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Ask Slashdot: What's the Best Way To Work On Projects While Traveling? 273

An anonymous reader writes "I really want to go travel the world with the money I've saved up at my day job, but I also want to grow as a developer in the process. This is a long-term engagement: 2-3 years or more depending on whether my software is successful. I'll probably be hopping from hostel to hostel at first, with a few weeks at each. How do I find a good work environment in these conditions? Do hostels generally have quiet areas where work could be done? Is it OK to get out your laptop and spend the day in a cafe in Europe, assuming you keep buying drinks? What about hackerspaces — are those common on the other side of the globe? (Apartments are an option for later on, but I'm concerned about losing the social atmosphere that's built in with the hostel lifestyle.) I've never done anything like this before, but I'm really excited about the idea! Any advice would be greatly appreciated."
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Ask Slashdot: What's the Best Way To Work On Projects While Traveling?

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  • You want to travel AND you want to grow as a developer? Well if you want to travel and enjoy yourself why take work with you. And if you want to grow y our development skills why not stay home and take classes or something.

    • by H0p313ss ( 811249 ) on Tuesday May 28, 2013 @05:02PM (#43844495)

      You want to travel AND you want to grow as a developer? Well if you want to travel and enjoy yourself why take work with you. And if you want to grow y our development skills why not stay home and take classes or something.

      I'm not sure why this is flamebait, but sadly I'd rather comment than moderate.

      I would suggest breaking the time into phases: travel and study. Say spend a month wandering around, then pick a city and settle in for some serious study time.

      Seems like the best of both worlds to me.

      • Traveling while working allows you to not just visit places, but stay for weeks and months, and get to experience actually living there. When you first arrive at a place, it usually only takes 3-5 days to see all the top sights. The thing is, you won't know until you're actually there if it's a place you would like to stay longer in, or if that's good enough, and you can move on. So planning ahead to segregate time as travel or life isn't necessarily doable. And instead of spurting between making money and

    • by HoldmyCauls ( 239328 ) on Tuesday May 28, 2013 @05:03PM (#43844513) Journal

      Because growing as a developer is enjoyment for him. I have trouble explaining to my significant other that building electronics, developing software, and yes, even maintaining my work's servers in offtime, gives me not only a sense of accomplishment, but also a feeling of growth and even pleasure.

      Otherwise, I might just find a deserted island and maroon myself there (possibly with my family).

      But I would expect not to have to explain that on /.

      Also, development skills can (sometimes, even in isolation from other developers) be grown with little more than a book, an IDE, a compiler and time -- the kind of time he's looking to avail himself by travelling while he has no immediate debts or job responsibilities. That's leaving the question of Internet connectivity and all that entails: wikis, IRC, Youtube, etc...

      Again, not the sort of thing you think you'd have to explain to a fellow /.er

      • Yes, it's a fun hobby. However one doesn't just travel the world while doing their hobby and hope the money magically shows up to pay for it. The original poster makes it seem like he naively assumes he can make a living writing code while moving from hostel to hostel. What's really going to happen is that the tiny amount of money saved up so far will be completely drained in very short order.

    • by Livius ( 318358 )

      Why not multi-task and do both?

    • Not sure why this is modded funny. Travel for personal reasons should have nothing to do with work. If the original poster wants to develop code while living as a vagabond, I presume this is as a hobby? Do not do this as a career move, it's ridiculous. There is no meaningful work experience to be gained this way, no one is going to appreciate it on the resume once returning to the real world. Now if someone wants to travel and also loves to code and do it as a hobby while on the road, that is another m

      • by cusco ( 717999 )
        You're pretty certain about something that you rather obviously have never tried. A lot of people are able to make a living writing games, smartphone utilities, app plugins, and even shareware. A lot of people have taken a year off from the corporate rat race to develop their own program that they can then sell. I've never seen anything carved in stone that says the only place that can possibly happen is when the programmer is chained to a desk, is that a rule somewhere?
  • by Anonymous Coward

    you'll never look back, or regret it. i've been doing it for 3 years and it's the best lifestyle possible.

    you can find wifi in most guest houses/hostels in the world, and also cafes too, if you buy a hot chocolate or coffee from time to time they let you sit there for hours.

  • by gl4ss ( 559668 ) on Tuesday May 28, 2013 @04:38PM (#43844287) Homepage Journal

    but in europe, you can find quiet places in most cities. if it's a quiet cafe they don't mind if you give them money every now and then.

    hackerspaces you'll probably find near universities. which brings up another point, at least in finland you can just walk into any university during daytime and nobody will ask you any questions and you'll find quiet places to work during daytime, during night you might need a pass to get in and get booted by the security depending on the university(booted means asked to leave, though that happens probably only if you're drinking alcoholic beverages).

    • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 ) *

      Europe is big. Much bigger than the US. The rules vary a lot. I live in Europe and honestly have no idea if it's okay to sit in a cafe for hours on end in Portugal or Romania. I think the OP will just need to play things by ear for the most part.

