Real Life Minimalist Update (and Giveaway!): Betsy and Warren Talbot

Betsy + Warren Talbot

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

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 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 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!

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201 comments to Real Life Minimalist Update (and Giveaway!): Betsy and Warren Talbot

  • Alison

    We’re currently saving so we can sell our house and start traveling when our daughter graduates from high school. I want to be mobile enough and have flexible enough spending to spend a little time here or there as the mood takes us while still being available to support our daughter. Our countdown is ten years!

  • This is easily the most inspirational blog post that I have read in a while. Since childhood I have said it’d be so nice to pack everything into one bag and just go. Now as a mom of two, I encourage others to travel with their babies even if society says it’s impossible. Afterall, they’re only “this big”! My dream is definitely to pair down my life enough to just fly anywhere and take my awesome kids along for the journey! Thanks for the posts!

  • Ironically my dream is somewhat the opposite of theirs. It is to own a home. But of course being able to visit family and friends often is part of that dream too.

  • Robin

    I would save so that instead of being an associate veterinarian, I could afford to volunteer services for pet therapy for the elderly, autistic children,and pets for veterans returning from Afghanistan and Iraq. I’d also like to spend time performing spays/neuters on shelter animals.

  • Joyce

    This has been one of the best weeks of my life. I by chance found “Miss Minimalist” (read it in a day) and I had to read “The Joy of Less”. This has been such a great journey! I have been decluttering this week and having dreams of the life I’m going to have this year. I could not even image the lifestyle of Betsy & Warren before this week but now I’m motivated to get to a point that I can travel at a moments notice and experience life too. I’m giving myself 5 years to reach this goal but if I continue to make progress like I have this week I may get there well before that! Thank you Francine, I have so much joy that has been lost (in all the clutter) for a long time.

  • meghan K

    My husband and I are saving so I can become a nurse and work anywhere in the country. Location independence comes in many forms, mine will be in the form of a non-internet based skill. I would work on short contracts and we would bike tour from one city to the next. He’s never seen so much of our own nation, much less the world and we want to explore it together.

  • Kristin

    I’d like to save so I don’t HAVE to work. Maybe I could volunteer or find a career I truly enjoy.

  • Lois

    It is my dream to recover from the disastrous financial issues of the last couple of years – I have minimized, down-sized, sold, given-away, and re-defined my life and now I want to move on.

  • Anna

    Our dream is to buy a camper so that we can travel across Europe. Since I can’t sleep in a place that has wireless systems or cell towers nearby I can’t travel with my family or go to stay with friends anymore. If we buy a camper we could shield it from radiation and be able to go for vacation and visit friends again.

  • Kristina

    Our dream is in place and we are working towards it.
    Trying to get rid of (almost) everything and embark on a journey also. Not planning any more ahead than that. See where life leads.
    The book would be so helpful in working thru the kinks we don’t see yet :-)
    By this time next year we hope to be underway.

  • Rob

    I love interviews w/w&b … I’m sorting out my life to have more travel and experiences, and less stuff! Having spent 20 years accumulating house and associated stuff, I realize I prefer a more nomadic, or at least smaller lifestyle. W&b are inspirations!

    Don’t put me on the list for the book -I’ve already arranged my own copy.

  • Wow! What an inspirational story. My husband and I would like to start saving for all the costs of adoption so we can begin that process sooner. Thanks for the giveaway opportunity!

  • LaRinda

    I would love to be able to afford the technology needed to take our house “off the grid.” In addition my husband and I would love to be able to travel during the winter months!

  • Lynn

    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!

  • Shannon

    I would love to be able to afford to travel with my toddler comfortably around the world. My husband, her daddy travels and works around the world and we usually are unable to travel to meet him. It would be wonderful to have the opportunity to win this book!

  • Shawna

    This is such a nice story! I want to save up so I can continue my graduate studies with decent grades and be able to get a job I love upon graduation.

  • Kelly

    Like Kristen, I’d love to have the option of not working or being able to work part-time to have more time for the important things in my life…my family and my fur kids. :)

  • I’d LOVE to save for some property, so I can escape from suburbia!! And have chickens, goats, rescued anything, and just live off the land! Nothing could be better!

  • Jen M.

    Such a great story. I would love to read their book and learn how I can increase my saving so that I can travel more as well.

  • Angie

    To have a child (we can’t have one the traditional way) and then to be able to be a stay at home mom once that bundle of joy arrived : )

  • I would love to have a copy of this book! I would love to save up for backpacking through Europe (a summer? a year? 5 years?!) and also to be able to work for myself later as a massage therapist. <3 Heather

  • I like this approach. I’m middle aged and have started to prune things down already. Just so many things to work on…

  • Sweenan A. Mornstuy

    I’m minimizing, simplifying, and saving so I can finally realize my lifelong dream of being a musician.

  • “Everything in our bags contributes to enjoying the life we love, and there is not one thing extra to weigh us down.”

    Great tip for our lives too!

    Terrific interview and great to hear their doing well.

    I dream of RVing around the world fulltime, shipping the small, van-sized, poptop, stealth RV to different continents!

  • Beverley

    I would love to be able to afford to work part time and travel part time.

    Thank you for the update – very inspirational.


