How to Travel to 20+ Countries…While Building a Massive Business in the Process

The following is a visitor post by Breanden Beneschott, co-founder and COO of Toptal, a marketplace for top designers. I have no association with the company, however I discovered Breandens story fascinating.

This post covers how he took a trip through 20+ nations while developing a business, experiencing the very best the world had to use. His how-to guidelines include travel tools, faster ways, and all the non-obvious systems you d anticipate from a great engineer.

For context and to kick us off, an excerpt from Breandens e-mail to me may be handy. Edited down a bit, here it is:

Yep, I do. I might include your e-mail like I just did.

We started Toptal 3.5 years back from my dormitory space at Princeton (I think a week after I met you quickly in Ed Zschaus class [TIM: I guest lectured there], where I chose to do my last paper on the business). By the time I completed school six months later, Toptal was doing well with clients and engineers all over the world. We chose to relocate to Eastern Europe and keep practicing what we were preaching, in terms of scaling a business through a completely dispersed group. Doing so enabled us to funnel nearly all earnings back into growing business (and live like kings for next to absolutely nothing). We are now approx 60 staff member and 1000 engineers (e.g., top-100 Rails contributors, men from CERN, university teachers, etc.) working with thousands of clients (e.g., Beats, Zendesk, Artsy, JPMorgan, and so on) with virtually absolutely no limitations when it comes to area.
People constantly ask me how I manage to travel and work the method I do. I had actually constantly hoped outside (non-Toptal) people would see this post and be motivated to join us or select up and travel while dealing with their own concepts.
BTW, I do anticipate that comments will highlight the uncertainty of the “growing hundreds of percent year over year” declaration. Weve really deliberately prevented most push until now, as we didnt wish to build a business based on PR, and weve never openly revealed our earnings. Now we are well north of XXM/yr [ TIM: I changed the actual number with XX however, are sufficient to say, they have 9-figure acquisition deals and term sheets] and growing like a weed, however couple of non-core individuals understand that. So do you see any tactful way of preempting those sorts of comments?

Now, on to the information. This is a good one, folks, so keep reading. Breandens suggestions use mostly to the movement and travel pieces of the puzzle; if you d like additional business-building tools, I extremely suggest this post on rapid testing (in a weekend), this article on hacking Kickstarter, and this post on all aspects of marketing and PR.

Get in Breanden

I dislike the cold, so I summer season hop.

I dont have an apartment or condo. I dont have a house. I do not have a workplace.

Ive lived and worked from another location in roughly 29 nations because I completed school 3 years earlier. Ive been running Toptal, an endeavor funded company growing numerous percent year over year– all from my tablet, phone, and laptop.

I was repeatedly asked if I had some sort of guide or checklist for traveling/working the way I do. Especially for first-timers, the idea of adventuring while working can be daunting. There are a lot of details to think about, and Ive learned a lot from my own trial-and-error.

Im writing this because …

The more I thought of it, the more I realized a guide like this was really missing out on.

Croatia · Bosnia · Italy · France · Switzerland · Germany · Austria · Georgia · Romania · Serbia · Slovenia · Spain · Ukraine · Morocco · Brazil · Canada · Paraguay · Argentina · Uruguay · New Zealand · Australia · Hong Kong · USA · England · Turkey · Chile · Slovakia · Czech Republic · Lebanon

The 4-Hour Workweek was excellent, and I like Tim Ferriss a lot. What if you want to work more than 4 hours a week? I like working insane hours. I do not want a lifestyle company. I want to solve tough problems. I want to build something big and offer it my all.

All over I go, I fulfill terrific engineers who end up ending up being important parts of Toptal.

I want a book on how to produce a billion-dollar company while ending up being a fighter pilot. (Im trying to build a world-changing company while ending up being a professional polo player.) That would be motivating. Till it comes, perhaps this post will be practical to a few individuals.

I encourage everyone in Toptal to take a trip, and a lot of us do. A few of us travel for week long “breaks” throughout the year, and some of us live out of a suitcase like me. Few of us ever stop working for a complete day.

