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Last Updated on June 16, 2020

How to Quit Your Job and Travel the World After 40

How to Quit Your Job and Travel the World After 40

Have you dreamed of traveling the world? Totally changing directions and quitting a job for someone else? If you’re savvy, organized and willing to embrace the simple life, it’s easier than you think.

You might be wondering how you can be part of the digital nomad phenomenon. Especially with the increased focus on curated travel photos that seem to feature everyone under 40. Fortyhood in a world addicted to youth can seem scary and isolating. People treat you like 40’s not old – if you’re a tree, type of deal.

First is to ditch that thinking and anyone around you who implies it. There are many vibrant forty somethings out there traveling and creating change. Plenty of us who have chosen to create a life full of travel, living our bucket list and feeding our travel addiction. Just check out these forty something bloggers making it happen.

Quitting your job and traveling the world takes some planning. And after 40, you’re in the perfect position to make your leap. Realistically, it depends on what you want to get out of your travels. Are you taking time off? Do you want to make a living traveling? Do you already have resources in place? What mobile skills do you possess (or are willing to learn)?

Whenever I talk about travel and people ask how I do it, it brings to mind the words of author Brene Brown:

“I define vulnerability, as uncertainty, risk and emotional exposure.”

When is the last time you did anything big that didn’t include those three things, travel or not? You have to be okay with uncertainty to travel for a living.

Travel is important for recharging creativity and rebooting ours minds. And here’re plenty of reasons why you should quit your job and follow your dream. So, here are the best tips to making it happen for you:

Plan Ahead – Get Simple and Flexible

If you already have the financial resources and you’ve been planning this for a while, you’re already ahead.

I recommend others give themselves a year to simplify their lives. That includes logistical items like defining a budget, selling belongings, subletting or selling property, itineraries, list of contacts in each location, country visas, travel insurance, possible work permits, bank notifications, auto bill pays, spare debit card, extra passport photos, mail services, unlocked cell phone, electronic equipment and more.

It pays to be organized in travel and have back up’s and redundancies. The confidence of having a backup if something goes wrong can relieve a lot of stress. Travel can be stressful, even for the most laid back person.

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Trust that you’ll meet a lot of people along the way and most of them want to help you. I’ve had the most interesting experiences with locals, from finding the best hidden food spots, to secluded beaches, and authentic rituals.

Being open to share your time with locals in balance with being a tourist can offer you the best viewpoints. And if you’re looking for connections, this is a great way to do it. Attending local networking events, expat groups, meet-ups and parties can lead to job offers, volunteer opportunities, travel buddies, training options and even romance if you’re looking for that.

Create a List of Top Destinations and Budget

It’s good to dream, so don’t hold back. Decide on a destination list, ranked by importance, interest, convenience, cost and time. Dig deep, there are a lot of destinations out there, and it’s key to have an idea of what you want to accomplish in each.

If you’re planning to travel the world, staying out of larger cities and hitting lesser known countries allows you to travel further for your money and experience that is truly new. Why not the Himalayas or Bolivia, instead of Barcelona or Iceland? Forego Costa Rica for any of the Stans – Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, or Krygyzstan. Who wants the same instagram photos as everyone else anyway?

I recommend having a contact list of tour providers in each location as a backup, but to talk to the locals for great deals. Utilize travel apps to track and plan trips, miles, Sygic App , Matt’s Flights , Lounge Buddy, Trippit, Trip.me and Waze for starters. All of which I’ve used.

Now what is this all going to cost you? That depends on how you like to travel. The average world travel costs $2,000 USD a month, for a simplified lifestyle. You can get away with $1,200 USD in some countries like Portugal and Dominican Republic.

This is a good number to start with, but I did mention back up’s right? So add 25% to that. You can have this is that bank, or have a start with plans to take your work remote, earning along the way.

Go, but Not Everywhere

You may not want to hear it, but it’s likely you’ll get tired of traveling. You’ll miss your familiar town, your local coffee stand, friends, family and being able to snuggle in your own bed and binge on Netflix. So keep it flexible but be good to yourself. This is not a race around the world.

