Earlier this year, we caught up with the South African couple behind the How Far From Home blog, who cashed in their savings to travel the world. Months later AAISHA DADI PATEL caught up with Chanel Cartell,one half of the duo, to ask about their less glamorous side of their travels.
Have you, at any point during your travels, ever been homeless?
No, never homeless. When passing through major cities we stay in Airbnbs, hotels and hostels (whichever is cheapest at the time) and our longer stays we organise through Workaway – a site that connects hosts who have food and accommodation with volunteers such as us, who will help out and work for four or five hours per day. We’ve also stayed with some friends and family, and we’re receiving a lot of offers from our community of places to stay, so I don’t think we’ll ever be left completely homeless.
What’s the worst ‘dirty work’ that you’ve done?
Our stay in Sweden was a little tough, where we stayed with our Workaway hosts and they required us to be the cleaning staff – so toilets, showers, bathrooms and laundry. That same month we decided to go unplugged from the world, and the weather was mainly rainy, so it was really tough and challenging to be disconnected from the world, sitting indoors, and having to clean toilets. [It was] our most challenging month yet, I think.
Are you working in every city that you go to? Do you work as you need income, or are you doing it in every place you visit regardless of what your current financial situation is?
No, we’re only working during our long-term stays with our Workaway hosts. When we’re exploring cities, we’re exploring and focusing on our own creative work. The work we do for our hosts is volunteer work, so we are not earning income from it – we only get provided food and accommodation during our stay with them. The income we have for transport and city explorations comes from our savings and we stick to the monthly budgets to make sure we can keep going until February 2016.
Will we get to see some of these not-so-glam bits on your Instagram feed?
Instagram is for the 99% of our trip – the amazing experiences and places we get to see as a result of us being on this journey. We see ourselves as mini-ambassadors for each place we visit and we want to inspire people to explore more and visit the places we visit. The grittier side is only 1% of the trip and is something we probably won’t document with photos.
Your budget for flights – have they been pre-booked and sorted as you planned the itinerary, or do you wait until you have enough money to book a flight out of where you are?
We have a monthly budget that we set before we left on our trip. Our budget in May, for example, was very small and allowed us to book two flights to Norway. The rest of the month we spent with our Workaway hosts, so didn’t really need to purchase anything else. Our budget in June, however, was a little more generous as we knew we wanted to visit southern Norway and do a road trip, and land up in Copenhagen for my birthday. So it’s always a healthy balance – one month we splurge, another month we stay low on our expenses.
Which country that you’ve travelled to so far has been the hardest to survive and get by in?
May was probably our toughest month, as mentioned we could only really afford two flights to Alta, Norway. But we planned it that way as we knew our Workaway hosts would cover the rest of our costs. By lying low in May, we were able to splurge a little bit in June. So it’s a month-to-month balance.
Do you really not have the means to use taxis and buses? What’s the longest distance you’ve had to walk?
Some of our trips require us to walk, for example when we arrived in Oslo. The train from the airport to the city centre was more expensive than we’d planned, so that meant we couldn’t really afford a bus or taxi to get us to our Airbnb from the station, so we walked around 6km at 11pm, dragging our wheeled bags uphill through the cobbled streets – that was probably the toughest. We’ve also done tours of cities, where I think we walked around 18km, but that was by choice and not because we couldn’t afford transport fares – we just wanted to explore the city by foot.
Have you ever at any point considered giving it all up to fly back home and have some security?
There have definitely been moments of doubt and over-exhaustion, where we feel like we can’t take it anymore, but at that point the other person normally talks some sense into the one that’s doubting, reminding the other why we came on this journey in the first place, and choosing to be out of the comfort zone is all part of it. So yes, there are definitely times where we’ve struggled and want to cash it all in, but at the same time it’s the tough moments that keep us pushing further and challenge us to adapt more and keep going.