Hacker News new | comments | show | ask | jobs | submit login
Why We’re Traveling (phileasandblogg.com)
73 points by gkoberger on Aug 29, 2013 | hide | past | web | favorite | 73 comments

I don't think children alone are the problem - switching countries often means leaving behind your entire social network. From the guys you go out drinking with to the person who cuts your hair, you have to build this all over again.

It can be fun, but it can also be isolating. It's tough to meet new friends, especially in a foreign culture, where your common cultural threads - sports you grew up watching, foods you grew up eating, languages you speak - don't overlap.

For some people this is a great opportunity to meet and learn about all sorts of things, and it can be, until you're tired, sick, or stressed - and just want the voice of a familiar friend.

Moving every 3 months means this problem is only amplified - you'll never really feel tied to whatever place you've moved to. Making real friends, learning the language... why bother, if you're just going to be somewhere new in a few months?

The other thing I dislike about this article is the "advice from rich people" tone it strikes. I've seen a lot of these kind of articles - "I made this successful business and then I realized I can just travel the world doing nothing". I suppose Tim Ferris started it, but he's not the only one.

The point being you have to have a certain amount of financial resources before you can do this kind of thing.

Now nothing in the article says they are rich (and they do point out CR is cheaper). But before you can do something like this, if you have any sense, you've either got enough money in the bank or enough business already planned to cover all the changes - relocations and all. You know that it will be an international flight to meet almost any client, and that's not really a problem.

I really think that - especially in the youthful zeitgeist, "conspicuous consumerism" as we once knew it (IE, at its zenith in the 80's) is dead. So let's stop acting like the only reason people live a frenetic life of work hard/play hard in the city is all about building up money to be better than their peers, and if only we had a little more perspective we could realize we could live relaxing, fulfilling lives on a tropical beach working a few hours a week.

Lots of interesting points -- but for what it's worth, I'm the founder and I'm certainly not a "rich person". I'm a designer/developer living in Silicon Valley who wanted to experiment with new ways to build a company with the round we raised.

Tim Ferriss was one of the inspirations for the traveling. Like him or hate him, his point is "you don't have to be rich to travel, you just have to do it".

This isn't for everyone, but the hope is that it's extra-awesome for people who want to see the world and experience new cultures, all as part of a job.

First thing that came to mind when I read the name was a travel bookstore / center in Stanford Mall years back (I'm not sure when they closed). I like the name and the concept.

It seems like your initial plan is to do have everyone in the same travel group?

I like the idea. I travel a bit and always seem to get a bit of time in doing some work either at one of our local offices or at a coffee shop/coworking space.

To be clear, I'm not saying that traveling is a bad thing. I love it.

I myself just moved to San Francisco ~3 months ago after a lifetime of living within about a 100 mile circle of places on the East coast; a lot of these observations come from this experience. Ultimately, it's been a good experience for me, but it's not exactly what I expected from a naive point of view.

Packing up and moving your whole life has some pretty serious consequences that are easy to gloss over. There's a big difference between a vacation of a few weeks to a month and actually living somewhere else.

Being in SF, for me, meant living in an urban (vs. suburban) environment, which meant a variety of changes. Hopping in the car to go anywhere is no longer a requirement. It's also not an option if I want to get a load of groceries, unless I want to rent a ZipCar. Am I saying it's too hard to walk 2 blocks to the grocery store? No. But it's a new way of life.

All these changes to your lifestyle can be exciting and fun, but they can also be stressful; especially so if you are (as I am not) socially isolated by language and/or cultural differences.

For instance, one thing that was a hassle moving here for me, and would be worse internationally, is ADHD medication. It's a schedule 2 drug in the United States, meaning I can only ever get a month's supply, among other restrictions. So when I got here I had to get a new doctor almost immediately - and most doctors are reluctant to write a controlled substance prescription on demand.

Again, I love traveling, and if I was reading this article about a DC company (where I used to live) and I still lived there, I'd be the first to sign up.

But a lot of the differences are subtle, or unexpected, and you should realize that it can be - while enlightening, meaningful, and ultimately fun - a very stressful experience. It's sort of like the difference between telecommuting and working in the office - with google hangouts, teleconferences, etc, the communication should be the same, right? It's the same laptop whether at home or at work, right? And yet, for me, the experience is massively different.

