Tim Smith

Being a freelancer means being on the go and without an office, you’ll need something mobile to hold all the supplies you would typically have at your desk.

We all want to be stylish and look great! While functionality may come first, it doesn’t mean you need to sacrifice on aesthetic. Brands like Zara, H&M and even Target carry incredible bags for working in the field that can pull any professional look together.

I personally use a backpack. I came to this after trial and error with many other types of bags. I used everything from drawstring bags which cut into my shoulders to messenger bags which resulted into a severe left leaning tilt when I wasn’t wearing it. Your bag should be comfortable, functional. And have as many pockets as possible for the following. 

So, what’s in my bag? The essentials.


This is one of the most if not the most vital things to secure a mobile office. You never know when you will have a break, need to hop on a virtual call, or have to type up a service agreement. Having one of these devices ensures a smoother and more efficient way to read, type, and send documents to business and clients. It can help not only your interpreting practice but personal life as well. Here is a place you can take time to answer emails, journal, adjust your calendar or even catch up on your favorite Netflix series from a local coffee shop! Ensuring your bag not only has space but a protected sleeve for your device is essential!

Portable Charger

This item goes hand in hand with the laptop/tablet. Having one of these ensures your phone or any electronic devices have something to keep the charge going throughout the day and also increases the amount of space you have in your bag because you don’t have to carry around 4 different chargers.

When traveling, it can be difficult to find outlets. For many of us, prep time depends on having a full charge and if you’re not sure about your seat having a charger while flying – do yourself the favor now. These are relatively inexpensive, come in a multitude of styles and volumes but I personally stand by Anker chargers. Not only do they last but the warranty is incredible. With quick charge times and varied ports, I can be sure I’m never out of juice.

Writing utensils/ stationary

When they say the pen is mightier than the sword they aren’t joking. Many new interpreters are surprised by how many documents there are to sign but also the rate at which we note take in this field. You’ll find yourself making friends when you’re known for having a hefty stock of pens.

Often, you’ll have a quick break between jobs or pass the post office. It’s worth noting, keeping envelopes and stamps will save you time during your weekly admin hours/days and reduce the amount of errands on your day off.


For the people who don’t like to use electronics and prefer to rely on good old fashioned pen and paper I see you and you aren’t forgotten!  This item will help you establish a calendar, monitor routine, make assignment notes, and other times cathartic writings! Also it is definitely a vibe when you pull one of these out to check your contact list.

A vast majority of interpreters still rely on paper planners due to the amount of confidential notes we take. You might find yourself with fuller margins than you expect. Pro-tip: get a weekly appointment calendar with plenty of additional pages for things you’ll want available in one place.  

First Aid supplies

There might be no worse experience than interpreting with a headache. We often don’t know where we’ll be working, but we can ensure we’re prepared.

 Personal Hygiene items

We never know what is going to happen, we are representing ourselves, a hiring entity, the profession, and our clients, keeping personal hygiene items such as dental floss, tooth brush, lint roller, comb, hand sanitizer will ensure that you are looking and presenting as fresh as possible. 


Staying nourished and hydrated is an essential form of self care during long days. A granola bottle and bottle of water become precious commodities if your day gets away from you. An average work day can quickly turn into an late night coverage spree, which is much easier to accept on a full stomach.

No two interpreter bags are ever the same. You’ll find interpreters who carry small knitting projects for long wait times, others a book. Set yourself up for success by planning ahead with everything you need. For you maybe it’s a yo-yo or rubix cube. Something that will help you stay focused, keep sane, or ground yourself. In a field as chaotic and amazing as ours, at least you know you can control what’s in the bag.

Author: Tim Smith

Tim Smith is a nationally certified interpreter in New York, New York. Along with being a member of the Flamingo Flock, he is the owner of TimTerp llc which provides services both live and remote in the entertainment industry for clients looking to elevate their experience.
Drop him a line!

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