Lelo Boyana – 5 minutes with a jetsetter
Dream destinations on our doorstep
Lelo Boyana is the founder of Chica Travel, a platform she uses to share her love for travel and to motivate others to start creating their own travel experiences by sharing insights and tools you can use to plan trips around the world.
As part of Chica Travel, she runs a travel podcast in which she speaks to fellow travellers about the places they have been and she runs group trips that were inspired by the realisation that many black women want to travel but they don’t always have someone to travel with.
Boyana decided to keep her travel podcasts going when Covid-19 hit – mostly as an escape for people who wanted something to look forward to after the pandemic – and is looking forward to resuming her group trips again.
We spoke to the socialite about some of her own travels, how she sees the Covid-19 vaccine affecting travel and some of her best travel advice.
The fact that travel grinded to a halt last year had a huge impact on your business. How did you push through and are you starting to see an uptake in bookings once again?
I am really fortunate in that Chica Travel is a side hustle and not my main source of income, so I was able to still push through but this period has been super-challenging for the travel industry, and that’s why I am doing all I can to still support the sector’s recovery.
How do you see vaccines changing the travel landscape?
Vaccines on their own aren’t new to travel. Many of us have had the yellow fever vaccination as an example. The Covid vaccine and ongoing discussions around the vaccine passport are just next levels.
I initially thought that getting the Covid-19 vaccine would mean I can just get up and go but the reality is that vaccines do not prevent transmission; they prevent severe illness. I think that this will continue to be a headache for countries who are struggling with how to navigate this challenge while also creating the means to revive their tourism industries.
For now, my assumption is that being vaccinated will certainly open up more places for one to visit, but as travellers we must anticipate that ways of travel will change. At best we may have to vaccinate to be able to travel, which would give us the joy of not having to self-quarantine when we reach our destinations, even though we may still be required to present a negative test on arrival. It is a brave new world.
Where have you most enjoyed travelling locally during this time that international travel still remains largely off the cards?
I’ve really been enjoying the Western Cape. What a gem. I’ve loved exploring the smaller towns such as Paternoster and Arniston (Kassiesbaai). I also discovered Kraalbaai in the West Coast National Park and I honestly felt like I was in Zanzibar – and this is right here at home. I’ve truly enjoyed exploring South Africa. Tsitsikamma and the Garden Route are two other destinations where I had the best time.
What's your favourite international city and why? Describe a typical day there.
Rome, Italy, is a firm favourite. I would suggest for someone visiting for the first time, after enjoying breakfast at your hotel or Airbnb, wear comfortable shoes and go explore. You can dedicate a whole day to exploring because there’s so much to see – it’s a beautiful city with so much history. A good place to start would be the Colosseum and the Roman Forum, which are right next to each other.
My other suggestion would be to go check out the Pantheon, go throw a coin into the beautiful Trevi Fountain and maybe head to the Spanish Steps and take a break by having coffee or lunch at one of the cafes around there. You can also do that at Piazza Navona.
I would also suggest visiting the Vatican. As you walk around, check out the chapels and churches you will see along the way. There are lots of them and St Peter’s Basilica is one of the best ones to see. Whatever you do, end your night in the Trastevere area, it has a really good vibe and lots of restaurants at Piazza di Santa Maria. I wouldn’t go to Rome without a visit to this piazza.
Where is the best place in the world for a night out?
I haven’t been everywhere, plus I’m not much of a party animal, so I don’t know if I can say that it is the best place in the world but according to my podcast guests, Ibiza, in Spain, and Mykonos, in Greece, are up there on the list.
Please complete this sentence: “When travelling, I am a sucker for...”
What is your advice to people who may want to start travelling but don’t have anyone to do it with them?
Send me an Instagram DM and we’ll travel together lol. But honestly, you can join my group trips when I start them again. I am also seeing quite a number of travel content creators who are planning group trips, so you can join those group trips as well.
But if you aren’t into travelling with strangers, I am an advocate for solo trips. I think that it is something that everyone should try at least once, and I have tips on how to venture into this on my podcast. Not having people to travel with is not a good enough reason to not travel.
What is the most important thing to keep in mind when booking a holiday/trip?
Right now, the most important thing to do if booking a holiday outside of our borders is to check if South Africans are welcome, given our position with Covid-19, and to also check what the requirements are in terms of testing for the virus, and whether you have to quarantine upon arrival. If I need to quarantine for a week or longer, then what’s the point of even going there?
Would you like to comment on this article or view other readers' comments? Register (it’s quick and free) or sign in now.
Please read our Comment Policy before commenting.