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From... with Love

We will try to briefly tell you our story and the idea of the From… with Love project. We will explain how and why we decided to embark on a round-the-world journey, as well as the name of this project and some other facts.

Our names are Nastya and Vasya. We are from Irkutsk, Russia. We are both in our thirties, and we have been traveling together to different countries and continents for almost half of our lives. To be precise, we have been traveling together for 14 years. Even our initial acquaintance began with a journey, not a very long one (only 300 km), but still, it was a journey.

In the first couple of years after we met, we went on many hiking trips and short getaways. Then there was a New Year celebration in Beijing, and half a year later, we found ourselves in Brooklyn, making delicious burgers at a fast-food restaurant.

We worked in the USA for three months and traveled around the country for an additional month, crossing it from east to west. At that time, if we had round-trip tickets across the Pacific Ocean, we would have completed our first circumnavigation: a train ride to Yekaterinburg, then to Moscow, a flight to New York with a layover in London, and bus rides to Los Angeles. But we had return tickets to Moscow, and the idea of flying in the opposite direction didn’t occur to us.

After that, there was a great time spent with family and friends, a good job, a friendly team that became a second family. We enjoyed snowboarding in the winter and skateboarding in the summer. Until the thirst for long-distance travel began to build up in us once again. We flew to Barcelona and then to Paris. We got engaged in Paris, married six months later, and went to Turkey for our honeymoon. A couple of months later, we moved to Moscow, where the idea of a round-the-world trip was born.

It all started when we learned about a website called soundaround.me. One of our acquaintances named Nikita somehow found himself on a round-the-world journey with his wife, and we learned about it. We became very interested in their journey. We started reading their blog and watching their videos. Then we found a couple more round-the-world travelers on YouTube. The idea captivated us so much that during our morning jog, we would imagine our own journey.

Later, we moved to Krasnaya Polyana, and during walks along the Mzymta riverbank, we discussed our route, what we would need, and the format of our journey. We were certain we didn’t want to travel too frugally and wanted to save a million. A year later, we had saved a grand total of minus 60,000… Then it was back to zero.

Our passports were close to expiring, and we needed to renew them, so we went to Irkutsk to avoid waiting for half a year. The mission was accomplished, and in June 2016, we received our new passports, valid for ten years. We happily walked home, discussing how we would fill every page with stamps.

But even before getting the new passports, we knew we were going on a round-the-world trip and needed to start preparing. Our first step was creating this blog and a VKontakte (Russian social media) group. On May 31, 2016, we registered the domain fromwithlove.ru, created this website, and on June 2, we wrote our first post.

The idea for the name From… with Love, like all good ideas, seemed to come in the bathroom. And like all good ideas, it was borrowed. We borrowed it from Mack Dawg Productions, who once released an excellent snowboarding film titled FROM _____, WITH LOVE. In general, the idea for the name was not ours, but the idea to take someone else’s name was ours, and it seemed brilliant! There was a smile on our faces and joy, happiness, and excitement in our hearts.

It’s unclear why we didn’t come up with something simpler. But we have what we have, and we actually like it. However, there’s not that much love in it…

By the way, there was another option, “To-and-fro,” but it sounded strange. Also, it didn’t convey what we had in mind. It’s more like “Here and there,” rather than “Around,” for example. It seems like that name came about while reading The Lord of the Rings trilogy, which we bought at the famous Strand on Broadway in 2011. You’re reading, and bam! There’s your name…

We still couldn’t save up money. Somehow we didn’t return to Krasnaya Polyana. Many other concerns arose. This period in Irkutsk was not as vibrant as the previous one. In a way, it seemed like the beginning of the end. Whose end? Let’s just say, the one we loved deeply.

The dream started to fade, but the blog became a great source of support. It served as our motivation and kept us from forgetting this dream. Almost every weekend, we went somewhere, either by ourselves or with friends, trying to discover new places and routes.

Then, my brother gave us his plot of land. This plot was in a summer cottage community not far from Shelekhov, a suburb of Irkutsk. Nearby was a beautiful pine forest and the Olkha River. However, across from us lived an alcoholic neighbor who worked as a KAMAZ driver on a construction site. Instead of taking construction waste to the landfill, he successfully dumped it on my brother’s land and pocketed the money. We spent the whole summer cleaning up the plot. We threw away some of the trash and decided to use the rest for building a house. We put up a nice fence to prevent our neighbor from dirtying our land with his garbage, filled it with crushed stone, and built the formwork. Soon, frost was due to set in, and we needed to hurry to pour the foundation – the first significant step toward our dream. Yes, a different dream now. But in general, we wanted to build a small house, rent it out, and have some form of stability while traveling.

One evening, when the reinforcement was already in place, we heard our neighbor, who was once again drunk, accusing us of using his “construction materials” to build our formwork. We took turns calming each other down, and our neighbor’s absurdity reached its peak when he threatened to burn down our house when we completed it. There was no point in reasoning with him, but we had plenty to discuss on our way back home. In half an hour, we were sure we needed to sell the land and embark on our journey.

Everything happened very quickly after that. We came up with a new route and rough start dates. We wanted to begin in Africa but decided to head to Asia first, planning to leave in spring to avoid freezing in China. We started preparing, selling the land at a very low price but quickly, getting visas for Japan and China, buying a tent, sleeping bags, and backpacks, sewing a second backpack, and ticking off items on our checklist.

Then, a friend named Sasha Boldyreva let us read her book, “Drop it’ Word, To see ‘ World”, in which she described cutting her toothbrush to reduce the weight of her backpack. We realized how to prepare for the trip. Just a day before our departure, we were still sewing a backpack cover.

No one besides close friends knew about our plans until the last moment. We were convinced that once we shared our plans, our desire would lose its power, especially if we encountered criticism. When we received our Japanese visas, it was time to tell our family. My father’s wife told us we were crazy, my father remained silent, and others didn’t seem to believe that we’d be traveling for more than a month. When we said, “We’re planning to travel for at least three years,” my brother responded with, “We’ll see if you last three months.” Overall, there was no joy from anyone. It still seems that way.

And we left. We did forget our wallet at home, realized it at the airport, and had to return to get it. Maybe that’s why we’ve had such bad luck with money while traveling. But just before our flight, my friend Kristina told us, “I think you’ll succeed,” and it was like magic!

We’ve been on the road for more than five years now. Every day is a miracle! How much longer will we keep traveling? We don’t know, we’ll see. But we already want our next journey!