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

  • Cindy

    My husband & I have been able to pay off our debts – YIPEE! And now we are saving for our dream – to give and to travel! I am dreaming of giving more than we currently do to several charity organizations: Wellspring Living (a group that helps women and girls restore their lives after being freed from human trafficking and sexual abuse) and Heifer International. Also, like Betsy and Warren, we enjoy traveling, meeting new people, and learning about new cultures and perspectives. I would love to hear the advice they have further than what their website gives.

  • Sandy

    My dream is to retire early (while I still have my sanity) and not constantly be worried about “having enough”.

  • My dream would be to pay off my student loan debt (thankfully not so bad compared to some, but still a significant burden), be able to work as a freelance writer/editor from home so I can be more involved in raising our family, and have the freedom to travel without worrying about taking time off of work or racking up credit card debt.

  • Jo-Ann Georges

    Would love to stop working nine to five to stay home and write and craft and do volunteer work.

  • Madeleine Lawrence

    I’d like to save to finish renovating my old miner’s cottage so that I can work less and live a more self-sufficient lifestyle with my children.
    Thanks for the inspiring read today :)

    Madeleine from Australia

  • Jodi

    We are starting to save to be able to travel. I would love to just be a full time RVer, we have already sold most of our stuff, and are on our way to smaller living.

  • April

    The dream I would like to save for and work towards is paying off my student loan and be able to spend every summer traveling a different part of the world. Other than those things, I am living my dream of staying home with my daughter which minimalism helped me achieve.

  • Layla

    Minimalist nomads with only backpacks… you never cease to inspire me. I’m currently in university, and thanks to my parents, I don’t have any debt (to the bank at least… totally planning on paying my parents back gradually.)

    Right now, I want two different things in life: both the “adventure and constant quenching & tempering of my comfort zone” and the “walking down the street in the fall with my two kids and dog and saying hi to the other mothers and fathers, asking them how their thanksgiving was (canadian thanksgiving is in october).” This is a function of time – travel a lot, settle down and have kids, travel a bit with the kids…

    I want to meet someone who wants the same thing – any of you gentlemen (or ladies) out there interested? Instead of dinner and a movie, I’ll take you on a date to the end of the world (Southern tip of Patagonia) and back.

    Anyway, what I’m trying to say is: very inspiring.

  • Karen

    Always wanting to travel more. Full time travel sounds like the best way to live. I want to save for this dream.

  • Jo Barrett

    My dream is to see the world before I get old….

  • Mrs Brady Old Lady

    My aim in life?
    * A network of friends that can rely on me and that I can rely on – CHECK!
    * A small bedsit with mortgage paid off – CHECK, this month.
    * Savings, so that if/when I get made redudant I can still pay my medical bills and healthy food….

    Here’s hoping for a resounding “CHECK” for everybody!!!

  • Bobbi

    We’ve just gotten rid of a lot of books, furniture, misc stuff that one collects putting a house together with small kids. This summer we had a major water leak which led to remodeling, something we were planning on doing in a few years before we sold the house/downsized. With the kids almost out of the house, our goal is to travel and have experiences, not buy more clothes, knickknacks. The flood just gave us a jumpstart and any ideas for furthering our goals would be greatly appreciated.

  • Jessica R.

    My dream is to be free. To not be tied down by my possessions and save money to have children.

  • Ludmila

    My husband and I have never been in debt, but we’re changing our lifestyles and saving even more to spend three years living in Europe (it will be our home base) and traveling the world. Can’t wait!
    Ludmila from Brazil

  • Lisa Jo

    My 12 year old son and I would like to save enough to go on a school trip to Europe in the Spring. If we don’t make it this coming year we’ll have another chance when he’s an 8th grader. I’ve never been and want to tag along with some experienced travelers. I think I would be nervous to take my family on my own. OK and I would like to have an I Pad. I saw a tutorial for math you can get on it and I’ve convinced myself it would be awesome for my son who struggles with math.

  • Margaret

    My dream is to work full-time writing fiction in a home by the ocean. I feel a need to communicate ideas and thoughts to kids in their adolescent years through fiction. I’ve been in the process of writing for several years, but cannot devote the time and energy to it that I feel it needs. If I could be released from generating an income, I could follow my dream. The ocean part would help fuel my muse.

  • The Tiny Homestead

    We want to have a baby! I’d love to be able to get the house, projects, obligations, debt, etc out of our way so that we can start our family.

  • Tabitha

    My aim in life is to have a small house on a little bit of properity and live lightly on the earth. Grow my own food, have chickens and a goat, and use sustainable practices to live.

  • Emily E.

    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!

  • Melissa

    I dream of escaping the suburban rat race and living somewhere with beautiful natural scenery.

  • Melissa

    My dream is to work even less than I do now (three quarter time) so that I can devote more time to writing and my dog. :) What an amazing inspiration you guys are!!

  • Mayfair

    I would love to be able to quickly pay off our student loans, have a baby, and start my own business. I would like to buy a long-arm quilting machine and quilt other peoples’ quilt tops. That is my dream. If not for my husband’s job, I would also love to live full-time in Paris.

