At the onset of summer and crunch time for vacation planning, there is one person I wanted to speak with: Yolanda Edwards. The founder and creative director of Yolo Journal—a print magazine and Substack newsletter that distills what is cool in travel and culls advice from people with great taste who travel a lot—Edwards knows the best in travel. I first discovered the magazine in my hotel room at the Mezzatorre Hotel in Ischia when I was traveling to Italy in the summer of 2019 and was immediately struck by Edwards’ eye and insightful recommendations. In short, she is ahead of the curve about the best destinations to travel to and the exact hotels and restaurants to visit once you’re there.
Though she is now an arbiter of travel, it wasn’t always part of Edwards’ life growing up. “My parents lived quite humbly (…) and travel just wasn’t a part of their life,” she explains. But around the same time she started to figure out her personal style, she started to dream about travel. “Of course I didn’t have the means to look the part or do the things that I had pinned to my bedroom wall (those Calvin Klein ads shot by Bruce Weber of the model Josie in Santorini definitely and literally changed my life), but I spent my money buying the magazines that showed me this life I could dream about—and the locations were always the thing I fell in love with the most,” Edwards tells Who What Wear. “When my high school best friend’s parents invited me along on a European tour, I went, and it changed my life forever.”
Propelled by her fascination with travel, Edwards spent her early career at Conde Nast Traveler before launching Yolo Magazine, “to make a travel magazine I felt might be more aligned with how people want to travel now,” she explains. “We do black books on cities around the world, travel planners for countries we know everyone wants more inside intel on, and share our (and our friends’) discoveries from around the world. It’s really gratifying to work on it, especially after years of being only print and social, because it allows us to work with so many different people who have great intel, but aren’t great writers. Because after all, when you’re on the road and you’re looking for a solid suggestion, you want it from someone who gets it, and isn’t just good at writing about it.”
Curious to get an inside look at the best 2023 travel destinations, I asked Yolanda Edwards to share her recommends. Ahead, the six places that made the cut and everything to pack.