They quit their jobs to travel the world, but their photos don't tell the whole story.


A picture tells a thousand words… except when you have the help of a neat Instagram filter.

On March 2nd this year, South African 20-somethings Chanel and Stevo quit their jobs in advertising and quickly became the envy of thousands of people.

They sold most of their belongings, set up a blog and an Instagram account that has currently amassed more than 60,000 followers, and decided to travel the world.

Their blog told stories of travels through Denmark, Sweden and Austria, their Instagram photos of beautiful destinations and breathtaking views.

It was literally picture perfect.

It also was nowhere near the full story.

In their most recent blog post, Chanel and Stevo have told of the ‘behind the scenes’ realities that they haven’t yet documented.

“It’s not all ice-creams in the sun and pretty landscapes. Noooooo. So far, I think we’ve tallied 135 toilets scrubbed, 250 kilos of cow dung spread, 2 tons of rocks shovelled, 60 metres of pathway laid, 57 beds made, and I cannot even remember how many wine glasses we’ve polished.”

Chanel and Stevo’s Instagram. Source: Instagram/Howfarfromhome.

Despite coming from comfortable lives, the couple wrote of having to pick up these odd jobs in order to continue financing their trip.

The post continued, “You see, to come from the luxuries we left behind in Johannesburg, to the brutal truth of volunteer work, we are now on the opposite end of the scale. We’re toilet cleaners, dog poop scoopers, grocery store merchandisers, and rock shovelers.”

“It’s painstakingly hard and dirty work.”

Although they talk about the rewards of the last few months, they also called them “some of the dirtiest and smelliest, and we’ve had to adapt with the least amount of necessities and food.”

“We eat jam on crackers most days, get roughly 5hrs of sleep per night, and lug our extremely heavy bags through cobbled streets at 1am, trying to find our accommodation (because bus fares are not part of the budget, obviously).”

Chanel and Stevo’s Instagram. Source: Instagram/Howfarfromhome.

After reading their post, I for one was furious. How dare they make myself and other followers so envious of their perfect lives?


How dare they keep up this illusion for so long, deceive us into believing that we were all living a lesser life because we held down a job and had a regular income?

How very dare they?

But… This is the point where I need to admit something.

I am so, so guilty of this. In fact, I did it just last week.

On a recent trip to the Hunter Valley, I asked a friend to take a photo of me as I liked my outfit. I later filtered this photo on Instagram (minimal saturation, a lot of contrast, sharpening, brightness and warmth for good measure) before posting it.

In the end I nailed it, just look:


But the other photos tell a different story.

But this wasn’t the first time.

On a recent trip to Thailand, I posted some beautiful pictures of the ocean and a couple of strategically posed bikini shots (including one of me diving into said ocean, two birds one stone etc).

Here is one of the winning photos:

Yeah I know. It’s awesome. But to get there, many, many shots had to die.

Maybe I, like Chanel and Stevo, am merely using my accounts as a beautiful cover for our otherwise very unglamorous lives.

But then I scroll through my Instagram feed and reminisce about all the wonderful, highly filtered memories I created on it, and I smile.

And really, like life, you only get one shot at your Instagram post.

Why not make it the best one?

h/t Adweek

Are you guilty of airbrushing reality from your social media feed?