Olivia Lopez is the host of The Art of Travel podcast, the author of Lust for Los Angeles: A Lifestyle Guide to LA, and the founder of the new Bon Weekender, an eclectic and gorgeous online collection of photo essays, interviews, and destination features. With the world slowly getting back on the move, we spoke to Olivia about where she caught her wanderlust, her current projects, and how travel can move mindfully into a post-pandemic world.
What are the roots of your love of travel?
Since I was young, reading books and watching films inspired a sense of wonder and want to travel the world.
Tell us more about Bon Weekender and why you started it?
Although the lockdown seemed like an unlikely time to start thinking about travel, the pandemic actually helped a lot of people look inwards, assess their intentions, and shift perspective. Traveling extensively has been a core part of my work, but in the time leading up to the pandemic, a lot of the industries I worked in promoted a burnout culture that takes a toll on both the person and the planet. I really believe that motion and exposure to new ideas are a necessity of modern life, and wanted to find new ways to explore conscious travel themes.
How did the pandemic and the temporary halting of travel change your perspective?
Staying still allowed me the opportunity to reflect deeply about the “why” and ways I wanted to do pursue my work — both in travel and beyond.
What are some suggestions that you have for travelers trying to leave less of a footprint going forward?
There are many ways to reduce your footprint by taking a conscious approach to trip planning — you can do that by supporting green, boutique options, visiting agritourism hotels and lodgings, staying in destinations longer, and choosing locations that don’t require a vehicle to get around.
How do you see Bon Weekender evolving over the next couple of years?
I would love to build out the creative studio to collaborate with hospitality and lifestyle clients on visual identity and cultural programming.
We struggle in our business because we’re so drawn to ingredients and special items from all over the world but really the most sustainable thing to do is to look locally for what you need and discover what grows or what’s being produced around you. Do you find that the same struggle exists with travel — that the desire to go far and wide and looking for what’s special about LA and being closer to home can clash at times?
I definitely struggle with this, and it makes me think of the concept of glocal, "reflecting or characterized by both local and global considerations." I don’t think we live in a time where we can reverse engineer the effects of globalization, but on an individual level hopefully we can strive to make more conscious decisions to balance out the things that are not within our control. Because of the high carbon footprint that my job requires, every decision when I’m rooted at home is an aim to be as localized as possible — walking on foot, sourcing from the farmer’s market, recycling and upcycling, dining at vegan or plant-based restaurants, etc.
Fortunately LA is a city that offers so much, but there are limitations. Being in a foreign environment outside of your comfort zone opens your energy and senses. It can be confronting, awe-inspiring, serendipitous, or challenging. Traveling locally can be wonderful and familiar, but traveling abroad expands you and exposes you to new ideas in a way that local travel isn’t able to.
What prompted you to write Lust for Los Angeles?
A general love for LA and a curiosity to explore the cultural zeitgeist of the city.
A recent post mentioned “revenge travel” being on the horizon for a lot of us that felt grounded during the last year — anything especially vindictive on the horizon for you?
Research says that one of the most sustainable ways to travel is planning longer trips (which honestly, seems like a win-win for everyone.) This summer I’m spending June and July in Italy and Spain, where I’ll be recording the next season of The Art of Travel, writing stories for Bon Weekender, and decompressing for creative thinking time at an artist residency in Mallorca.
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Photography courtesy of Olivia Lopez and Bon Weekender