real life

They quit their jobs, sold all their possessions and changed their lives.

Dear us, five years ago,

You’re feeling pretty good about yourselves right now, aren’t you?

You spent the last two years creating your big dream, and tonight at 11:55 pm, you step on the plane and start living it.

The world is out there waiting for you, and you’ve made certain there is nothing left for you to come back to; the house, the car, the furniture?—?it’s all gone, sold on Craigslist or donated to friends and strangers.

Most 40-year-olds don’t sell all their possessions, quit their jobs, and take off with only backpacks and one-way plane tickets to South America.

Betsy and Warren Talbot.

But after those health crises in two people you loved?—?people your age?—?you felt the call to explore your dreams to the max while you had your health.

You think you covered it all, planning, spreadsheeting and budgeting like the Type-A professionals you are.

But you missed something. Something big.

Something far more important than the money you saved or the possessions you sold. This preparation would have protected you more in the coming years than all those vaccinations you got at the travel clinic. And it wouldn’t have cost you a dime.

But it’s too late. Your plane is leaving soon, and you’ll just have to learn it the hard way.

Here’s what you’re going to learn over the next few years.

Warren and Betsy on the Great Wall of China.

When you lean into challenges together, you’ll find better solutions.

Your first destination is going to erupt into a political drama, an attempted coup by the police against the president, who will hole up in a hospital surrounded by the military. Tires will burn in the streets. The airport will close. You will not speak the language and you will not know anyone.

The only option will be to depend on each other. You will work out a plan: if this, then that. You will assign roles. You will trust each other like never before. You’ll even feel a little cocky at the end of the ordeal, as if you personally saved the nation.

After you’ve gotten through this, you’ll wonder why you ever fought internally over external problems. Why did you so often need to question each other instead of working together to solve a problem? Why was it more important to be right than to find a solution?

You’ve learned that when you band together, you stop blaming and start fixing.

What drives you crazy about each other now you’ll learn to appreciate?—?and successfully utilize?—?later.


Yes, Warren can be a little bit of an over-planner. Yes, Betsy can be dreamy and impractical. Your biggest fight in that first month will be Betsy complaining that Warren is a control freak and Warren complaining that Betsy uses him as a tour guide.

Warren and Betsy set off with their backpacks, a one way ticket, and each other.

You’ll both be right.

But soon, you’ll start appreciating each other’s talents: the wild ideas Betsy has for your next adventure and the efficient and creative ways Warren has of making them happen.

You’ll think of all the times in the past when you silently begrudged each other’s quirks; the way you each rolled your eyes and fought when things didn’t go your way.

After two years on the road, the oddities are what you’ll learn to love about each other. When Betsy says she wants to cross an ocean, Warren will find a way to make it happen. When Betsy discovers an ancient Mongolian contest of skill in a novel, Warren will create a six month journey across Asia and Europe to see it.

Couples who learn to complement each other discover the benefits of being with someone who is not a mirror image. You don’t have to be perfect because your significant other can fill in the gaps. Suddenly, those annoyances become lifesavers.

Adventure is out there.

When you trust each other completely, you’ll be more open to opportunity.

Backpack for 500 miles along ancient paths on the Lycian Way in Turkey? You’ll do it. Walk the West Highland Way in Scotland for a week, scaling craggy rocks and crossing heather-filled moors in the driving wind and rain? You’ll do that too. Your ageing bodies will accomplish more in your 40s than they did in the two previous decades combined.

Trusting each other means you don’t have to look for guarantees in the outside world. You can take bigger risks, roll with the punches, adjust your sails, and make lemons out of lemonade.

You have each other and that makes you feel like nothing is impossible.

When you learn to be the hero for each other, you’ll never feel helpless again.

Despite all your preparations, some things will still go spectacularly wrong.

When you travel to Mexico, you’ll rent a house from a crazy old man. But you won’t know he’s crazy until his morning drinking session results in an attack on Warren over a lawn chair. Betsy will find you both a new rental and get you packed up and moved out within an hour. She’ll also get your money back.


Several months later, Warren will play the hero when Betsy’s backpack is stolen on a train to Budapest, cancelling credit cards, changing passwords, and applying for a new passport at the US Embassy while still aboard the train. He’ll take care of the logistics, including finding the police station to file a report.

You are never going to forget the Budapest police station.

Bad stuff is still going to happen to you, but you’ll get better at responding to it. You’ll always look out for each other, stepping in to comfort instead of blame when things go wrong, to fix instead of fixate. To the outside world, you are impenetrable, always protecting each other from harm

It’s the two of you against the world and you like those odds.

Betsy and Warren cowrote Married With Luggage.

When you become partners, you’ll never think any problem is impossible to solve again.
You begin this journey as husband and wife, but over time, you’ll become partners. This word better encompasses the mentality it takes to weather big challenges.

It’s not always a 50/50 split, of course. Nothing is. But you know where one of you lets off and the other picks up the slack.

Because you love the freedom of this lifestyle, you’ll find a way to make a living that allows you to keep it. You’ll cobble together an income by writing books, teaching courses, and hosting a podcast. You probably won’t ever earn as much money as you do right now, on the eve of cashing your last paycheck, but that won’t matter. And over the course of the next few years, you’ll know that this is the right decision for your relationship. No questions. No doubts.

Over the next five years you’ll take tens of thousands of photos, witness incredible human events, and see the best and worst Mother Nature has to offer. You’ll discover that, despite our surface differences, people around the world are very much the same at the core.

You expect most of that, or at least a version of that.

But what you don’t expect now is what you’ll learn about love, trust, opportunity, and partnership. This is a journey you could have had?—?should have had?—?before ever leaving home.

A journey of partnership available to every single couple in the world.

You’ll use this newfound magic to continue achieving dreams together for the rest of your lives.

Don’t screw it up! We’re counting on you.

Bon voyage,

Betsy and Warren

Betsy Talbot is a forty-something traveler and author. When she’s not on the road or penning books about love, adventure, and self-discovery, she is hiking, learning flamenco dancing, and drinking wine in a tiny village in Spain with her handsome, long-haired husband Warren. (Watch out, Fabio!) She is the host of The Quickie Romance Podcast, a weekly show highlighting excerpts from the best romance books in every genre. She’s been told she gives good audio. Her latest project is The Late Bloomers Series, a five-book romance series about women in their forties. Because women with experience make the best characters—in life and on the page. Download a free Late Bloomers adventure right now at
This post originally appeared on Medium and has been republished here with full permission.
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