Is there an age bias against older travelers?
It is my impression that you stand in just as good of a position to find work abroad at 40 than you do at 20. If you were 90, then I may say that you might have missed the boat, but you are young, and a lot of overseas companies — such as English schools — would rather hire older, mature, staff than young fickled kids looking for an overseas adventure.
There are plenty of foreign teachers in their 50’s and 60’s traveling the world as English teachers — they are all over Japan, Korea, and China, it is rather amazing. Teaching English abroad has become sort of a retirement option for native English speakers who still have a lot of life in them and want to spend the later portions of their lives on the road.
I would say that the English teaching road may be your best bet, especially with your background in IT. With your age, experience, and native English speaking attributes, I would not doubt that you could land jobs all through Asia — or the rest of the world for that matter — with relative ease.
I would recommend doing a full fledge CELTA course abroad somewhere, or really intense TEFL training. It is surprisingly difficult to learn how to teach English — my TEFL course was the most difficult class I ever took, and I have a university degree (and this sentiment is widely shared). I would say take the longest, most intense English teaching course you can find in a location where you would want to stay for a while. This would make you fully, 100% trained and ready for employment all around the world.
As far as archaeology goes, I would not recommend that route. It takes a really long time to get the degrees and establish yourself in a location you would want to do research in. As far as just being a traveling field archaeologist — like I am — I also would not recommend it. To put it simply: digging holes and battling through briars, shrubs, forest, and jungle, in heat, rain, cold, storms . . . is not what I want to be doing at 50.
I would 100% recommend the English teaching route. The pay is good, the schools often provide you with a place to stay free of charge, pay for your plane tickets, and sometimes even provide you with instruction in the language of the country you are teaching in. It is a good way to travel, meet people, and make the money to keep traveling. The work is also not extremely difficult, and the hours are generally pretty short.
It is good living to pick up work as an English teacher in an interesting location for 6 months to a year, and then travel freely on the money you make for a year, just do find another English teaching job somewhere else and do it all again. This is probably one of the best travel schemes that I know of, as you can mix times of work in a steady location with times of anchorless travel.
Remember that Andy Hobotraveler did not begin traveling until he was in his 40’s, and he has made a good life of it. So I would not worry about much of an age bias, you are still young as far as world travel is concerned!
Original question about working and traveling after 40
Hi Wade –
Interestingly, my best bud is also named Wade – small world.
Anyway, I stumbled upon your site and just want to say great job and thanks for all the help and advice you provide.
I’m 40 y.o. and sit in a cubicle most of the day (yes it does suck), but I have a 15 y.o. son to support and he will be on his own soon enough. I stay in pretty good shape and am looking forward to hitting the road again.
Like you, I’ve been able to spend most of my traveling abroad by working overseas: commercial fishing in Alaska, and doing construction in Japan in the early nineties. It was cool when I’d see tourists spending thousands to see a place where I was living for free (or almost) and MAKING money.
Once I do get back out there, provided I don’t have much cash, I may look into getting an ESL cert or even that archeology school sounds cool. Do you think there is any age bias about any of those options? My God, I hate to think I’m actually getting old…I’m an IT guy, but don’t speak any other languages, but could probably brush up my Spanish in short order.
Where are you now and what are you doing for work? I know you’re busy and probably don’t have much time, but just wanted to say thanks and nice job.