Consider the seasonality of countries, high season is more expensive. What’s the weather like where you’re going? Do you have the gear for it? What’s the best time to visit your favorite spot?

A quick google check can lead you to weather patterns and likely seasonal crowds. You may dip into your budget for new clothing or technical gear to experience a spot, and then pass it on to the locals.

I like to look for extreme sports to add to my bucket list, stay in warmer weather, get lost in the anonymity of a language I don’t know, and experience local festivals. That all goes into my trip planning. From La Tomatina in Spain to the Spirit Festival in Bali.

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Whatever your passion may be, I recommend implementing it into your travel planning, and possibly making it part of your remote work structure. Curious souls who want to travel the world are usually multi interested, multi talented explorers, so I’m sure there’s no shortage of goals in your planning.

Embrace Slow Travel

Career and family landscapes have changed across the world. Travel tools are more accessible including Uber and other convenient technology.This has allowed us to make career changes in our 40’s, fly solo or take our families on the road. It has also allowed us to integrate into almost any country and enjoy what some call slow travel. I call it the right way to travel.

Spend at least a month in a location. Get to know what the locals do. Dress like a local, learn some key phrases. Bypass the tourist rat race of those who need to crunch everything into one week a year, and remember the day you decided to leave that.

We don’t just travel to take photos with iconic backdrops, we travel to see what is different from us, and how it is also the same.

Slow travel includes renting a house, enrolling in a course, volunteering, studying a language, finding your roots, lounging in a cafe and taking stock of your life, writing your book, or making those dolla dolla bills online.

There are plenty of options to stay long term, including the obvious Airbnb, House Swap and VRBO. But checking the local papers and walking the neighborhoods is likely to really get you into the heart of slow travel.

Remember the movie Under The Tuscan Sun? If she can do it, so can you.

Leave Possessions and Habits Behind

Remember when I mentioned uncertainty, risk and vulnerability, well here it is. Leaving behind all those things you accumulated as a “need” and realizing they are really unnecessary shifts your thinking. You’ll become a minimalist.

One suitcase, preferably a backpack is the way to go. A check-in bag, and a day pack will become vital in your travel habits. The amount of your gear is commensurate with your stress level. Fitting everything into a backpack and carrying your gear provides convenience, more safety (from theft) and ease.

While it seems only kids travel with backpacks, it’s not the case. Think of attempting to pull along a rolling suitcase through remote spots, dirt roads or jungles. You don’t want to find yourself there. Plus they are just as convenient in the city.

A sleek backpack is not going to get a second look checking into a Four Seasons to do that brand review you were just hired for remotely. Besides any extra space, you have most likely houses your electronics that make it possible to work online. Again, take me word for it. Own your travel.

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Little by little, you will also shed away habits like worrying about what you wear, collecting things, and rethinking your personal impact on the planet.

Yes travel has a big carbon footprint, but along the way you can volunteer, drop the habit of using plastic and eat unprocessed foods, all with a positive return.

Pro tip:

Pack 2- 3 interchangable outfits in mid tone to darker colors that are comfortable and durable. Things like “adventure” pants that keep you dry and can unzip to shorts, repeats of lycra or cotton t-shirts, yoga pants and scarves go a long way for the ladies, and a good pair or walking shoes and flip flops for starters.

Carry a basic first aid kit and repair kit with sewing items, gear aid tapes and patches.

Make Money Remotely

You’re 40 and just quit your job to travel the world, are you crazy? The majority of bloggers make an average $2 a day, while a few in the top make a six figure income.

If you’re looking to make money while you travel online, it takes persistence, stamina, flexibility and good ol’ fashion hard work. Most of the beautiful photos online are done by travel writers and flash packers who come in for a week or a weekend. Not the same as traveling full time.

Don’t worry, you can still make beautiful content (while still immersed in travel). It will just take more creativity.

Bloggers make their money in freelance writing, social media posts, brand partnerships, ad posts, coaching, speaking, e books, affiliate income, photography, licensing and product sales. The doors are open, you just need to walk through.

A few places to post and find remote work are Upwork, Fiverr, Writers Work, Freelancer, Remote Co, Idealist and Small World. If you’re in tech, you have even more flexibility. Coders and UX developers are in high demand.