You love traveling but it is very stressful? Please tidy up your position.

Obviously travel it not advised for those afraid of massive differences, and attached to homey comfort.

I said can be, not is very stressful.

It's like our collective interest, startups: they can be very stressful, but also very rewarding.

But there is still the matter of properly appreciating the risk, and really understanding what you're getting into, and protecting your fundamental physical security.

There's a difference between committing to long hours of hard work with possibly no reward, and plunging yourself into debt by financing your business with credit cards. So it is with travel. It's easy to delude yourself into thinking that it'll all be fine if you just work hard and have an open mind.

I think people tend to vastly underestimate the stresses of travel (Especially past college age). Of course, people coming to the US often have one of the hardest times (thanks, immigration system!), but there are just all sort of pitfalls that you'd never worry about on a week or two vacation - work visas being just the beginning.

In other words, if you do it from a naive approach - without having considered some of the harsher realities of travel - you're going to have a bad time.

> It's easy to delude yourself into thinking that it'll all be fine if you just work hard and have an open mind.

Work hard? For travel? You mean work hard to learn foreign language etc.? For me that's not hard.

There is nothing hard to work on when travelling. If getting interested in other culture and open minded to differences is something one needs to "work hard on", then it is much better to just not do it. And it is OK. It is OK not to like travelling around the world. For young people it may be uncool, but uncoolness is much preferable to self delusion.

It is ok to prefer home's bed, and to be not able to take a shit on a squatty, it is ok to stay home.

But if you travel, basic curiosity and interest in the others is largely enough. Then you just go and do not need to consider "harsher realities". After a while, you may round-trip and find yourself.


I'm sorry, but I don't really understand what point you are making. For some people traveling is not hard. For some people traveling is hard. But even for those traveling might be well worth the difficulties. Many good things are hard.

Now, personally I would argue people who say traveling isn't hard are wrong. I've traveled a lot, lived in a few quite different countries, and much as it's incredibly natural to me, it's often proven to be hard, much harder than staying in one place, in the culture most common to me...

if it's your first time in costa you should know that it is a very expensive country, though Osa is a bit down the less expensive end,

beyond rent, meaning food and entertainment, the prices are basically the same as stateside, sometimes more expensive...~4500 calones for a six of pilsen cans...

just letting you know so you and yours can aptly prepare

that said, i think this is a wonderful idea, and you are going to have a great time in costa

It sounds like you are determined to find the negatives.

> I don't think children alone are the problem

In fact, advertising a job position as "not for people with families" is usually running a pretty big labor law risk--especially if you're currently based in the Bay Area and thus subject to California law in addition to US law. In many places it's illegal to ask about children or marital status during an interview, and to come right out and say "we don't want people with families" is insanity. You might disagree with the law, but it's hard to dispute that the law is that way in California.

http://worklifelaw.org/frd/ http://www.foleylymanlaw.com/practice-areas/discrimination-h... http://oag.ca.gov/publications/CRhandbook/ch2 etc.

Nobody said that. My co-founder has a wife and kids. There is no reason why we wouldn't hire someone with a family.

Are we reading the same text?

> Of course, one downside is that it’s not ideal for people with families. Some of the best people I’ve ever worked with have kids, and unfortunately wouldn’t be able to do this.

I could only imagine the outrage if Wal-Mart said "this job requires consistent attendance, so it's not ideal for pregnant people." Saying "this job is not ideal for" a protected category is a strange decision. I didn't write the laws, and you might very well be correct that it's not a job for people with families, but to come right out in the job advertisement and say they're not invited? I would not want to be your lawyer.

Fair point; I edited it to say this:

> Of course, one downside is that it’s not ideal for everyone. Some of the best people I’ve ever worked with wouldn't want to or be able to travel. We’ll get around this eventually by hiring remote employees or setting up a SF office.

It conveys what I meant to say, without implying something I didn't.

People with children ("familial status") is a federally protected housing class. I don't think it's a protected employment class. Pregnancy is, as is gender.

In California, marital status is also protected.

IANAL of course.

Let's jump into all your assumptions and how they don't apply (at least to me).