  • Salomão

    horses, yurts, silence…


  • Cath

    Our goal is to purge all our excess Stuff so we can relocate simply and downsize to a smaller house in the spring. We’ve gotten rid of all the Stuff that was easy to let go of, so now we’re left with the things we feel more attached to, or might need “someday”. I am trying to read everything I can to inspire me to LET GO, because holding onto things is pretty ingrained after 40 years!

  • Cathy

    One of my dreams is to be able to volunteer with the Peace Corps. We don’t have much debt, but we do own a house. My SO will finish a doctoral dissertation in the next couple of years. By that time I’d like to have our belongings minimized, so that we could easily rent out our house. And also have enough saved so that we don’t urgently need jobs when our commitment is up.

  • Rachel

    Travel seems to be the common desire, and it is also mine. I want to save enough to travel back to China. I lived in the city of Taiyuan and worked as an ESL teacher for a school year and would like to go back and see more of the country. Would also like to save enough to go back to Germany again. That is a bit easier to save for since I only need to cover travel expenses, since I have a place to stay for free. But the other in-country travel I want to do will cost me a bit more.

  • Lina

    Would love to never again work nine to five, to stay home and create jewelry pieces and do volunteer work….and TRAVEL, big time!!!!

  • shan

    My dream is to retire in two years or less, work part-time from home, help raise grandchildren, and travel.

  • Jaye Wainwright

    I would love to be able to take my daughter on a few overseas trips through high school, so that she can realise the world and its possibilities are bigger than just our day to day little ‘bubble’. For me, it’s my dream to speak several languages (French, Italian, Spanish, Russian and Arabic) and promote language learning for young children and in primary schools, which is often little more than an after-thought at Australian schools. At this very moment I’m selling everything I can in order to move back to the city where my family is, and move in with my mum for a while so that I can finish my degree (French & Italian) and go on to teaching.

  • Max H.

    It’s inspiring to read RLM every week, but a special thanks for sharing your insights after one year of travel!
    I want to go out of dept, save and looking forward to move to the Alps and then have a life (and work) in tourist / sports business.
    I love to show and teach other people the beauty of nature, exploring it by feet, bike, board etc.

    All the best for all of you!

  • Miakat

    Am I unoriginal if I also say travel? I want to road trip across America, tour the cathedrals and castles and scultpures of Europe, scuba dive the Great Barrier Reef in Australia and also see the nautral wonders and fascinating culture of South America! Although not necessarily in that order.

    It is so inspiring to see other people do it, I would love to see more posts like this! xx

  • Katy

    My dream is to change country. I have no idea what I will do when I get there but I know I want to move from Scotland to LA within the next 18months to 2years.

  • My short term dream is to save up enough $$ to make another short film.
    My longer term dream is to have more time to travel and visit friends who live abroad.

  • Cathy

    my dream is to spend time with my grandbaby which will mean traveling on a regular basis.

  • JJ

    My dream is to pay off my condo. I don’t want to live in fear of losing my home so I work everyday to make it my own.

  • Anne Burner

    My dream is to save up enough to live in Kyoto in Japan for a year. Have to pay off student loan debts first, though.

  • Katie Schulz

    I am saving to be able to pay off my little house so that I can survive on a freelance/part-time paycheck and spend the summers with my parents as they age. ♥

  • Sarah F.

    babies and a little farm with lots of space for friends to come and stay…

  • My dream is very similar to theirs! I want to get an RV or Travel Trailer and hit the road full time with my family. This will kind of include starting a home business as well, but I have one in mind. I’d love to win a copy of their eBook!

  • KateR

    I have my sights set on a much simpler lifestyle on an island; hubby is good to go with that but is clinging to the standard N American lifestyle and wondering how we’ll make ends meet. He needs reassurance from people who have been there and are doing that!

  • I’d like to go to Palestine and meet my dad’s side of the family/see my roots, I’m aiming for Ramadan of next year.

  • My dream is to save up enough to move into an RV and travel from NYC to Alaska, then down to South America.

  • Lindsay

    My husband and I are working diligently to pay off our student loans. Once those are done (hopefully in the next three years) we plan to buy a vintage Airstream, remodel it and hit the road full time! We are both working towards jobs that are location-independent and are trying to be as frugal (and minimalistic) as possible!

  • Carmen

    I’m an archaeologist, and my dream/plan is to eventually retire and travel the world volunteering at excavations.

  • This is a great project. It just shows how much life you can have when you let your stuff go!

  • Katherine

    My dream is to pay off student debt and also save for my son’s education.

  • My dream is to pay down all our debts so I can retire at a reasonable age (say 60). At the moment my prospects are to work until I drop! Once retired the world will be my oyster so who knows what dreams I can make into reality! Obviously travel, but also building a garden, spending more time with family and friends – just smelling the roses! Would love to win the ebook.

  • Oh my! This is the coolest. This is our dream, we just have 2 kids so it won’t be quite as easy, but it is still possible. We have sold and now we are saving :)

  • Mary

    My dream is to have enough money to help my Thai friend with breast cancer in Chiang Mai. She is the sole support of her family and handicapped brother. Knowing her makes me a better person!

  • Kelly

    My dream is…. well, I don’t have one. I am living in the present and enjoying it!

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