Rest, relaxation and refactoring: 11 great places for a coding vacation

If you’re planning a getaway to focus on doing some serious coding, you could do a lot worse than these locations

Man in hammock on the beach using laptop

So, you love to program and you want to get away from everything for a week or two (or longer) to focus on finishing coding that app/software/website you’ve been noodling on? The ideal coding vacation varies from programmer to programmer, but usually involves some mix of an interesting location, comfortable accommodations, phone and Internet access, good food, fun activities for when you need a break and, of course, peace and quiet. People who really want to minimize distractions may prefer places with few activities (and other people) and little or no Internet or phone access. Based partially on the input from programmers in several discussion forums, here are 11 places to go for a quality coding vacation.

Sign reading Welcome to fabulous Las Vegas, Nevada
Las Vegas, Nevada

Why code thereCheap flights and cheap hotel rooms make Las Vegas a good destination for a coding vacation. Lots of cheap food will sustain you during your coding binges. There are also a variety of entertainment options for when you need a break.

What to do when you’re not codingGamble, take in a show, gamble, eat, gamble, take a dip in the hotel pool or gamble.

DrawbacksHigh hotel WiFi prices. Those all-you-can-eat buffets could add to your waistline. You could choose a less than stellar show to take in. Finally, of course, if you have any sort of gambling problem, you should probably stay away.

A passenger train

Why code there: There are few distractions on a long train ride. The passing scenery can be gorgeous (e.g., a trip through the Canadian Rockies). The motion of the train can be soothing and relaxing. It's usually quiet and people will generally leave you alone.

What to do when you’re not coding: Snooze, eat, read or watch the world go by your window.

Drawbacks: You must often supply your own Internet access. Longer, multiple day trips can get boring. Security can be an issue (you often can’t lock your cabin). Showers (when available) are small and cramped. For some, the train motion is more sickening than soothing.

Looking down a street in The Algarve, Portugal
Algarve, Portugal

Why code there: If you’re looking for an mid-winter coding vacation, Algarve is a good choice. Apartments can be rented quite cheaply and WiFi is commonly available.

What to do when you’re not coding: Enjoy the beaches along the Mediterranean, take a dip in the thermal springs, visit the caves along the coast or, for a more spiritual break, stop in the Sanctuary of Our Lady of Piety.

Drawbacks: Algarve is one of Europe’s most popular tourist destinations and its population can increase 10-fold in the summer months. There’s also been an uptick in crime against tourists in recent years. While English is common, it would help to know some Portuguese.

A large ocean liner at sea
Credit: REUTERS/Gary Cameron
Cruise Ship

Why code there: Everything is taken care of for you often at a reasonable, all-inclusive price. WiFi is usually available all over the ship, accommodations are comfortable, there are a variety of spaces in which to work and a frequent lack of cell phone service reduces distractions.

What to do when you’re not codingEat, exercise, eat, meet new people, eat, see (and work in) new cities, eat, swim, eat, dance, eat or take in a comedy show.

Drawbacks: WiFi is often expensive and slow, cell service can be spotty, you’re supporting the cruise ship industry, on-board comedians could be bad, and, of course, the whole thing could sink.

Fort at the top of a small foothill in Tibat, Oman

Why code there: If you want to get far away to focus on coding, it doesn’t get much farther away than the Arabian peninsula. Oman has a modern infrastructure, a very low crime rate and friendly people, many of  whom speak English. Women can safely travel there alone.

What to do when you’re not coding: Relax on their famous white sand beaches. Visit their historic forts. Enjoy the mountains to the north or southeast.

Drawbacks: Getting there can be expensive. WiFi can be hard to come by. It can very hot (100 degrees+) from May to September, and very humid along the coast. Alcohol can be pricey.

An RV at Redrock Canyon State Park

Why code there: An RV will let you bring all the comforts of home (or office) to your favorite location. It can be completely isolated, private and quiet, while still being near activities.

What to do when you’re not coding: Drive to a new location. Go to the mountains and hike, bike or ski. Go to the beach for sunbathing or swimming. Go to the nearest city and do some sight seeing.

Drawbacks: You have to do the driving. You may have to supply (and cook) your own food. You’ll need to park somewhere that offers electric/water/sewer hookup, Internet and phone. Gas costs can be high and you could potentially experience traffic jams, accidents and breakdowns.

The Pitons
Saint Lucia

Why code there: This island in the eastern Caribbean offers a variety of accommodations including all-inclusive resorts, as well as hotels and vacation rentals. It’s relatively cheap and English is the official language. WiFi is often available and may soon be free everywhere.

What to do when you’re not coding: Do a little snorkeling, check out some local calypso music, or take in the Saint Lucia Jazz Festival. Visit Sulphur Springs, the world’s only drive-in volcano. Hike the rain forest or the twin mountain peaks, the Pitons. Try the famous rum punch.

Drawbacks: If you don’t like rain - or hurricanes - don’t go from June to November.

A cargo ship at sea
Credit: REUTERS/Michael Koore
Cargo Ship

Why code there: Traveling on a cargo ship will really let you focus since there will be little else to do. It’s cheaper than a cruise ship and with many fewer people on board. Freighters also travel at all times of year and to places that cruise ships don’t.

What to do when you’re not coding: Sleep, look at the sea, talk to crew members, think about getting back to coding.

Drawbacks: There is usually no Internet or phone service available and electric voltage may be 220V. You may have to bring your own food or drinking water, there is usually no doctor on board and you may have to share a bathroom.

View of Lanzarote, Spain
Lanzarote, Spain

Why code there: The easternmost of Spain’s Canary Islands is easily accessible and has a variety of accommodations. Many people speak basic English, it’s generally safe and the number of WiFi hotspots is growing.

What to do when you’re not coding: Go surfing, enjoy the black sand beaches, check out the volcanic landscape of Timanfaya National Park, visit the site where they shot Dr Who’s Planet of Fire or enjoy some cheap booze.

Drawbacks: It would help to know some Spanish; the tap water isn’t so great; it can be very windy; high speed Internet can be hard to find away from the capital of Arrecife.

View of a Franciscan Monastery

Why code there: If you need a (really) quiet, contemplative place to code, many monasteries in the U.S. and around the world offer guest rooms at reasonable rates, which will often include meals. Participation in religious services is usually not required.

What to do when you’re not coding: Stroll the monastery grounds, meditate, receive spiritual guidance from a monk, sample some of the goods they make and sell or simply enjoy the serenity.

Drawbacks: Be sure to check if computers are allowed. Internet access is usually not offered. Total silence may be required. You may have to share a bathroom and you may have to bring your own food and other supplies.

A rows of large Buddha statues in Bangkok, Thailand

Why code there: An exotic location that is reasonably cheap and safe with very modern amenities. It offers a wide variety inaccommodations and broadband access is available in big cities. Most westerners can stay for up to 30 days without a visa.

What to do when you’re not coding: Enjoy a famous Thai massage or just about any kind of outdoor activity, from rock climbing to golf. Sample real Thai food or shop for Thai silk.

Drawbacks: Broadband access - and English speakers - can be hard to find outside of big cities. It gets extremely hot from March to June and the rainy (monsoon) season lasts from from July to October.