Cleo Woman

Yolanda Edwards

Can you tell us a bit about yourself and your journey to where you are today?

I have always been obsessed with photography and travel. One of my first jobs was at Conde Nast Traveler in the mid 90s, when I was a junior photo editor. I met with so many photographers who were coming in to show their work—hoping to get an assignment. I learned so much from my meetings with them—namely—they had the best intel. From then on I was convinced there should be a magazine that actually got at the really cool places around the world that you’d have to have heard about from someone who actually went there. I worked in magazines for a long time, and when I finally lost my dream job (which happened to be at Conde Nast Traveler, round 2—I went back there in 2013), I decided it was time to make the travel magazine I had always wanted to read. Yolo Journal isn’t a comprehensive guide to any one place—it’s more of a travel moodboard. I recently started a newsletter, Yolo Intel, that gets at all the nitty gritty that makes the trip actually become a reality.

What is your favorite part about running a creative business focused on travel?

Travel changed my life—even before I actually went anywhere. When I was in middle school I was looking for escape, and found it in fashion magazines (I studied the locations more than the fashion!) and in the New York Times travel section. Just imagining that there were these places around the world gave me something to dream about. Fast forward to now—being able to provide some escape and inspiration for people—nothing makes me happier. Of course I love the travel, but it’s the helping people figure out how to travel in a meaningful way that makes me excited.

What is your favorite destination you have ever been to? What about in the past year?

I love Greece. It is a country that has beautiful options at every price point, the kindest people, and just beautiful, simple rhythms. This year I went to Oaxaca for the first time and fell deeply in love with it. 

How do you think the travel industry shifted in the past year? 

I think it’s become a bit kinder and gentler. From airlines completely relaxing their cancellation policies, to the genuine joy and enthusiasm from previously cranky Parisian concierges—I think none of us are taking anything for granted anymore. 

If you could recommend one hotel or area to our readers to visit in the cooler months, where would it be?

It’s so hard to recommend just one—since everyone is so spread out—and some want warm weather in the cooler months, and some want to embrace the cold! But my favorite hotel in the colder months would be Cobbler’s Cove in Barbados, if I’m going somewhere warm! And if I’m going to embrace the cold, I’d go to the cozy Fife Arms in Scotland. 

What is your favorite part about the fall season?

I love the crisp air, the hiking we tend to do more of (and the sounds of the leaves when we’re walking), and the food we eat: more stews, braises, and roasts. Everything seems to move at a slightly slower pace, and I love that. 

What’s one piece of advice you would give to your younger self?

Life seems to go slowly when you’re younger, and then at a certain point it starts to speed up and you realize you spent a lot of time thinking you would always have so much of it. If you can push yourself to see/do/try something new every year, you will never regret it. Also, write down your hopes and dreams—it’s amazing to look back and see that you put yourself on a path and are manifesting it. 

Do you have any daily rituals that help keep you grounded? Any travel rituals that help you when abroad?

I always unpack my suitcase even if I’m only in a hotel for one night—it makes me feel settled even if it’s more work to unpack and repack. I often bring a vial of lavender essential oil and breathe that in before I go to bed. And I always go on a morning run no matter where I am! 

If someone were to ask for your best travel tip or advice, what would it be?

Do as much research as you can way in advance—even if you’re not even planning to go anywhere. Read books that are based in the place, are about the place….listen to the music of the place…in short, go deep. In this way, you’re always in a travel state of mind. 

Any upcoming travel plans or bucket list destinations you can’t wait to visit? 

I’m heading to Scotland this week, then Sicily!  And I really hope to get to Uzbekistan sometime soon!

What is a favorite quote of yours? Or a special saying that you go back to time and time again?

Ithaka by CP Cavafy is my favorite poem, and has been since I first read it when I was 18. This is the whole poem—but I’ll also put a section I prefer should this be too long.

As you set out for Ithaka

hope your road is a long one,

full of adventure, full of discovery.

Laistrygonians, Cyclops,

angry Poseidon—don’t be afraid of them:

you’ll never find things like that on your way

as long as you keep your thoughts raised high,

as long as a rare excitement

stirs your spirit and your body.

C. P. Cavafy, "The City" from C.P. Cavafy: Collected Poems. Translated by Edmund Keeley and Philip Sherrard. Translation Copyright © 1975, 1992 by Edmund Keeley and Philip Sherrard. Reproduced with permission of Princeton University Press.

Do you have any book or podcast recommendations that you are especially loving right now for our community?

I’m reading all the books from my friend’s new Hydra Book Club. We wrote all about it in our recent Yolo Intel newsletter! (