Is studying dev while traveling a good idea?

Learning and studying on free time is always a good idea, but mostly if you are good at keeping your habits and having some specific amount of compromise with yourself, otherwise you might end up procrastinating for months and even years some skills.

I’d recommend you to start right away before traveling and start to see what type of materials and courses are the most apt to you, as well as to measure your times of the day so you’re aware of how to organize yourself.
In my case, basically what I did is to mimic my school night schedule so I can kind of follow a pattern of study I was related already. Traveling is a little harder, but not impossible at all.

Here’s some interesting mini course that might help you out as well to get started, called "Learning how to Learn"

Hey Sanel,

I’m about to do the same thing (dev and physics). I have a stable job but it’s not the direction I want to go in life, so I’m taking a leap of faith because I’m feeling pretty uninspired and unmotivated.

I’ll be in Split with my brother from about 10th Sept (with a weekend in Sarajevo at some point). If you’re around would be great to meet up. Maybe we can motivate each other?


@sanelo: have you been working while travelling before?

I can’t agree more on this. A good schedule and figuring out the pace you want to move at (like, location-wise) is very important otherwise you easily drop out and focus on the funnier travelling part.

One thing @wanderingdev said, I’d like to highlight and elaborate because I feel it is highly underrated by learning devs, is not having much of a support system:

I’m a self-taught developer and one of the co-founders of OpenTechSchool and [Hackership][2]. In both we address one major problem, when learning to code: you’ll get stuck. And that is highly frustrating. Heck, this even happens to me after ten years in the biz, that when I have to learn a new thing, especially if they are out of your comfort zone or edgy tech, I do get stuck. And the easily procrastinate on other things, wasting days. With the fun and thrill of travelling in the mix, I can see this easily expand to weeks even.

With the 9-weeks Hackership code learning retreat, we organisers make sure to create a supportive and motivating environment and with the coaches around we resolve being stuck in a matter of hours rather than days.

FYI, we still have a few seats open for the coming Batch on the beaches of Costa Rica in September, if anyone is interested.

Disclaimer: I am a volunteer organiser and coach with Hackership.

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Also, you might want to check out Anouk’s Medium Post “How I learned to code while travelling”

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Hey! I’m the author of the post @ben mentioned! Let me know if you have any questions!


I have a question, is it hard to pick up work on the freelance job sites if you have just finished a coding bootcamp or learnt yourself using books?

how would they know that unless you tell them? if you have the skills, that’s what matters.

Ok, my question was more along the lines of “if I learn to code for 6 months including going through and put together a good portfolio will I be able to earn a living as a DN freelancer”.

Is it realistic that i can compete with the cheap labor and the experienced labor to find enough work to get $2000 to live off.

Surely not 100% of DN’s who can code are successful.

If you have the skills and the ability to get jobs then yes, you can live off of it. Relying on freelance websites isn’t the best option though as, like you said, you’ll be competing with $6/hour coders. But those aren’t the jobs you want anyway. :slight_smile:

So where would you find freelance work, right out of the coding camp? Remember I want to be remote and not stuck working for one company (employee).

Finding good freelance work is all about networking and marketing yourself. You can find projects on the freelance sites but in my experience, the ROI isn’t great.

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I have had a fair amount of success learning on my own, but my issue often deals with being too drained after a long day at work. I managed to get more studying done over the weekend when I wasn’t as drained, so the idea is that more time and energy should be of benefit.

Thanks for the course, I’m going to check it out! I’ll be heading out at the beginning of August, so I should have a good amount of time to go through it.

Woohoo! Someone that is on my side :smile: I feel the same way with my current job. It’s always more inspiring when you’re in a new place/environment different from home! Count me in for meeting up!

So great to have someone else in a similar position.! I shall message you when I rock up in Split. Vidimo se :slight_smile:

@timnomad picking up quality work can be tricky and like @wanderingdev say’s it is all about networking and the cliche of ‘it’s not what you know but who you know’.

I’m a full time web dev with about 4 years full time experience. At the moment, I’m working full time for a company in London. I’m self taught, have no degree but have done pretty well by specialising in one industry and that’s the industry I have worked in most of my life, before moving into dev work.

I would say that taking a kind of scattergun approach and taking on everything an anything would be a bad move. Try and specialise in what you know and equally as important try and specialise in a skill and try and make that a skill that is in demand. For example, I’ve 17+ years experience in the music industry from retail to distribution to running labels and now I specialise in providing big data solutions that are in line with the way the industry has moved; near real-time analytics for streaming data, social data etc etc. I think what i’m getting at, is don’t just think websites, with cloud computing you can do so much more.

