Learn to Code While Traveling in Colombia

11/09/2016 01:10 pm ET Updated Nov 10, 2017

If you were looking for a way to combine a new skill with travel, this article might just be for you. With a huge focus on gaining marketable skills while seeing the world, I am always on the lookout for new and interesting programs to help me make that happen. I have had my eyes set on Medellin, Colombia for a while now as it seems to be a place that attracts online entrepreneurs and freelancers.

Looking for a reason to buy a plane ticket, I came across Destination Dev, a program that promises to teach coding skills while allowing its participants plenty of opportunities to explore the area. After tracking down the founder and firing off a whole bunch of questions to help me make the decision, I am fully ready to commit. Here is what I found out about the program so you too can get a chance to travel while learning a new and profitable skill.

What is it?

Essentially, Destination Dev is an 8-week program that consists of 20 students who will learn how to code while exploring Medellin and the surrounding area. The curriculum of the course is beneficial for anyone who is looking to start a career in web development. Throughout the program, students will have the chance to explore the country's top tourist attractions and join organized events.

Who May Want to Join?

The program is open to anyone, even with no web development experience, but prospective students must fill out an application beforehand. It may be of particular interest to:

Digital Nomads:
People who travel around while working from their laptop may find this program beneficial for leveling up their skills. And, if you aren't a digital nomad but would like to become one, Destination Dev can help you gain the skills to make it happen. After speaking with one of the program's founders, Doug, I was informed that Medellin is such a popular destination with digital nomads for its year-round, perfect weather, abundance of cafes and co-working spaces, affordability, access to the countryside and an overlap of time zones with businesses in America.


Working Professionals:
Even if your job requires you to stay put, this program may be an interesting way to take a break, recharge and learn a new skill that can help you grow. The program is especially recommended for those in the technology field who are looking to better communicate and understand the development side of the operation.

What Kind of Skills Are Taught?

Throughout the eight week course, students will learn all the skills necessary to become a professional web developer upon their graduation. Students will build web applications using Ruby on Rails, and learn the specifics about HTML, CSS, and JavaScript.

Aside from the skills mentioned, Doug hopes that each student will walk away with a whole lot more than just the skills to be a web developer. He wanted me to know that:

"Apart from the planned excursions we provide, we also have connections to help our students improve their Spanish, learn popular Latin dances and music, cook Colombian cuisine, and interact with locals. We believe that pushing our students outside of their comfort zones intellectually, socially, and culturally will cause a reinforcement loop that will allow them to grow more than if we were to focus solely on one of these areas."

What Kind of Travel is Available?

It won't be all work and no play. I mean, the course takes place in a gorgeous city with plenty of history and culture. Take a break to avoid information overload by joining in on some of these activities.

-A Medellin walking tour
-Guatape and El Penol day trip
-Pablo Escobar tour
-Coffee plantation tour
-Optional activities which include: Salsa classes, parque Arvi, a futbol match, Jardin Botanico, Medellin Metrocable, Cartagena, and Parque Lleras

Besides all of the obvious perks, I really became even more invested in the program after speaking to Doug. When asking him why he chose Medellin as the destination, he shared that:


" Once we got to know the city, we were struck by how little the reality coincided with negative perceptions. Not only is the city safe by both North American and Latin American standards, but the people are also some of the friendliest we've met in all of our travels. It doesn't make sense to us that the vibrant, welcoming culture here is still being hidden behind stereotypes from 20 years ago caused by media depictions of a few bad apples. We are hoping to change these perceptions of Medellin not only for the city and people here, but also because we believe it can teach a greater lesson to our students and followers to be skeptical of negative depictions of foreign cultures, communities, and individuals. "

What especially got me hooked on the idea of attending Destination Dev was Doug's answer to my question regarding what he hoped that his students would be able to do with the skills that they learned in the program.

"We are confident that our students will leave Destination: Dev empowered to create a lifestyle for themselves that they can be passionate about. Whether this means becoming a digital nomad, starting a start up, landing a high-paying software development job in the US, or using their new skills to boost their effectiveness in a career outside of programming."

Feeling more empowered than before our conversation, I became hooked on the idea of learning how to program while living in a new culture and surrounding myself with other motivated people. The application is opening up soon and I am all ready to go. Hopefully this journey will have some interesting stops along the way!


Are you interested in this opportunity too? If so, you can check out the course website and curriculum yourself to see if it may be the right fit.