The Toilet-Scrubbing, Traveling Couple Answered Questions for Wetravel and Now Have a Course on Trip Planning!

September 29, 2015
Christina Nguyen
6 min read

The Toilet-Scrubbing, Traveling Couple Answered Questions for Wetravel: How hard are you willing to work in order to travel to the most beautiful places in the world? This dynamic couple has turned it into an art-form and answer questions we’ve all been wondering. Now, they are offering a course sharing their secrets to trip planning! These two people have got to be the hardest working, kindest people I have ever encountered. They took the time out of their busy lives to answer questions for a brand new, blog editor with hardly a following. Read more to get to know the couple a little better.

How Far From Home Mantra: Experiences over Possessions

We’re all searching for happiness in a variety of different ways. Many devote most of their time striving for the perfect career because a great job seems to be where the “happy” people are. Whether it feeds a passion or simply pays a decent salary, it seems obvious that a career is a surefire way to reach a happy life. At the very least, money is often such a high priority because many equate luxury to happiness. To those who seek fulfillment in material possessions, take note: studies show we ought to pay for experiences over material possessions. Instead of buying that new watch or purse, use that money to try scuba diving, wine-tasting, or traveling. I think you and I at Wetravel can certainly sing to that tune.

Hydra Greece. Image Source

Happiness at What Cost?

Suppose your funds are completely depleted. What would you do to live your dreams? You may know about this South African couple who left their advertising jobs to travel the world only to end up scrubbing toilets. They are Chanel Cartell & Stevo Dirnberger behind the blog How Far From Home, and such an eye-catching sentence brought thousands of people to read about their lives. With society’s career-driven priorities, people wanted to find out whether surely their career trade in was a terrible mistake. The real picture of their lives is not actually quite so bleak. When you read their blog posts they admit their life isn’t all glamour but it’s far from miserable. This power-couple definitely supports the theory of experiences over possessions. I was able to get a hold of them and find out a little bit more about how they do it all. These two are travel influencers to the max.

Chanel Cartell & Stevo Dirnberger in South Africa

The Hardest Working People Who Left Their Jobs

Stevo and Chanel make an incredible team and take stunning photos of their journey. They show that hard work can really reap some amazing rewards.

CN: Your blog talked about exchanging work such as polishing wine glasses, moving rocks, and most famously, scrubbing toilets. Have people offered help or gifts purely from generosity?

HFFH: Oh my goodness, yes. People have been incredible! We’ve had people offering us their already-paid-for Airbnb apartments, holiday homes, dinners, and rooms at their homes. We’ve had offers from all over North America, Australia, Asia, South America, and almost every country in Europe. We are so blown away by the human spirit.

CN: What has been some of the kindest gestures from people?

HFFH: I think just the mere thoughtfulness of inviting us to stay in their home. I mean, they’ve never met us, yet they are open and willing to have us stay with them. We feel blessed.

… and are yet to take someone up on their offer 😉

CN: What methods did you use to sell your possessions before embarking. You started around two months before embarking to sell as much as you could?

HFFH: After selling Chanel’s car at the closest car dealership, our plan was to create a PDF document with photos and descriptions of all our remaining possessions, and circulate the document through our offices, and friends and family. Having sold 99% of our stuff that way, I think we ended up with 1 or 2 items that we ended up sending down to Stevo’s parents’ home – namely his car, and some kitchen items.

CN: The news about scrubbing toilets really got some attention, but you both seem to be very happy with your traveling lives. Do you agree with the idea that the key to happiness is holding experiences over material possessions?

HFFH: Absolutely. We lived by the mantra before departing on our journey, and if anything, this trip has just made us believe it more. We buy items like underwear, socks, floss, and other toiletries, only when we really need, and spend the rest of our limited resources on any experience that will be worthwhile, and will give us the best memories. Most recently, for example, we took a tour around Florence in a vintage 1967 Fiat 500 to celebrate our 5 year anniversary. You can’t buy memories like that.

Silhouette Photography is just one example of how they've turned traveling into an art.
Silhouette Photography is just one example of how they’ve turned traveling into an art.

CN: How has the attention been positive?

HFFH: The amount of support we have received from friends, family and complete strangers part of our community, has been mind-blowing! We honestly feel so grateful every time we hear someone standing up for us on our blog, or on other platforms. There are so many amazing people out there.

CN: Has there been any negatives such as hate comments or skeptics? 

HFFH: I think there always will be. Our type of lifestyle or choice to do things a certain way will never agree with everyone, and we don’t really take the “hate comments” or skeptics too seriously…we don’t even take ourselves too seriously, so everything with a pinch of salt 🙂

CN: Do you guys feel like celebrities?

HFFH: Haha, no no, not celebrities at all. Although we got a shock when we had two HFFH community members spot us in Florence and Istanbul, asking us if we’re “the couple with the board”. It feels great to know that there’s people all over the world joining us on our journey, and we hope we’re inspiring wanderlust in all of them. This world is so beautiful – it’s a shame if it’s not explored.

CN: How do you handle regular blog posts, answering questions, and interviews? Do you have extra help?

HFFH: No currently doing everything ourselves. It’s tough balancing writing, art creation, community management and media responses whilst being on-the-road with limited wi-fi access, but somehow we’re managing. It’s honestly so rewarding hearing the voices of so many people from all over the world – we genuinely love doing it and wouldn’t want anyone else handling it.

CN: Do you find it difficult not having a place of your own to call home?

HFFH: Yes and no. It’s hard when you look back and realise that you’ve slept in over 20 different beds in the short space of 6 months, making it feel somewhat crazy. But then you think about all the magical places we’ve seen because of it, and all the incredible people we’ve met along the way – it’s absolutely worth it!

CN: Do you see this lifestyle continuing indefinitely?

HFFH: I don’t think indefinitely, as we’ve already named the 4 four dogs we’re going to have someday, and that would probably require us to settle (or would it…hmmmm…), but for the next 6 months, definitely. After Feb 2016, we have no solid plans, and we like it that way! Makes it exciting, and also rewarding to live in the moment now and enjoy the ride.

We would greatly like to thank Chanel and Stevo for taking the time to answer all our questions. They are incredibly influential people who stand for living life to the fullest. You don’t have to quit your job and sell all of your belongings to travel, but these two people set examples for what amazing things can be possible. They embody what is that mystical thing about travel that is so rewarding to our happiness. So, remember that it doesn’t have to be all about a career to be able to afford experiences. Keep following them on their journey through their blog, twitter, and instagram. We wish them the greatest luck in all their endeavors.

Right now, Chanel and Stevo are offering a course on Skillshare on how to plan out your dream trip on a budget. The course is free this week, Jan 11-15, or the first month trial. They discuss things like planning out your goals of what you’ve always wanted to see or do, and anticipating expenses and surprises along the way. If you are feeling a little overwhelmed about planning an extensive trip on your own, feel free to check out some trips that our trip organizers are offering this year!


Any inquiries please reach the blog editor, Christina Nguyen, at