> switching countries often means leaving behind your entire social network

I don't really know anybody, so there's nobody to leave behind.

> go out drinking with to the person who cuts your hair

What? That's completely a foreign concept to me.

> sports you grew up watching, foods you grew up eating, languages you speak - don't overlap

Completely irrelevant. I can't understand somebody else because they grew up eating paella and I grew up eating hotdogs?

> until you're tired, sick, or stressed - and just want the voice of a familiar friend.

Voice is all? Voices work all around the world. tired, sick, and stress is the natural condition of life. It helps to be reminded we live a coddled cloud-covered existence.

> you'll never really feel tied to whatever place you've moved to.

I've lived in places for years and never felt tied to them. Irrelevant on scales of years or weeks.

> "advice from rich people" tone it strikes.

It's exactly the opposite.

> certain amount of financial resources before you can do this kind of thing.

Not really. It's easier traveling while you're either very poor or very rich. The problem is traveling while you have a lot of physical/capital/emotional baggage elsewhere.

> fulfilling lives on a tropical beach working a few hours a week.

Working on a beach is miserable. It's hot. It's cold. It's too sunny. Sand gets in every crevice of your laptop and yourself.

Work at a desk, play at a beach.

This is oddly antagonistic. I understand that the OP's points don't apply to you, but I'd say the concept of leaving your drinking buddies behind or needing to hear the comforting voice of a familiar friend aren't foreign to vast majority of people.

Awesome, you guys will have a blast.

> Currently, for legal and accounting reasons, we're only able to accept applications from US Citizens with valid passports. In the future this will change.

Please let me know when this changes. I'm a Software Engineer, speak Spanish, have been all over Costa Rica (and Central America), and would love to do something fun like this.

Email me (gregory[at]phileasandfogg.com); I'd love to talk more.

EDIT: We just changed it to "You must be able to work in US"

Why must you be eligible to work in the US? Isn't one of the benefits of being outside the US not having to deal with the nightmare of US Visa applications, and expanding your candidate pool to those unwilling/unable to go through it?

Eventually, yes. We'd also love to find local people, too. But paying people outside the US gets messy, and this is our first attempt at traveling/working. So, consider it an MVP.

Just out of curiosity, why it is messy? And you can as well hire them as contractors. This should be much easier, shouldn't it?

One potential problem arises if a US company tries to pay someone with a bank account outside the US.

Due to FATCA regulations, there may be a 30% withholding on bank wires sent to foreign financial institutions that aren't Qualified Intermediaries (foreign banks that agree to submit information on any US account holders who have accounts with them).


Pretend you're buying a product the contractor is providing. They can provide invoices. Pay via PayPal and make sure they're withdrawing funds so the account situation isn't painful if it's locked.

(That may or may not have worked for me...)

Unfortunately, PayPal has limited capabilities in some countries.

In fact, Costa Rica (where the company is moving) appears to be a country where you cannot withdraw money from your PayPal account into a local bank account. It also looks like you can't have them transfer money to a Costa Rican credit or debit card. PayPal doesn't even have my current country (Paraguay) listed as a place where I can do anything. https://www.paypal.com/cgi-bin/webscr?cmd=_display-approved-...

I also encountered problems with other money transfer services when I first moved overseas. They had limits on how much money I could transfer per day, month, and lifetime of my account. As I started crossing certain thresholds, they wanted me to send them my tax return for the previous year, if I wanted to continue using them. Someone else I know frequently had transfers blocked by the service he uses to pay his foreign contractors. There's some new regulation, a policy changes, or just general screw-ups.

I'm also curious about how easy/hard it is to hire international contractors. Knowledge on that subject would be very interesting.

1. received the contract as pdf file.

2. signed it (inserted the image of my signature).

3. sent the pdf back to them.

4. work && receive money through standard Bank Wire transfer, periodically.

That's it.

Same, except I'm already in Costa Rica. It sounds like loads of fun!

> Of course, one downside is that it’s not ideal for people with families. Some of the best people I’ve ever worked with have kids, and unfortunately wouldn’t be able to do this.

I have a friend who travels the world with his kids. I'm sure it takes a bit more organization, and they aren't exactly jumping here and there every other week, but man, how I envy those kids.

