Update: The giveaway is now closed, and the winners are announced at the bottom of this post!
I always love to hear updates from my Real Life Minimalists, and find out what they’ve been up to since they shared their stories here with us. And boy, do I have a treat for you today—a special RLM update from Betsy and Warren Talbot of Married with Luggage!
The last time we heard from Betsy and Warren was over a year ago. At the time, they had just sold their house, and almost all of their possessions, and were planning to embark on a four-year journey around the world. I recently had the pleasure of catching up with them, and thought you’d enjoy learning where they are now…
F: So, please fill us in! Where in the world are you, and what have you been doing for the past year?
B+W: We are currently in Germany, and we have spent the last year traveling around South America, dodging a volcano, hiking the Andes, dipping down to see the penguins in Antarctica, and then cruising up the Atlantic to England as the only passengers on a repositioning polar cruise ship (for free, no less!). We spent the summer touring around Europe, house sitting and visiting with friends, and we just celebrated our one-year anniversary of travel. It has been a whirlwind year!
F: You made a radical lifestyle change to live your dream. What role did minimalism play?
B+W: There is no way we could be living the life we have now if we had not started on the path to minimalism five years ago. We already knew the basics, so it was fairly easy to kick it into high speed 3 years ago as we decided to go on this journey. Because we sold everything we owned – house, car, possessions, even the kitchen sink – we are now mobile enough to move at moment’s notice, taking advantage of every opportunity for adventure. Everything we own fits into 2 65-L backpacks. We could not have such a full life if it was still crammed with stuff. In fact, had we not started minimizing in the first place we would never have even been able to entertain the idea of long-term travel. I would say that minimalism is the key to our new lifestyle, both in realizing we could actually do this crazy thing and in the day-to-day of living it.
F: How does it feel to live out of a suitcase? Do you ever miss having a house, furniture, or the myriad other possessions that typically fill our lives?
B+W: We get this question a lot! The things we miss from our previous life all revolve around people – the friends and family that we see less often in our new life, but that we make a point to stay in touch with via Skype and email more than before. We do not miss any single possession that we owned before. In fact, it would be hard to even try to remember most of them. This concept seems harder for people to understand than anything else we have done – saving money, spending 24/7 together, giving up careers – and I think I know why. I struggled with my pack rat tendencies all my life, and if someone had told me 10 years ago I’d be living out of a backpack, I would not have believed them.
F: What have you found to be the greatest challenge of a nomadic life? The greatest reward?
B+W: The biggest challenge remains being apart from our family and friends. We still stay in touch for all the important things, but we do miss 1000 little things. Our friends and family miss those little things in our lives, too, since there is no way we could put every experience in our blog.
For that one downside, though, there are a myriad of pluses. Our relationship – which was good to start – is now rock-solid. Once you plan and save for a big adventure like this, follow through with it, and live with your partner 24/7 through some of the biggest highs and scariest lows of your life, you will either make or break your relationship. Second, there is a huge confidence boost that comes with exploring the world and negotiating your way through transportation, lodging, and communication difficulties, not to mention the joy you get from meeting new people and experiencing some of the most beautiful places on earth. And last, the feeling of complete freedom – that you can go anywhere you want anytime you want and stay as long as you want. Everything in our bags contributes to enjoying the life we love, and there is not one thing extra to weigh us down.
F: What’s your favorite experience of your journey so far?
B+W: The people, definitely. Both the people that we have become, the people we get to meet and befriend, and the people who get to see what average Americans are like instead of relying on caricatures of us from the media. We are learning and teaching as we go, and for curious people like us, it is a perfect kind of life.
In terms of specific places, though, we would both say Antarctica is pretty spectacular.
F: You’ve recently written an ebook called Dream Save Do – very exciting! What’s it all about?
B+W: We wrote this guide to show everyday people how simple it is to take control of money and focus it toward living the life you really want instead of sustaining the one you don’t. People ask us every day how we managed to create this fantastic life because they want to do it for themselves – maybe not to travel the world, but who doesn’t want a chunk of money to chase a dream?
The guide is over 100 pages of practical steps, inspirational nuggets, and the creative financing strategies we used to amass the cash for our dream, and it also includes videos from us as well as credit card debt reduction expert Adam Baker of Man vs. Debt. Last, just because we want there to be NO reason why anyone can’t do it, we have included a 3-month email followup system to help keep readers on track. We’ve done everything we can to set up an environment for success. You can learn more (and get a launch day price discount on October 18) at www.DreamSaveDo.com.
F: What are your plans for the future?
B+W: As I write this, we are heading to the airport in Germany to fly to Thailand. We’ll be staying there for the next six months as we work on our website development business and write in an effort to fund our dream long-term. You see, once you accomplish a big goal like this, the stakes keep getting higher. We’re no longer satisfied with 3 or 4 years of travel. We want to make this a lifestyle, living and working around the world at our own pace and on our own terms. So stay tuned for much more from Married with Luggage. We’re just getting started!
Feeling inspired? Well, generous souls that they are, Betsy and Warren have offered to give away 3 free copies of their new ebook, Dream Save Do, to Miss Minimalist readers.
To enter, all you need to do is leave a Comment and tell us what dream you’d like to save for (traveling full-time? starting a business? staying home with the kids?).
I’ll keep the giveaway open until Monday, Oct. 17, at 5pm EDT, and use the random number generator at Random.org to select the winners. Please use the email address at which you’d like to receive the ebook; if you win, I’ll be passing it along to Betsy and Warren so they can email it to you!
The 3 winners (selected via the number generator at Random.org) are…
Lynn, who on October 14th, 2011 at 11:01 am wrote:
Thanks for the really nice interview, I love reading about people who have made it possible to travel long term. That, indeed, is my dream too and what I am saving for!
tara, who on October 14th, 2011 at 4:09 pm wrote:
I dream of being able to stay at home with my son and work from home doing some kind of writing. And I could then grow a big garden to help me live more off the land.
Emily E., who on October 16th, 2011 at 2:48 pm wrote:
My dream would be to pay off student loan debt, become a lecturer who travels all over and meets interesting people, and to have a family of my own that I can afford to take on trips all over the world. I would love to write a book and my all time fantasy destination is Africa. I love this couple’s story and inspiration!
Congratulations to Lynn, tara, And Emily E., and thanks to everyone who participated–it was so inspiring to read about all of your dreams!