Chantel Cartell & Stevo Dirnberger, the How Far From Home (HFFH) couple from South Africa, are having the adventure of a lifetime. They’ve spent the last 500 days together - literally 24/7 - and say the only way they have been able to do so is to make sure they’re “having fun” together.
If you’ve never heard of them, take a snap view of their journey thus far, which saw them decide to give up rather successful and comfortable lifestyles in Johannesburg back in March 2015 in order to see what magic awaited them while travelling the world.
Throughout the experience they’ve documented it in a real and honest way, inspiring us all to push the boundaries a little bit more.
They admit that travelling as a couple for an extended period brings with it “tired, hangry and agitated” moments that lead to petty arguments or silly snapping quite easily. But say it is important to remember that “it's just surface tension, and you're seeing the world with your favourite person in the world”.
So how do they keep their chins up? Here’s how to take a page out of their passports…
Traveller24: What’s the best thing about traveling together as a couple?
How Far From Home: The best thing has to be growing together. We've been through so much - from late nights dragging heavy bags up cobbled streets, and emotional crying fits feeling homesick and lost, to feeling frustrated and hungry and tired without having motivation - all very testing times that leave us questioning our decision and feeling somewhat helpless, but we conquered it all and became better people because of it. There's something so rewarding about getting completely out of your comfort zone with your other half, and coming out of it, bigger and better people. We would never have done this trip alone, so it's great to look back at how far we've come together.
"It also helps to have someone hold your extra bag while you look for something - because you're ALWAYS looking for something (like your wallet, or phone, or the map).
What’s been the hardest thing and how do you deal with it?
"Being together non-stop, 24-7-365, has probably been the most challenging thing, because you really are going through EVERYTHING together. You're sharing tiny beds in host's houses, you're getting wet in unexpected rainstorms together, you're having breakfast, lunch and dinner together, and no matter how frustrated or tired or hungry you are, the other person is there, so bad moods, hangriness and irritability are just part of the package.
"It's challenging for sure, but on the upside, you also have that support when you need it, so it's definitely worth it.
What didn’t you know about each other before undertaking this trip together?
Chanel: I don't think I realized how creative Stevo really is. I knew he was a brilliant mind, and it was one of the many features that attracted me to him, but seeing him solve every problem using creativity has been incredible to see. I'm really his biggest fan :)
Stevo: I didn't know how hard Chanel actually works - harder than anyone I know. She is more driven than I ever expected and it's amazing to see and be around.
What’s the most interesting or unexpected thing you’ve learnt during this experience?
"We're really shocked by how adaptable we are. We slip into different cultures with different families hosting us, different routines and different diets, and we just say, "hey, cool, what's next?" It's fun to see (when we look back at all the places we've been to) how easily we just adjust and roll with whatever is put in front of us.
What’s the top three most romantic experiences during your How Far From Home adventures thus far?
"Mmmm, there have definitely been some romantic times! Three that come to mind:
"1. Skinny dipping in a glacial river in Iceland, then literally running naked to our Mongolian yurt, on the private island where we were staying, to sit in front of the fire and warm up - you can watch the video here:
"2. Having date night at one of the top 30 hotels in the world, Hotel Alfonso XIII in Seville, Spain, fresh Spanish paella, red wine, and superb service at a hotel where Princess Di, Grace Kelly, Sofia Loren and Brad Pitt have stayed in the past; then going upstairs to our room after walking through the hotel gardens. Magical night.
"3. Waking up in the Namib desert, unzipping our tent atop the 4x4 we hired, and watching the sun rise through the mountain peaks.
What’s your absolute must-have or essential item for traveling?
"Has to be our cameras! We simply love capturing the travels - the highs and the lows - so that we can tell stories online, for friends, family, fans but especially for us — it's great looking back at all the amazing places we've seen.
What’s your life motto?
"We started out with "say yes!" encouraging us to push through difficult and uncomfortable situations, saying yes to everything so that we get out of the comfort zone - far, far out of it.
"We also love preaching 'collect memories, not things' because people today spend A LOT of money on stuff — small stuff, big stuff, stuff to hold other stuff (we know because we were those people!). Now we're on a mission to inspire and encourage exploration and memory collection. Life is so much simpler and easier when you have less. You simply go day to day, living in the present and enjoying new experiences.
Your best piece of advice for travelling couples?
"We've spent 24-7-498 (approx how many days we've been on the road and inseparable) so our best piece of advice has to be: HAVE FUN!
"Check in with each other often to make sure you're both still having fun. If you're not, change things up. It's how we test the grounds - "Are we having fun? Yes? Cool, let's carry on!" or "Are we having fun? No? Cool, let's stop X or Y."
What are some of the things couples who travel together tend to forget or overlook in your opinion?
"From our experience, I think couples forget that with travel comes stress, and there will be moments when both of you will be tired, hungry, agitated and stressed (or all of the above) and this sometimes leads to petty arguments or silly snapping. It's important to remember that it's just surface tension, and you're seeing the world with your favourite person in the world, so chin up, don't let the little things ruin your magical journey together.
Where do you still want to visit?
"Ah the world is so big, and there's still so many magical things to see and experience! We're almost halfway through our Wanderlist (our traveling bucket list) which grows almost daily, haha — you can see it here. We've also received a ton of suggestions from our community of where to go, so we're slowly working through that list too!
"Vancouver Canada, Alaska, New Zealand and Japan are high up on the list!"
What to read next on Traveller24:
- WATCH: Things just got real for the How Far From Home SA couple!
- SA couple who quit their jobs to travel the world now cleaning toilets