What is your professional / educational background and how did that
enable you to achieve your work / travel balance?
I currently work & travel full time while running Hacker Paradise, a nomadic community of developers, designers, and other creative types. People join us for anywhere from 1 week to 3+ months to work and
travel with other interesting people.
I learned some basic HTML and programming in high school, and then in college, I studied business and took a few additional programming classes. I also organized a hackathon and worked for a number of
startups while studying, which gave me experience in event management and getting a business off the ground.
All that came together when I started Hacker Paradise - I was able to put up a landing page quite quickly, promote it, and then put together an experience that people enjoyed.
How did you end up in this career / role?
Serendipity. I initially was planning to just freelance and travel, but I was disappointed to be leaving the tech/startup community I'd had while living in Philadelphia & Tokyo. When I found a hotel that was looking to try out new ways to bring in customers, I pitched them on the idea and it just snowballed.
What's your favorite place to travel? Why do you find it appealing?
For traveling, I really like Ubud, Bali (which is actually where I am right now). I care a lot about living healthy, and there is a culture here of healthy food, yoga, meditation, and exercise. I find it's
great for work/life balance.
I also love going back to Japan, as I lived there for 2 years while studying. It's a nation with an amazing culture & history, but is more expensive than some of the typical "nomad" destinations in Southeast Asia.
What's your worst travel experience?
I was flying from Cebu, Philippines to Hanoi, Vietnam last year on Cebu Pacific Air. The flight was delayed and the airline staff was unhelpful, so I ended up missing my connection in Manila. They ended up having to re-route me to Ho Chi Minh, as there weren't any other flights to Hanoi for 3 days. They also lost my baggage. All in all, it was a major inconvenience, and Cebu Pacific Air was utterly unhelpful. But the occasional inconvenience is worth the benefits of travel. Lessons learned: avoid Cebu Pacific Air if possible and always buy travel insurance.
What's the most fortuitous (read, lucky) experience you've had
I guess the most fortuitous thing that's happened to me while traveling is starting Hacker Paradise. It was unplanned, and came about through a series of completely unpredictable events.
Also, I was once traveling in Kyoto, Japan with family, and at a random little hole in the wall restaurant, I ran into someone from the U.S. who I went to high school with. It wasn't a windfall per say, but
it was so random. Now whenever I travel, I'm on the lookout for random people I knew in the past.
Any advice or tips for others looking to bring travel into their lives?
You can travel cheaply. It's possible to find freelance work, and if you can't find anything, there are always sites like helpx.net which allow you to exchange labor for room and board in places around the
world. Taking the leap and beginning to travel feels like a big risk, because it often feels like you don't know what you're doing, you don't have a plan.
As Steve Jobs said, "You can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future."
Casey runs Hacker Paradise, a traveling community of developers, designers, and entrepreneurs. He spent the last 5 months in Asia, and will be spending the summer in the U.S. and Europe. Learn more about Hacker Paradise and get involved here: www.hackerparadise.org