    • That works in many parts of American universities too (though usually not potentially hazardous locations such as machine shops).

      In fact, I was recently needed a new faculty ID (not saying where). It turns out you can just walk in and get one of those too. They only asked for my name.

    • by bemymonkey ( 1244086 ) on Wednesday May 29, 2013 @01:13AM (#43847493)

      Universities (or their libraries) are a good idea for a quiet place to work, but unless you have a valid set of user credentials, good luck getting online. It's all Eduroam over here, which is enterprise WPA2... I'd recommend getting an unlocked pentaband GSM MiFi and just getting a prepaid SIM card with a data plan (20-30€ per month with about 5 gigs of traffic included) and relying on that instead.

      Cafes are often fine for working in terms of space and atmosphere, but expensive if you don't want to piss off the employees - ordering a cup of coffee (~2€) once per hour for 6 hours while the tables around you are paying 10-20€ checks every hour is a major annoyance. Also, drinking a cup of coffee every hour would probably give me a heart attack :p.

      Instead, you should look for coworking spaces - they're popping up all around Germany (and I'm assuming the rest of Europe as well)... here you pretty much always get reliable power, internet acccess and a quiet spot to work.

  • Don't. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Freddybear ( 1805256 ) on Tuesday May 28, 2013 @04:38PM (#43844291)

    It's hard enough to give a development project your full attention while you're at home, much less "hopping from hostel to hostel" or leeching internet connections in cafes.

    • I found that when you have exciting things to do, then you really focus on working when you are working. You don't mess around on the Internet when you could instead be at the beach or partying. It's funny, when everyone else is bitching about bad weather, you're glad because that's the perfect time to work, and make more money for more fun later.

    • And be prepared to forget about work. That's what usually happens when I do these kinds of trips, in which I lie to myself that I'm gonna do some work.

  • by james_pb ( 156313 ) on Tuesday May 28, 2013 @04:40PM (#43844305) Homepage

    There are time limits on how long you can stay on a tourist visa everywhere (something like 6 months for Americans in the EU, and you can't just leave and come back to reset the clock). Plus, it's not really clear that you can legally do what you're talking about; countries haven't adjusted to the new reality of working from anywhere. You may find that you need a work visa to do this, even if you're not making money in the country.

    • by gordo3000 ( 785698 ) on Tuesday May 28, 2013 @05:02PM (#43844501)

      be a bit realistic. they won't know he is working, and most travelers do exactly that, leave after 6 months, go to some place outside the eu for a month, and then come back.

      and there are lots of ways to extend your stay. language school is a modestly priced option for people in europe (or many other countries).

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by p43751 ( 170402 )

      Check price and length of Visa. It varies from country to country. Europe is mainly EU(Schengen) and three months is the standard tourist visa. Then you have to leave for three months before coming back. For American citizens EU is free. There is also other countries around EU that is cheap.
      As long as you do not get paid from the EU you do not need a work Visa.
      I travel SE Asia a lot and live in EU. Theoretically it is possible to do what you want. WIFI and electricity is available most places. If you find a

      • by p43751 ( 170402 )

        Yea, i reply to my own post, but this tip is golden : couchsurfing.com!
        You can stay with people at their homes, usually they have a room or even a guesthouse(happened once but they also had servants). Since they already are on couchsurfing You can assume they have internet and power. You will probably be able to find a lot of prospects for your trip where the hosts have some of your interest

        oh... And according to one of the girls i met you do not always have to sleep with your host(s)

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      With the Dutch American Friendship Treaty, you can get a Visa pretty easily so you don't have to worry about going back to the US every few months. You can be based there on paper and travel elsewhere in the EU if you plan on spending the bulk of your time in Europe. The Netherlands is very central and has great access to all of the EU, and although the trains are slow until you get out of the country, the airport in Amsterdam has been rated the best in the world on multiple occasions. The Dutch are all flu

      • although the trains are slow until you get out of the country

        Clearly you have not had experiance of trains in the UK, I have been in the Netherlands for almost a year now and my experiance Dutch trains although not super fast, they are puntual, and rarely suffer from extreme delays. I only have refrence of UK which is a known hell hole for trains (the last train I took in the the UK was >3hrs late and missing 2 carriages, so packed.)

        The rest of your points all seem true, well as far as I know. I have only been here a year and am not fammiliar with NL/USA VISA arra

    • Work is usually defined as "to take up employment". It is perfectly legal pretty much all over the world to enter a country as tourist/visitor and go visit customers or trade shows. You are doing your job, for your foreign employer, while in that country as visitor. Often setting up your own company is allowed, too. After all you're not taking away jobs from locals that way, as that's what those restrictions are about.

      Time limits are another matter, indeed. But doing some programming work on freelance basis

  • Ya think?

  • ... what do you want with a job? (Quote from Raising Arizona) Seriously, enjoy the time off you have earned instead of polluting it with a development project. You will have plenty of time to sit in front of a screen when you are done, assuming you still want to stare at a screen.
  • by canadiannomad ( 1745008 ) on Tuesday May 28, 2013 @04:44PM (#43844341) Homepage

    "I really want to go travel the world with the money I've saved up at my day job, but I also want to grow as a developer in the process. This is a long-term engagement: 2-3 years or more depending on whether my software is successful.