The following is based on my personal experience as a traveling engineer and creator.

Why travel?

Now is the time: its practical like never previously. You can put in a complete work day no matter where you are.

Playing polo (often with Toptal designers) in Argentina. Total cost for sponsorship: 400 pesos (~$ 40) for t-shirts.

Since its amazingly amazing.

The secret benefit: preventing burnout.

I dont take getaways. I do not desire to work hard to build a business that makes lots of money so I can piss off and go on holiday. Im at a start-up. Im a part of it, and it belongs of me. This is a marathon, and there will be a winner. Working and traveling permits you to go non-stop. There is no burnout. Theres no looking at a clock or calendar waiting on the EOD/weekend/break. Youre refreshed weekly, and you can develop your focus and structure your time so you are a cross practical super star who never stops knowing.

Length of travel

It offers you time to focus and unwind in between the difficult travel sessions.

Power journeys of 9 countries in 3 weeks are for students on holiday. You require to be able to stop traveling and concentrate on work.

It fits under the restrictions of the typical tourist visa.

More on that in a 2nd.

Learn to play polo in Argentina. Practice capoeira in Brazil. Go to trance festivals in Europe. Sign up with Internations and go to expat meetups if you do not know where to begin.

It aids with expenses.

It offers you time to really check out and get to understand a location and individuals.

You can truly attempt local culture.

There are practically definitely regional tech meetups, and there are most likely to be other Toptal engineers anywhere you go now also.

I generally remain in locations for ~ 3 months. Why?

Trips of this duration help you work out unique medium-term offers on houses, automobiles, vespas, and so on


Who to go with A close friend/colleague You can split expenses

Rewards programs.

I always try to bring a couple of hundred USD. Its easily exchanged whereas others currencies arent constantly. Before you take a trip, youll also require to call your banks and let them understand in which countries youll be utilizing your debit card. Otherwise they might obstruct it after your very first deal, and youll have a mess to untangle. Be sure to download a currency converter app so you know how much things expense; and when you need more cash, pull it from an ATM instead of an exchange in order to lower fees.

GPS I lease vehicles and explore places a lot, so this is essential. I have a Garmin Nuvi. I attempt to download the maps before I delegate go to anywhere new.

External battery charger iPhone batteries are dreadful, and this conserves the day.

Tablet Youre an engineer. Usage Airdisplay to allow your tablet as a second screen. It also makes it a lot easier to deal with planes: I used an iPad Mini to compose this post on a flight from LAX to Auckland, New Zealand.

If you dont have anybody to go with, do not let it stop you. With Internations and a network like Toptal, you can nearly certainly go anywhere and right away discover individuals with lots in common.

Antiperspirant Dont let yourself expire. Like using boat shoes? Put a dab on your feet too.

Ibuprofen For headaches and general aches and pains.

Skype number.

That stated, I hate preparation, and I find that last minute normally works out fine. Worst case situation: youre unpleasant for a little while (red eye flight, stuck in traffic while its 900 degrees, and so on) but you wind up with a funny story and an experience.

Rental automobiles (above).

Aka the “toy bag”; also examined on flights.

Pens Passport Take photos of this on your phone and likewise email them to yourself.

Probiotics For digestion. Taking a trip can be difficult, and brand-new foods do unexpected things.

Always try to negotiate an unique weekly or monthly rate on real estate and cars.

for a lot of things like vehicles, hotels, and so on. You can likewise divide the research study and press each other to do things you might not do yourself( like go out to brand-new locations, go on experiences, rent a boat, and so on).

Running shoes. Running is an excellent way to explore locations. TIM: Bruce Lee had a comparable approach while shooting movies.
Swim shorts Flip flops. For health clubs, pools, and beaches.

Airbnb is what I utilize most, however its a PITA [discomfort in the ass] for medium-term stays.

You can likewise attempt All The Rooms and HomeAway.

Youre not a kid. Youre a professional, and you require devoted time to focus on work.

How to pull it off The longer you wait, the more pricey it is.

