In this article, we will explore how often software engineers travel for work and also whether it is possible to travel and work at the same time. The idea of traveling a few times a month for work is appealing to a lot of people. Whereas others like the idea of spending their time in exotic locations and logging on to their laptop once work starts.
But is traveling as a software engineer something a lot of developers actually do?
Software engineers do travel but generally only once or twice a month. Around 16% of developers are remote so traveling and working is definitely an option. Developers who work for agencies are likely to travel more than those who work in-house as client meetings form a large part of the day-to-day.
Working remotely is incredibly popular in software development so the potential to travel to other countries while you are working is something more people are doing.
Let’s take a closer look at traveling as a software developer and whether you are likely to do it in your role.
How often do software engineers travel for work?
Software engineers who work for agencies with external clients can expect to travel 4 or 5 times a month depending on demand. If you work in-house for a tech company you may not travel for work at all. The amount of travel required for your role will depend entirely on the company you work for and the clients you serve.
The benefit of most jobs is that they will outline exactly how much travel is required before you sign a contract. So if it is something you don’t want to do you can avoid joining certain companies.
There are certain factors that contribute to the amount of travel your programming job will require. Let’s explore some of these.
Type of company
Agencies tend to provide products and services to other companies. Client relations are very important in an agency. Going out to meet clients is the perfect way to build rapport and develop a relationship.
Software engineers who work for agencies are likely to travel more because there are going to be more client meetings. When a big project is on the verge of delivery clients may want a demonstration and training. Usually, the developer will form part of the team that handles this.
If you work for a tech company that builds its own products and is less focused on individual clients it’s a different story. If there are big contracts, they are handled solely by the sales team. Requirements are gathered by the product team and then the tech team creates and extends features. So at companies like Netflix, Facebook, or other tech-focused businesses you are unlikely to travel that often. Unless you climb the ranks to management.
Traveling to clients will also mean a tweak in the dress code for developers so be aware of that before setting off.
Remote working and traveling as a software engineer
Around 32% of people report working from home all the time or very often. It’s a trend that is only increasing. However, even if you work remotely all the time, most companies will specify an office that you must come into every now and then.
So you can expect to have to travel back and forth to the office at least once a month or more. It’s not the glamorous travel that most of us have in mind but it is still going to take time out of your day and cost money, so be prepared.
In the old days if you wanted to meet with a client or another function in the business you had to physically go and see them. It meant flying across the state or spending a couple of weeks in another country.
The advent of video conferencing has lowered the requirement to travel significantly. With platforms like Zoom and Microsoft teams taking it to the next level, reasons to leave the office to meet people are becoming less abundant.
Software engineers will generally prefer to stay put and do the call from the comfort of their own homes. So these technologies have gone a long way to giving the community what they want. Working as a developer, you can expect to travel a lot less than you would have five or ten years ago.
Can you travel and work as a software engineer?
Traveling the world while working as a software engineer is easy to do. All you need is a laptop with a good internet connection and you can work from anywhere in the world. As long as the time zones match up and your company is cool with remote working you will be fine.
The benefit of being a software developer is that there are so many different avenues for you to explore. If you want to take a year out to travel while working you could even quit your job and find freelance work online. I’ve had colleagues in the same team who are spread across the globe so there is no reason you couldn’t uproot and move somewhere with the aim of traveling.
The market for developers is red hot around the world right now. So finding work as a software engineer is going to be hard wherever you are based. You have the option of working as a contractor for companies in specific countries like the U.S where the pay will be great. Or you can try your hand at getting a programming job in the local job market wherever you are. In non-English speaking countries, the second option may be more difficult but is definitely a viable option.
Thankfully, the skills are so universal that you can slot in with any company in the world that is using the languages you have learned.
Traveling to explore
I’d define traveling to explore as the more backpacker experience where you shift location and countries frequently. You can frequently travel to different countries while still working as a software engineer and explore different regions. The benefit is that all you need to keep earning money is a laptop and some internet. Even developing countries have both of these in abundance.
However, if you are planning on spending time away from a strong internet connection it may be difficult to square away with your boss. So with this type of traveling, I’d highly recommend going solo and finding freelance work online. That way you can move at your own pace around the world and only take on work when it suits you.
Traveling for work
Unlike traveling to explore, traveling for work means your primary focus when visiting a place is to be there for work. It’s still an awesome way to see new places and the perk is that the company pays for it 99% of the time. Some of the reasons you’ll have to travel with work include:
- Represent your company at a trade show
- Train offshore contractors
- Meet new or potential customers
- Install or test new software in a production environment
- Work with developers in other location
- Attend training
Traveling for work is a great way to see a new place on your company’s dime. It isn’t as revered as out and out traveling but can still be fun.
Most software engineers travel for work at least a couple of times a month depending on the company they work for and where they are located. With up to 30% of developers now working remotely, the opportunity to travel and work has never been better. Some travel may be closely related to the work you do. Other times it may be to represent your company in some way.
With travel now being so cheap, it is easier than it has ever been to work for a company in America while basing yourself somewhere else. Just make sure you are in the right timezone with decent internet and a working laptop.
Nathan Britten, the founder and editor of Developer Pitstop, is a self-taught software engineer with nearly five years of experience in front-end technologies. Nathan created the site to provide simple, straightforward knowledge to those interested in technology, helping them navigate the industry and better understand their day-to-day roles.