If there’s anything I’ve learned in my years of travel, adventure and writing, it’s that you can possess seemingly opposing skills — teaching yoga vs flying a helicopter, creating media content vs hosting adventure retreats – that will serve you well.

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Some of my skills above provide me with grace under pressure, discipline, focus, organization and communication skills that make being a digital nomad and traveling that much easier. Uncertainly, risk and vulnerability, right?

Time management, organization, being financially savvy, willing to learn, communication and curiosity will all be required on your world travels. Your instincts, skills and passions are fueling your travel-lust and can also support you in your new life of travel and leisure.

Final Thoughts

Take what you can here, and get ready for your own travels. After 40, each decision we make is even more vital to our overall effect on life. But we are usually a bit wiser, free’er and more apt to assess the uncertainties.

Now is better than ever to feed our crazy and live off the road. We’ve earned it.

I don’t advise lightly about quitting your job and traveling the world. It’s not for everyone, and it can uproot your life in ways you never thought of.

And if you truly go off grid and spend years focused on travel, you have to start all over again when you return home. You will most likely come back a changed person but the rest of the world will seem unchanged.

Whether you’re creating a career change, had a major life event shift your world, or are following your travel dreams after taking care of a career and children; traveling the world after 40 is more than possible.

It’s waiting. It doesn’t matter if this is your third or fourth act, the curtain hasn’t dropped yet. Forty can be the new twenty you define, and I’m here to let you know it’s possible:

How to Start Over and Reboot Your Life When It Seems Too Late

Featured photo credit: Simon Rae via unsplash.com

More by this author

Liz Galloway

I'm an idealist, columnist & traveler helping people connect through personal discovery. Stay inspired!

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Last Updated on October 22, 2020

8 Simple Ways to Be a Better Listener

8 Simple Ways to Be a Better Listener

How would you feel if you were sharing a personal story and noticed that the person to whom you were speaking wasn’t really listening? You probably wouldn’t be too thrilled.

Unfortunately, that is the case for many people. Most individuals are not good listeners. They are good pretenders. The thing is, true listening requires work—more work than people are willing to invest. Quality conversation is about “give and take.” Most people, however, want to just give—their words, that is. Being on the receiving end as the listener may seem boring, but it’s essential.

When you are attending to someone and paying attention to what they’re saying, it’s a sign of caring and respect. The hitch is that attending requires an act of will, which sometimes goes against what our minds naturally do—roaming around aimlessly and thinking about whatnot, instead of listening—the greatest act of thoughtfulness.

Without active listening, people often feel unheard and unacknowledged. That’s why it’s important for everyone to learn how to be a better listener.

What Makes People Poor Listeners?

Good listening skills can be learned, but first, let’s take a look at some of the things that you might be doing that makes you a poor listener.

1. You Want to Talk to Yourself

Well, who doesn’t? We all have something to say, right? But when you are looking at someone pretending to be listening while, all along, they’re mentally planning all the amazing things they’re going to say, it is a disservice to the speaker.

Yes, maybe what the other person is saying is not the most exciting thing in the world. Still, they deserve to be heard. You always have the ability to steer the conversation in another direction by asking questions.

It’s okay to want to talk. It’s normal, even. Keep in mind, however, that when your turn does come around, you’ll want someone to listen to you.

2. You Disagree With What Is Being Said

This is another thing that makes you an inadequate listener—hearing something with which you disagree with and immediately tuning out. Then, you lie in wait so you can tell the speaker how wrong they are. You’re eager to make your point and prove the speaker wrong. You think that once you speak your “truth,” others will know how mistaken the speaker is, thank you for setting them straight, and encourage you to elaborate on what you have to say. Dream on.

Disagreeing with your speaker, however frustrating that might be, is no reason to tune them out and ready yourself to spew your staggering rebuttal. By listening, you might actually glean an interesting nugget of information that you were previously unaware of.

3. You Are Doing Five Other Things While You’re “Listening”

It is impossible to listen to someone while you’re texting, reading, playing Sudoku, etc. But people do it all the time—I know I have.