    Awesome, welcome to the fun :D

    I'll probably be hopping from hostel to hostel at first, with a few weeks at each.

    Each place you stay try to find semi-furnished apartments by the month if you can. Honestly if you can find them you will save loads of money. I usually found a touristy area in my desired city, and asked bartenders and restauranteurs.

    How do I find a good work environment in these conditions? Do hostels generally have quiet areas where work could be done?

    Not really, they are designed typically with socializing in mind. My favourite hostel work space is in bed... Next best is an area with various cafes.

    Is it OK to get out your laptop and spend the day in a cafe in Europe, assuming you keep buying drinks?

    I find it is more internal that I start to feel uncomfortable working in any particular cafe too long or too many times in a row. I don't think they mind, but I start to feel awkward. That is why I like areas with lots of cafes/bars all with internet. So I can shuffle around a bit.

    What about hackerspaces — are those common on the other side of the globe?

    I haven't found them, they would be a welcome site to me. Maybe more in Europe.

    (Apartments are an option for later on, but I'm concerned about losing the social atmosphere that's built in with the hostel lifestyle.)

    I find when I'm working I lose that social atmosphere anyway and have to find it outside after work anyway. I'm not sure the benefits of a hostel outweigh the costs.

    I've never done anything like this before, but I'm really excited about the idea! Any advice would be greatly appreciated."

    Good luck, it is fun!

    • by MarkCollette ( 459340 ) on Tuesday May 28, 2013 @05:31PM (#43844727)

      If you stay at a hostel first, then you'll make friends to hang out with later, when you've moved into a short term lease apartment. Might even find flat mates. You don't want to miss out on the social connections of hostels while traveling for 2-3 years.

    • by D1G1T ( 1136467 )
      Good advice. Only thing I'll add is: travel light. Staff and other travelers often live off the proceeds of theft and depending on where you are, it may not be advisable to keep anything as valuable as a laptop in your hotel room or even the hotel's safe. So, take gear small and light enough that you won't mind taking it with you on a day hike. This won't be even close to everywhere, but when you need to, you'll be happy not to have to worry.
    • by pspahn ( 1175617 )

      That is why I like areas with lots of cafes/bars all with internet.

      Depending on where you are and how long you will be there, I would most definitely look into your own mobile 3g/4g hotspot.

      If you're traveling in the US, a 4g hotspot will get you a nice fast connection in just about every major city.

  • Coworking (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Roadmaster ( 96317 ) <roadmr AT tomechangosubanana DOT com> on Tuesday May 28, 2013 @04:44PM (#43844343) Homepage Journal

    I suggest you look at the concept of coworking. Basically you'd rent, short-term, a desk in an open-plan office full of people who work under the same arrangement. This includes internet access, power, and perhaps snacks and drinks. The other people in the place provide the social work atmosphere you crave, and exposure to other interesting things they may be working on. You can pay by the day, week or month (week and month payments usually cover a set amount of days but are cheaper than paying by the day).

    Coworking spaces exist in many cities around the world, and since coworking enthusiasts are, well, very enthusiastic about the concept, they communicate with each other and set up collaboration networks. Before you leave on your trip, I suggest you look for local coworking spaces to scout the concept, and talk to the space owners about your plans. They can certainly give you more information and tell you about the "coworking visa" which "allows active members of one space to use other coworking spaces around the world for free for a set number of days (3 is the default)."

    Read more about it here:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Coworking [wikipedia.org]
    http://wiki.coworking.com/w/page/16583831/FrontPage [coworking.com] (they have a worldwide directory).

  • Hostels.. most will kick you out after two weeks to make room for fresh guests but other than that you are unlikely to have problems. Most have free wifi and there are plenty (unfortunately) of antisocial folk stuck in a corner Facebooking, some even have special areas. Writing code is grand but you have to make sure none of the girls see you at it, or you'll and up on the National "Do Not Fuck" List because you know girls don't like coders / nerds (joke). You won't be the only one stuck behind a screen but
  • Public libraries (Score:4, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday May 28, 2013 @04:46PM (#43844363)

    Surprisingly good places to work in many western nations.

    • by steg0 ( 882875 )
      Second that. Larger cities generally have ones that open till midnight. Hostels are not ideal, the ones I've been to (Germany, UK) aren't quiet at all. If you already know what you'll be working on, that's good, I think finding projects locally could be a real challenge.
      • by vegge ( 184413 )
        While the hours may be limited, small cities and towns in the US sometimes have very nice libraries too. E.g., Sheboygan, WI has a beautiful library, and was a great place to work when we had a work emergency while I was on vacation.
    • That's what I've done, and what I would do again if I needed to find a quiet space to get some work done.

