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30-05-2018

The travelling translator

Theoretically, one of the advantages of being a translator is that you can ‘work anywhere’, but is that so? Can you pack your laptop in your suitcase and go anywhere, paying your expenses as you go?

Obviously, one of the big attractions of going away is not working, but I recall times when I have had no choice but to set up shop and keep going. I remember once staying with my mother in hospital in Valencia for several weeks, tuning into other people’s wi-fi connections in the surrounding buildings when I had to deliver my work. On another occasion, my local tandoori restaurant allowed me to work in a corner all day when a gale force wind had destroyed the infrastructures around my home. I have even gone as far as to sit in the car park by the beach at 10 pm in December wearing my pyjamas, delivering work using the free service for tourists when my internet has gone down.

Desperate circumstances call for desperate measures, but as well as the physical equipment we need to receive and deliver job, I have other needs that must be met if I am to deliver quality work, such as a comfortable workstation. If you sit in the same position for hours and hours, your mind completely focused on the task in hand, sitting comfortably with your keyboard and screen at a suitable height is essential, otherwise you will ache all over.

You also need peace and quiet, somewhere where you won’t be disturbed or disturb anyone else, particularly as other people often don’t understand that sitting like a statue without speaking for long periods of time is part of the job, and you don’t need to be ‘rescued’ for regular chats.

If you go on holiday with friends and family and try to work, don’t expect it to go well. I know the frustration and disappointment of sitting alone in the hotel room while my friends drink wine and get silly by the pool. You can’t drink the wine because you have to keep your thoughts clear, and you can’t get silly by the pool because you’ve got another 2,000 words to do by close of business. It’s a recipe for misery, so, while you physically can ‘work anywhere’ do you really want to? Time to switch off, I think.

Juliet Allaway

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