This is the story of a very tenacious idea

“I’m going to Rio for the first time next weekend. Would you have some places to recommend: restaurants, hotels, bars, museums etc?”

That’s the type of email I get at least once a week. After three years spent crisscrossing South America as a journalist, I’ve become the go-to person for my friends who are planning a trip to Che Guevara’s continent.
But the problem is always the same: I rarely have the time to write the long and detailed email that cities like Rio or Buenos Aires deserve, and even when I do I never remember the names of all the places that I’ve liked. So I end up recommending a few restaurants and hotels that have survived my failing memory, wishing I could also remember the name of “that little coffee shop with the fig tree, with wicker chairs and wrought iron tables and the most delicious acaí.”
And then, invariably, I think: if only I had Live2Leave.

“That idea you have but never do”

Live2Leave is an idea I had four years ago: an app where I could record my trips and places that I liked, share them easily with my friends and also search for their recommendations when I arrive in a city I don’t know or want to plan a trip in a country I’ve never been to. Because in the end, if my friends still ask me for recommendations even though they have access to Tripadvisor or Lonely Planet, it’s because they know that if I liked a place they are far more likely to like it too than if it’s a place recommended by someone they don’t know.

But Live2Leave is also that idea you have but never do. Because you don’t know how to do it, because you don’t have time to do it, because someone else will do it before you, because you don’t have the money, because you’re relying on someone who ends up not helping you, because you feel you don’t have what it takes… If a reason for why you can’t do it is no longer valid, you’ll find another one straight away, thereby ensuring that you never do it.

In my case I’ve been finding reasons for not doing Live2Leave for four years. I remember when I came up with it, I was 23 and at journalism school. I got so excited about what I saw as my first real “idea” and spent an entire night thinking about a name, checking if the domain was available. That’s when the “Live2Leave” name was born, quite naturally in fact because it sums up one of the main driving forces in my life: an uncontrollable desire to constantly leave the known for the unknown and discover something new every day if I can, a desire that I satisfy with a trip to a faraway land if I’m lucky, but often just by wandering the streets of my own city.

“I spent more time worrying that someone would steal the idea than actually doing it”

But back then, finding the Live2Leave name and drawing a few ugly sketches is as far as I got. I spent more time worrying that someone would steal the idea than actually doing it. And I was also busy trying to get a “real” job, and busy with whatever 23 year-olds are busy with, which in my case was trying to become a responsible adult while still being a completely irresponsible and confused human.

Fast forward four years later: I’m still trying to become a responsible adult while still being a completely irresponsible and confused human. But I also lived what feels like three lives: I became some sort of a journalist, quit my job, found a new cooler job where I actually was a journalist, changed continent, re-quit my job, re-changed continent and now here I am writing these lines. The only constants in all of this are my friends, my family, my dog Madame and that profoundly irritating thought of “what if you had done Live2Leave.”

“Make the unknown just a little more friendly”

And so I had enough. As I was going through some sort of the late-twenties life crisis that my generation seems to invariably experience at some point (or at least the weird people I surround myself with), I decided that Live2Leave was no longer going to be “that idea you have but never do,” but instead “that idea you had, didn’t do for a while and then tried doing it.”

Obviously, I’m a journalist, not an entrepreneur. I can’t code, I didn’t study business or engineering and when I hear about the “tech bubble” I imagine many little people with laptops working inside a big transparent globe rolling around London. So in some ways I don’t really know what I am doing. But then it might also be what makes me different from the little people with laptops in the big transparent globe rolling around London, and my maman says it’s good to be different.

So with writing (on this blog) and pictures (on Instagram), I want to tell you the story of the friendliest travel app being built by a clueless but very passionate journalist. I don’t want to show you only the final result, when the app will look all pretty and perfect (because it will, of course). I want to show you the behind the scenes, the figuring out, the thought process, the mistakes and the struggle, but also the small victories and the progress. I will try writing on this blog once a week, but post on Instagram a lot more often, with the help of my dear fellow journalist friend and social media extraordinaire Daphnee. We will get it wrong I am sure, but then we will tell you about it, laugh it off, and do better next time.

And ultimately, I hope that Live2Leave will make the unknown just a little more friendly and encourage some, maybe many if we succeed, to discover the beautiful world that we live in.


Up next: when I discovered that Balsamiq was a wireframing software and not vinegar…

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