    • I agree with above post. I have done this in Switzerland and New Zealand. Libraries often have a café attached where you can buy drinks and work at the same time. Some libraries have limits on how much data you can use up, typically around 100 MB. Some also charge per session. Check out the libraries before you decide to move to a place for a month. Because you may find the have no wifi or charge huge fees.

      Cafés with Internet can be hard to find in Switzerland. Starbucks will only giv

  • Presuming that you bring your own laptop, ideally with good battery life (and a spare battery)... When you want internet connectivity, try out libraries. In the US they're quiet and usually have free Wi-fi. I don't know how common that is in libraries around the world. As far as development goes, yank down the relevant documentation (wget works great), and use a distributed CM system like git. Git, in particular, works really nicely for disconnected environments; you can work away and then sync up late
  • For "quiet space", I recommend really good ear-plugs. Best for me are "Ohropax Color". I use them frequently when working at home (noisy people living below). You can use each pair for several days before effectiveness diminishes. Should be available at most pharmacies in Europe or they can get them for you often within only a few hours. As for Internet, for Europe, you may also want to look at things like Fon (http://www.fon.com). Most of your needs should be covered by hotels and cafes though. As for hack

  • by asmkm22 ( 1902712 ) on Tuesday May 28, 2013 @04:48PM (#43844385)

    As long as you understand that you will very likely get robbed, or have your laptop stolen at some point, I'd go into something like this with a learn-as-you-go attitude. After all, it's supposed to be an adventure, right? Gain some world knowledge from first hand experience and whatnot. Just make sure you're saving your work remotely somehow, probably through some cloud service, and that your credentials and personal identity information isn't easily available to the first person who swipes your phone or laptop.

    Seriously consider getting remote wipe software for both, as well.

    As for the other stuff... hostels are, by their very nature, community areas. Most have space to break out a laptop and get internet access, but you are very much sharing the area with other strangers. Again, theft is a huge issue at these places, to the point that you might return to from taking a piss only find your laptop stolen.

    There are also some security-related issues to consider, if you are going to be hopping from one country to another. Many will flat out require access to your laptop just to pass through, and if you have it encrypted (which you should), they'll demand access to the encrypted data as well, or else confiscate it while you miss your flight. It can be a real big pain in the ass. So what you want to do is setup your laptop with a standard unencrypted Windows OS install that you use for random internet crap like Facebook or general browsing, and maybe a few games. Then setup a second hidden install of whatever OS you prefer, and use it for your *real* work. TrueCrypt handles this for the purpose of plausible deniability, although any encryption software should be able to handle it. The basic idea is that, if you get stopped at customs, you can happily give them access to your laptop and let them log in and see your mundane OS install with normal internet crap, without raising any flags about whatever work you are doing.

    And it really doesn't matter what kind of work you are doing, either, because the security guys at checkpoints could easily decide that the crazy-looking computer code for your gaming pet project might really be stolen state secrets. Or that the photos you took of some Buddhist temple could be considered spy activity. Crazy people are crazy, and the last thing you want is get sent to some labor camp in the middle of your dream vacation.

    • by greg1104 ( 461138 ) <gsmith@gregsmith.com> on Tuesday May 28, 2013 @05:14PM (#43844597) Homepage

      Agreed on most of this, but I don't see much value for remote wiping software on a system that's secured properly with encryption. If an attacker can get as far as booting the drive to where the remote wipe feature kicks in, they've already made it too far. Having remote wiping on a phone makes more sense because there isn't much available for boot time security on those.

    • And it really doesn't matter what kind of work you are doing, either, because the security guys at checkpoints could easily decide that the crazy-looking computer code for your gaming pet project might really be stolen state secrets. Or that the photos you took of some Buddhist temple could be considered spy activity. Crazy people are crazy, and the last thing you want is get sent to some labor camp in the middle of your dream vacation.

      Heh, this reminds me of a story from when my Uncle was traveling in some Latin American country (perhaps Guatemala?) long ago. He was wandering around, and saw some building under construction, so he snapped a couple photos. Somebody saw him doing this, and he soon found himself being hauled off to a jail. He didn't speak the language, so he had no idea what was going on. He was eventually released, though his camera had been relieved of its film. To this day, he has no idea what happened, or what he was ta

    • I never had anyone ever ask me to access my computer, and I've had my fair share on enhanced pat downs. But yes, definitely use the feature to have your hard drive encrypted, since all your banking info etc will be on it.

    • by Xacid ( 560407 )

      With that said - check out Prey if you haven't heard of it already: http://preyproject.com/ [preyproject.com]

      Pretty handy stuff for handling a situation where your gear gets stolen.

      • by Xacid ( 560407 )

        And yeah, definitely encrypt your drives. Pretend your thief is as nerdy as any of us.

    • means there are NO border checks between most of the countries in the EU - check wikipedia for the full list of countries. But even then, if you are within the EU, the customs controls between EU countries are very light; you're very unlikely to have a problem with customs. Overall the EU is a generally safe place to travel within; once you get beyond its borders it's a lot more iffy...
    • by rgbe ( 310525 )

      As long as you understand that you will very likely get robbed, or have your laptop stolen at some point,

      I would disagree that it is "very likely" that you will get robbed. I have traveled loads (I am the end of our 9 month travel around the world) with computers, fancy smart phones, etc. I have never been robbed or had anything stolen (except a $25 city map that I left sitting around for a while). I am cautious and take care of my belongings. As long as you take care of your things and be aware of people around you, do not look like a typical tourist and dress down, you should be okay.

