We all know that feeling: stuck, envious, chained to our day-to-day responsibilities. How many times have you heard yourself or someone else say with a resigned tone, “I wish I could travel more.” Most people cope by cramming their bucket list destinations into their two weeks of allotted vacation time, and suffer the drawbacks: tourist traps, days jam-packed with manic sightseeing, abbreviated itineraries, and major jet lag hangover once they return to work. When it’s all said and done, how much of Japan can you really see in ten days? There’s got to be a better way. Enter Remote Year.
What is Remote Year?
Remote Year (RY) is a program started in 2014 to help solve the problem of choosing between work and travel. Knowing that great work can be accomplished from anywhere, co-founders Greg Caplan and Sam Pessin rallied a group of professionals together and launched their first journey in 2015.
Although most of us are still yoked to a desk in a traditional office, in a growing number of industries, the possibility of remote work is expanding. Remote Year’s program capitalizes on this trend. Now approaching its fourth full-fledged year, RY is still new on the scene but quickly picking up steam. It draws applicants from all over the world, ranging in age, profession, passions and interests, all with the common threads of curiosity about different cultures and a desire for self-discovery and professional growth.
While there are many work/travel programs out there, RY has a deeper mission than just helping adventurous people travel and build up their portfolios. According to Emily Moyer, marketing and PR consultant for the company, “We believe that we are creating a global community that inspires empathy and appreciation for the diversity of the world. When we are able to understand each other, we can use our collective experiences to create and inspire.”
How Does Remote Year Work?
Thousands of potential remotes (or “Pomotes” as they call them) apply each year to join. But don’t get discouraged by the competition – RY adds new programs packed with drool-worthy destinations about once a month, making your options for global exploration nearly endless. Even better, they offer four-month itineraries alongside their full-year programs, meaning there is almost surely an option that works for you (and your work schedule).
Once accepted and matched with an itinerary, departure date, and a community of fellow travelers, RY takes over. Not only do they handle all the travel arrangements and logistics, they also manage your lodgings and access to 24-hour workspace in each city. To help get you acclimated to each new locale, Remotes also have access to City Managers for on-the-ground advice, alongside curated local experiences or “Tracks” specifically designed to provide authentic cultural encounters.
If you’re ready to grab your laptop and jump on a plane to a new continent, there are a few additional things to consider. At $27,000 for the full year program, including a $5000 deposit up front to hold your spot, this can definitely be cost prohibitive for folks who are already on a tight budget. On the upside, once you’ve paid your deposit, the remaining cost of the program is taken in monthly installments of $2000 while you’re traveling. If you think of it as swapping your utility bills and rent for twelve months of jet-setting, it starts to sound a lot more reasonable. Keep in mind that meals, day-to-day personal expenses, and plane tickets to and from your first and last location are not included in the price.
It’s also worth noting that Remote Year doesn’t offer any assistance in terms of job placement, although they do provide resources to help get your employer on board with a remote arrangement. While some travelers in the program are already remote workers or are able to stay with their current employer, many opt to quit their jobs and find other sources of income for the duration of the trip. Whatever route you choose, thoughtfulness is key. Since working, learning, and collaborating within your travel community is a core staple of the program’s purpose, this might not be the right environment if you’re the kind of person who’s working for the weekend.
Why You Should Consider It
The benefits here are major: immersive travel opportunities, a tight-knit community of inspiring fellow travelers, the headache of travel logistics taken off your shoulders. Even beyond these obvious perks, what differentiates RY from other similar programs is the amount of support and community they seem to offer. As a Remote, you’re not only connected to your travel companions, you also have access to an entire global network of other remote workers, City Managers, as well as professional development and volunteer opportunities in each city. Dig even deeper, and you’ll find a profound opportunity for self-discovery. The cultural immersion of extended-stay travel, alongside the self-awareness required for successful remote work, means that a program like Remote Year offers the chance for continual growth, challenge, and stimulation. Through interactions with new people and cultures and the widened perspectives that come along with it, you might even find yourself solving problems you didn’t even know existed in the first place.
p.s. we have also done a little side interview with Emily during the FreedomXFest in August 2018.