India's premier luxury lifestyle women's magazine
December 27, 2017

In Pursuit of Adventure: Chanel Cartell and Stevo Dirnberger

Text by Tina Dastur

South African couple Chanel Cartell and Stevo Dirnberger of How Far From Home quit their jobs and are globetrotting their way to a dream life

Chanel Cartell (CC): “Our first trip was to Salzburg, Austria. Steve has family there, so we stayed with his aunt. We spent two months unwinding and unlearning our previous nine-to-five work lives…and just trying to slip into this whole new way of living. We’re currently in the Czech Republic, which is country number 45! We’ve been to six of the seven continents (still need to see Antarctica). And in terms of notable cities and towns, we’ve been to 152.”

Stevo Dirnberger (SD): “‘How Far From Home’ was to be a photographic project just for Instagram and our blog. The whole idea was to calculate the kilometres we had travelled — the exact number — from South Africa, and hence it was almost like ‘how far from home’ we had come. For this, we’d use a small chalkboard on which we’d write the exact number of kilometres.”

CC: “We wrote a blog post called ‘Why We Quit Our Jobs In Advertising To Scrub Toilets’ six months into our travels. It painted a very realistic picture of the life we’re living right now. Our Instagram feed is our portfolio of photographs. We try and showcase the best of every location and so, we won’t show the uglier side of travel in a particular country. But if you follow our Instagram Stories, you’ll see the reality of us missing flights, getting sick, not eating properly and struggling uphill for five kilometres while looking for an Airbnb.”

SD: “There are many ways to see a place. We prefer the slower approach because you notice more that way. Another good way to see cities is to meet a local and experience it through their eyes. Lots of times people do too much research on a place and are all about ‘By 12 o’clock, we have to be at the bridge’ and ‘By 1 o’clock, we have to be at the castle’. And then sightseeing loses its appeal.”

CC: “We have an online course on travel, which we’ve divided into four modules. The first module is called ‘Let’s Get Your Head in the Right Place, Shall We?’ It’s an overview of what to do if you want to travel full-time. Module two is called ‘You’re Going to Make It Rain’. This is all about the finances. We all know you can’t travel the world for free, so this is everything from how much you should save to how to make some cash on the side to how to fundraise your trip. Module three is called ‘Time to Talk About the P Word’. The ‘P’ word we are referring to is ‘planning’ — and this involves everything from accommodation and travel programmes to tricky transport tips. And the fourth and final module is called ‘Formalities Before Departure’. This covers things like visas, actual booking of tickets and packing.”

SD: “If we had to relive one travel experience of ours, it’d be Namibia. Namibia is located right next to South Africa, which is quite funny because we never explored it until we left home. It is so visually striking — the deserts, the dunes, the wildlife. Everything about Namibia is raw, exciting and undiscovered.”

CC: “We were on a super-tight budget when we started. So, we would do volunteer work in exchange for accommodation. We ended up staying at a husky lodge in Norway, worked with dog trainers in Italy and scrubbed toilets in Sweden. We do a lot of work with hotels. That is how we afford the luxury stays. Otherwise, we book ourselves an Airbnb.”

SD: “Around The World In 80 Spins was a video that I’d pitched to Chanel about three months before we left on this journey. I wanted to do a compilation video of our travels around the world with a GoPro, but it needed to be customised. So, we made a chest mount using the GoPro handstick to allow me to swing Chanel around and capture the video at the same time.”

CC: “We are big on collecting memories and not things. Before embarking on our journey, we got rid of our stuff and sold everything because we could only take four bags with us. We realised how little you need in life. As long as we have our health and each other, that is enough. There are so many people who come to us and ask, ‘How can you just let go?’ The reality is that a washing machine, a bed, a house or a car can so easily be replaced. And why on earth would you want to get old with all this stuff and then realise you’re too old to go and see the world? And, at any given time, you can stop and go and buy yourself another washing machine or car!”

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