  • bah. (Score:5, Informative)

    by magic maverick ( 2615475 ) on Tuesday May 28, 2013 @04:51PM (#43844403) Homepage Journal

    Things to take:
    A spare battery for your laptop. (And encrypt your laptop, and have a decent backup solution.)
    Power adaptors for your things.
    A powerboard, hostels often only have one or two powerpoints.
    Oh, and a voltage converter thing.
    An unlocked mobile phone.
    Fewer electronics (no music player, no recorder, etc., let your phone do all that).
    A backpack (a suitcase will really piss you off).
    Water bottles. Plastic travel cutlery maybe (it's cheaper to buy bread and cheese separately than it is to buy them together as a pre-made sandwich).
    Travelers Checks and cash for many countries.
    A lock for your bags, a lock for lockers in hostels, and a bicycle lock to tie your bags to your bed (or park bench) when you don't have a locker.
    Get clothing with hidden (inside) pockets to put cash in. But that's emergency cash. Put your general day cash in an easily accessible pocket (and watch it).

    Hostels only sometimes have quiet areas, and are only sometimes quiet (not just drunken people wandering in at 3:00, but also just the traffic all evening, or the bar downstairs), and only sometimes have Internet in the rooms.
    If you're looking for places to stay all day, try libraries instead. Ask yourself if an American cafe would let you stay all day. The answer is probably the same for other countries. But then again, a library or a local park would be cheaper.

    Two years is a long time. You'll probably get sick of traveling by the end.

    Your question is too generic to give a more specific answer.

    • Travelers Checks and cash for many countries.

      That depends where you're travelling to. Pretty much everywhere i've been in recent years has ATMs. A couple of different cards (one Visa, one Mastercard, maybe), in case one stops working, and maybe a small amount of cash just in case, should be plenty. Carrying cash and travellers' checks is a pain in the arse and it's asking for trouble. But find out about ATMs in the country you're going to next before you go there (not hard).

  • by alen ( 225700 ) on Tuesday May 28, 2013 @04:52PM (#43844419)

    if you're traveling in russia and eastern europe then you should be able to find a job supporting a botnet operation

  • Get yourself a good laptop which has the features required for the work you need.

    An extra battery isn't something to sneeze at.

    For the most part, understand that if the internet is something you often use for references that assists you in your work or to store your files onto a cloud server or even github, then do your homework.

    At the moment about 2/3 of european hotels will offer free wifi with their services (Complimentary Perks!).

    Problem is, free wifi doesn't mean performing wifi.

    Since you nee
  • including yourself. I'm with Crono (unfairly, imho, modded as flamebait). If you're travelling and trying to work, you're either going to miss some amazing sights ("Taj Mahal? Sorry, can't make it today - just want to get this exercise complete...") or get ripped off (no disrespect to the other side of the world - which to me is the States, btw...).

    Do some travelling, meet people. Talk. Look. Think. Consider. Learn how to talk to other people and learn how you react to other things. Learn anothe
  • I'll assume you're young and thus not yet crippled by such things as "bad posture" and tell you to work outside.

    Really, you're traveling to see the world right? So, see it. Always. Work anywhere the tour guides won't kick you out of. Bust out your laptop on the steps of the Sistine chapel. Read a tech book at the top of the Eiffel Tower. Head over to "The Pub" or wherever that cute local girl is frequenting.

    Starbucks will always be waiting for you if you really need something "normal".

    You'll just n

  • There's awesome hackerspaces all over the world, you should be able to locate them very easily with this newfangled thing called "The Google."

  • One of the features I'm most proud of I coded almost entirely at the Tomorrowland Terrance Restaurant in the Magic Kingdom (WDW Florida).

    Quiet places can be found just about anywhere. All you need is electricity, and for the most part you can bring your own these days (laptop batteries are way better than they used to be).

  • TrueCrypt full disk encryption (but be prepared for Customs to ask for access). Automated online backup (or at least github and backups of that repository).

    Dual displays? Tablet and appropriate software (e.g. iDisplay) , and if stored separately you may not even be fully down if/when your laptop goes on its own travels. With good backups, laptops can be a commodity so be prepared for a possible loss of one to *not* ruin your travels /week /month /year.
    • I can't necessarily speak for all platforms, but iDisplay for my Thinkpad T61 and Motorola Xoom (US, Wifi) was a complete & total disappointment (roughly 9 months ago), even when connected directly via USB (Thinkpad had Vista/32).