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I’ve actually tried to balance my checkbook while pretending to listen to the person on the other line. It didn’t work. I had to keep asking, “what did you say?” I can only admit this now because I rarely do it anymore. With work, I’ve succeeded in becoming a better listener. It takes a great deal of concentration, but it’s certainly worth it.

If you’re truly going to listen, then you must: listen! M. Scott Peck, M.D., in his book The Road Less Travel, says, “you cannot truly listen to anyone and do anything else at the same time.” If you are too busy to actually listen, let the speaker know, and arrange for another time to talk. It’s simple as that!

4. You Appoint Yourself as Judge

While you’re “listening,” you decide that the speaker doesn’t know what they’re talking about. As the “expert,” you know more. So, what’s the point of even listening?

To you, the only sound you hear once you decide they’re wrong is, “Blah, blah, blah, blah, blah!” But before you bang that gavel, just know you may not have all the necessary information. To do that, you’d have to really listen, wouldn’t you? Also, make sure you don’t judge someone by their accent, the way they sound, or the structure of their sentences.

My dad is nearly 91. His English is sometimes a little broken and hard to understand. People wrongly assume that he doesn’t know what he’s talking about—they’re quite mistaken. My dad is a highly intelligent man who has English as his second language. He knows what he’s saying and understands the language perfectly.

Keep that in mind when listening to a foreigner, or someone who perhaps has a difficult time putting their thoughts into words.

Now, you know some of the things that make for an inferior listener. If none of the items above resonate with you, great! You’re a better listener than most.

How To Be a Better Listener

For conversation’s sake, though, let’s just say that maybe you need some work in the listening department, and after reading this article, you make the decision to improve. What, then, are some of the things you need to do to make that happen? How can you be a better listener?

1. Pay Attention

A good listener is attentive. They’re not looking at their watch, phone, or thinking about their dinner plans. They’re focused and paying attention to what the other person is saying. This is called active listening.

According to Skills You Need, “active listening involves listening with all senses. As well as giving full attention to the speaker, it is important that the ‘active listener’ is also ‘seen’ to be listening—otherwise, the speaker may conclude that what they are talking about is uninteresting to the listener.”[1]

As I mentioned, it’s normal for the mind to wander. We’re human, after all. But a good listener will rein those thoughts back in as soon as they notice their attention waning.

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I want to note here that you can also “listen” to bodily cues. You can assume that if someone keeps looking at their watch or over their shoulder, their focus isn’t on the conversation. The key is to just pay attention.

2. Use Positive Body Language

You can infer a lot from a person’s body language. Are they interested, bored, or anxious?

A good listener’s body language is open. They lean forward and express curiosity in what is being said. Their facial expression is either smiling, showing concern, conveying empathy, etc. They’re letting the speaker know that they’re being heard.

People say things for a reason—they want some type of feedback. For example, you tell your spouse, “I had a really rough day!” and your husband continues to check his newsfeed while nodding his head. Not a good response.

But what if your husband were to look up with questioning eyes, put his phone down, and say, “Oh, no. What happened?” How would feel, then? The answer is obvious.

According to Alan Gurney,[2]

“An active listener pays full attention to the speaker and ensures they understand the information being delivered. You can’t be distracted by an incoming call or a Facebook status update. You have to be present and in the moment.

Body language is an important tool to ensure you do this. The correct body language makes you a better active listener and therefore more ‘open’ and receptive to what the speaker is saying. At the same time, it indicates that you are listening to them.”

3. Avoid Interrupting the Speaker

I am certain you wouldn’t want to be in the middle of a sentence only to see the other person holding up a finger or their mouth open, ready to step into your unfinished verbiage. It’s rude and causes anxiety. You would, more than likely, feel a need to rush what you’re saying just to finish your sentence.

Interrupting is a sign of disrespect. It is essentially saying, “what I have to say is much more important than what you’re saying.” When you interrupt the speaker, they feel frustrated, hurried, and unimportant.

Interrupting a speaker to agree, disagree, argue, etc., causes the speaker to lose track of what they are saying. It’s extremely frustrating. Whatever you have to say can wait until the other person is done.

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Be polite and wait your turn!

