If I try to be honest with myself, I have thought of leaving my job – each of the ones that I have done over the years – and just packing my bag. No. Don’t get me wrong. I am not escaping a bad workplace or uninspiring environment. But I just feel, as I have maintained since I was 11, that I was born to travel.
So when I chanced upon a duo who quit their nice cushy agency jobs to travel this wonderful world of ours, I watched their pictures (on Instagram,. no less. And you know how everything is made to look even more tempting on that screen) with a mix of admiration and envy. I reached out to them, hoping to share their story. And also secretly hoping that this will give me the needed push to finally pack my bags and head out into the sunshine and hills.
Chanel and Stevo met on a blind date in 2010 and clicked. Comfortable in the advertising and branding industry for 15 years, the duo had everything going for them. But you know, how they say, the heart wants to wander? Their’s certainly did. And so, the couple packed up their bags and bid adieu to South Africa on March 2, 2015 and embarked on a fabulous adventure.
Being the creative sorts (they says “We believe that everything can be conquered with a little creative thinking”) they called this pet project “How Far From Home”. And you will see, on their Instagram page that the pictures all have a milestone with it – showing exactly how far away from home have they travelled.
“Being very curious people, travel has always been at the back of our minds. Even when working full time, we would look for any opportunity to go exploring. After hearing Stefan’s Sagmeister’s talk at the 2014 Design Indaba about “creative sabbaticals,” and his theory of ‘time off’, the seed was officially planted, and we knew we simply had to do it. Life was really comfortable, and we knew it would be waiting for us if we came back, so we took the risk and gave it all up so we could explore more than just the beauty in South Africa.
Once we knew we were going to see the world, we wanted something that would tie it all together; a single concept that would make the trip feel like one story. We had a few brainstorms and came up with ‘How Far From Home’. We loved that it would literally track how far we’d traveled, pushing us to go further to see more. It was also symbolic of why we decided to take the trip in the first place – get out of the comfortable life we had set-up, and challenge us to push our creativity further,” says Chanel.
Chanel and Stevo like getting lost in foreign places (then again, who doesn’t?) and thus they stay away from going overboard on the research. That is a stark difference from how I have travelled with my family, when everything had been planned, jotted down and given to us on print-outs prior to the journey. But the adventurous duo usually pick up a local map and head out, though they do read blogs to just see if there is something they just cannot miss.
“We’ve only been traveling for two months, but I think the most memorable experience so far has been sitting in our wooden cabin, listening to the howling of 70 huskies just outside our door, at the lodge we are staying at in Alta, Norway. It happens frequently and sometimes in the middle of the night. It’s Summer here now, so the sun doesn’t go down, and the mixture of dog howls, midnight sun and wooden cabin in the woods has made this the best memory so far.”
They are ticking off places from their wanderlist – which is what drives them forward. But obviously, the people they have met and are meeting make the experiences more memorable. But then they also do unplanned travel. For example, Liz in Austria.
“Linz was never on our Wanderlist, and had it not been for the Instagram community, we probably would never have gone there, but after contacting Igers Austria, and booking our train ticket, we went and spent an amazing day, walking nothing short of 15km exploring the beautiful and culture-rich city. We’ve managed to make friends with some of Europe’s best Instagrammers, and it’s only strengthened our relationship with Instagram and its community.”
But you know what? They really are just like us. Because if you ask them what scares them the most, pat comes the reply: The fact that they actually did it!
“The initial sell-all-pack-up-and-go was frightening. We’d spent 29 years collecting things and building a home in Johannesburg, so getting rid of it all was the scary part. Now that we’ve let it all go, and we’re on the move, the unknown and all the travel chaos is thrilling. Nothing is too scary for us now.”
Both Chanel and Stevo feel that everyone should, ABSOLUTELY, travel around the globe! Because that is when you learn – about yourself and the stories you collect – which cannot be traded for anything.
I asked them, my last and most personal question,about just packing up and going for a trip. And what they said gave me all the hope I needed.
“Yes, I think it is one of those things everyone wants to do. Something people say they’ll do “someday”. I think the one lesson we’ve taken out from this, is that saying ‘someday’ is merely a form of procrastination. We knew we wanted to see the world, and we knew we wanted to invigorate our creativity. The trick was turning ‘someday’ into a set day on your calendar and committing to it. We’re still (fairly) young, so we knew “adult commitments” would soon land on our doorstep (not to say that people with these commitments can’t pick up and go as well). We knew we’d prepped our lives with furniture, cars and pot plants before, so we could absolutely do it again after our trip, if that was what we wanted.
For anyone wanting to do this, we’d recommend:
1. Keeping only things you absolutely love and can’t live without (the less you travel with the better)
2. Pick a date, and stick to it
3. Surround yourself with people, blogs, forums and literature from people who have done this before, or are currently doing this – they’ll keep you motivated, inspired and you might learn some tricks
4. Keep reminding yourself why you’re taking the trip – it’ll guide you along as you go”
So, here’s to them – the duo who believed in adventure. And those who didn’t worry about the what if’s and the what not’s. Because these are the people who make dreaming a bit easier. No matter how far away from home.