      It was actually slower than VNC over dialup, if such a thing is actually possible. It had at *least* 200-400ms latency. If it did any kind of RDP-like acceleration (as opposed to blindly scraping video memory and shoveling it over to the tablet, one painful frame at a time), it

  • Congratulations! (Score:5, Informative)

    by ph1ll ( 587130 ) <ph1ll1phenryNO@SPAMyahoo.com> on Tuesday May 28, 2013 @05:09PM (#43844569)

    You'll have a blast!

    I really recommend that you spend some time in Berlin. I lived there for 6 months (some of it working, some of it chilling out). It's a hugely exciting city and everywhere has free wifi. I spent many happy days just hanging out in cool cafes, coding. Don't be put off if you can't speak German. I only really have schoolboy German but everybody under the age of 35 speaks fluent English (which is a bummer if you also want to seriously learn the language).

    I've also done similar in Stockholm, Sweden (but for a much shorter amount of time).

    Basically, both have really nice people, great beer, great coffee, great working environment and a surprisingly large number of fellow coders.


  • You want the social atmosphere of living in a hostel but want to speed all day on your laptop at the same time?

  • But when I travel, I'm "supposed" to be doing something different from working. It sounds like you just want to be a mobile worker. What a waste

    • by MarkCollette ( 459340 ) on Tuesday May 28, 2013 @05:40PM (#43844795)

      Think of it not as an alternative to vacation/traveling, but an alternative to living/working in the same city you always have.

    • that so many here on slashdot see work and travel as such a black and white issue.

      It's entirely possible to do both. You don't ALWAYS have to be working or ALWAYS out sightseeing. You can easily set aside time for both and not miss a thing on your itinerary.

      Then again, I'm an older traveler, been doing freelance work for close to two decades now. I take my netbook and smartphone wherever I go.

      I will say, however, that I wouldn't consider staying in a hostel. It's just not me. I don't consider myself a

    • by rgbe ( 310525 )

      I would disagree with your post and most of the "don't work and travel - it's a waste" posts. Because I have found that living in one place for a longer period of time you get to learn about the city you are in, much more than a typical tourist. You will get to appreciate how things operate in a different country, the good, the bad and the ugly.

  • by MarkCollette ( 459340 ) on Tuesday May 28, 2013 @05:15PM (#43844609)

    I recently did this myself, traveled for a year and a half through Europe, Australia and Hawaii, while writing software to pay the bills. It was much easier than saving up that much money before hand, and the work was more stable and dependable than trying to find temporary work at each new location. I stuck to countries with good Internet access, where I didn't have to worry about getting mugged or my rig stolen.

    Some hostels provide free wifi, but in many cases it's painfully slow, and many hostels charge for wifi, but it can often be by the hour or for really small amounts of data. Basically they're assuming that you're just emailing and facebooking. Many do have a quiet area, but it might not be setup well for plugging in a laptop, and ergonomically sitting there for hours at a time. What worked best for me was to plan on participating with the other hostelers at all the peak times, such as the shared breakfast and possibly shared dinner times, and either afternoon treks or late night partying. Then I worked in all the gaps in-between, usually the late morning, afternoons, and before supper. Staying in the hostel quiet area all that time was very unappealing, so I would use any rooftop patio, or cafe, or pubs that aren't busy and so will allow you to camp out for hours after you've finished your meal, if asked nicely. Libraries are very good, as well as any post secondary schools that might be nearby. When I found a cafe with good wifi, I would return often, and they would usually accommodate me, even asking other patrons to move for me so I could access a plugin!

    Since not every place has good cheap/free wifi, it quickly became necessary to get local SIMs for my iPhone, and get data plans that allow for tethering. Luckily in most places outside of North America, getting 1 GB pay as you go is pretty cheap and easy. At times I got 1.5 or 3 GB. It did take some effort to make sure that a wireless provider allowed both tethering and VPN through that tethering, so I could access my company's intranet for SVN etc. Also, having a local SIM will facilitate with communicating with fellow hostelers and locals that you meet. People seem to mostly stick to SMS, WhatsApp, iMessage and Facebook for messaging and coordinating meeting up.

    I always kept a very current Time Machine backup of my computer, which I stored separately from my computer bag, which saved the day when my computer did eventually get stolen. Don't rely on a computer that you can't afford to replace. If you can, keep your home insurance up, to cover your possessions abroad, like I did. Also, I use CrashPlan for an offsite backup, in case I lost everything. This helped get back my very most recent work that I hadn't yet backed up to my Time Machine. But beware, your data plan or limited wifi will not readily support regular backing up everything. I added rules to CrashPlan to not backup any temporary or built files, and I would regularly use the feature that allows suspending backing up for several hours, until I was back on a free wifi. Also, don't let your computer automatically download updates. It can take a while for an online backup service to upload everything for the first complete backup, so start that process well before leaving. I used Mozy first, and didn't like how slow it was and the trouble I had restoring files, so I needed to start all over again with CrashPlan. Also, a padded water proof or resistant computer case is a must. Many times I went to a cafe it wasn't raining, but on my return it was. Always lock up your computer in your locker in your room. Not every hostel has lockers in the rooms.

