In what has been a near-impossible year for travel, many of us have had to make do with daydreaming of far-flung destinations. Helping to inspire our collective wanderlust has been YOLO Journal, a stunningly curated travel magazine founded and edited by creative multi-hyphenate Yolanda Edwards. Yolanda is an avid globetrotter whose innate curiosity has lead her to live a thrilling life on the move. She's most content when immersing herself in the unfamiliar and collecting new experiences – whether she's road-tripping through Morocco or soaking up the sunshine in Ischia. With lockdown restrictions having derailed many of her travel plans, Yolanda has spent the past few months collating some of the most inspiring pages of YOLO Journal, optimistically offering up hope for a not-so-distant future of unencumbered travel.

We caught up with Yolanda to chat about her path to establishing YOLO Journal, her enduring passion for print and how her insatiable appetite for travel only continues to intensify. 

Can you tell us a bit about what you do and your professional journey so far?

I’m the founder of YOLO Journal, which I started two years ago, when my job as the creative director of Condé Nast Traveler was eliminated. I’ve always worked on the creative side of magazines – starting as a photo editor around 20 years ago. I’m also the creative director of my husband Matt Hranek’s men’s lifestyle magazine called WM Brown, and I do some creative consulting. 

What was the idea behind YOLO Journal?

I had always wanted a travel magazine that showed real finds from interesting people, not just industry news from people within the industry. In my job, I was always meeting well-travelled people who told me about the most interesting places – but that just wasn’t the kind of intel on the pages of travel magazines. When street style became a real thing – idealising style over fashion – I thought, now this is what we need to happen in the travel editorial world. I think we all want to know what people with taste have found on their travels throughout the world and in their own backyard… and we don’t really care as much about what new hotel is opening in what town. I wanted to make a visual platform, in print, for this kind of content. 

What do you think is the value of print publishing in the digital age?

There is a 'getting lost' feeling that happens when you look at print. We’re so activated when we are looking at our screens, and while they are amazing tools, it’s important to be able to turn off a bit, which I think we do when we are looking at the printed page. However, it means that print needs to actually supply the reader with an escape, which to me means no ugly ads that basically take you out of immersive escape mode.

Where does your passion for travel stem from?

I never felt like I fit into my family – and I always looked to magazines for inspiration on what a different life could look like. I started working as soon as I could, and saved all my money to travel, going by myself on my first trip to Europe when I was 16. I had never felt so free – or so inspired. And I still get that same feeling every time I travel. 

Has your approach to travel shifted at all since lockdown began?

In the first few months when none of us were sure when we would every leave our house again, I focused on looking back at all the places we had been in the last decade… savouring every memory. Then in the summer when things started to open up a bit, and we could go to our favourite restaurants and sit outside and see people again, I appreciated everything at a whole new level. On my first flight since lockdown, I burst into tears the moment the plane took off. I hope I will never take travel for granted again. And I aspire to travel deeper. To really take the time in between trips to research and really have a richer experience when I hit the ground. 

Where do you live and what do you love most about your home?

I live between Brooklyn and upstate New York. I love how my home provides the great balance to my travels – routines and better laundry. 

As a frequent traveller, what does home mean to you?

Home is wherever my family and dear friends are. 

Have your travels informed your approach to interior styling within your own home?

I am definitely a memory collector – and besides taking a ton of photos, I like to bring certain things home that will remind me of place. I have little vignettes around the house that I put together – usually it’s a ceramic bowl, with some stones or shells from a trip, next to a photo I picked up at a flea market, against stack of books that I collected from my travels. 

What do you do to decompress?

We have a place in upstate New York, where the wifi connection is sketchy, and all we do is take long walks, read cookbooks, and plan what we’re eating next. 

When do you feel most inspired?

When I’m on the road, or when I’m looking at vintage travel magazines or ephemera. 

How do you get out of a creative rut?

My best ideas come to me when I’m in the shower. It’s the one place there is no distraction of a device!

List your top three...

…in-flight essentials?

  • Susanne Kaufmann Hand Care Travel Kit
  • Toast navy cashmere sweater
  • Bach Rescue Remedy

…underrated travel destinations?

  • The Medoc region in France!
  • Chile
  • New York State

…bucket list destinations?

  • Paestum, Italy
  • Highway 1 in California
  • Island hopping in the Dodecanese Islands

For more insight into creative minds, check out our interviews with Olivia Lopez and Ruben Hughes.