For our penultimate travel mag interview we catch up with Olivia Squire from Suitcase, who is just back from her summer holiday.
Where are you today?
Taking refuge from the sudden post-heatwave downpour at Suitcase HQ in London’s Bond Street, where I’m working on commissioning the content for our forthcoming 25th issue.
What was the first magazine you remember enjoying?
Smash Hits! Whilst I loved their brilliantly surreal interviews and pull-out posters of icons including Lee from 911 and Kavana, its legacy most tangibly lives on in the giveaway stickers I plastered all over my Discman, school ringbinder and keyring collection jar. (NB: I no longer collect keyrings or stickers of pop stars.)
Tell us about your first holiday.
Aside from lots of ice-cream-smeared family trips to the Med when I was small, my first independent holiday was the obligatory post-A-level bacchanal in Zante. We drank vodka out of saucepans and water pistols, danced to Shakira on bar tops and had a kissing competition (which I won). It was fantastic, and I never want to repeat it.
Are you a beach holiday or city break person?
I thrive in the anonymity and diversity of cities and used to think that lying on a sun lounger was a waste of time, but since hitting 30 I’ve become much more appreciative of the opportunity to switch off in the sunshine. However, given the choice I’d always rather dive into a backstreet bar than the sea (case in point: last November I chose Detroit over the Maldives for my first Suitcase article).
What has been your worst holiday experience?
I think bad stories tend to turn into good anecdotes, so I can’t recall any complete nightmares – however my best friend and I did once get stranded in Caracas for two days at the end of three months backpacking in South America, when bad weather meant we missed our flight home.
All illusions of having become independent adults crumbled as we cried down the phone to our parents, with my dad eventually having to start an argument at the flight counter at Heathrow in order to get us home. Thanks, Dad!
What is your magazine’s approach to travel?
Our tagline is “The Culture of Travel” – we’re a magazine for the modern traveller, using culture as a gateway into destinations around the world. Rather than focusing only on the latest luxury resorts or “hot” destinations, we create thoughtful, intelligent pieces by interesting people – accompanied with beautiful, original visuals – so that we can immerse our readers and provide an alternative perspective on the destinations we visit.
We want to inspire readers to consider different places and ways of travelling with purpose, impact and creativity rather than adopting a bucket-list approach.
Which holiday/trip from your magazine would you most like to experience?
So many! There’s a cycling trip across Transylvania’s villages in our autumn issue (Vol 24) that I’m dying to do – last winter I also sent a writer to an artist’s residence on a Norwegian archipelago completely solo (Vol 22) and would like to test my self-sufficiency and fuel my imagination like she did. I’d also love to visit the frontier towns of Arizona (Vol 23) and experience Fogo Island Inn in Newfoundland (Vol 21).
Which magazine(s) should people be taking away with them this summer?
I love Delayed Gratification and Positive News for giving a considered and often optimistic slant on world news. It’s really refreshing when so much coverage can feel sensational and doom-mongering – they’re a mental break without being mindless.
You promise to avoid tourist clichés – how do you square the desire for new adventures with the need to respect the environment?
This is something I think about a lot. We really try to promote travel experiences that are having a positive impact, whether it’s a pioneering sustainable hotel like Fogo Island Inn or a conservation and community-based project like Borana Lodge, as well as encouraging people to travel beyond the usual hotspots, support smaller operations rather than chains and engage with the local culture rather than skating along the surface.
As one of the world’s largest industries travel has an enormous potential to have a positive (as well as negative) impact, and it’s definitely part of our philosophy to seek out the projects, destinations and people that are making amazing efforts to support this point of view.
Where will you be taking a break this year?
I just got back from a week road-tripping around Corsica with a friend – driving along the northern coast and sipping rosé in the pretty citadel of Calvi were dreamy (above). So many Instagrammable pastel streets and shutters…