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‘We wanted to excel creatively’

By Chris Kitching Time of article published Jun 17, 2015

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London - Many people dream about leaving their jobs and travelling to exotic places around the world, but few have the guts to actually follow through with it.

Enter Chanel Cartell and Stevo Dirnberger, who have set off on an ambitious tour of the globe after leaving their careers in advertising and branding.

The 29-year-old travel bloggers from Joburg have come up with a creative way to show how far away they are from home, displaying a kilometre count in every Instagram snap from their journey.

So far they have covered just over 11 000km while travelling around Austria, Germany and Norway in the past two months.

They have plans to visit Sweden, Greece, Australia and Thailand in the coming months, and are keeping track of their travels on a blog.

When they made the decision to leave everything behind, Cartell was a creative director looking after clients such as Barclays and Vodacom, and Dirnberger was an art director at a top advertising agency. They were inspired after attending the Design Indaba Conference in Cape Town last year, when they attended a speech by Stefan Sagmeister, a graphic designer who is considered the “godfather of creative sabbaticals”.

They were living “set” lives with a home, cars and jobs, but were no longer feeling challenged and had grown tired of the daily grind.

Cartell said: “It was after hearing his theory of ‘time off’ that we knew it was what both of our creative minds needed.

“On a scale of one to 10, Stefan rates taking a creative sabbatical as a 12. Every seven years he closes his New York-based design studio for 365 days to pursue ‘little experiments’ that are difficult to complete while working full time.

“After hearing (Stefan’s) talk, and knowing that we couldn’t spend the next 30 years simply doing the same thing every day, we made a conscious decision to spend the next year saving every last cent, so we could also enjoy time off to pursue our own experiments, and not live how society says we should.

“We wanted to challenge ourselves to see how we could excel creatively, and what better time to do that, than right now?”

The couple, who met on a blind date in 2010, had never travelled extensively before and saw it as the perfect opportunity to experience other cultures and languages, and meet people from around the world.

But first they had to convince their families that it was a good idea.

Cartell said: “I think the best term to describe their reactions was bittersweet. Although a little sad that we’d be forced to only stay in contact through Skype and WhatsApp, every single one of our friends and family members has been excited and supportive.

“They knew that it was something that we just had to do.”

Cartell and Dirnberger said they were covering all of the travel costs with their savings and money earned from selling their belongings, and they had been sponsored by Jawbone, which provided two Up electronic wristbands. The wearable technology allows users to count steps taken and track their eating and sleeping habits.

During their travels they have been using the website Workaway, which offers travellers free accommodation and food in exchange for volunteer work.

So far the couple has lined up three Workaway hosts – a husky farm in the Arctic Circle, a Swedish camp site and a dog training facility near Florence, Italy. Along the way they are attempting to cross items off their “wanderlist”, including standing on the peak of a mountain in the Alps, taking a selfie with a koala, catching salmon in Alaska, and taking a photo outside the home from the TV series Full House in San Francisco.


Cartell said: “Depending on the city and experience we’re after, we always have to go the budget route, and if that means sharing a room with a cat – we’re both dog people, so this was tough for us – or living in a closet converted into a room, as long as it’s out of our comfort zone, we’re open to anything.

“When the money runs dry, we may need to exchange our creative skills for accommodation, so that should get really interesting.”

They’re hoping to cross all 63 items off their growing “wanderlist” before the trip ends. As of right now they plan to return home later this year.

Chanel said: “Budget-wise, we have only planned until the end of December this year. After that, who knows?”

* Visit their blog on Instagram

Daily Mail

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