I see a need in the market for medium-term leasings. Do not get too comfortable. They frequently have pals with unlisted places or can make unique arrangements for you (like getting a house prepared that they werent renting at all prior to … and because youre there, you can inspect it out before you devote).

What to take Knapsack Constantly a carry on. Practically always with me.

Usage TripIt or SuperFly to keep track of and redeem your benefits. They will develop over time.

You require terrific Internet.

SIM card collection Organisation cards Thera-Band Olympic gymnasts use these for resistance training. With 6 ″ of rubber, you can do a full body workout anywhere. When you spend long hours on your computer, you require to get up and exercise every hour.

Youll get something about 50% of the time.

For now, Antarctica is out. However many locations are completely fine (and frequently better than in the United States). You have to do your homework. As a taking a trip software engineer, you can never be unavailable due to bad Internet. Buy a pay-as-you-go SIM very first thing, but still make certain to explicitly ask every host/hotel/realtor and so on what the Internet speeds are.

Tooth brush Luggage 1 Looked at flights. Leave your Louis Vuitton luggage in your home. It simply makes you a target, and your stuff will get stolen. Some people swear by expensive baggage, however Ive used a standard 5-piece travel luggage set since I finished high school in 2004, and its worked fine.

Dont remain in hostels.

Get one and include credit to it so you can call clients, hotels, etc. any time. Its also wise to have it forward to your current mobile number so your colleagues and clients can call you when they need to.

Laptop I utilize a MacBook Pro 15 ″ Retina.

All The Rooms is an aggregator of many house/apartment/hotel sites. HomeAway is comparable to Airbnb. Some of these sites are better than others in each city.


For work, I use the ones that come with everything Apple. I see lots of individuals with more expensive systems and they constantly have problems.

Sunglasses New white boards marker It conserves the day a minimum of a couple times a year, whether its because youre collaborating in a co-working space and all the markers are dead or you require to exercise something John Nash-style.

The data here does not match my own experience in a lot of cases, however, overall, it gives a respectable summary of a few of the crucial elements youll wish to consider for each area you pick.

Do not leave the shop till you have the phone in your hands with working Internet. If youre on an iPhone 5, you can practically constantly cut a micro SIM to fit the nano SIM and it will work just fine.

Travel adapter Youll utilize this all over. If you ever discover yourself without one, ask the hotel if they have an extra.

Dramamine For movement illness.

Ethernet cable television WiFi doesnt always work.

Heres my standard message when making a questions on Airbnb: Hi , Your home looks incredible. Any chance its available tonight for 2 people?
As engineers, we do a lot of our work online, so we truly require stable and fast internet. Do you understand the speed of your connection (e.g., 10Mbs/2Mbps)? If not, would you mind running a little test (simply google “web speed test” and click the first result) and letting me understand?
Thank you a lot for your factor to consider.
Often specific rooms at a hotel are ok while others are not. Do not get into a position where you cant have a clear Skype call because you listened to an unaware receptionist.


Kayak and Hipmunk benefit hotels/rental vehicles.

If youre American, learn how to drive a stick shift prior to you go overseas. They are more affordable to lease, and its typically difficult to find an automatic.

Snowboards, polo devices, browse boards, or whatever you need for your particular trip.

It sounds unusual, however always make certain your stuff is tidy. Some nations (like New Zealand) are really protective, and if theres dirt, sand, turf, hair, etc. on your things, they might take everything and sterilize it for you (in God understands what) at the airport, or perhaps seize it.

Nevertheless, you can normally call the hotels directly and work out better rates and upgrades.

Where to stay Attempt NomadList for choosing a city.

When you examine into a hotel, constantly ask for a much better room or free upgrade.

Insurance coverage card Take pictures of this on your phone and likewise email them to yourself.

A girlfriend/boyfriend Can be without a doubt the most expensive option, but its probably the most gratifying and enjoyable. Absolutely nothing brings suitable people together like experience. Absolutely nothing drives incompatible people apart like tension, so be careful. The other thing to consider is whether your significant other will also be working throughout your travels. If so, thats incredible, and you are extremely lucky. If not, that can be really hard. The added costs of having a reliant aside, you dont want to be in a position where somebody resents you for continuously working throughout what theyve misinterpreted to be a vacation. Luckily there are many intriguing careers in addition to software application engineering that are now manageable from another location (e.g., executive assistant, translator, designer, tutor, business owner, and so on).