  • Kyle

    I would love to save for a small place of my own. A place my daughter can call her forever home, regardless of where life takes her as she grows. A small place with a right-sized plot of land for chickens and an organic garden. A place that’s more about living outside, than inside. For this, I’d give up just about any modern “convenience.” No television, no cell phone, no extra stuff. The less stuff I have to store, the more room I’d have to live. I’ve only just begun on my path to becoming a minimalist, emptying out closets, taking Warren and Betsy’s No Shopping Challenge, and currently reading the book “Your Money or Your Life,” realizing just what a waste money is of my valuable time.

  • James

    After I save up three or four months’ worth of an emergency fund, I’d love to save up and pay for my PhD – in cash! I’m currently working on my MA, and I have less than six thousand dollars left on that.

    Also, I echo what Minimalist Mommi stated just above – that sounds very enticing to me. :) After getting rid of my TV early this year, my eyes are opening to the world around me again. I feel like the little kid I was several years ago, eager to learn about the world around me! :)

  • I agree with Kristin…I’d like to save so I don’t have to work. I’ll have several projects and mini businesses but not have to worry about going to an office each day.

  • Doug K.

    As the world gets crazier and crazier both economically and politically (at least from my point of view), I’m starting to wake up to the fact that I have to dig out from under all the detritus of 48 years of accumulation: possessions, debt, mental/emotional baggage and what have you. The ultimate goal would be to become once again the master of my own destiny. I long to live like Betsy and Warren do and return to some of my favorite places in the world–and explore new ones. And all before it’s too late…

    Thanks for blazing the trail and sharing your experiences–and continuing to give me inspiration!

  • Lora

    My husband and I are in the process of selling extraneous items and paying off our house so that we can travel the world and think about new ways to earn income so that we’re not tied down to living full time in one area. Thanks for the random chance to win! :-)

  • Kurkela

    Oh to have an opportunity to fly like this at least for a while… My three small children are anchors strong enough for many years to come. Still, not all my hopes are lost yet. I still believe there will come a day when I will be writing from the other side of Earth – or at least from another country… I was a traveller before I got married, and there are times when it is oh so hard to stay where I am… You are so right, guys, to do what you are doing.

  • we have already downsize from an apartment to a fifth wheel RV. We have a few years of rebuilding our finances before we can consider our dream of traveling to different campgrounds and being work hosts. in connection with that dream, my husband would like to help ministries with their computer needs, and I would like to help us port the women in those ministries. We would like to do that for free, so our lifestyle needs to be as minimal of cost as possible.

  • Sue

    I would love to be able to own my own home, free and clear! No house payment would free my finances up to be able to make lots of other dreams come true.

  • Mike

    I would love to leave my soul crushing job in IT and study Forestry. The sustainability aspect is encouraging to me and I feel like it is more impotent than serving corporate fat cats all day. I have already given away a ton of possessions (and now my friends think I am considering suicide!) and am trying to talk my wife into getting rid of stuff (cable tv etc) but she wants a new kitchen table and other crap; small steps! I’ll get through to her yet.

  • et

    “NO reason why anyone can’t do it” – the voice of (unacknowledged) privilege

    Not entering the book draw

  • Ann

    We have started a college fund for our two yr old son. But I’d like to start saving extra money for him, too. I’d like to show him the world through travel and experiences.

  • I would love to travel to Vietnam with my dad.

  • My husband and I have always had a dream to move to Uruguay and live on the beach.

  • Jennifer

    I would LOVE to travel, stay debt free, spend more time with friends and family and break free from the rat race!

  • Pat

    I would love to be able to own a tiny RV and travel around the US with my dog.

  • Sharon

    I would love to be able to save enough money to be able to move with my pets to a house with a large yard (in the city where I live now, that is almost impossible unless you are a millionaire). The house size is unimportant — I’d love at least two acres for my dogs.

  • Donna

    I would love to have a copy of this book. My husband would like to retire sooner than later to enable us to possibly move to a warmer climate for my health. It would enable us to have more quality time together.

  • Jamie

    Great post today! I am saving so that I can start my own business providing conflict resolution guidance to others via mediation, facilitation, and speaking engagements.

  • Mich

    Like a lot of people I’m sure, my dream is to travel and see all the places that have been on my wish list for decades! I have been talking about taking a trip to Europe for more than 10 years…and yet I can’t seem to even START a savings account with that goal in mind. Hopefully I can find some help in Dream Save Do.

  • Katie

    My husband and I are saving so we can buy/build a small house and some property so we can grow fruits and veggies, have our own U-pick and microbrewery, add a few tiny homes on the back property as little vacation cottages, and be sustainable on our small homestead – all while staying debt free and leaving our 9-5 jobs. So excited about our future!

  • We are saving so that we can buy a small home and possibly a plot of land with as little mortgage as possible. I’m already staying home with my daughter and we have a pretty dreamy life:)

  • Diane

    I dream of a long cross country trip with my husband of 17 years!

  • amybee

    I would like to take a trip to India with my daughter.

  • Ideealistin

    I dream of owning a place someday but without working myself to death for it. So I approach it from two sides: trying to save money AND trying to downsize posessions so I can be happy with a smaller place.

  • Lucy

    Time to end my packrat tendencies. Simply put I want less stuff, more money & more time to do the things I love.

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