A Remote Year Adventure
I am on what might be the craziest adventure I’ve taken on yet; traveling and living with 46 professionals on a remote year journey that will last four months and cover four countries. What did I sign up for?
With a teenager on a foreign exchange program for the year and a husband who can’t travel in first quarter, I had time for a bit of adventure. Remote Year fell into my lap (thanks Colleen Kochannek), challenging me to leave my comfortable Denver and gallivant around Latin America with a carry on and a laptop. Would I do it? In a heartbeat.
4 Months in 4 Countries, How Will It Work?
So what is Remote Year? It’s a noun and a verb! Remote Year, the company, puts together groups of professionals who can work remotely while traveling and living in other countries, one month at a time. There are one-year programs and four-month programs; each has its own flavor and itinerary. For me, a four-month program fit perfectly into my family life, and the Pachamama itinerary through Latin America suited my goals. I signed up instantly.
Once I paid the down payment of $2500, I began hunting for the perfect carry-on and then started my planning. My itinerary started in Santiago, Chile, then it jets to Medellin Colombia, followed by Lima, Peru, and finishes in Mexico City, Mexico. Currently, I am in Santiago.
Who Signs Up for Remote Year?
Each group gets its own name. Ours is Pachamama, which means Earth Mother to the Incas. What a perfect name for our group! We Pachamigos are 46 professionals strong. We hail from Canada, the USA, France, South Africa, England, New Zealand, Australia, and Ireland. Of the folks from the US, we claim Colorado, California, Washington, Illinois, Arizona, and DC as home. Several of us are self-employed, managing our blogs, creating active wear, producing photography and growing small businesses, while many work for companies who allow remote workers. They are engineers, financiers, accountants, executive recruiters, political consultants, professional assistants, and programmers. We average 33 years old, most are single/divorced, and two of us are married. Our partners are at home.
What Does Remote Year Include?
As part of our monthly fee ($2000), Remote Year provides us with a fabulous workspace with super internet. Most of us work a 9-5 schedule based on local time zones at home; the majority favor the East Coast time zone, but many employers just leave it up to the individual worker to get their jobs done on their own.
What Is in the Remote Year Workspace Like?
The workspace, always located within 20 minutes of our living spaces, is right downtown in Santiago’s hippest district. Internet zips through our laptops, a copier/fax/printer is readily available, coffee and tea flow at will, and we share the space with Chile’s start-up entrepreneurs. Synergy vibrates throughout the workspace among the locals and among and between the Remotes alike. The space is open 24/7, and Remote Year guarantees we will always have internet access, even providing hot spots if any internet goes down.
What Is the Remote Year Housing Like?
Our housing, which is also included, varies by our desires and needs. Prior to arriving on Remote Year, we answered a survey about housing criteria and how important certain features were to our needs. For example, was it more important to be close to the workspace or to have a washer/dryer? Do you like a quiet space or do you want to be surrounded by people? Remote Year guarantees we will have our own rooms and at least a shared bathroom. Our homes also have internet.
I love my housing in Santiago. I live in a 3 bedroom apartment with 2 1/2 baths and a large kitchen that has a 4-burner stove and oven, a washer and dryer, and a large, naturally lit space. It’s across for a bustling park that explodes with fitness and activities which constantly draw me out of my space. I have attended group workouts, rap jams, Zumba, and salsa classes for free right outside my door. I walk 20 minutes to work through a gorgeous park system filled with fountains, statues, and people.
What Else Do You Do on Remote Year?
Remote Year also provides three guaranteed activities a month as part of our fee. The first is a “track.” We had the choice of two for Santiago, either a bike and wine event through the Chilean wine vineyards or a white water rafting trip in the Andes. I chose the rafting. The second activity, which might be an additional fee, was a side trip to Valparaiso, a lovely seaside town about 90 minutes from Santiago. I chose to save myself the $60 fee and do the trip by myself for $30. The third activity is “positive impact” where we do a service in the community. This weekend, we’re going to the animal shelter to clean/walk/hug the homeless pigs, dogs and cats of Santiago.
Finally, the program includes two more invaluable things; local contacts and travel help. We have two city managers who shadow and integrate with us all month. They are our go-to for things to do and for questions about the local communities. They invite us to do additional events; we’ve gone to the local bar to try a traditional drink called Terramotes, we’ve climbed the local hill to greet the Virgin Mary, and we’ve played video games in the local arcade, among other things. They constantly provide ways to engage and immerse in the community.
How Do You Get from Country to Country?
The other valuable item Remote Year provides as part of our fee is the inner-city transfers. They take care of our flights/buses to our next destinations, taking the logistic challenges out of international travel. And they include door-to-door service from current housing to our next housing, so we don’t have to manage our airport transfers either. I have already received my flight info for Colombia, so I have no worries about getting to our next city.
What Are the Remote Year Intangibles?
Remote Year, as a company, provides an all-inclusive experience for workers wanting to get out of their routine and embrace a taste of the world. But living and traveling with the Pachamigos has produced a bucket of intangibles that I can only begin to enumerate. Remote Year provides a communication platform through Slack which invites all of us to be inclusive and inviting, no matter your preferences. Within the group, we share invites and community to participate in a wide variety of activities we’ve each hosted, including contemplative walks, bar hopping, spike ball, tennis, hiking, yoga, boxing, road trips, night hikes, ultimate Frisbee, wine tasting, and fire breathing. There’s always someone to do something with and ways for you to try new things with a buddy.
Yet, the group is savvy enough to understand that it’s okay to take some quiet time, too. Self-care is a big theme throughout the 46 of us, and we each keep an eye on each other. Traveling and being away from loved ones can be lonely. At least our Pachamigos help alleviate the solitude.
What Is the Biggest Challenge in Remote Year?
Finally, the biggest challenge has been to stay focused on goals. For the program, mine are three: to become fluent in Spanish again, to rework my blogs, and to find the walking communities in the four cities I’ll visit. I’ve actively used Meetup and Facebook to help accomplish goals one and three, and the Spanish classes that Remote Year has offered for an additional fee have helped. As for reworking my blogs, I’m constantly distracted by the richness of Santiago’s activities and of the Pachamigos’ invites. Staying focused on my writing is difficult! Thus, my apologies to all of you who have been waiting for this particular post! A post about Santiago is also forthcoming.
Go on Remote Year!
If you are curious about Remote Year, give me a shout. You can use my Remote Year referral as well, and we both get a little cash back. So far, I love this program, and I can’t wait to see how the rest of my time will unfold. Are you ready to sign up? Let me know.