Traveling the World for Life
Betsy and Warren Talbot, of Seattle, Washington, jettisoned their possessions and their careers to be perpetual globe-trotters.
KIPLINGER: WHY THE BIG LIFE CHANGE?
BETSY TALBOT: I was a consultant and Warren was a Microsoft director. Then, in 2007, my younger brother survived a massive heart attack at age 35. In 2008, our vivacious friend Maria, also in her thirties, suffered a brain aneurysm. We asked each other: What would you do now if you knew you wouldn’t make it to your 40th birthday? Both Warren and I wanted to see the world.
How did you prepare? To stay on the road for one year, we figured we’d need to save $36,500, or $100 a day. After accounting for extra income from bonuses, tax refunds, freelance work and things we’d sell, we gave ourselves two years to save what we needed. We wound up with enough for a five-year trip.
What was your saving strategy? We focused on the daily goal instead of the overall goal. We would ask ourselves, “Is this purchase more important than one day on the road?” That “phrase to save” helped us make $100 decisions that increased our savings with minimal effort and angst.
Tell us some of those small saving decisions. I stopped getting my hair colored at the salon. We substituted Netflix for cable. We chose happy hours with friends instead of dinners out, matinee movies instead of evening ones.
What is your life like now? When we finally left in 2010, we had a small business we could run online for ongoing income, and we had absolutely no possessions or debt in the U.S. It’s the ultimate in personal freedom. We carry all of our possessions on our backs and spend anywhere from a week to half a year in fantastic destinations.
Where have you traveled? We started our trip in Ecuador because friends there asked us to housesit for them, and we booked a trip to Antarctica several months later. We stayed in Chiang Mai, Thailand, for six months. Now we are en route to Portugal.
What’s next? We’re committed to living this way for the long run. We’re pretty confident we can slowly travel around the world until we get tired of it, though I can’t imagine that happening.