4. Ask Questions

Asking questions is one of the best ways to show you’re interested. If someone is telling you about their ski trip to Mammoth, don’t respond with, “that’s nice.” That would show a lack of interest and disrespect. Instead, you can ask, “how long have you been skiing?” “Did you find it difficult to learn?” “What was your favorite part of the trip?” etc. The person will think highly of you and consider you a great conversationalist just by you asking a few questions.

5. Just Listen

This may seem counterintuitive. When you’re conversing with someone, it’s usually back and forth. On occasion, all that is required of you is to listen, smile, or nod your head, and your speaker will feel like they’re really being heard and understood.

I once sat with a client for 45 minutes without saying a word. She came into my office in distress. I had her sit down, and then she started crying softly. I sat with her—that’s all I did. At the end of the session, she stood, told me she felt much better, and then left.

I have to admit that 45 minutes without saying a word was tough. But she didn’t need me to say anything. She needed a safe space in which she could emote without interruption, judgment, or me trying to “fix” something.

6. Remember and Follow Up

Part of being a great listener is remembering what the speaker has said to you, then following up with them.

For example, in a recent conversation you had with your co-worker Jacob, he told you that his wife had gotten a promotion and that they were contemplating moving to New York. The next time you run into Jacob, you may want to say, “Hey, Jacob! Whatever happened with your wife’s promotion?” At this point, Jacob will know you really heard what he said and that you’re interested to see how things turned out. What a gift!

According to new research, “people who ask questions, particularly follow-up questions, may become better managers, land better jobs, and even win second dates.”[3]

It’s so simple to show you care. Just remember a few facts and follow up on them. If you do this regularly, you will make more friends.

7. Keep Confidential Information Confidential

If you really want to be a better listener, listen with care. If what you’re hearing is confidential, keep it that way, no matter how tempting it might be to tell someone else, especially if you have friends in common. Being a good listener means being trustworthy and sensitive with shared information.

Whatever is told to you in confidence is not to be revealed. Assure your speaker that their information is safe with you. They will feel relieved that they have someone with whom they can share their burden without fear of it getting out.

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Keeping someone’s confidence helps to deepen your relationship. Also, “one of the most important elements of confidentiality is that it helps to build and develop trust. It potentially allows for the free flow of information between the client and worker and acknowledges that a client’s personal life and all the issues and problems that they have belong to them.”[4]

Be like a therapist: listen and withhold judgment.

NOTE: I must add here that while therapists keep everything in a session confidential, there are exceptions:

  1. If the client may be an immediate danger to himself or others.
  2. If the client is endangering a population that cannot protect itself, such as in the case of a child or elder abuse.

8. Maintain Eye Contact

When someone is talking, they are usually saying something they consider meaningful. They don’t want their listener reading a text, looking at their fingernails, or bending down to pet a pooch on the street. A speaker wants all eyes on them. It lets them know that what they’re saying has value.

Eye contact is very powerful. It can relay many things without anything being said. Currently, it’s more important than ever with the Covid-19 Pandemic. People can’t see your whole face, but they can definitely read your eyes.

By eye contact, I don’t mean a hard, creepy stare—just a gaze in the speaker’s direction will do. Make it a point the next time you’re in a conversation to maintain eye contact with your speaker. Avoid the temptation to look anywhere but at their face. I know it’s not easy, especially if you’re not interested in what they’re talking about. But as I said, you can redirect the conversation in a different direction or just let the person know you’ve got to get going.

Final Thoughts

Listening attentively will add to your connection with anyone in your life. Now, more than ever, when people are so disconnected due to smartphones and social media, listening skills are critical.

You can build better, more honest, and deeper relationships by simply being there, paying attention, and asking questions that make the speaker feel like what they have to say matters.

And isn’t that a great goal? To make people feel as if they matter? So, go out and start honing those listening skills. You’ve got two great ears. Now use them!

More Tips on How to Be a Better Listener

Featured photo credit: Joshua Rodriguez via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] Skills You Need: Active Listening
[2] Filtered: Body language for active listening
[3] Forbes: People Will Like You More If You Start Asking Follow-up Questions
[4] TAFE NSW Sydney eLearning Moodle: Confidentiality

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