Lost a battery charger or adapter?

Time zones.

When to go.

Constantly utilize something like World Time Buddy to easily check time zones. Do not get into a position where youre missing group calls due to the fact that you forgot daytime cost savings time or you did the psychological mathematics incorrect.

The worst is constantly the United States where Im treated like a terrorist essentially every time I leave or go into. For numerous nations (in my experience, as an American), all you need to do is reveal up at the border not looking like a criminal, and they will offer you a traveler visa as you go through the airport. In others, you need to fill out paperwork beforehand and pay a bigger charge (e.g., Argentina and Brazil).

Check Foursquare for totally free WiFi hotspots. Restaurants often do as well … just ask for the password.

This sounds obvious, however do not overstay your visas.


If the technical capability exists, then now it boils down to communication and dependability. I always tell engineers and their clients that if I were to take each into a separate room, they require to constantly have the ability to offer similar responses to the following three concerns:.

I like utilizing CheapoAirs tool. Call an embassy if you have concerns.

Most counties are extremely easy to go in and out of.

Constantly check visa requirements before you travel.


Communication with clients.


At any time you desire.

While many nations are quite forgiving (you pay a cost on your way out/in and you cant come back for a while … if youre caught at all), its not worth the stress (and waiting because line feeling guilty and frightened is freaking demanding). Find a recommended lawyer on Internations (just post a question asking for suggestions) and ask what it takes if you like a place and want to remain longer. For Europe, its pretty simple (at least in my experience as an American). You can go to a lax nation like Hungary and pretty easily get a 1-year visa, which is then helpful for throughout the Schengen Zone.

As I mentioned previously, many countries allow a three-month stay under their traveler visa. (Specifically, 90 out of every 180 days.).

Ask the hotel desk. They generally have a box of them that other visitors have left.

What are you dealing with now?
What were you simply working on?
What will you be working on tomorrow?

Thats when remarkable occurs. Welcome to Toptal.

You do not need to (nor can you) strategy every last information when you travel, and you do not need to follow every rule. Sometimes you need to wing it. Go to Georgia and celebration like Russia might come back tomorrow.

When youre on long flights, get up and walk every couple hours.

Keeping that level of interaction and openness is simple in a workplace, but its also simple when youre remote. Always be linked and proactive.

Constantly lock your luggage with TSA approved locks.

Ive had lots of baggage get lost and numerous misc items get taken.

When flying, constantly inspect the rates for service class.

Shit will take place. Attempt to let it go immediately.


You dont wish to pass away from an embolism.

In some cases company class can be less expensive because the bags are free if youre examining numerous bags.


QUESTION OF THE DAY: What would you include to the above suggestions? Please share in the remarks by clicking here!

We are now approx 60 group members and 1000 engineers (e.g., top-100 Rails factors, men from CERN, university professors, etc.) working with thousands of customers (e.g., Beats, Zendesk, Artsy, JPMorgan, etc.) with essentially no limitations when it comes to location.
Traveling and working allows you to go non-stop. If youre on an iPhone 5, you can practically constantly cut a micro SIM to fit the nano SIM and it will work just fine.

It conserves the day at least a couple times a year, whether its due to the fact that youre teaming up in a co-working space and all the markers are dead or you need to work out something John Nash-style.

The Tim Ferriss Show is among the most popular podcasts worldwide with more than 500 million downloads. It has been chosen for “Best of Apple Podcasts” 3 times, it is typically the # 1 interview podcast throughout all of Apple Podcasts, and its been ranked # 1 out of 400,000+ podcasts on numerous celebrations. To listen to any of the previous episodes totally free, take a look at this page.

It likewise makes it much easier to work on planes: I utilized an iPad Mini to write this post on a flight from LAX to Auckland, New Zealand.

Related and Recommended.


15 gadgets that will sell out in 2020