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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
Featured photo credit: Ibrahim Rifath via unsplash.com