I know a four-year-old with tons of FF miles. The family is not rich (in the common sense of the word) but it happens when you have grandparents in Brazil. It's basically a $1k per year expense.

Excelent location / country, and probably you'll fall in love with the people and the beautiful CR women. If you happen to be arround El Salvador, I'll be more than happy to show you arround.

Have a blast!

I'm almost sorry to be making this comment, but I feel compelled to. Your comment is an example of casual objectification and I really don't think it's appropriate public discourse. Worse, it perpetuates/fulfills the "boy's club" stereotype of tech startup culture.

I'm a bit conflicted because this comment is:

1) Off-topic

2) Technically a personal attack

3) Something of a call for self-censorship

However, I feel that it should be made. Feel free to express disagreement or even downmod me if I'm out of line.

This should not be an issue. Men and women both should be able to voice their opinions on people they find appealing, especially in casual ways such as this.

Any comment regarding somebody is objectifying that person. Just don't be an asshole when going about it, and everything is fine.

My concerns are that:

1) The comment in question reinforces the idea that software teams are made up of men who are interested in being surrounded by beautiful women, which is what I'm referring to when I mention the "boy's club". As another commenter wonderfully puts it, "It assumes a heteronormative misogynistic view of the world."

2) It also makes a separation between 'the people' and 'the beautiful CR women' (though I might be reading too much into the exact wording).

Yeah, those are legitimate concerns. Perhaps the better way it could've been phrased was "beautiful people" rather than "beautiful women".

Are you saying he shouldn't say 'beautiful women'?

Latin America's not as PC as the US - women are openly ogled and married men often have girlfriends. Costa Rica also has a woman president, no military, and almost 100% renewable energy. Check mate.

He's absolutely saying you shouldn't say "beautiful women" in such context. It assumes a heteronormative misogynistic view of the world.

Why didn't it say "the hot CR men?"

"PC" isn't a flat overboard restriction of expression, it's for advancing a mutual respect of people. Your admission of "women are open ogled" isn't something to be proud of—it's backwards and needs to be corrected by society.

Perhaps he didn't say "the hot CR men" because his personal preference is for women? If he does not find men attractive why should he (or anyone of any persuasion) be required to declare them equally as attractive?

He wasn't declaring that he loved the women. He was declaring that you, as a group of (single, male) software engineers, will love the women. Why should HN be "required" to fall in line with his preferences?

I didn't read the "you" as the group but just as the OP. In which case is it so much about sexism in IT or more about the lack of consideration that OP might be gay?

In a room full of men under most circumstances there's going to be between some and most that love women. Addressing that group is not automatically the same as disparaging any other.

> Why should HN be "required" to fall in line with his preferences?

An excellent question. Why should HN be "required" to fall in line with your preferences? Especially when we can have our own that may or may not include everyone all the time.

I can see why you're confused. I am actually objecting to the idea that HN and software in general is just 'a room full of men'.

It's really the same argument, and response: not being explicitly included isn't really the same as being excluded and certainly not maliciously excluded.

It is the same, but when you are in the common majority class of oppressors (white, straight, male), it's difficult to see how your default views affect others negatively.

Is oppression still a thing? Seems like in this day and age [1] there is an awful lot of opportunity out there for all types of people to rise all the way up in society or government or anything else.

[1] My sister's a lesbian and a doctor. My ex's brother is from a tiny little town in Nicaragua (very poor country) now attending med school in Barcelona on a full scholarship. My country (Australia)'s prime minister is a woman. The USA has a black president. Costa Rica (my daughter's country) has women in positions of power and authority all the way up to the president and that's not at all uncommon.

Was a woman. And you might have heard a speech she made about sexism.

I think Costa Rican society (which, incidentally, has a female President) can decide for itself what needs to be corrected and what doesn't. Why are you so sure you know what is best for them?

The comment was about whether the comment should be made in hacker news, not costa rica.

I know what's best for them because it's just a low calorie version of the institutional abuse of women in India (https://medium.com/the-state-of-india-1/b50ee55ba5ff and http://ireport.cnn.com/docs/DOC-1023053), and who would argue Indian society should just accept it because it's what they do?