    The main thing, is to not shut yourself off from the other backpackers, but to find a balance of socialising, seeing all the sights, relaxing, and also fitting in your work that will pay the bills. This way you will have an even better time than those who are not working but must live within a tight budget as they're burning through their savings.

  • You want to do this for a long time? Avoid high cost of living areas! A pint of beer that costs $1.50 in Cape Town South Africa would cost $10 in Copenhagen. Look at inexpensive cities that intersect with places you would want to visit.
  • ... or both things poorly.

    If you want to see the world, then focus on that. Take some time (not 2 or 3 years, a few months) and do your travelling. However, get involved in it and leave your techy bits behind.

    If you feel unable to spend time apart from your computers, then spend the time writing your software as that will be apparently what you value most highly. Part of growing up is getting to know yourself: are you more content doing software on your own, or can you put that to one side and do somethin

  • For what I do, a $500 12-14 inch laptop with Ubuntu and a unlocked phone with tethering when you can't find wifi.

    Full disk encrypt the harddrive, and back up your project with git. It most likely will get stolen or break some time while traveling, so make sure you have enough money to buy another. A usb stick with the OS should nice to carry in your backpack for these emergency occasions. Not sure if any of these will cause odd looks from security personnel.

    Also make sure you have enough money
  • I left England in 1979 and have been living and working in different places around the world ever since.

    IMHO, your basic idea is right. Combine work you want to do with traveling and experiencing all the world has to offer. Those suggesting you simply skip working for a few years have no idea how difficult it can be to get back into the swim later.

    Issues such as visas, living costs, easy access to good Internet connections and an environment conducive to working effectively vary tremendously from plac

  • ... Eat, Code, Love ?

    Do hostels generally have quiet areas where work could be done? Is it OK to get out your laptop and spend the day in a cafe in Europe, assuming you keep buying drinks?

    I haven't done any of this either, but I image that you can simply go and ask along the way. If you're polite and show some patronage, I'm sure most cafes will tolerate your laptop loitering, especially if you're considerate about their busy times, etc... Immerse yourself in the environment and you may get a richer experience than you imagine.

    Good luck and good travels.

  • by ionrock ( 516345 ) on Tuesday May 28, 2013 @05:42PM (#43844807)
    I've traveled 150+ dates a year while keeping a full time job and I can say that it is not easy. While most of that time is spent in a van and in nasty green rooms, there have been some helpful tricks that have helped a great deal being productive while on the road.

      1. Keep whomever you work for in the loop. There are going to be times where you are missing a meeting or will have trouble being available. Most of the time isn't a big deal if you're up front an open about where you are. It also helps if you end up keeping somewhat "off hours", which I typically do.
      2. Get a MiFi or some other reliable internet source. Coffee shops and hotels often have flaky connections. When you do need to have that meeting or restart some services, it is beneficial to have a connection that is reasonably reliable. Also, if you use Linux full time, a MiFi is like any other wifi, which can mean less futzing with USB drivers.
      3. If you work while "moving" (ie in a van, train, plain, etc.) then make sure you don't get motion sickness. I used to take Dramamine and Bonine, but both made me extremely tired and put me in a horrible mood. Since then I keep a lot of ginger chews / gum and natural motion sickness remedies. Specifically, I use a chewable tablets with Nux Vomica and Cocculus Indicus. You can pop that stuff like candy and it really works.
      4. Have different themes available for your text editor. When traveling, having a light and dark theme is helpful when you may not have the best natural lighting or you have to battle some sunshine outdoors or by a window.
      5. Battery life is critical! A small power efficient laptop is really helpful, especially if you have to carry it around. I also keep a small power inverter for working in the car. You want to get the lowest power possible as they are less likely overheat and break.

    I've also found that using a email client that can work offline is helpful at times. I use Emacs + Mu4e with offlineimap and have found it to be helpful at times. Org-mode in Emacs is also helpful as it provides me with a timesheet and a helpful system of organizing my notes that is close to the code. This is nice b/c when traveling, you typically will have shorter time spans to focus. Being able to clock out and keep a note of what you were working open when you close your laptop can go a long way when trying to get back to work.

    Good luck!
  • by pakar ( 813627 ) on Tuesday May 28, 2013 @05:50PM (#43844847)

    .. It can be challenging but can be done....

    Here in Sweden you have lots of places where you can go and work outside.. At least in the summer when the polar-bears are not roaming the streets :)
    There are quite a few places where you can sit and work inside too, as long as you order stuff for the duration... Have done that myself quite a few times, but only for about 3-4 hours at the max.. never had the need for anything longer...
    Libraries can also be kind of nice if you want a bit quieter environment..

    In London, at least the places i usually visit i don't see that a whole lot, but there must be some... The hotel-bars is often a good place unless it's crowded and i usually see some people working from those from time to time...

    Amsterdam have tons of cafe's, and yes coffee-shop's too :), and it's a wonderful city... But same thing here... just as long as you keep your orders going... Most i have spent in one place there where about 3 hours without any complaints...

    It probably differs from place to place, but as long as you are not disturbing anyone and keep ordering stuff you should not have any problem anywhere in Europe.....

