Chanel and Stevo, two South African creatives who quit their jobs in advertising to take a trip around the world now travel together as the creative duo How Far From Home.
Their mission has been to see how far from home they can get – literally to see how far they can get from Johannesburg, and, figuratively, to see how far out of the comfort zone they can push themselves.
Chanel and Stevo are now aiming to turn this sabbatical idea into a sustainable lifestyle, collaborating with artists and brands from all over the world and inspiring people who are tired of the typical societal “American Dream.” By using what we know and what they have learned in creating content, telling stories, and teaching people, they know they can inspire those weary, tired minds towards success.
The Fox Magazine had a chance to interview the couple about their journey as well as some advice on how to travel the world.
What inspired you to start your travels and come up with the name ‘How Far From Home’?
As far as inspiration to travel, I’m absolutely going to say Stuffocation! After reading it, it left us feeling like there was a shift happening; a shift towards collecting experiences and no longer chasing to have more ‘stuff.’ We wanted to be part of that shift and maybe be part of the pioneering.
Even so, while Stuffocation deserves a majority of the credit, Stefan Sagmeister’s talk, ‘The Power of Time Off,’ convinced us that maybe doing something like this isn’t so bad for our careers. We saw Stefan’s talk at the Design Indaba conference in Cape Town in early 2014. If you haven’t heard his talk, absolutely check it out!
Now, the idea of the name ‘How Far From Home’ came to us during one of our many brainstorms. We obviously wanted to document our journey in the hope of inspiring friends, family, and maybe other creatives around the world. We brainstormed this idea of ‘home’ symbolizing everything comfortable and predictable – basically a metaphor for the life we lived before departing. We then knew we wanted to get as far away from that and push ourselves out of our comfort zones, and so ‘How Far From Home’ was born; a conceptual spin, which allowed us to figuratively get out of the comfort zone and literally travel as far as we could (obviously counting the kilometers and tracking them on Instagram).
Where is home as of right now?
Before departing, ‘home’ was Johannesburg, South Africa, where we both were born and grew up. Right now we don’t have a ‘home,’ per se. For Chanel, home is wherever Stevo is and vice versa. We have a “base” at Stevo’s aunt’s house in Salzburg, Austria, which we visited maybe 3 or 4 times during the 21 months on the road to slow down the travels, regroup and relax. We also felt most at home in Italy during our volunteer work with the amazing (now friends) Michele and Laura whom we are currently writing a book with. We also got a huge sense of hope whilst visiting family in Australia last year – Australia feels very much like South Africa.
But still no ‘home’ as of yet.
It’s always hard to choose your favorite places on this earth, but if you have to choose three. What are they?
Favorite place is so difficult – we loved our time in Norway working at a husky lodge; we loved Namibia and Iceland for the photography; Portugal for the food and beaches; Italy for the Dolomite mountain range that is just sensational; San Francisco because it’s just beautiful; and Banff National Park in Alberta because it was a dream. And I didn’t even mention our magical three-week trip through East Africa. Wow! So many amazing memories – too hard to pick three!
Blue Lagoon, Iceland
What has traveling taught you?
This entire journey has taught us a lot:
- Most importantly, you really need to go after your dreams no matter what it takes. If it means spending one-month doing dirty work like scrubbing toilets and another month shoveling rocks then do it! In the end, if it means you can explore the world and do what you love, why not?
- Everyone should aim to do something crazy and difficult at least once a day – it’s the best way to stay creatively stimulated and feel alive.
- You don’t need half the stuff you think you do. Throughout our travels, we’ve left things behind. Whether it was clothing or toiletries, we found you really need to travel light.
- People are more awesome than you think. So many people helped us out when we were struggling. Some gave us food, others places to stay, or even just a map when we were lost.
- Soak it all up & enjoy it. Time really does pass quickly, so stop every now and then to really experience your surroundings and enjoy the people in your life.
- Don’t be afraid to act on your ideas no matter how crazy, whacky, or unreachable they seem. Just give it a bash. What’s the worst thing that could happen?
- Creativity can solve anything, you just need to be willing and open-minded. The rest will follow.
Do you have any traveling tips/techniques to share?
- Volunteer work is a great way to experience life as a local (and save on accommodation and food costs).
- House and pet-sitting are other great ways to save on accommodation costs.
- The best time to fly is on a Tuesday in the evening – it’s apparently the cheapest flights.
In both of your eyes, what has been your most memorable experience since you have been traveling?
So many to note, but there’s one in particular that makes for a great story:
It was 9 am while we drove up to the North Cape in Norway with our new friends Stefan and Stephie (who were working at the husky lodge that we volunteered at) in a 1982 green Mitsubishi van. We were leaving the cabin we lived in, in Alta, bringing a gorgeous white husky named Mansi along for the ride. We stopped at the town closest to the North Cape at 2 am (of course the sun was up the whole time as it was Norway’s midnight sun Summer season) to have tea and coffee on a reindeer rug inside the house of a friend of Stefan’s. She was awake and waiting for us with her fisherman boyfriend and her mom. The three of them welcomed us, and we sat around the coffee table chatting like it was a Sunday afternoon – except it was 2 am on a Monday and we had never met these people before. The point is that we rolled with the punches, embracing every aspect of the journey. We pushed outside our comfort zone and enjoyed a truly wonderful morning with total strangers in a foreign land. A truly magical evening.
For those unfamiliar with what a travel blogger does, what do people overlook the most?
Probably that we’re so much more than just travel bloggers. We’re creative photographers, filmmakers, and quit-your-9-to-5-to-travel-round-the-world thought leaders who happen to share their journey on an online platform. (Chances are most “travel bloggers” do a lot more behind the scenes too.) We’re professionals with experience in conceptual creative work, and we try to bring that across in everything we do, from the stories we tell on our blog, to the photos we take, films we create, and client work we do with brands that align with our values.
Zion National Park
The Fox Magazine is all about inspiration. What/who inspires you the most?
Stefan Sagmeister inspired us to take time off to pursue personal creative projects, and James Wallman inspired us to live with less and relook at the societal norm. Chris Burkard inspires us to take better photographs. Miki Agrawal inspired us to turn our crazy idea into something. Our parents inspire us to be better humans, and we inspire each other to keep pushing
What’s the best part of being a travel blog couple?
Getting to spend every waking moment together creating amazing work together, and being able to do it all in a different location all the time.
Taft Point, Yosemite National Park
Do you have any tips or tricks for achieving an aesthetically awesome Instagram page? Any social media tips?
Find your story – your own unique story. If someone saw your picture/video and didn’t see your name attached to it, would they know it was yours? How can you own something: that is the best way to stand out in a highly populated platform like Instagram.
What’s something people would be surprised to learn about both of you?
Maybe that we met on a blind date. Back in 2010, we were set up on a blind date, and, clearly, it went well.
What’s your best advice for people wanting to travel?
- Just do it. The worst thing that can happen is you return to the life you had before. Also, find someone to do it with; it makes it easier and will help when it gets a little tough.
- Stop shopping today. You don’t need any more stuff; you will end up throwing it away/selling it/forgetting about it.
- Enroll in one of our coaching programs so that we can make the process a little smoother, cheaper, and quicker as we’ve learned some lessons. We are aiming at creating customized journeys with people so that they can do what we did, but based on their desires, dreams, and goals.
I think that desire for ‘different’ or ‘unusual’ and ‘completely against society’s norm’ is what appealed to me the most about this crazy decision we now call our life. There was something appealing about living a social experiment.” – Chanel
Follow their journey!