When we were on our honeymoon in 2013, we were sitting on a beach in Gili Trawangan, a tiny little backpackers island about 3 hours off the coast of Bali, watching the full moon over our heads and feeling the warm water lap at our feet. Our 44 day trip spanning three countries was coming to an end, and we began to daydream about a life of travel. Not just one filled with pleasure and lavish accommodations, but one with more of a positive impact - we felt that there was so much more to traveling than the traditional "spend a bunch of money at a nice resort" model.
We had just finished working with a tsunami relief crew in Ishinomaki, Japan, an elephant sanctuary in Chiang Mai, Thailand, and an orphanage in Denpasar, Bali. It felt good to give back on our honeymoon but we still left feeling like a day or two in each of these places wasn’t enough. We also knew that it wasn’t realistic to take a year or more off from our careers to go volunteer in one place, which is what some would argue to be the most effective form of global volunteering.
We wondered how we could find a healthy balance between the fulfillment of leisure travel and the positive impact created by volunteer work, all in one trip. This was the birth of Love Set Run, we just didn’t know it yet.
In 2014, we decided that it was time to start saving. Andre signed up for a credit card with good travel benefits in hopes of getting a few plane tickets for free. The travel planning had begun.
By late 2015 we began to pick out the countries we wanted to visit. The first version of our list was 22 countries long. We wanted to travel for 3 months. No way was that happening. We began the painstaking process of finding countries to knock off the list - not an easy task when you want to go EVERYWHERE.
In early 2016 we set the intention of leaving in the summer. We were mere weeks away from beginning to book plane tickets when Andre was offered the opportunity to be a supervisor on location in Atlanta for a Marvel film. Unable to pass up this incredible opportunity, we shelved the plans for 2016 and decided that 2017 was going to be the year. This also gave us another year to save, and of course rack up more credit card points.
By January of 2017, the planning had reached a fever pitch. The countries were picked. We had our name. The credit card points had accumulated into the hundreds of thousands. We stopped watching movies at home (one of our favorite activities). We stopped going out for the most part. What used to be lazy evenings and weekends turned into full-blown research sessions. Plane tickets, volunteering opportunities, accommodations, activities, transportation - not just for one trip, but 8 countries back to back. How do we get from here to there? Where do we rest our heads this night? How do we make the biggest impact in each country?
We quickly realized what a gargantuan task we had taken on, but we welcomed the challenge. This was a task unlike one we had ever faced, planning to circumnavigate the globe while doing our best to spread awareness about the issues facing our world today. We are less than a month away from departure and the end is still nowhere in sight. It’s invigorating, and as Rolf Potts says in the quote above, “Vagabonding starts now.” Dreaming of and planning for exotic destinations is almost (..almost) as good as being there itself.
As our departure date grows closer, we will check more and more to-do’s off the list, while new things that we couldn’t have planned for will inevitably come to light. It’s all part of the joy of trip planning though - staying flexible, learning new things, figuring out how to adapt to unforeseen circumstances.
We will be posting regular updates to Facebook and Instagram as we go, and the YouTube web series will be released sequentially by country within the months following our return to home. Thanks for reading, we’re excited that you’ve chosen to follow along with us on this journey around the world.