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The Adventures of a Traveling Transcriber
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The Adventures of a Traveling Transcriber

by J. Marie Moran, CET


As some of you may know, I had the most amazing opportunity come up in early 2017 that put me on the road for ten months of 2018. I have a wonderful, long-time friend who is retired that came to visit me for a weekend in early 2017. She started talking about her plans to buy an RV and truck and travel all over our beautiful country, the U.S.A., in memory of her father who had passed away a few years earlier. This story is about those adventures, but keep in mind that this is a possibility for any of us. I will be honest, it wasn’t always easy to work and travel. I will get into more of that after I explain to you how it all started.

If anyone knows me, they know that my parents have been living the RV life for the past eight or nine years. They spend half of their time in Texas and half in Vermont. I will let you decide which half of the year they choose where to stay, but when they are going back and forth, they take a lot of side trips along the way. The lifestyle intrigued me and I found myself thinking about it a lot, especially just for the fact that I can literally take my job anywhere in the world with me. As long as there is internet service available, I can work. I wanted to take my gig out on the road!

My friend came to visit again about a month later, March of 2017, and that’s when I asked her if maybe I could tag along. She was still in the planning and research part of putting things together to make it happen. She happily included me in her plans and immediately started looking for a bigger RV with two bedrooms and two bathrooms to accommodate two women living and traveling together. Our plan was to start this trip at the beginning of 2018. We got together many times over the next months to find the right RV for us and to start pouring over maps and making lists of all of the places that we both really wanted to see. Then we got down to the business of mapping out when and where we were going to go, and we started calling and making reservations for the first half of the year. We also got a lot of “expert” advice from my parents along the way, which we were very thankful for, as we were both going into this experience as green as you can get. Yet we weren’t afraid.

Everything came together around October/November of 2017 when we found the perfect RV. My friend was so wonderful and thoughtful about picking the RV out by keeping me in mind and knowing that I was going to have to have a comfortable place to work and sleep, and that’s when we found her. She was a huge, 43-foot fifth wheel, and Jean had found a 2015 diesel-dually one-ton Duramax that would do the pulling. We called her “Big Red,” and the RV, we called her “Home.” I had a couch and a bench seat in my room, and a half bath.

We picked her up from the dealer, who was about two hours from my house, and they gave us about a one-hour lesson on driving with it, turning, and backing up. They showed us how to work the systems of the RV for leveling, uncoupling from the truck, hooking up the wastewater tanks, checking the propane tanks, hooking up the water supply, and, of course, cleaning the tanks out and tearing her down to hook back up. We knew it wasn’t everything. There was a lot we were going to learn “on the fly,” but we felt ready to figure it out. There were a few frustrations right away and doubts and tears, but we decided early on that it is all a part of the adventure, the good and the bad; we knew it wasn’t going to be fun and games all of the time.


We took a month to get packed up. I had to also pack up my home and put all of my things in storage, except what was coming with. We tried to be very conservative so as not to go over the recommended weight of the trailer for the size of the truck. December 31, 2017, we hit the road to our first stop closer to the central part of Florida, which was actually only a little over an hour away, and our first stop was close to friends and family, so if we had any issues with our first actual experience of setting it up, we had people close by who would come help. My goal was also so that I could spend some time close to my brother who had just had his first baby, my first nephew, before I was gone from his life for a year.

What an exciting day that was! We got to the first park and pulled into our spot, and we had everything set up within 45 minutes. My friend and I just kind of fell into a routine of taking on certain jobs and we worked well together. We got our set-up and tear-down routines down to 20 minutes by the time we hit our third stop up in the Panhandle of Florida. We camped at Panama City Beach for two weeks at the end of January, and from there we headed to New Orleans for Mardi Gras. We camped in Slidell, LA, and made the 20-minute drive into New Orleans a couple of times to see the parades and visit Bourbon Street and do a haunted tour. From Slidell, we headed for Texas to visit my parents. We were having some issues with the leveling gear, so we ended up staying at my parent’s campground longer than expected to get them addressed. Next, we headed for more central Texas near San Antonio and Austin.

In Texas, I got to meet a fellow transcriber who I had worked with on jobs in the past and who was following our adventure on Facebook. We met up for lunch one day in Austin. It was nice to put a face with a name and be able to talk about work stuff with someone in person. I think we will be friends and cohorts for a long time to come. I actually connected with a lot of my fellow transcribers and contractors who were actively following our adventures. The connection was so awesome. Even though I couldn’t physically meet everyone, the tips on things to do and places to see from someone who was “local” to a state or place we were headed was priceless.

Actually, throughout the whole trip, we met the nicest, most helpful, considerate people. It really put into perspective that there really are a lot of good, genuine people out there in this crazy, mixed-up world than the media would have us believe, or for those of us in the legal-transcription field who hear a lot of the bad, crazy stuff some people do. It was a joyful, soul-lifting experience to say the least. We met some great people and made some good friends and connections for a lifetime. These are people we will most definitely try to see again one day.

After Texas, we went to New Mexico, Arizona, California, Oregon, Nevada, Utah, Colorado, Wyoming, South Dakota, Wisconsin, then on to New York and Vermont. In Wyoming, we got hit by three tornados that did a lot of damage to the RV inside and out. We also lost Jean’s pup, Gema, in a tragic turn of events when another dog killed her. That kind of took some of the wind out of our sails. We limped our way back to New York to Jean’s family, and that’s where the adventure ended in September. I went on to Vermont to spend time with family and friends and figure out how to get myself back to Florida for a restart, because in October, we finally heard from the insurance company that they were going to total our “home.” We decided that it was a good run, but the adventure was over.

Working and traveling is very much something doable for us as transcribers, but I would have a couple of things to point out. First, if you’re going to do it, try to stay longer than a week in any area. It is very hard to get much work done when you’re only in one place for a short period of time and there is a lot to see. Packing up and moving constantly can really take a bite out of work time too. It wasn’t something I could do while riding down the road either. Second, it was a lot more expensive than either of us had planned on, but we managed to cover ourselves and make it work because I at least had the ability to create a regular cash flow. Third, make sure there is going to be a good internet connection wherever you are going to stay. I used a hotspot from my phone for a secure connection, and a lot of people use Mi-Fi devices, but if you don’t have cell service, that can become a problem. Luckily, I only ran into that issue a couple of times.

I will do this type of thing again someday, if only to see the places and things that we missed, but also because it was an experience that cannot be beat. This country up close and personal is absolutely amazing everywhere you go. Every state has things that are new and breathtaking and interesting to see. Here is what I would do though: I would stay at least a month, if not a little longer, in each place in order to actually get some full days of work in, and so that I can take the time off without guilt or worry and see all of the things I want to see. I would also look into what they call “work camping,” which means you give the campground 20 hours a week of your time to do things around the campground, either as a host or taking reservations, helping people check in, or cleaning bathrooms and laundry rooms, you get to camp with full hookups for free.

I would also take my time and make the RV my home for a two- or three-year period of time. Camping people are happy people! There is just no other way to describe it.


J. Marie Moran has been a self-employed legal transcriber for 11 years, certified through AAERT since 2011. She is from Vermont originally, but moved to Florida full-time in 2015. She has a son, who is 27 and still lives in Vermont with his family, and a grandson who is 11.


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