I'm 30 this month and feel like now is the right and probably the last opportunity I'll get to go travelling. Problem is I don't know where to start and it all seems a bit scary. Where do I go, what do I do for work etc.?Canada and USA has always interested me but the majority of travel sites push Australia which I am also keen on as a 2nd option.
I would be grateful for any advice.
What country do you live in? I'm from Australia and if you're coming from Europe or Asia (or most countries actually) then Australia will seem quite expensive. Accommodation, food, alcohol etc are all more expensive than any of the countries I've visited in Europe (apart from Switzerland). So if you're prepared for that, then all good. If you're tight on money then I'd suggest Asia or somewhere in Eastern Europe.
If you have a look at some travel blogs, they should give you some inspiration on places to visit & tips etc.
Tell us a bit of background and it will be easier for people to advise - where are you from, do you want beaches, cities, history, hiking and mountains, adrenalin and adventure, clubbing?
Re the nearly 30 thing, well if you don't want to slow down then there's no age limit to travelling. I'm 43 and have no plans to stop!
If you are just turning 30, then you have plenty of time to enjoy traveling. People usually keep traveling well into their retirement years. As far as locations go, you need to decide what you find interesting, how much can you afford, and how much time you have. I live in the USA and know that there are places that can be expensive and places that can be cheap. There is much to see in the USA and Canada. It appears that you live in the United Kingdom; therefore, it might be great to start closer to home, like western European countries, and work your way out.
Until your 31st birthday, you can get Working Holiday Visas for both Canada and Australia (and New Zealand). Those allow you to stay and work in those respective countries for up to a year, and are a great way to really get to know a country. The availability of WHVs for Canada is limited, with the latest batch of 2500 for the UK from last week being gone in 12 minutes, so you'd need to watch their website very carefully in order to get in. For Australia and New Zealand there's no quota, and it's super easy to get one.
Forget about working in the USA; they don't want you, and make that abundantly clear.
The culture in all these countries is similar enough to what you're used to that you shouldn't suffer much from culture shock, and you'd constantly be coming across fellow European travellers who'd be doing the same thing.
In Canada, working at the ski resorts seems to be the big thing for backpackers. In Australia and New Zealand it's fruit picking (helped in Australia by this giving you the right to stay for a second year, if you do it for three months or more; see the harvest trail website for details on where you can find what types of fruit picking work at what times of the year). But also plenty of people in all three countries doing regular office work, working at call centers, doing bar work, etc. If you have experience in IT, nursing, or in construction, those tend to be make it super easy to find a job in a relevant field. Fruit picking and bar work tend to have peak seasons, and being in place a couple of weeks ahead of peak season will give you better chances of actually finding work.
It's impossible to plan a full year like this, so don't try. I find it helpful to have some kind of rough itinerary, so that if I don't like a place, I can pick up and just head down to the next destination on the list without having to do much research - but that's really the main purpose of such an itinerary; you should feel free to deviate from it depending on whims, tips from fellow travellers, and the wind direction. Be careful not to get stuck for too long in a single place working; easy money is good, but remember that your purpose is to actually see and experience a country, and that works best by actually moving about every so often.
But a lonely planet for whichever country you'll go to. Don't trust blindly on it, and realize there's way more to see which isn't covered in it, than actually worthwhile things which are covered - but all the same it's good to have one as a first guide to what all is around and worthwhile, and for just the practical information.
For whatever it's worth, I've spent significant time in all these countries, and found New Zealand to be the most worthwhile; it has as many gorgeous sights as any of them, but they're packed in the smallest area, with absolutely superb infrastructure for getting around. All of them are extremely worthwhile though, so you just can't go wrong.
Which country are you from? I think Asia is a great place because it's a lot cheaper and most of them you can get by without speaking the local language.
As per other posts, you are never too old to travel but if you want a working visa age limits will apply.
I'm biased towards Australia as. I find it a fantastic country.
so much so I'm going again in October and I'm 45
Your comment about age 30 being your last opportunity to travel made me laugh. I am 57 and have no intention to stop travelling for a number of years yet. My parents only gave it up when my mum was too ill to leave home, at age 82. Age is but a number.
As for where to go? How long are you looking to travel for? Just a few weeks or a couple of years? Are you looking to pack up your home and pack in your job, or just taking an extended leave? Have you approached your employer to see if they will give you a year off unpaid? Many do.
If you are looking to work abroad, Europe / USA / Canada / Australia are probably your best options. If you are looking for somewhere reasonably cheap to hang out for a few weeks, try South East Asia.
Without more information it is almost impossible to give you more than just basic advice.