Lola was born to travel. Before she was one she was off travelling the world. Based in Sweden Lola is a National Geographic Creative who has made travel a lifestyle for her family, not a novelty. Now that’s Living The Dream.
Lola Akinmade Åkerström
What was the first country you visited? Who with and why did you choose it?
I believe it was the UK before I turned one year old. I grew up in Nigeria and I come from a family of avid travelers, starting with my grandfather who was into shipping and traveled a lot; to my father who is still all over the globe working as a geologist.
So I didn't consciously choose the UK but since then, I've been there so many times. The three countries we visited quite a long during my childhood were the US, UK, and Italy.
To date, I've been to roughly 60 countries with multiple trips to the same countries.
When did you start a travel lifestyle? What inspired that change?
I can pinpoint exactly when this lifestyle was born. It was in 2002 when I volunteered to be a field journalist for Eco-Challenge - a pretty cool expedition race at that time - in Fiji with side trips to Australia and New Zealand.
For three weeks, we traversed the entire length and breadth of the country - from its deepest jungles to sailing its oceans - and my job was to write reports about what we saw and experienced, interview the competitors and athletes themselves, and write stories about Fiji for the expedition's official website.
That world opened up my eyes to a whole new lifestyle beyond my job as a programmer, and when I returned home, I started plotting my new life filled with a ton more travel but more importantly, earning a living from travel.
Do you have a base you travel from? Or is it continuous travel? And why do you choose that style?
I do have a home base here in Stockholm, Sweden, mostly because I'm married with a young family and it's a wonderful country that understands work-life balance. My family and I travel quite a bit as well and I'm grateful that travel has become a lifestyle as opposed to a novelty for my family.
For the type of work I do through travel, having a home base has been good for my career as well. I run a Stockholm-dedicated editorial site called Slow Travel Stockholm - which is the other hat I wear when I'm not traveling on assignment, and I cover Scandinavia and the Baltics for various high profile publications.
How do you fund your travel lifestyle? Is it something you do when travelling or are you a saver?
I have definitely made travel and writing about travel an income-earning lifestyle. Beyond freelancing for various travel publications as both a writer, editor, and photographer, I'm a consultant and I work on building partnerships and collaborations with various travel brands and destination marketing organizations. I also earn some money from being represented by National Geographic Creative as well.
If you could tell yourself one tip before you started your travel lifestyle, what would it be?
It would have been to stick with my own blog from the very beginning instead of writing for others.
I got into the game very early alongside other popular travel bloggers and we split into two camps - those who went to write and pour their souls into someone else's vision, and those who decided to just stick with their own visions and build their own sites.
Now the industry is congested and those who got in early rode that initial wave. Of course, hindsight is 20/20 but this is something I would change if I could go back and give myself a practical tip.
What does "Living The Dream" mean to you?
Living the Dream means having full freedom of choice. It means being able to enjoy what you do as well as having the privilege to do what you enjoy. It means living such a flexible lifestyle that I spend a lot of time with my husband and kids without the pressure of a traditional 9-5 job.
I left a very lucrative career as a system architect. While I did enjoy my old life, this new lifestyle is what I was born to be living and doing, and I'm privileged to be able to share my talents and skillsets through this route.
And for that, I'm super grateful.
You can find Lola Akinmade Åkerström here -
Website: Lola Akinmade
As a Stockholm-based writer and photographer, Lola's work has appeared in National Geographic Traveller, BBC, CNN, The Guardian, Travel + Leisure, Slate, Lonely Planet, Fodor's, several in-flight magazines, and many more.