Growing up in Northeast Ohio, Lindsay Marissa Osborne was fortunate enough to take vacations with her family, spurring a lifelong love of travel. They went to Lakeside every summer, visited beaches along the East Coast and made the trip to Walt Disney World. Now, she's out to prove that it really is a small world.
The 27-year-old Brecksville-Broadview Heights High School graduate leaves Feb. 1 for Auckland, New Zealand, the first stop in a trip around the world as part of her Small World Project. She hopes to demonstrate that despite whatever differences people may have — or think they have — there's a lot of commonality.
"There's so much good out there," she says. "I want to show that."
A loose 11-month itinerary will take her from New Zealand to Australia and then through Asia, the Middle East, Africa and South America before returning home around Christmas. "I want to be as flexible as possible," she says, "because I want to meet as many people as possible."
Osborne plans to update her progress and tell the stories of those she meets through her blog and Facebook page. She encourages others to share their stories on social media with the #TSWP hashtag. "The point is to create the positive change in social media," she says.
Osborne, who has worked as a manager for touring bands such as Five Minutes to Freedom and as a sponsor representative for companies such as AT&T, Kohl's and Walgreens, has already visited all 50 states. She's no stranger to risk-taking either, participating as one of three women in VH1's reality show Making Mr. Right in 2013.
"I didn't go into it trying to be on television," she says of the show. "It became bigger than I originally thought it was going to be."
As a major component of her Small World Project, Osborne expects to rely on the kindness of strangers. Although she's been bartending and baby-sitting to raise money, she used Kickstarter to crowdfund about $1,000 of her $30,000 budget. She'll couch surf — bunking with locals who have opened their homes and apartments to visitors on couchsurfing.com — rather than staying in hotels.
"It's supposed to be a cultural exchange," says Osborne, who got hundreds of responses to her couch surfing requests.