I Travel 168 Days A Year & Always Pack This

"I just want to travel for a living": This is a phrase we've all probably said at one point or another (okay, okay, we're always saying it). But let's be real, who wouldn't want to get paid to see the world — instead of the inside of a cubicle? Like all of us, Olivia Lopez, creator of the travel and style blog Lust For Life, got the urge to explore early on. "When I was 16, I told my dad I wanted to get paid to travel and go to music festivals," Lopez tells Refinery29 — though she had zero clue at the time that it was actually a viable career.
Fast-forward a few years, and Lopez's teenage dream had suddenly become a reality. Her after-school hobby blogging on Lust For Life had garnered her so much recognition that she was booking gigs abroad, working with major fashion magazines, and scoring serious cash to attend those music festivals she dreamed about. Major #lifegoals, right?
Now, at 24, Lopez is a professional girl on the go — she's checked 35 different countries off her list and spends up to two weeks each month traveling (though it varies by season). Her life is a whirlwind of jet-setting to stunning destinations like the beaches of Tulum, Mexico or the Australian Outback, scouting some of the most Insta-worthy spots to share on her feed, and offering up equal doses of wanderlust and style inspiration on her perfectly designed blog. Ahead, we chat with Lopez about how she turned an obsession into a legit job, how to pack like an expert globe-trotter (hint: MCM crossbody bags are key), and the benefits of disconnecting — even when your career relies on social media.
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Photographed by Kristine Lopez
You started Lust For Life when you were just a teenager. What kind of career did you envision for yourself back then?

"When I was in school, I took on a few fashion internships, but I didn't have any intention of pursuing a job in the industry. No one in my family had worked in a creative field, so I really didn't know that having that type of career was an option. I always thought, One day I'm going to have a more serious job. But by 2012, I started getting a lot of international travel gigs through the blog, and I'd have to tell my professors that I needed to miss classes for these once-in-a-lifetime opportunities. One day, one of my them was like, 'Why don't you just do this full-time? It sounds like you're already getting great work experience.'"

Where do you think your passion for traveling and exploring new cultures stems from?

"My parents helped cultivate my love for travel early on — we spent a lot of summers on road trips. Once I got older, my girlfriends and I started to go on short weekend vacations. I've just always loved the energy of being on the move and seeing a new place."
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Photographed by Kristine Lopez
You grew up in L.A. and still live there full-time. Do you think the city has a big influence on your style? Does your style change depending on where you are?

"L.A. definitely influences me, but I'd say my style changes depending on the city I'm in. How I dress in L.A. is so different from how I dress in Paris or Tulum, for example. Usually when I'm going to a new place, I'll look up all of the different landmarks that I want to visit to get a vibe for each destination. The things that I pack are complementary to that vibe. Shopping abroad is also really important to me. From a small beach town to a big city, the great thing about fashion is that it's universal. No matter where you go, you can always find local designers or artisans."

How would you describe your fashion philosophy?

"I think it's all about not focusing too much on trends and really honing in on the things that you're drawn to. With blogging, it's really easy to see what everybody else is wearing and be unintentionally influenced by it. I think it's important to keep a pure outlook and spend some time offline checking out things like movies, music shows, or art exhibits. You can tap into your personal style more when you have interests outside of what you see on the internet."
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Photographed by Kristine Lopez
As someone who's always on the go, you must be a pro at packing. What are some of the things you think about when you're gearing up for a trip?

"I think it's much easier to pack when you opt for classic pieces, because you can take fewer, more versatile items. I'll often pack interesting accessories, but usually the clothes that I take are timeless, as opposed to being trend-driven. When you travel a lot, you tend to invest in higher-quality pieces because you really need to get the maximum wear out of everything that you bring. You learn how to live with less — because you realize having more stuff just weighs you down."

What's one accessory you can't leave behind when you're traveling?

"I always carry a crossbody bag. I think it's great for when you're heading to the airport — it can store your passport and those basic essentials that you're always taking out of your purse."
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Photographed by Kristine Lopez
What's your absolute favorite place you've ever been to?

"That's such a hard question — it's like picking your favorite child. I guess, because I just got back from Paris, I'll say Paris. I think it hits on all of the senses for me. It's great for architecture, museums, food, and fashion. The whole lifestyle element of being in France — it touches you at every level."

Traveling so much can take its toll. What's your ideal way to recharge when you're back home in Los Angeles?

"The one thing I love about L.A. is that everyone's so conscious about wellness here. My ideal day would start off with yoga and then a trip to the farmer's market. From there, I'd check out a new gallery or some shops in the neighborhood, and end the evening over a long dinner with friends."
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Photographed by Kristine Lopez
With social media, it's easy to feel like we know people we haven't actually met IRL. What's one thing people might be surprised to learn about you?

"Despite the glossy photos, I’m a really private person and a lot of my intimate, in-between moments don’t get documented. I think it’s easy to forget that social media is often a highlight reel of our experiences, and for an introverted person like myself, expressing beauty in whatever form is how I handle stress or difficult times. Sometimes it’s just the right moment of light."

You aren't afraid to use your blog or Instagram account to voice your opinion on political issues, like the Women's March. Why is it important for you to use your social platforms to speak out about current events?

"I think the most powerful thing about social media is being able to share personal experiences and perspectives in a safe environment, and, when it comes to matters that shape our identities, it's critical to share how we've arrived at those perspectives. I am an immigrant, a woman, and a minority in America. My job involves active engagement with people who come from different walks of life. It goes beyond just expanding the stamps in my passport, but really being receptive and embracive to diversity. I think it's important to share our stories and views because it allows people to look beyond the abstraction and see that there are real people involved with what's at stake."
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Photographed by Kristine Lopez
Lust For Life is a very aspirational blog. What do you hope readers take away from your on-site content?

"I hope people walk away feeling inspired — whether that's tackling a new, creative project, or booking a flight for a trip they've always wanted to take. Lust for Life has always been about the joy of living and encouraging exploration."

You turned a hobby into your dream job. Any advice for people that want to do the same?

"My advice would be to nurture all of your random, weird curiosities. Explore your interests — that's how my site and my career evolved. Sometimes little things lead to bigger opportunities. When I started Lust for Life, I had a five-year plan of what I thought my life and the blog would look like. Little did I know that fueling my obsessions could create opportunities that took me on an off-road adventure."