That said, I have seen other nomads taking on small projects like websites for hotels/guesthouses in exchange for a room and food. Sounds like a great way to get some experience on a low to no budget!

As far as learning goes, I would 100% advocate collaborative learning. Personally, I’m much more inclined to dive in and code without reading docs or following guides and rarely learn much that way. I do learn a lot however from the other devs I work with and likewise, kind of crystallise my own ideas when explaining things to others. I guess a bootcamp could work that way, but my worry would be that if there are fundamentals that you just don’t get, you could come away confused. I’ve never done one so hard say.

I’m leaving London in Sept for Myanmar and will be based there for a year, doing some work remotely. I fully intend to reach out to tech start up community there to be amongst other devs and hopefully keep my skills fresh and share a few things. Give me a shout if anyone is out that way.

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Hi @raoot1979, would you share some of your experiences/tips regarding self teaching? Thanks!

@sanelo, wow I’m not sure I know where to begin, but i’ll try;

I first started playing around with basic HTML, CSS and Javascript about 12 years ago, making websites for bands etc. Then it was mostly books like the Sams ‘Teach Yourself in 24hrs’ series. I was also a student then so had loads of time on my hands!!

Later I started to realise I needed some kind of server side language & database to drive the content on the sites I was building so again, with a book started learning ASP/SQL. I found that very hard and then someone else recommended PHP/MySQL which clicked with me and then for a number of years it was just further books, probably some online guides and a lot of terrible procedural code!!

It was only when I started to try and get a dev job that certain really important things started becoming apparent like frameworks, MVC, version control etc. That all lead me onto looking into Ruby On Rails as I didn’t get on with any of the PHP frameworks. Since then i’ve not really looked back. There’s a load of great resources out there for Rails like Railscasts which sadly isn’t updated anymore but Code School and Code Academy have some great interactive video guides too. Ruby Monk is also great for getting up to speed with the Ruby language. I’m sure there’s others for Python/Django and other languages and frameworks.

I don’t know what level you’re at but in terms of tips for any beginner, i’d go for:

  • Get a decent text editor like Sublime or Textmate. Avoid Dreamweaver etc!

  • Start with client side basics; Be confident you can hand code some HTML in a basic text editor like notepad. The add some basic CSS and only then start adding some Javascript/JQuery.

  • Move on to exploring server side technologies and languages. Start simple maybe with PHP/MySQL. I’m biased, but once you get how it works, ditch PHP for Ruby (on Rails)

  • Start using a framework. Rails get’s my vote here. When you do the famous 15 mins to build a blog you’ll be blown away.

  • Use version control. Git is my preference. Understand and use branching. You’ll wonder how you managed without it.

  • Take a look at the syllabuses of bootcamp course like General Assembly’s and if you’re not going to enrol, use it to further guide path you’ll follow when self learning.

  • Try and be versatile; with that I mean don’t limit yourself to client side. I think an understanding of both makes you a better dev. You don’t have to be a jack of all trades, but it’ll make life easier in the long run.

  • Try and choose a stack and stick to it. This is quite hard when there’s so much to choose from. I tend to use google trends to look at the rise/fall in popularity of languages and also the job market. I have to be honest and say part of my decision to go down the Rails route is because it generally pays better than PHP.

Hope that helps?

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If you were starting again, right now, would you choose JS over Ruby and RoR?

Hell no, i’d say use both as they complement each other; JS frontend, RoR backend. You could of course use Node JS to handle your server side, but that’s not something I know a lot about.

I’m actually moving away from one massive RoR app handling everything for me. I tend to use a stripped down version of it to build APIs / micro-services and then most recently AngularJS for frontend UIs.

Wouldn’t vanilla JS, JS frameworks and PHP/MySQL land me more remote freelance work?

Theres a LOT of distraction and things to figure out while you travel. Ideally its best to finish studying before you start travelling or as a half way pt, go to just one place cheap and focus.
If you are trying to do both, chances are you wont enjoy the travel and you wont really focus enough to study.

This is a good post about how much time they wasted just solving the local country’s problems i.e. housing before even working on their business How do we solve housing for digital nomads? . I went through a horrible version of this in Toronto at my first startup run.

I’m considering the same thing though, but travelling for the purposes of lower my costs so I can go through a dev learning curve without worrying about cost.