You Should Take A Codecation

Ben Orenstein

A codecation is like a vacation, but you spend most of your time writing code.

How to take a codecation

  1. Find someone you really like or want to know better.
  2. Choose somewhere you both want to go.
  3. Go there, but spend most of your time writing code.
  4. Ship something.

Complete these tasks, and you’re almost certain to have a great experience.

Further tips for success

  1. Rent a place with a kitchen and cook most of your meals. When traveling, a surprising amount of time is lost to finding food each day. You can recapture this time (and stay healthier) by prepping your own.
  2. Exercise every day. The best fuel for productive coding sessions is breathing hard and sweating. I like to start programming right after breakfast and break for exercise when I hit a natural stopping point.
  3. Make sure you finish something and publish it to the world. The period at the end of your codecation sentence should be shipping.

My first codecation

I’ve taken two codecations, both with my friend Chris Hunt.

Our first was in Costa Rica. We decided we wanted to learn ClojureScript, so we built and shipped the following.

First, we tackled Conway’s game of life:

Conway's game of life

Next, we built a maze generator and solver:

Maze generator and solver

For more info about our codecation in Costa Rica, check out our trip report.

My second codecation

Our second codecation was six months later in Boulder, CO.

Saddened by the sudden shutdown of OhLife, we decided to build an OhLife replacement called Trailmix, which we later open sourced.

We didn’t get to work with an exotic language this time, but building and shipping a paid product in a matter of days was incredibly gratifying.

If you’d like to hear way more detail about both these trips, you can listen to an episode dedicated to the topic on Chris’ podcast.

By the way, I barely knew Chris before we went to Costa Rica together. You can absolutely take a codecation with someone you don’t know yet.

Final sales pitch

Codecations are a fantastic way to meet new people, work with fun languages or technologies you don’t use at work, and to capture the joy of starting a brand new project and seeing it completed.

On both of my trips, I’ve had the experience of happily coding for 12 hours, totally engrossed in my work. I was in the zone for days.

If you’re fortunate enough to be able to take a codecation, you really ought to try it. And if you do, we’d love to hear about it!