7 min read
Travel Influencers: the Business of Vacationing with How Far From Home
We’ve all drooled over the envy-worthy content of travel influencers. But exactly how much work goes into their picture-perfect holidays?
We chatted to the nomadic duo behind How Far From Home to find out about life on the road and whether they hanker for some time off from vacay.
Stevo and Chanel, the brains behind the biz.
Chanel and Stevo are the globetrotting duo behind How Far From Home. Four years ago the team from South Africa quit their advertising careers and, after a sabbatical, dedicated their lives to capturing travel content.
And what content they create! Their postcard-perfect Instagram feed is offset by candid and informative Stories. Their YouTube videos are the kind you watch right to the end. And throughout their content, Chanel and Stevo’s wit shines through – they don’t take themselves too seriously, but they clearly love what they do.
Partnering with brands like Nikon has turned travel into a business for the pair. As they’re using Linktree we chatted to them from Italy about how they switch off, what they’re packing and how they’re fitting all this in around planning their 2020 wedding!
What’s your travel schedule looking like? Are you planning it all yourselves?
“Ooh at the moment it’s absolute chaos! We’ve just finished off a 6-week tour through Italy, heading to Belgium tomorrow, then Poland on Monday, and then we head to New York in mid-August, followed by South Africa and Mauritius. Chaos! Some trips we’ve planned for us, others are work gigs with very specific itineraries.”
Do you get homesick?
“Yes, sometimes. We’ve been living this non-stop travel life for over 4.5 years, so we definitely miss the idea of home, and all the comforts like family and friends nearby, our own bed, a dog…but for now we’re fighting through it and focusing on all the incredible experiences we’re fortunate enough to enjoy.”
At what point did you switch How Far From Home from side hustle to pro?
“To be honest, we never had it as a side hustle. When we quit our advertising jobs in 2015 and sold all our belongings to travel (which was very scary – but exciting too), we went all in and haven’t looked back since.
“The first year was very different as we traveled purely on savings, doing a lot of volunteer work, but as our skills as photographers and video content creators improved, we started getting clients, which turned our journey from a sabbatical into a lifestyle, so I guess we could say we’ve been running a content agency since November 2015.”
"As our skills as photographers and video content creators improved, we started getting clients, turning our journey from sabbatical to a lifestyle!"
What are all the types of content you gather from a trip?
“It really depends on the type of trip we’re on. If it’s a personal trip for us, we’ll aim to get a few pics for our Instafeed, some valuable video footage and photos for our InstaStories, (if there’s time) maybe enough footage to share a cool video on YouTube, and of course enough memorable experiences to write about on our blog.
“If it’s a work trip, with specific deliverables, then it can be anything from a bank of photos or a a film, to social content for our and the brand’s channels.”
What goes into some of your most engaging content? For example, a pic like this one:
100s of Photoshop layers, they say. Worth it, we say.
“We like to think of our photos as 20% location scouting, 20% actually taking the right shot with the best composition in mind, outfits, poses etc, and then 60% post-production. We like to treat each of our feed shots as works of art, so the time and craft that goes into the post-production is really important.
“That particular image was taken on the driveway of our hotel, using our drone, and we’d spent maybe 2hr gathering leaves from the town. We lay a few of them out, photographed them all separately, and then created the final image in Photoshop (with hundreds of layers, haha!).”
We’ve all been on trips where things don’t go to plan. What do you do when all else fails?
“Ah yes, that happens way too often! I think the most important thing you can bring with you on any trip is a good attitude. You have to be flexible and ready to go with the flow – even if it’s your island honeymoon that’s rained out!
“We’ve traveled across Iceland hoping to see one particular mountain, only to arrive with it covered by clouds. We’ve been on client jobs that required us to show a particular place in the summertime, only to have gloomy, cloudy weather as our backdrop. It happens.
“In terms of content, there’s always a way around it if you’re creative. Finding a creative spin on something will turn a dull situation into a brilliant piece of art. And of course there’s also planning – we recently traveled to Milan and knew that the Cathedral square would be filled with crowds…unless we beat them to it. So we woke up at 5:30am and got our magical shot”
Early bird catches the….perfect travel pic.
How do you balance content creation with relaxation?
“This is probably the thing we struggle with most. To be perfectly honest, the only way we can take a “holiday” or have a resting trip, is if we force ourselves, meaning leaving the camera gear at our hotel, going offline, and really staying present.
“It’s harder than it seems, and this year we’ll probably only have one or two weeks like this – the rest of the time we’re on assignment, or editing at our apartment or hotel.”
What marketing tools help with your brand and business?
“We keep it quite simple. Instagram is our biggest driver of new business – our feed is our portfolio, so people and clients that are drawn to our work will reach out through it.
“We of course have Linktree to gather all our links on Instagram, and on a practical level, we use Google Sheets to manage our entire travel calendar, client content calendars, and our budget.
“Our website is built through WordPress, and we use the Apple Notes app for all our written work – to-do lists, blog posts, invoice and payment tracking, FAQ responses…and everything else!
Travel makes you hungry, they say.
You always have the perfect outfits to compliment the environment – how much luggage are you travelling with?
“Haha, yes the outfit planning is intense! We always have one big bag each and one small bag filled with camera gear (all Douchebags products which we highly recommend).
“We try keep it to around 20-23kg each, and every 3-4 months we visit Steve’s aunt’s house in Austria where we do a little wardrobe swap – she lets us use a cupboard upstairs in her attic.
“We’re still very tough on ourselves, throwing clothes away if we buy new ones, but it definitely helps to have a cupboard somewhere to keep our winter clothes while we travel in summer and vice versa. Photoshop also works wonders to turn a pink skirt into a blue one if the image requires it!”
Was this skirt blue? Or maybe the water was pink? Only Chanel and Stevo will ever know.
You’ve got a big year ahead personally (congrats!). What plans do you have for your brand in the next year too?
“Thank you! Yes we’re super excited for our wedding in February 2020 – just over 6 months to go! It’s also going to be exciting for How Far From Home as we reinvent ourselves a little bit next year, with a new focus and new mission. We don’t want to say too much just yet, but change is coming… Oh, and of course expect lots of wedding-related content coming soon!”
And finally, what’s on your travel bucket list?
“We still have lots on the bucket list! We want to visit Chile, Argentina, China, South Korea, Botswana, Mexico, Uganda, Aruba, Alaska…we could probably write a much longer list, but we’ll stop there! So much to see and experience in our beautiful world!”
How Far From Home's Linktree
Chanel and Stevo are using Linktree to drive their audience to different facets of their business, whether that’s through sales of their presets or ebook, or growing their audiences on YouTube and their blog. Their Linktree is also where brands can connect with them for work opportunities. They’ve kept the look really neat, with a clear white background and a really targeted number of links, which don’t overwhelm the visitor. Critically, they’ve used social icons to ensure the viewer can find them on the social platform that matters most to them.
Huge thanks to Chanel and Stevo for chatting to us amid such a hectic schedule! Go follow their adventures right here.
Stay tuned for more intel from the inside of travel influence!