A Remote Year With Hunter Pine
Can you give a brief explanation of what Remote Year is and how it works?
Remote Year provides a unique travel experience. For one year, I spend each month in a different city around the world. They provide an apartment with a private bedroom (I have roommates, and they change every month), a 24/7 workspace with high-speed internet so I can get my work done, and transportation from city to city. Most importantly though, they provide a community structure for the year. There are 76 other people on this adventure with me, so there’s always someone to talk to or take side trips with along the way.
The itinerary for this year is as follows:
January – Mexico City, Mexico
February – Bogotá, Colombia
March – Medellín, Colombia
April – Lima, Peru
May – Córdoba, Argentina
June – Buenos Aires, Argentina
July – Prague, Czech Republic
August – Belgrade, Serbia
September – Valencia, Spain
October – Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
November – Chiang Mai, Thailand
December – Phnom Penh, Cambodia
In addition, I’ve taken a side trip to Havana, Cuba, and to Barranquilla, Colombia for Carnival. I already have other side trips planned to Cusco and Machu Picchu in April, and I’m heading to Cartagena next weekend. I’m in the process of planning trips to Quito, Ecuador in April; Mendoza, Argentina in May; Split, Croatia for an island cruise in August; France (wherever the train will take me) in September; and long term, I’ll be trying to plan a side trip to Bangkok in November. I’m also hoping to go visit the Singapore office while I’m in Malaysia. I’m sure there will be others, I just haven’t figured them out yet.
What made you decide Remote Year was something you wanted to do while working at Acronym?
I like to think of it more as “Remote Year found me”. I’ve worked remotely for Acronym for about three years now, and while I’ve taken the opportunity to work from other cities around North America from time to time (DC, Chicago, Toronto, St. Thomas, Milwaukee, Boston, New Orleans, to name a few); I still primarily worked from home. One of my friends posted an article on Facebook about RY, and I figured I’d apply on a whim. Once I got accepted, I didn’t see any way I could not go. How could anyone turn down an opportunity like this and not regret it? So basically, FOMO.
How does travelling somewhere new each month impact your work, what is it like working in each of the destinations you have been at so far?
Every day, someone is doing something. People are always doing tours or side trips, visiting other towns or restaurants or taking tours, and you want to do it all! It’s often very difficult to maintain a good work/life balance because you’re only here for a month, and you want to see as much as possible. I think I’m lucky that I’ve been working remote for over three years now, and I have an understanding of how to maintain that balance effectively. Some of my fellow remotes are new to this lifestyle and you can see it’s taking a toll.
Tell us about where you are now!
I’m currently in Medellin, Colombia. Contrary to popular belief (and the TV show Narcos), this city is absolutely spectacular. It’s lush with trees and parks and rivers, full of vibrant colors, the history here because of the 60-years of war, and rebels, and narco-terrorists, has resulted in a very proud culture, eager to show off how much they’ve accomplished and how far they’ve come as a city and as a people. There is so much to do and so much to see, I could probably live here for six months and never be bored.
What has been your favorite to visit so far, or what place are you looking forward to most?
As a city, Medellin is certainly my favorite so far. As for what’s upcoming, I’m trying to keep an open mind. If you had told me three months ago that I’d love a city in Colombia famous for a notorious drug kingpin and terrorist, I’d have thought you were insane, so what other cities are going to surprise me along the way? I’d rather just let it happen.
How do you balance work tasks with travel itineraries?
We don’t transition from city to city on the first of the month, it’s always done on a Saturday so that it doesn’t interfere with most people’s M-F work schedule. I try to arrange side trips so that I can fly at night or early morning and not miss anything important.
What does your typical week-day look like?
My weekdays are pretty typical, really. Even though they have a workspace for us, I never go. I’m accustomed to starting my morning from home, and we have internet everywhere, so I still do that. I wake up, check emails, make sure the servers are all still running and nothing is on fire. I check the tech news for an hour or two to keep up on the latest technologies, I’ll grab lunch, sometimes I’ll make something at home, other times I’ll meet up with other remotes and try a new restaurant. In the afternoon, I’ll generally focus on project work and one-off tasks I need to complete — deploys, new installs, calls with vendors, speccing out new hardware and pricing, calls with my team on some days, etc. Nighttime is when the magic happens, though. There’s almost always something going on. A new restaurant, a new bar, a local sports game, live music, something cultural, who knows? Last night, 8 of us played a Colombian game called Tejo (Check out the Colombia episode of Anthony Bourdain’s No Reservations for an in-depth tutorial). The night before that, I had dessert in a town called San Antonio de Antoquia, about an hour outside of Medellin. You never know what’s going to happen.
One thing you wish you would have brought with you but didn’t?
An endless supply of pizza! But really, nothing. If anything, I kind of wish I’d brought less. I already mailed some things home, in fact. I’m not sure I’ll ever get to backpacking level, but dragging around tons of stuff becomes a chore, so less is more.