Listen to your Wake-up Call


Happiness after listening to our wake-up call

Genuine, deep down happiness after listening to our wake-up call

We are a recovering, 40-something, Type-A couple who learned that living large is not necessarily living well.

We did all the typical things people do in their 20s and 30s: climb the corporate ladder, get married, buy a house, get divorced, climb the ladder some more, get married again, accumulate more crap, and keep repeating the process like hamsters on a wheel.

We were in love with each other, but not with our lives.

Our Wake-up Call

There are some events that stick in your mind so clearly that you can remember the tiniest details. I, Betsy, can tell you that I had fish for lunch that day at a business meeting and had just returned to my home office to check email.

I was looking out at my favorite tree across the alley, wondering how much longer it would be before it was covered with leaves again, and at the same time thinking it was probably time to take the dog for a walk.

Then the phone rang. The minute I heard my dad’s voice I knew something was wrong. My younger brother Bo had suffered a major heart attack. The prognosis was not good. I remember wailing from the deepest place within me. I don’t remember much else after that.

It took 12 hours to get there. The first sight of him made me physically step back. Seeing the strongest person in my life stretched out on a hospital bed with tubes and wires and a sickly pallor to his skin was almost unbelievable. Every moment I had to keep reminding myself this was really happening.

Thankfully, Bo survived. He had to quit smoking, lose weight, and learn to manage his stress better. He also started taking what will be a lifetime of prescription medications. Each year he goes back for a checkup, and I know it stresses him out until he gets the results. It stresses the rest of us out, too.

This, in combination with our friend Maria’s brain hemorrhage and long recovery the following year, cemented our decision to start living our “someday” dreams now.

This was our wake-up call.

Our Response

Both events shook us to the core, illustrating how little control we actually have over our well-planned future. We decided to focus on what matters and get rid of everything else. We then asked ourselves the question that changed our lives:

‘If we knew we wouldn’t make it to our 40th birthdays, what would we do differently right now?’

At the time we were both well into year 37, and the thought of not making to 40 forced us to focus on what we really wanted in life: world travel. We joked about our ‘crazy’ dream for just a moment before we came to the realization that nothing was stopping us from world travel except ourselves.

How we Made it Happen

We asked that question on September 1, 2008, and spent the next 25 months making our dream a reality. We sold everything we owned, saved a mountain of cash, and started our website. We left on our journey on October 1, 2010, celebrating our 40th birthdays within a few months of our departure.

Our Website

Our Website

Our big dream was a trip around the world, but we found through personal experience that living the life you crave does not need to require a passport and we are still enjoying living the life we didn’t think we could have until retirement.

Special moments in our new life

We have made it our mission to share the practical steps we have taken – and are taking – to live our dream life every day so other people can translate those lessons to their own goals and dreams.

We try to help people figure out what is it they’ve always wanted to do and why they aren’t doing it. These are our favorite questions because they get immediately to the heart of the matter.

We’ve Now Written Three Books!

We wrote our first book, Dream Save Do: An Action Plan for Dreamers, to show people how to flesh out dreams and get to grips with the financial and social tools needed to make them happen.

Then we followed up with Getting Rid of It: Eliminate the Clutter from Your Life, to help free people from the junk that doesn’t serve them anymore.

Finally, to help people say what they want – and get it – we wrote, Strip Off Your Fear: Radiate the Confidence Within.

Our Books

And have Two Websites!

On our website, we share a new article on personal growth every week. These come in the form of how-to guides, interviews with inspiring people, or life lessons from our travels. This is what we call “evergreen” content that is helpful anytime.

We also have another website, RTW Expenses, that details all of our expenses during our travels, helping you to budget accurately if you want to do something similar.

Enjoying time with friends

Enjoying time with friends

And we Help Others by Email

We provide a weekly email for our readers every Sunday morning. It’s a more casual letter from us, an original article inspired by what happened the previous week, updates on reader success stories, and fun extras. It’s a more personal connection and completely different from the blog, if you’re into that sort of thing (and we are!).

Radio Interview

Radio Interview

And we Offer Help via Podcasts!

We also do a podcast every Tuesday where we share a new edition of An Action Plan for Dreamers, a 20-minute podcast where we provide practical and actionable advice about what it takes to create the life you crave.

It’s short enough to listen on your commute or coffee break, but long enough to contain 3-5 practical steps you can take to make your dream life a little bit closer.

Get used to being different.

Get used to being different.

Constant Series of Small Decisions…

We believe life is a constant series of small decisions that most of us leave up to someone else to decide. By taking charge of those decisions yourself – even the smallest ones – you can change your life from:

‘mundane to magnificent!’

Our Life Now

We are now blessed to live an unconventional life of writing books and traveling the world.

It took us 40 years to learn how to live on our own terms, and we share those lessons on our website and in our books. If you are dissatisfied with the life you’re currently living, we invite you to join us in making dreams come true.

More special moments in our new life

Our Advice to Others

Life is short. Live your dream.

Dream about what you want. Research and make plans. Save what you need. But more importantly:

‘TAKE ACTION. Life is too short and too precious to do anything but this.’

If you haven’t had your wake-up call yet, it will come. Think about how you’re going to respond when it does. Then consider starting now to make the changes you want. Why wait until it may be too late?

Have you had a similar experience? Let us know in the comments below. We’d love to hear from you!



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  • Email Betsy directly:  btalbot [at] marriedwithluggage [dot] com
  • Email Warren directly:  wtalbot [at] marriedwithluggage [dot] com

7 responses to “Listen to your Wake-up Call

  1. Thank you Krista for the opportunity to share our story. We love to be able to encourage others to take action and not put off “some day” for another day.

    • My pleasure. I’m happy you were up for sharing! I love how you guys have pointed out that we don’t need a passport to live the life we want. It’s not about travelling the world; it’s about decluttering and focusing on what’s important. There is always a way to change things if we’re displeased. Make a plan and make it happen; tomorrow is a new day.

  2. I started reading your blog a couple of years ago and you two INSPIRED us. There are a lot of expat and travel blogs on the web but the majority of them are written by younger bloggers and, many times, the issues just aren’t relevant. After years of climbing up the career ladder and achieving “success” we also realized that the “American dream” wasn’t what we wanted either and started figuring out how to jump off the treadmill. Your book, Dream Save Do, had some great advice on how to shed our old lives and helped us with our preparations over the year that we took to get ready for our new lifestyle. We’ve been on the road ten months now with no end in sight and looking forward to many more years of travel. Thanks again for your help in starting us down the road. Anita @ No Particular Place To Go

    • Hi Anita, we are delighted to hear that you and Richard have been inspired AND are taking action. That is what we want for all our readers to be motivated to create the life they crave. Congratulations on following your passion and being an example of what is possible once you make the decision and start taking the steps to make it real.

  3. You are 2 beautiful dreamers and kindred spirits! I’m so happy that you decided to take a few unfortunate events and spin the positive, like “how can we live fully NOW?”…as opposed to stepping into a place of fear and saying instead “How can we prevent this happening to us?”.

    I remember 4 years back sitting in my cave office on my computer jealously reading my best friends blog (who was traveling and woofing around central and south america) and wanting so bad to make that happen for myself. It felt impossible at that time…

    I’m happy to tell you both that I made a series of small and large decisions that have improved my life AND have set me up to travel all around Asian this Fall and live in Mexico this Winter. This has been my dream for SOOOOO long and it is unfolding!

    Maybe I will see you “on the road” someday 🙂

    • Anna, that’s a wonderful story! I hope you’ll keep in touch and share your story at some point to also help inspire others! Enjoy your new chapter… Krista


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