Your Ultimate Hackathon Travel Guide ✈️
“Who’s traveled the farthest?”
It’s one of my favorite questions to ask during a hackathon. During most events I’ll hear the typical answer of one to two hours worth of travel, with the winner generally crossing state lines; but occasionally I get the big time traveler. The one that flew from Toronto to the event in New York. Or the team that flew from Brooklyn to California. That’s dedication.
Participating in a hackathon while traveling is one of the best ways to meet new people quickly and get emerged in the local culture. And with global hackathon events, like AngelHack’s 10th Series, there’s always a new opportunity to join in.
However, traveling for a hackathon can be intense. There’s a new environment, potential language/culture barrier, and time zone differences to take into consideration, but don’t let any of those hold you back! If you’re thinking about traveling for a hackathon, let these five tips be your guide.
1) Hack Your Pack 🎒
Your pack is everything when traveling, so follow the basics. Like, if you’re going somewhere with cobblestones or dirt roads you probably don’t want to be lugging around a rolling suitcase, so invest in a hiking backpack. Roll your shirts to make more room and don’t overpack — you can re-wear that shirt once or twice.
When traveling for a hackathon specifically, try to condense and hack together your items. Shampoo and conditioner bottles? No way. Plan to use amenities provided or purchase the combination bottles. Four chargers for all your hackathon tech? Try a universal charger instead. The more you can combine the less you’ll lug around, or worse — lose.
2) Join in on the Conversation 🗣️
The best way to get immersed in a local culture? Connect with the locals. Came solo or with one or two other people? Fill in the rest of your team with new friends. Find out the best places to eat, ask for their favorite around town story or see if they’re looking for a diverse hackathon team.
Good hackathon organizers will have an opportunity for you to start this conversation. If you’re not sure where to get started, I suggest asking the organizer. Hackathons are built around community and the ability to connect, so utilize it when possible.
3) Be Active (Physically and Fiscally) 🏃
Traveling usually means being stuck on a plane, train or automobile for long periods of time. And unless you travel around with a standing desk (which, if you follow tip #1 — I wouldn’t suggest) you’re probably going to be sitting at a computer for stretches of time during a hack. Mixing the two together means a lost opportunity to stay physically active — unless you make time for it! Plan to take a walk around the new city as soon as you arrive, and take tourist breaks in between code commits.
It’s also important to get fiscally fit before traveling. Make sure to call your bank and set up a traveling notification before taking off internationally, check out the state tax situation, or explore currency exchanges.
4) Be a Goldilocks Traveler 🙃
We’ve all got those two types of friends: the one who plans every detail when they travel, and the one who wings it.
My best advice when traveling to a hackathon? Try and be a bit of both. I wouldn’t suggest showing up to a random city that’s hosting a hackathon before registering. The event could be sold out and you would be out of luck. But, I also wouldn’t suggest trying to plan every single meal and type of personality you want to have on your team. Meet in the middle! Give yourself guideposts to get from point A to B, but enjoy the journey and allow yourself some impromptuness along the way.
5) Don’t Sweat the Small Things 😎
Things go wrong when you travel. You miss a bus, forget your toothbrush or get lost down an unfamiliar street. The important thing to remember is that you’re a hacker! The small stuff shouldn’t make you sweat, it should be an exciting challenge. Traveling is a great way to build up your life portfolio of problem-solving, so don’t stress, progress!
Thinking of traveling for a hackathon? Dust off your hiking boots and check out one of the many AngelHack Global Series events.