Olga Chagunava is a London based travel photographer creating romantic, lush captures of landscapes and intimate moments from near and far. Olga (who you may know as @LiolaLiola on Instgram) is a true citizen of the world. Born in Germany, she called seven other countries home before settling in the United Kingdom. After following @LiolaLiola on Instagram and YouTube for many years, we’re very excited to share her story with you!
Hi LiolaLiola! Could you tell us a little about your back story?
Since I was a child, traveling was a big part of my life. I was born in Germany and grew up in seven other countries. London has been my home for the past twelve years. Last year, I quit my full time job at YouTube/Google to pursue my dream to travel and explore the world through photography and videography.
Amazing. Did you always want to travel the world? Where do you think your curiosity for adventure came from?
I can’t imagine life without travel. I’m so used to it, I find it strange when I don’t leave London at least once a month, even if it’s escaping the city to the countryside! I believe that’s because of the fact that during my childhood I was always on the road.
So, what has been your favorite destination so far and why?
I always find it so difficult to answer this question. There’s no such thing a favorite destination, in my opinion. Different destinations offer different experiences and it all depends what experience you crave at this moment of your life.
I really love Georgia, partly because it’s a wonderful country that has so much to offer. From breathtaking landscapes, delicious food and the most welcoming people – I’m partial because I’m ⅓ Georgian and I have a huge sentiment for this country.
Queensway, Australia has my heart, especially Byron Bay. There’s something truly magical in this place. It’s hard to explain what exactly. Maybe it’s the ocean and nature. Maybe the feeling of freedom and never ending summer. I guess you can only understand it, when you go there and feel it yourself.
I’m forever in love with English countryside. Wherever you go, it feels like you are taken back in time and you are stepping in sort of magical fairytale. Yorkshire and Cotswolds are my favorite.
All of those sound so dreamy. Where did your first taste of adventure begin? Did it leave an impact on you?
My first big trip was to Brazil in 2008. I used to train in capoeira (a physical discipline and movement originating in Brazil, quite like a martial art and dance form) and I was very lucky to be taught by a capoeira master, Mestre Caboclin who is originally from Fortaleza, Brazil. He founded Capoeira Ceara school in London and invited his London students to join him on the trip to Brazil to train in capoeira with local teachers and masters.
I remember how fascinated and excited I was during that trip. Everything was so different compared to what I knew before. I had never been outside of Europe before, so it was a true adventure for me. While training in capoeira with local students we had a chance to explore Fortaleza, Salvador de Bahia and Canoa Quebrada. I remember how amazed I was by hospitality and kindness of people in Brazil. I would love to return to Brazil and explore more of this beautiful country. Hopefully soon!
What lessons have you learned from your experiences traveling?
That regardless of culture and religion, we are all the same. Love, happiness and peace are universal languages.
Alright, this is a hard question. Olga – why do you travel?
Traveling is good for your soul. It makes you humble, it makes you kinder, it makes you seeing the world differently. The more I travel, the more compassionate and less judgmental I become.
We so agree. As a woman, why do you think it’s important for other women to explore the world?
There are two things that girls should remember, when traveling, especially solo travelers.
The world is not that scary as it is being portrayed in the media, but always use common sense and intuition. Trust but double check. Don’t be scared of traveling and exploring the world, but make sure you put safety first.
Do you know any travel hacks or tips?
To avoid jet lag, drink lots of water before and during the flight. Switch your clock to the time of your destination, this way you will be able to adapt to the timezone quicker. Try to avoid airplane food, as it contains lots of sodium and chemicals. Instead bring your own food. If you can, right after reaching your destination do something active – maybe a yoga session, a quick run or a swim. This will make your blood floating and make you feel good.
Amazing tips. Is there anything you’d like for other Dame Travelers to know?
I can’t wait to get my copy of The Dame Traveler book!