Lesson 108: How to make the most of a trip to another country as a travelling translator

Lesson 108: How to make the most of a trip to another country as a travelling translator

This autumn, I was away working and enjoying both South and North America. I spent 25 days in Argentina, Uruguay and the United States. Apart from working in the mornings and sight-seeing in the evenings, which in itself is a great bonus of being a freelancer, I used the trip to do some business development. It doesn’t always mean getting clients in new places right away, but it’s more about making connections, building relationships and networking.

Whether you’re going away on holidays or in business, you’ll surely fit in some of these useful actions in your itinerary.

Visit the embassy

It’s a good idea to take a look at your embassy’s website. A local embassy will often post events or information related to the region and your own country. You’ll also find lots of useful information related to your stay, as well as links to other associations in the region. If you can, you may also want to visit the embassy to find out about the events and regional links in person, introducing yourself and making contacts at the same time.

Visit places related to your culture and heritage

Useful information from the embassy or a cultural association will help you track places related to your home culture and heritage. You can visit monuments, walk the trails, or see interesting exhibits in museums. I found that a good way to make a link between my Polish background and the places I’m visiting. Now I always try to find out in advance whether there are any Polish painters, sculptors, musicians, writers, etc., whose works I can admire on the go.

Polish village in Chicago

Polish village in Chicago

Polish village in Chicago

Check all events related to your community

If you’re visiting a region or country with a large migrant population from your home country, you’ll soon find out that there may be some events taking place during your stay. It’s a great idea to participate in them, even though you can’t really learn more abut your home culture. But you can make some great contacts with the local community.

Contact businesses in the area

Where there are migrant communities, there will be businesses owned or operated by your compatriots. Again, using your visitor status, drop them a line or pay them a visit to talk about their business and how you could help. You may not get clients out of it directly, but you surely can make contacts and exchange business cards.

Look up people and events from your country related to the destination

I find this to be a good ice breaker when you’re visiting another country. All locals will be interested in knowing how your country’s culture and people contributed to the local community, and will surely be impressed by your knowledge on the topic. It’s a good way to start a conversation, too!

In Buenos Aires, Witold Gombrowicz's old house

In Buenos Aires, Witold Gombrowicz’s old house

Visit local places related to languages, translation and writing

A real feast for us, translators, is to visit places where language, translation and writing are given special importance. Apart from enjoying the experience, you’re also likely to meet local people involved with or interested in the same subjects. It’s a good idea to find out whether there are any local translators’ meetings taking place, or even googling a local translator and dropping them an email that you’re coming, asking for recommendations.Watch Justice League vs. Teen Titans (2016) Full Movie Online Streaming Online and Download

Run a project

I like spending time actively, even while on holidays. Usually, the trips I take include little “projects” I run related to the place I’m visiting. It can be following in the footsteps of a famous writer, doing a literary tour, or similar, where you document your project and share it with the community (or even clients).

What are your ideas for making the most of your travelling translator trips?


  1. Els Govaerts , on Nov 12, 2014 at 15:13 Reply

    Excellent ideas, as usual, Marta! I am definitely going to look at the embassy’s website and visit some places that are related to my country when I travel. Contacting businesses out of the blue sounds a bit too much like cold calling to me though, but looking for events to visit is great. I did that in advance of the FIT Conference, and discovered and attended Meet your Translator Night in Berlin, which was a wonderful experience.
    Thanks for sharing your ideas! Els Govaerts

    • Marta Stelmaszak , on Dec 28, 2014 at 19:33 Reply

      Thank you, Els! Events like MyT are great for meeting prospective clients – I hope there will be one next year and that I’ll manage to attend.

  2. Ana Lucía Dubra , on Nov 23, 2014 at 18:50 Reply

    Marta! I didn’t know you were coming to Uruguay! I would have loved to meet you, I loved this post and the one about attending conferences being an introvert.

    • Marta Stelmaszak , on Dec 28, 2014 at 17:59 Reply

      Thank you for your kind words and I hope we’ll meet when I’m in Uruguay next time.

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