Danielle Cady is a 32-year-old Californian who began traveling and living abroad when she was 20. She’s traveled in Spain, Greece and Iceland, to name a few countries. She’s lived in South Korea and London, England, and she’s moving to Lima, Peru this summer with her huband and dog Scooter. Danielle has been earning money online while traveling by working as a scopist and proofreader for a little over a year.
A Bit About Your Travels
Q. When did you first travel, and where did you go?
A. My first trip as an independent adult was to Mexico as part of a charitable giving event with the Rotary Club while I was attending Arizona State University for a semester. My younger sister flew out to join me and my college roommate on the trip and we had a great time seeing parts of rural Mexico and handing out food, clothes, and toys to the locals. I also remember several renditions of “Feliz Navidad” being played on an accordion with all of us Americans chiming in on the English bits we knew.
Q. What parts of the world have you seen?
A. Almost everywhere in Europe, Canada, Mexico, South Korea. And, soon, South America!
Q. What is/are your favorite part(s) of the world?
A. Oh, that’s tough to narrow down. And I haven’t even seen the whole world yet! Spain and Greece for the food, culture, and architecture. Southern France for the lavender, lifestyle, and food. The United Kingdom, Iceland, Norway, Switzerland, and the Pacific Northwest for nature. And London, Paris, and Amsterdam for art and city life. Texas for their hospitality. And San Diego for the fish tacos and year-round relaxed, al fresco lifestyle.
Q. What is the craziest story – or stories – you can tell us from your travels?
A. We took an overnight train from Spain to Portugal and had to transfer to a regional train in a small town in Portugal at 5 a.m. Well, little did we know, there was a strike going on that day for all the regional trains. After three hours of sitting on the platform and trying to find someone who knew enough English to tell us what was going on, an express train pulled into the station. We didn’t know where it was going, but we hopped on anyway since we figured, hey, it was probably going to a bigger city hopefully and it beat where we currently were at! We ended up having to rent a car in Lisbon and drive to our final destination.
Also, our brief time in Russia wasn’t very welcoming. I will simply leave it at that.
Q. A lot of people think of travel as dangerous. Is there any time you felt you were in danger? What happened?
A. Not really. I’ve been more scared driving through some sketchy areas of Chicago after a wrong turn than I have while traveling overseas. Although, being a passenger on a bus in Mexico or a NYC cab are equally tense experiences! As long as you use common sense and keep your wits about you, all is well.
Q. There are foods in other parts of the world that you won’t find back home. What is the strangest food you’ve ever eaten?
A. Chicken feet in South Korea. Not to be repeated. Also, there was a language miscommunication in which I originally had thought they said “chicken fetus.” That should have been sign number one.
Q. What is the most adventurous thing you’ve ever done on your travels?
A. Glacier trekking in Iceland and exploring a cave of blue ice. So much fun! The whole trip in Iceland was really great. We had rented a campervan and drove around the famous Ring road of Iceland, wild camping, swimming in hot springs, and splurging on a 16 USD gas station burger one night after seven days of oatmeal, soup, and sandwiches on the camping stove. Food in Iceland is very expensive!
Q. Is there one experience you’ve had while traveling that you think about all the time and would love to repeat?
A. The entire three years I lived in London. The good, the bad, the odd, the amazing, the frustrating — I’d do it all over again in a heartbeat!
Q. You’ve been able to work while traveling through 16 countries and even living in some of them. Did you work each time as a scopist, or have you had other jobs?
A. My time in South Korea, I was in the Air Force. When I met my husband and prior to us deciding to take an overseas assignment, I had been working part-time as an EEG Tech doing brain wave recordings as well as teaching Pilates classes. I had thought I might be able to continue my Pilates business in London, but it didn’t pan out the way I had originally intended and local jobs on the economy can be tough to come by in the UK for ex-pats.
So I took a two-year work sabbatical, if you will, and became a full-time domestic goddess, travel planner, pet sitter, and travel blogger during that time. About a year and half in to our 3-year assignment in London, we decided to put in for another consecutive overseas assignment as my husband’s “twilight” tour before his military retirement. It was then that I realized I couldn’t always depend on being able to work on the local economy wherever we went and I needed to find a profession or skill that allowed me to work from anywhere with complete continuity with each of our moves. I originally started proofreading court transcripts after taking the proofreading course offered by Proofread Anywhere and that naturally led me to scoping as a way to offer an additional service to clients and open up my income potential.
Being a Scopist and Earning Money While Traveling
Q. How did you get the idea for earning money while traveling by working online as a scopist?
A. Scoping can be done from anywhere you have a wi-fi connection to receive and send the files. My husband and I enjoy train travel, that and exploring a new city on foot with frequent stops at local cafes, allows for plenty of time to bring work along with me when we travel. I just work on it a little bit at a time throughout the day.
Working while traveling is also a great way to pay for the trip itself, so you can afford to take longer holidays. In fact, I’m currently on a four-week long working holiday in London and Paris right now, and even with a reduced workload during this time (you don’t want to spend your entire trip staring at your laptop rather than your destination!), I have been able to work enough each day to pay for my daily expenses of food and transport and the few nights of a hotel when not staying with friends or family!
Q. What do you need in order to scope while you’re traveling? Do you need anything in addition to a laptop and headphones?
