I am so excited to feature this guest post from Betsy & Warren of Married With Luggage, one of my all-time favorite blogs. Betsy and Warren sold everything they owned, including their home, to realize their dream of traveling the world. This post is about how they turned their dream into their current reality, and how you can too.
About the authors: Longtime readers Warren and Betsy Talbot sold everything they owned to travel around the world. How do you go from a house in the ‘burbs to just a backpack? Find out at Married with Luggage.
You know, we didn’t start out with the idea to travel around the world for 5 years. In fact, our grand travel adventure started with a very basic question:
“Do we really need all this stuff?”
At the time we were in our mid-30s living in a big house in the suburbs of Boston, and we were working and traveling nonstop in pursuit of career advancement and financial security. When we weren’t working, we were spending time and money to maintain the house that was way too big for us or we were buying ourselves rewards to soothe ourselves.
Frankly, it was exhausting.
Our wakeup call came at the Denver airport. You may recall that I said we lived in Boston at the time, right? Well, on this particular day we were both traveling in opposite directions for work, but we were able to meet up at the Denver airport for a drink before heading our separate ways. All we had time to discuss were housekeeping items – bills that needed to be paid, dog-sitting to be arranged, and other details of a life made overly complicated.
When we both got home later that week we decided to make some changes, and we started with that very question: “Do we really need all this stuff?” The term “stuff” eventually came to mean everything that wasn’t directly involved in giving us happiness or contentment, which in our case was practically every single thing about our lives.
First order of business: Stop buying stuff. I mean, why bring more in when we were obviously drowning with what we already had? This was a little bit tough for us because we had gotten into the habit of going shopping every weekend, and now we had to find another way to spend our time. How big of a relationship wakeup call is it when you realize that your main topic of communication has been about purchases or maintenance of purchases.
Second order of business: When nothing new was coming in, we paid more attention to what we already had. This was true for everything from the stock food in the pantry to the clothes in the closet to the furniture in each room. Appreciating and using what you have instead of only seeing the gaps is a pretty profound mind shift in evaluating the happiness of your life.
Third order of business: Once we started changing our attitudes about stuff, we realized the biggest drain of all was our lifestyle. If we were ready to get rid of things that didn’t bring us happiness, why would we be content with jobs and schedules and commutes and responsibilities that kept us from living the life we wanted? We began making lists of what we really wanted and – just as important – the things we no longer wanted in our lives. We realized this meant job changes and a probable move. We made a list of what we wanted in our new lifestyle and then started shopping around for a location and jobs to suit that lifestyle. What a change from our previous job changes and moves!
We ended up in Seattle, one of the 3 cities on our “desired location” list, with jobs that allowed us to commute via foot or shuttle while living in a small place in the perfect location for walking to find everything we needed.
In our new home we explored the kind of social life we never dreamed we could have, lived on far less than we ever expected, and explored hobbies and interests that were previously too time-consuming to even consider. I ran a half-marathon, wrote a novel, and had more friends than ever before. Warren took up photography, learned to build websites, and did a few crazy things like skydiving. Together we started a small consulting business.
With each step we became bolder in defining the life we wanted and saying no to the things that just didn’t fit, no matter how great they sounded. We turned away interesting opportunities that did not fit only to be doubly rewarded with the right opportunities at other times. It was almost like having a compass in hand at all times and only picking destinations that fit our true north.
In time, we determined that our dream was to take trip around the world, giving up everything we owned to satisfy our curiosity about the world around us. As we went through the planning process, our initial goal of a one-year trip became a life-changing five-year plan that involved shedding every material possession back home (including our home). Once we got started, it was really easy to fully commit to this goal and make it even grander than we first envisioned. Less stuff makes that possible.
People often ask us how long it took to plan our dream lifestyle, and we tell them 2 years. In fact, though, we can trace it back to that one question several years ago that started us on the path where a trip like this was possible.
“Do we really need all this stuff?”
Betsy and Warren, wearing everything they own now (literally).
A few photos from the first 120 days of their adventure:
Readers, please feel free to make Comments. And thank you Betsy and Warren for that inspiring guest post.