I am sad to say that I’m too old for a working holiday visa. (If you’re under 30, however, read this.) The worst part about the whole thing is that I wasn’t even aware that working holiday visas existed until I was over the age of 30! Imagine my excitement, and then the immediate crushing of dreams that occurred when I learned that working holiday visas existed (hooray!), and then immediately learned that you have to be under 30 to take advantage of them (wait….WHAT?!?!). I seriously went through the five stages of grief on this one.
Denial: It can’t be true. It just can’t. Maybe they won’t know I’m over 30. I can get a fake ID! Maybe I can convince them. I’m still young and spry! I’m not too old! I can still do this!
Anger: How could they do this to me? It’s not fair! I can bartend or wait tables just as well as somebody under 30! What, do they think we’re all old and decrepit as soon as we aren’t in our 20’s any more? What a load of crap! Just because I’m over 30 doesn’t mean I shouldn’t be able to travel. Older people still want to live life too! How could they? WHY?
Bargaining: Maybe I can convince them. Maybe if I explain my situation to them they will understand and make an exception for me…
Depression: I’m never going to get to go anywhere. It’s over. I’m over 30 and all the opportunities in the world are closed off to me.
Acceptance: I guess it is what it is. I’ll just have to look for other ways.
After my battle with the five stages of grief, I indeed did start looking for other ways to make it happen. Sure, it would have been nice to be able to get a working holiday visa and go on a grand adventure, but it truly isn’t over after age 30, and there are indeed ways to still make it happen. Here are some options for those of you who, like myself, find it ridiculous that life should settle down into a boring routine of not traveling the world after age 30.
And if you’re under 30 and reading this…seriously, go either study abroad or get yourself a working holiday visa before it’s too late. (info)
No working holiday visa? No problem!
Some resources for the rest of us:
If you have a college degree and happen to be a native English speaker (that is, a citizen of a country where English is the primary language), you are eligible to become an English teacher and work in countries all over the world teaching English to students young and old alike! There is some certification needed, but as somebody who has gone through the process to get a TEFL certificate, it’s not too hard or expensive and can be done online. There are a lot of options for TEFL certificates so just look online and find the one that works best for your schedule and budget.
Boat Crew Member
It’s possible to find work on sailboats as part of the crew, which can take you all over the world. This article does a great job of explaining all about the process, requirements, and expectations you should have if you want to go this route:
This is an online listing of farms, lodges, ranches, B&B’s and hostels that are willing to take in volunteers to help out in exchange for food and accommodations. This isn’t paid work and won’t help you get an extended work visa, but if you’re looking for a way to curb your costs as you travel around the world, this can be a great way to stretch your budget.
For U.S. citizens, you can always join the Peace Corps! They are somewhat like the military in that they recruit and then deploy their members to areas around the world for a contracted amount of time, but instead of doing military stuff you’ll be doing things like building schools, teaching kids, helping install running water, or other projects to help the community where you are stationed. It’s a great opportunity to travel and see the world.
Ok, so this isn’t a work opportunity at all but if you’re looking to travel the world long-term and you don’t exactly have a lot of money, you might want to look into couch surfing. It’s an online community of people who are willing to open their homes to travelers in exchange for a little conversation and help around the house. Don’t treat this like a hotel though, you’ll be a guest in somebody’s home, so it’s a good idea to bring them a little gift and maybe cook dinner one night or something. Also, couch surfing is a community based on trust and referrals. People are understandably nervous when they allow strangers to enter their homes, so if you’re looking to go this route you might want to start out by attending some local couch surfing meetups and making a few friends who will attest to the fact that you aren’t a serial killer before you go.
If you’re a homeowner (especially if you’re a homeowner in a desirable travel area) you might want to look into house swapping when you go on your next trip. How it works is you list your home on the site, browse for openings when and where you want to travel to, and exchange your home while you’re away. Instead of having to rent a hotel room, you’ll stay for free in exchange for other travelers staying at your house.
Get a Job
This one might be a little trickier, but if you have specialized skills of any sort, you can always apply for work abroad. Some countries have desired skill lists that will get fast-tracked work visas. Other industries will hire people from abroad and assist them with the work visa process. You would need to look into the places you might be able to go for your particular line of work, but it never hurts to do a little research and apply for openings. I’ve had several friends who have been able to work abroad in places such as the United Kingdom, Poland, the Netherlands, Korea, and China in this way, and I have other friends who have moved here to the U.S. on company sponsored work visas. Look into it! You just might get lucky.
Have you managed to get yourself an extended visa to live abroad or figured out a way to travel long term? I would love to hear some of your tips!