How much would it cost you to live your dream?

Today I’m honoured to have a guest post from Warren Talbot, one half of the truly inspiring Married With Luggage team. I had the pleasure of meeting Warren (and his wife Betsy) back in June and came away from the day feeling more determined than ever to pursue my dreams…….their enthusiasm is infectious.

How much would it cost you to live your dream?

What if your dream is to travel around the world for a year? Seriously, take a guess. The final figure may surprise you as much as it did us.

On October 1, 2010 my wife, Betsy, and I left Seattle for a 5 year trip around the world. We spent the previous 2 years planning our escape, saving like mad, and selling everything we owned to make this a reality.

Making that decision was hard (sorry for the gross understatement here), but trying to determine a budget proved to be a nightmare. We spent hours pouring over websites trying to glean some knowledge that could help us. The challenge was not simply a lack of information, but the fact we found huge variances in the amounts people spent on similar trips. One couple spent over $100,000 skipping between resorts and private tours. Another slept in hammocks on beaches and shared dorms and spent just $15,000 in a year. Where would that put the budget for two 40-year olds not interested in sleeping in a dorm room or in resort living?

Talking about money

As you know people are uncomfortable talking about money. It remains one of the few taboo topics left, and thus why it was so refreshing to find Laura here at Move to Portugal. Finding someone that willingly shares her financial goals, as well as tracking progress, is a breath of fresh air. Plus, it has made us more comfortable sharing our own goals.

We decided that we would tear down this taboo and try to help future long-term trip planners. Upon departure we started tracking every expense for each day we are on the road. We have collected all this information and share it with others through monthly summaries of what we have spent. Our monthly posts have received a lot of requests for more details, so we decided to launch a new website to give more insight and tips into our around the world trip expenses. The new site, RTW Expenses provides charts of our expenses to date, summaries of each month’s expenses, and money saving tips from our experience. In addition, we are collecting tips from other travelers to help provide readers with hard-learned lessons.

How much did we spend?

Now that we are almost a year into our trip the numbers have surprised us. As of August 2011 we have spent less than $20,000 to travel through South America, the UK and now into Europe. This figure is well below what we budgeted and we have not skimped on the amount of fun and enjoyment we are getting out of this trip.

Lessons Learned:

Here are 5 lessons we have learned during this trip to help keep your next trip costs down:

  • Discounts: When you know you’ll be in a place for a while, sign up for Living Social or Groupon in the area and scout for deals. You can get your hair cut, enjoy good meals, and even indulge in a few activities at a much cheaper rate by doing this. We used this a lot back in Seattle for everything from dinners to trapeze lessons and loved trying it out in the UK on our travels.
  • Food: Dining out can quickly eat into your budget. Scoping out local markets where they serve food or finding restaurants that cater to the local population can greatly reduce the amount you must spend each day. Eat where the locals eat, and don’t be afraid to try street food.
  • Lodging: House-sitting can be a wonderful alternative and a great way to see the world. Check out these 2 great articles for more information:
  • Married with Luggage article: How to See the World by House Sitting
  • Hecktic Travels blog (by the wonderful Pete & Dalene Heck): House Sitting 101
  • Planning: When splurging, look for ways to economize. We stayed in a nice hotel for a week, but we bought sandwich food, fruit, and wine to make our own meals. We spent a bit more on the nicer place but by planning out some meals in advance we saved a good amount of money.
  • Transportation: If the cab is not metered, ask in advance how much it will cost and agree to a price before you leave. We learned this lesson the hard way and I still kick myself thinking about it.

Do you have a dream to travel long-term? Let us know, we’d love to connect.

About the Author:

Warren is one-half of the Married with Luggage team. He left his corporate career to follow his dream of seeing the world. He is now pursuing new passions of cooking, photography, and enjoying life on a different path.


  1. says

    Laura, thank you for much for allowing me to share this information with your audience. We have been big fans of your site for a long time and it was wonderful to finally meet in person. We look forward to staying in your spare bedroom in Portugal when you land and get settled!

    • says

      Warren Thank you for writing such an informative post. A lot of people are held back from following their dreams because of money. You guys dispel the myth that you need ‘mega bucks’ to do it. Hopefully I’m doing the same ;)

      My home is your home!

  2. Carla says

    I’ve read a bit from Married With Luggage & find them fascinating!! I would LOVE to do that, but hubby is a total opposite & definitely would not go for something like this. I do love to live vicariously through others though! ;)

    • says

      I love to live vicariously through other too and although we all have different dreams the principles that Warren and Betsy follow would work for whatever you want to do…buy less stuff…live simply…live free :)

    • says

      Hi Carla,
      Having a shared dream is something we are fortunate to have found. We each have separate passions that don’t excite the other person, but on the dream of travel we happen to see eye-to-eye. Ironically, the path leading up to leaving was not always easy.

      Betsy is a self-admitted pack-rat, so selling everything we owned was tough (to say the least). It was a multi-year process together to identify what was holding us back from our dream. In the end, we agreed that our stuff was holding us down. However, this overly simplifies years of discussions (ok, arguments) and not agreeing on what we could live without. In the end we are partners in life and thus we need to talk though issues. Here we are now living a dream we never knew was possible. But without all those daily discussions we never would have gotten here.

      Good luck in your journey together, wherever it may be.

  3. Anna says

    Well, my husband and I are about to (2012) embark on this same adventure! Thank you for your site Warren.

    • says

      Anna, so exciting. I absolutely loved our 2+ years of planning and preparing for our trip. We changed so many of our ideas about ourselves and what we want in life during this time, in some ways more than since we left.

      Enjoy every moment. If you ever have any questions, please don’t hesitate to reach out to us at info (at) marriedwithluggage (dot) com.

  4. Maria says

    Thank you so much for sharing your figures and experience about travelling around the world. Maybe dh and I can do it in a few years…great idea about the housesitting.

  5. says

    Warren, this was so fascinating to me! I will spend some time reading your adventures, and perhaps it will get me motivated to travel more! Sometimes I get that feeling of wanting to get away, but after about 5 days I want to be home again, so this would be a biggie for me!

    My dreams are small right now…I’ll have to dream a bit bigger!

    Thanks Laura and Warren, this was fun to read!

    • says

      Hi Sharon,
      Regardless of what your dream may be (travel, starting your own company, getting out of debt) the key is to know what that dream is and commit to going for it. We had some family/friend health scares that jolted us into action. However, the big effort for us was not the process of selling everything to take this trip. The most challenging part was the first step.

      Also, before we went on this trip neither of us had ever been on a vacation longer than a week. Now, almost 11 months in this adventure we cannot imagine anything else.

      Good luck in your exploration as I hope you find what you are motivated to do.