    But from experience you can never go wrong with the hotel-bar/cafe/lounge .. Usually you don't have to order that much and it's usually not packed during the day so they will not complain even if you don't order anything as long as you are staying in the hotel...

    I usually don't stay in hostel's, but from the few i have been staying in one maybe 30% of them have had some semi-quiet place where you could sit and work... Check online before booking...

    Hackerspaces do exist here, but not too many depending on where you are going... Check http://hackerspaces.org/wiki/List_of_Hacker_Spaces [hackerspaces.org]

  • don't use 3g / 4g without a local sim unless you like paying about $20 a meg.

  • Don't worry about the details, just do it. You'll work it out as you go along.

  • I am a keen listener to FLOSS Weekly [twit.tv] hosted by Randal Schwartz [stonehenge.com], and am astounded at how often he is away on a geek cruise ship, evidently having a great time, and learning from other geeks. I cannot imagine a better person to address this question to.
  • I've been around Europe last april (Paris, Berlin, Amsterdam, Brugues) and had a much harder time than I expected finding WiFi. I'm from Buenos Aires, Argentina, and there's WiFi almost everywhere here... most bars and cafes have it, shopping malls have it, etc. In Europe there were Wi Fi connections everywhere, but very very few of them were public. Some belonged to phone / internet providers and were available for their customers only. McDonald's and Starbucks are the places that most often guarantee conn

    • Oh, and please do check AirBNB.com for short term rental of either full apartments or private rooms. In both cases you should be able to get decent Wi Fi, a nice place to work, and in the latter perhaps even people to mingle with.

  • Really don't want to contribute to the negativity around an admirable idea. However you need to be aware of the horribly complex visa and tax laws.

    The UK has a a growing number of good hackspaces, you would be welcome at Reading http://rlab.org.uk/ [rlab.org.uk]

  • I'm doing this myself right now in a way in the Philippines but for only 2 months. What I did is get a cheap town home in a medium sized village outside of a major city. So living in the village gives me the to true culture and life style and when I need something I hope on a Jeepney and travel into town. I've learned to split up my time, I'll work a few hours in the morning when I wake up. Then walk around outside around lunch time and see if any street vendors are cooking anything good. If so will eat lun
  • At the bar my friend.. at the bar..
  • by tgeller ( 10260 ) on Wednesday May 29, 2013 @01:02AM (#43847439) Homepage

    I've managed to organize my freelance writing business so I can (and do) travel as much as I want. I'm not 100% -- I travelled 188 days in 2012 -- but that's by choice. (I like having a home base in small-town Ohio, where the livin' is easy.)

    Anyway, to answer your questions from my perspective, with travel in the U.S. and Western Europe (which seems to be your focus):

    How do I find a good work environment in these conditions [hostels]?

    Most modern Hostelling International [hihostels.com] hostels in Western Europe have comparatively reliable wifi, 24-hour access, and electrical outlets. (I can't speak for other hostel chains or independents.) I've found cafes to be less reliable -- they have less at stake if the wifi goes down. And libraries don't all offer wifi to non-members.

    Do hostels generally have quiet areas where work could be done?


    Is it OK to get out your laptop and spend the day in a cafe in Europe, assuming you keep buying drinks?

    It depends. You can usually spend a couple of hours at each, but it's obnoxious to stay when it's crowded. Some have auto-limited wifi access: Check before sitting down.

    What about hackerspaces â" are those common on the other side of the globe?

    Again, it depends. I know of some in Rotterdam (The Netherlands), but that's a very Western city. Now, my comments.

    1. Most hostels won't allow stays of more than a week.
    2. Don't plan to do that long a trip at first. Try a few weeks. Learn as you go.
    3. [AD] Watch my "Freelancing Fundamentals" video course on lynda.com [freelancin...entals.com]. I talk about a lot of this stuff there.

    Good luck!

  • by chrismcb ( 983081 ) on Wednesday May 29, 2013 @03:34AM (#43848065) Homepage
    Many hostels have a "quiet" reading area (it isn't always quiet) Some have decent wifi. Yes sometimes it is horrible, sometimes it isn't. One option is a 3g card or similar. Pick one up in the country you are in.
    Pretty much any country you go to will have restaurants or coffee shops you can hang on it, especially if they are off hours. A bar can be a good place to hang out in during the day.
    I like your idea behind hosteling at first. You might want to hop a bit more. But hostels are a GREAT way to meet other tourists (not so great of a way to meet locals)
    Looks like you can only spend 90 days every 180 in Europe. So plan accordingly. I love your idea, and don't pay attention to the naysayers.
    I'd recommend setting things up so you can do all of your work without using the internet. I did some great working, sitting outside, watching the sunset and enjoying a nice cool evening deep in the alps. You will also probably want to work whenever you are on the train for a long trip, and they don't always have internet.

"The Avis WIZARD decides if you get to drive a car. Your head won't touch the pillow of a Sheraton unless their computer says it's okay." -- Arthur Miller