A. Wi-fi! And I do have a foot pedal and a few English grammar reference guides I bring with me.
Q. How do you carry everything you need for scoping?
A. A sturdy tote bag from Stella and Dot. I’m more of a suitcase kind of traveler versus a minimal luggage, backpacking kind of traveler, so that allows me the space to bring all of the things I need for my mobile office with me.
Q. Do you worry about your equipment being stolen or lost when you’re traveling? What preventative measures do you take?
A. I utilize the safe when staying in a hotel and keep a tight hold on my bag when out and about. I’m keen to most of the distraction tactics thieves use on unsuspecting tourists, so I’ve been able to dodge those so far.
Q. Do you find there are any challenges to working as a scopist while traveling that there aren’t while you’re working from home?
A. Having to find wi-fi in remote areas.
Q. When scoping, you have to listen to audio. Is this difficult when you’re in a noisy area on your travels? Or do you always make sure to be somewhere quiet when you’re working?
A. It definitely can be a challenge! Coffee shops in more residential, tucked away areas tend to be ideal and you’re also not paying tourist prices for you cappuccino. Museum cafes and libraries are also free, quiet areas to work for an hour or two. I’ve also found working in the midafternoon between the lunch and dinner crowds at a cafe tends to be a much quieter period of time. I’m a bit of a night owl as well, so I get a good bit of my work done in the quiet after my husband has fallen asleep.
Q. The internet in many countries is not as good as in the U.S. How do you handle the internet situation while you’re traveling?
A. I splurge on having a good international phone plan with data when I travel so that I can at least use it as a hot spot for internet when needed. Plus, I can then write off the cost as a business expense. If I know I’m traveling somewhere that’s more remote, then I don’t accept any work that needs to be returned during that time, just to be on the safe side.
Q. Are the time zone differences difficult to manage in terms of communications with your court reporter clients? How do you handle this?
A. The time zone difference has been great in terms of expedited work. I’m able to work on the job while the client is sleeping and have it back to them by the time they wake up without having to burn the midnight oil.
Q. How do you structure your work while you’re traveling? Do you try to spread your work out over most days of the week? Do you try to set aside days only for work and other days only for play? Or do you have another way of handling the work/travel lifestyle?
A. I tend to spread my work out over each day, doing some in the morning and possibly during the day as I take a long coffee break. I usually will also fit in some work before bed. If I’m really busy with work, then I will just spend the day working so I can get ahead and not mentally feel like the work is hanging over me.
Q. Travel is a great escape, but one thing that never goes away no matter where you are in the world are taxes. How do you handle your taxes traveling and living outside of your own country?
A. One word – accountant. I have a great accountant who is knowledgeable about foreign-earned income, self-employment, investment properties, and military pay.
Q. Do you have any advice for anyone else who is currently working as a scopist while traveling or living abroad, or who might be interested in this idea in the future?
A. Do it!
Q. You’ve lived in Japan, Korea and England and you’re moving to Peru this summer. What do you find are some of the benefits of living abroad?
A. Expanding your worldview and seeing different ways of life and thinking. Gives you perspective and appreciation for where you come from and other areas of the world.
Q. There must also be negatives of living outside your own country. What are some of the hardest things about living abroad?
A. Missing family and certain foods, comforts, and conveniences. Living somewhere where you don’t speak the native language fluently can be challenging as well.
Q. What have been some of your most memorable experiences while living abroad?
A. Getting to attend a private Foo Fighters concert that Prince Harry was hosting while in London was pretty neat. Ultimately, it’s the friendships you make while living abroad that enrich the time you spend somewhere and make the experiences that more memorable.
Q. One of the benefits of living in other countries is getting to know people of different cultures. Have you found yourself changing at all, in the way you do some things, in the way you think about certain things, the way you feel, due to the effects of living in other cultures?
A. Similar to what I said earlier about traveling/living abroad expanding your worldview and letting you see different ways of life and thinking such as a country’s social policies or culture.
Q. Which culture or cultures would you say has rubbed off on you the most? How so?
A. I would say British culture just because of the length of time I spent there. I love the orderliness of a queue, the work/life balance, the cheeky dry humor. And I could never, ever get tired of tea and scones with clotted cream and jam every afternoon.
Q. What are some of the most important things you’ve learned by being around people of other cultures in their homelands?
A. That freedom comes in many facets, and that, ultimately, most people all over the world want the same things for themselves and we’re not all that different. We all laugh the same, all cry the same, all smile the same.
Q. You’re moving to Lima, Peru! What do you hope life will hold for you there?
A. I’m hoping for an apartment with an ocean view of the Pacific, hopefully developing a taste for ceviche, and becoming fluent in Spanish.
Q. Are you planning on working as a scopist again while in your new home in Peru and in your future travels?
A. Absolutely! I love the mobility that scoping gives me to bring my work with me wherever I lay my head at at night.
Q. What advice do you have for other Americans who might like to live abroad?
A. Do your research, make sure things like your employment, visas, health care, and such are all sorted and in order. And to keep your expectations in check. It’s easy to romanticize living abroad, but it can be challenging some days.
Q. What is the most important thing your years of travel and living abroad have taught you about life?
A. That we live in an amazing world. The more I see, the more I want to see the rest. Or at least as much as I can!