I'm confused why you think these countries are in any way similar? Their cultures are vastly different, latinos adopted a lot of Spanish (etc) centuries ago and are 90+ percent Catholic, a church that has officially frowned on child-rape for over a decade.

I'm also confused why you think imposing your views on latinos, who typically love women, and as many as they can, will solve inequality in India.

> Your admission of "women are open ogled" isn't something to be proud of—it's backwards and needs to be corrected by society.

Unless men are also openly ogled.

Yes, correcting other societies' backward ways is what the west does best.

I'm almost sorry to be making this [meta] comment, but I feel compelled to. Your comment is an example of rampant policing to make sure everyone is completely flat, bland, and not expressing any personal views or preferences whatsoever.

According to you, possibly all communication will consist of weird hedging sentences like "It is an excellent country, you will fall in love with the men, women, transgendered and/or ungendered communities there.", or worse, will drown out all personal emotion altogether, resulting in ridiculous sugary generalisms like "it's great!" (great for what?).

Anyway, I feel I should point this out. Feel free to express disagreement or even downmod me if I'm out of line.

Unless the OP edited the comment, there is nothing off-topic, it is even interesting. And I don't see any personal attack or something to be censored.

He's talking about his own comment. Kind of odd that he made such a good case against his comment but hit "reply" anyway. Anyway, this is all really off-topic, just wanted to clarify.

That list refers to my own comment. Sorry if there was any confusion.

it's 20 years I'm leaving in Tamarindo,Costa Rica sleeping late, fishing a little, take siesta with my wife, stroll into the village each evening where I sip beer and play pool with my amigos. I have a full and busy life... and a little boat...

So you are leaving to get more time... yet you list all the perks, zip-lining and all the rest. Seems cool but not sure all the benefits will materialize.

I assume they won't be doing that every day.

I'd love to do something like this, but ideally for a shorter time (with a team), or more informally (with more people).

Renting a house in Hawaii (ideally one set up for startups; with some extra cars, high speed Internet, printer, whiteboards, etc. all set up) for a month might be a good way to do a 2-3 week project kickoff, followed by a week long vacation for friends/family.

I'd still love to find a group of (security? infrastructure? bitcoin?) startups which have a reason to be in non-USA which move to a place like NZ/HK/CH/IS/EE and operate. One of the advantages of SFBA is you can switch companies very easily. Moving for a single company to a place like Costa Rica doesn't do that.

3 months is in the range where it is long enough to feel permanent, but too short to really set things up properly, unless you have a yearly cycle among 4 different locations or something.

Cool idea, great spot to live as well.

I'm a Software Engineer and a tico and would love to join you guys as well. I live at downtown San Jose and it's not the same as working near the beach. Know a lot of other developers willing to relocate to the Osa Peninsula.

Wow, this is awesome. I do online marketing and code in my spare time (I am a novice, but working hard at learning) who would love to do this. I understand if it's not what you are looking for now, but let me know if there might be a fit!

“Millions, señor?” replied the Mexican. “Then what?”

The American said, "Then you would spend most of your money to save 400 lives for each million you made [1], and retire peacefully, knowing that you made the world a better place."

[1] http://www.givewell.org/giving101/Your-dollar-goes-further-o...

I'm moving out to Costa Rica this Sunday, and also staying about (rather, at least) 3 months on the Pacific coast. See you there!

Send me an email (gregory [at] phileasandfogg.com); we'd love to meet up!

How did you find the house?

Interesting article linked in that post about needing new experiences to slow down the perception of time.

Great write-up. Have a blast Greg & hope to bump into you there at some point!

I know you didn't say that they are explicitly forbidden but discriminating against prospective employees due to having families is walking a fine line of violating equal opportunity hiring practices in the US.

My co-founder has a family and kids. Just to be clear, there is no reason at all we wouldn't hire people with a family.

Just remember, returning to the US is largely optional.

This will sound way more interesting when you make it to the next location after Costa Rica. But then, I always wait for version 1.1..

Ha! Hope you have fun around here, good luck!

¡Pura vida!

Guidelines | FAQ | Support | API | Security | Lists | Bookmarklet | Legal | Apply to YC | Contact