Chanel and Stevo, from our lovely city of Johannesburg, are the travelling couple who quit their jobs to see the world. We had a chance to chat with them and get some valuable insight on their incredible travels... here's what they had to say!
1. Had you always been avid travellers before you decided to leave your jobs and pursue travelling full-time?
No, not at all. Our lifestyles pre-journey only allowed two-week holidays per year, so we definitely travelled around South Africa within those time constraints, but I don't think you could call us "travel-savvy".
2. What are some of the challenges you faced while preparing to become ‘the couple who left their jobs to travel’?
Our first challenge was finances. It's obvious that you need money to travel. We saw the state of our savings and knew that in order to do this we'd have to:
a) cut back on a lot of things (shop and go out less, adopting a "living with less" mentality a year before departing), and
b) look for ways to travel on a budget (like doing volunteer work and choosing somewhat undesirable transport, like the 06:00 or 01:00 flights).
Next challenge was diminishing our lives into four bags - because that's all we could take with us. We had to sell almost everything we owned and collected, which was a slightly emotional process, and it also turned us into sales people overnight, haha.
3. Since leaving the ‘routine life of perfection’, have you had any regrets along the way?
4. To date, which is your ultimate favourite destination and why?
It's a toss-up between Norway, Italy and Namibia.
Norway because it was everything we wanted to get out of our "how far from home" mission – to get as far out of the comfort zone as possible. Our experience there was the exact opposite of the life we lived back home – it was cold, we did manual labour in a Norwegian forest, we ate reindeer burgers and moose stew, and we explored the wilderness in the middle of the night because the sun didn't go down. The people we met there were also incredible and we've made some true friendships.
Italy because every one of the nine cities we visited in Italy had the warmest hospitality, the best food, sensational experiences and people who we can safely call distant relatives now.
Namibia because the sheer beauty of this country, as landscape photographers, made us think that we were on another planet. Everything about Namibia was incredible, and we cannot wait to go back.
5. What is the most challenging encounter you’ve had to face during your travels?
Our month staying in Sweden's Central Lake District was a tough month. The place we stayed at was in the middle of nowhere – closest town around 50km away. It was the middle of summer and the temperature average was 4°C, with rain almost 80% of the time. We were doing dirty volunteer work as cleaning staff, scrubbing toilets and doing laundry at a camp site. And to top it all off, we decided to go unplugged from the Internet, meaning we were indoors most of the time, working as cleaning staff, and we had no access to friends and family back home. Super tough month, but a really enlightening and educational month too, as we learnt a lot about ourselves and brainstormed some great business ideas during that time.
6. How many languages have you had to learn thus far?
Luckily English is universal enough to allow us to get by in almost every country we've visited, but learning a new language was part of our Wanderlist howfarfromhome.com/wanderlist (our traveling bucket list) so we spent some time learning German. It's not that easy to learn, but we know enough to have a conversation, order food at a restaurant or market, book train or plane tickets and understand when Germans, Swiss or Austrians speak to us, so that's a success!
7. What are some of the strangest or most interesting food/ cuisine you have tasted during your travels?
Wow, so many interesting foods! We ate reindeer burgers, moose stew, barbecued whale and dried fish in Norway; we had a Smorgastorte in Sweden, which is essentially a savory "cake", that uses everything in your fridge, is piled up like a cake, and then covered in cream cheese to look like icing; we tried fried crickets in Thailand; emu, kangaroo and crocodile pizzas in Australia; and simply had the best food all round in Italy – pizzas, pastas and pastries of any kind.
8. Which are some of your ‘must-visit’ destinations for first time travellers?
It's all relative depending on how and where you grew up, but we'd recommend anything that will expose you to a completely different culture. We simply loved Norway because it was cold and snowy, surrounded by fjords and woodlands, and we got to experience how Vikings live and what equipment and tools they use.
Avoid the popular tourist spots – go somewhere no one has heard of, or somewhere that hasn't been photographed a million times. San Candido in Italy, Bad Gastein in Austria and Kendwa in Zanzibar come to mind.
9. Would you ever consider settling in one country at some point? If yes, where?
This is something we ask ourselves almost daily. We will definitely settle one day – we've already planned the four dogs we're going to have, so we'll need to have a home for them. Where and when is something we still need to figure out...
10. What equipment do you use for your amazing photographs? And do you have any equipment recommendations for other travel photographers?
Stevo: I use the Fujifilm XT10.
Chanel: I have a Canon 6D.
We both have an array of lenses, but our advice is to definitely have an ultra-wide angle lens in your arsenal as it's essential for landscape and cityscape photography and it'll work great for portraiture too. After that, best to get some kind of portrait lens (something between 40mm and 85mm) and finally a telephoto lens if you're doing any wildlife photography – anything from 250mm and upwards.
For those using their mobile phones for photography – that's awesome too! It's important to remember good composition (research and understand the rule of thirds) and lighting – try not to shoot at midday as your images will be overexposed. Aim to be up and shooting at sunrise and sunset for magical, fail-proof lighting.
11. Your “wanderlist” mentioned publishing a book, is this something we can expect soon?
Maaaaaaaaybe 😉 We're actually working on two book ideas, so yes... definitely stay tuned!
12. What do you miss most about home when you’re away?
Stevo: I miss Boerie rolls and Ouma rusks.
Chanel: I miss Steers chips, Ghost Pops and Creme Soda 🙂
Besides friends and family, we definitely miss Jozi's incredible weather – year round sunshine, warm winter days and evening thunderstorms are quite rare!
Interviewed by Cleopatra Shava