’s important to discuss the many ways in which a work and travel program experience could not only benefit you, but the organization as well. By allowing you to travel the world while working remotely for an entire year, your company is giving you the opportunity to meet with international clients in person and open your mind to new perspectives that could result in game-changing ideas. In turn, you can visit your company’s global offices and become familiar with team members who may work oceans away, but with whom you share a special connection to a common purpose and passion.
On a work and travel program, you not only get a chance to work in each destination - you’ll get a chance to truly live in each city.
With the help of the City Team, you’ll live like a local, no matter which duration of work and travel program you choose. Every city comes with the ability to participate in what we like to call Tracks™. A Track™ is a collection of curated, local experiences that you would never find in a tourist guide. It’s an off-the-beaten-path adventure that typically involves a culturally educational component. For example, in Buenos Aires, Remote Year Sonder attended a tango class where they not only learned the basic steps of the iconic dance, but were taught about its history and why it is so important to the city. In Split, Remote Year programs have set sail for a day on the water and have learned about why the sea holds so much significance with the locals.
If you go on a 12-month program, this simply means that you’ll be able to choose twelve different Tracks™, whereas on a 4-month program you’ll pick four.
With more time comes more opportunity for growth, so you may experience more professional development on a 12-month work and travel program compared to a 4-month. However, the professional development opportunities provided by Remote Year are the same.
Remote Year programs are incredible places to meet new professional contacts. Networking takes place both within the work and travel program communities themselves and with the local community in every city that you’ll travel to. Because many of the coworking spaces that you’ll have access to are also open to local workers, you’ll have a chance to make new connections at any given moment. On top of networking, Remote Year communities have a penchant for taking the reins and creating their own mini-communities within their group. We’ve seen entrepreneurial incubators, writing cohorts, coding clubs, and skill sharing sessions come out of multiple Remote Year programs.
Personal growth may not have been the reason that you came to a work and travel program, but it’s the one thing that you’re guaranteed to leave it with. The act of leaving your comfort zone alone is enough to make you feel like a different person, but after four months (or twelve) you’ll wonder what life was like before you took that risk.
As you might have deduced from the phrase “personal development”, growth is a very personal phenomenon. No two people are the same, and no work and travel program experience is the same, so it is impossible to say whether a longer program would enable you to stretch your wings more widely. Your world might be rocked in the span of a 4-month program, or you could be more open to the evolution that a yearlong experience provides.
The true catalysts of personal growth are the opportunities that you take while on your work and travel program. Some people take advantage of every challenge that gets thrown their way, determined to leave their experience with more strength than they came to it with. Those people can look back at their time on program and think, “I can feel that I’m different. I’m not the person that I was when I started this experience. And I’m never going back.”
4-month? 12-month? The duration of your trip is up to you. The beauty of this decision is it’s yours and yours alone. In this moment, you hold the key to the rest of your story in your hand - all you have to do is open the right door.