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Off topic: Travelling translators
Thread poster: Marion Rooijmans

Marion Rooijmans
Local time: 16:47
English to Dutch
+ ...
Jun 28, 2007


In September 2006, I returned from a year in New Zealand. I had travelled with my boyfriend and it was a wonderful experience. Whenever I look at photo's now, I feel sort of homesick (strange, as New Zealand is not my home, technically speaking). I even get that feeling when I see a mountain or a nice beach on TV or in a magazine, and it doesn't even have to look like anything we saw in NZ. I guess I just can't wait to travel again. And I don't mean going on holiday for a couple of weeks, but actually travel: leave for at least two months and see different countries.

I read a lot of posts from translators saying that our job permits us to work and travel at the same time. Has anybody ever done such a thing? The idea just sounds wonderful, but I'm not sure how things would work out in practice. How do you make sure your clients can reach you? Won't they be scared away by the fact that you're actually on holiday and maybe not so focussed on your translations? What about internet connections?

I would be very happy if someone who has done such a thing, could tell me more about it.


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Than Than Win
Local time: 08:47
Burmese to English
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Travelling translators Jun 28, 2007


I've actually done that. I went to Northern Thailand for two months and while there, I was able to keep my clients. It was very hot there from noon to 4 pm, and so during those hours I stayed in the hotel and worked on the assignments. The hotel had internet access and also there were many inexpensive internet cafes. So we might have to work a few hours during the travel, but we can still go to places and keep our clients.

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Mats Wiman  Identity Verified
Local time: 16:47
Member (2000)
German to Swedish
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We have done many times Jun 28, 2007

although not for so long and often combined with other events (e.g. Conferences in Oxford, Cracow, Edinburgh, Berlin, Budapest etc.) but also for one week breaks like in Portugal or the UK.

The big problem has been the internet connection. We have got by with Internet Café visits and/or computer dealers and similar (with Internet connection).
By leaps and bounds the connection thing improves month by month.
Soon there will be hotspots in most places or even wireless Internet.

Of cours you need a laptop with appropriate capacity for the above.


Mats & Sylvia Wiman

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Piotr Paryzek Ph.D.  Identity Verified
Local time: 16:47
Member (2007)
English to Polish
+ ...
Off-topic a bit Jun 28, 2007

Not that I spent such a long time in NZ. It was only a couple of weeks, but I have some photos and every time I look at them, I see a paradise on Earth (a kind of:))
Here's the link:
Piotr Paryzek

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Nadejda Vega Cespedes  Identity Verified

Local time: 16:47
Spanish to Russian
+ ...
No problem Jun 29, 2007

I travel a lot and can attest that freelancing makes this very easy. Most of the time clients do not even know (or care) where I am. Just grab your laptop and cell phone, and you will be equally reachable practically anywhere. Make sure though that you do not actually regard this as a "holiday when you may not be so focused on your translations", and if you do, I think it is better to be honest and let your clients know.

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Csaba Ban  Identity Verified
Local time: 16:47
Member (2002)
English to Hungarian
+ ...
two types of travel Jun 29, 2007

When I'm travelling long-haul, it's pretty much difficult to keep working. When I mean long-haul, I mean backpacking, moving on to a different place every 3rd of 4th day. It seems impossible to pack your notebook and shove it in the backpack, then on the top of a shabby bus somewhere in rural Asia. Also, it's hard to be online when the average bus or train trip to the next stop on your itinerary takes 20 hours.

But if you travel in smart style, staying in proper hotels with reliable internet connections, etc., you may be happy with a small (11,1" or perhaps 13,3") notebook.

In the past 4 years (since we have kids), I've grown accustomed to a different type of travel. We're usually based at a certain place (e.g. a friend's home or a rented apartment) with a good internet connection. We do sightseeing or even beach combing during most of the day, and I work for a few hours every day while the little ones take an afternoon nap or during the night.
On such occasions, I work less than normal of course, and I do not take on any large new jobs, but I can be at the disposal of established good clients who always want an update or a small addition.


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Marion Rooijmans
Local time: 16:47
English to Dutch
+ ...
homesick again Jun 29, 2007

Piotr, your photo's were absolutely beautiful! I think you spent those couple of weeks in NZ very well. Seems to me you took your time to discover the country, not just the spots were most tourists go for bungy jumping or skydiving. (Mind you: I've done those things as well, but whenever I think of NZ, I mostly think of the beautiful hikes there.) Just looking at your photo's made me feel a bit homesick again.

Mats and Csaba, it sounds to me you took breaks with family/friends but continued working during those breaks. Please tell me if I'm wrong, but to me that sounds like you're never really on vacation...

When I think of travelling, I think of backpacking. Staying at the same place all the time is a vacation, and I don't want to work during my vacation. So I'm really talking about going places here, moving from one location to the other.

The thing I am most concerned about, is my availability. Even now, I get a bit anxious when I spend an afternoon shopping. Who know's how many clients have emailed me and are eagerly awaiting an answer? I guess that will be an even bigger problem when I'm travelling...

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Local time: 15:47
French to English
+ ...
world travelling translators Sep 28, 2007

Yes, I've done this too. In fact being out of the house (even in your home town) isn't a problem. If you forward your mail to a client that does SMS mail alerts (such as Yahoo) or if you have an Internet enabled mobile that checks email regularly through POP settings, you can leave the house and have emails appear directly on your phone immediately, or at least know that you have received one if it's just an SMS. Nowadays the newest mobiles can open Word and PDF files no problem, although data exchange rates can still be pricey with a lot of networks depending on where you are.

I also decided to buy a SkypeIn number and just give this one always to my clients and answer it on my PC when home and have it forwarded to my mobile when I'm having a slow day and want to go into town in case they call to check if I can do something. The reason I got it, is because I also like to travel as I work and this way I don't have to worry my clients with extra details. Otherwise when on the move without a laptop you can always pop into an Internet café to fully examine a document before accepting it, and I even remember reading on these forums that someone actually has worked in Internet cafés when on the go, installing free Wordfast every time (although I would prefer staying in the hotel myself. I've tried working in wifi enabled cafés, but I'm way too easily distracted!!)

The best thing is that if you were to travel through the likes of Asia or South America etc., staying in hotels are much more affordable, especially considering you'll still be earning wages from your home country. I personally find it mind boggling why some people with at-home freelance work (not just translation; web design etc. too) DON'T travel much more unless they have valid excuses like family responsibilities etc. It's an excellent opportunity to get to know many countries in the world, even giving them several months at a time, while not having to consider employment an issue. With money transfers directly into banks and worldwide ATM access, you could theoretically travel forever! Perhaps I'm simplifying it too much and ignoring possible business visa not tourist visa issues etc. but it's still something to think about I took my job with me to Montreal for a few weeks there and I *did* have to set Outlook to blast a loud sound every time an email came down that needed an immediate response, waking me up at 4am local time normally...

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