Angela Tuell 0:05
Welcome to Media in Minutes. This is your host Angela Tuell. This podcast features in-depth interviews with those reports on the world around us. They share everything from their favorite stories to what happened behind the lens and give us a glimpse into their world. From our studio here at Communications Redefined, this is Media in Minutes. Today we are talking with Sarah Greaves-Gabbadon, aka Jet Set Sarah. Sarah is a writer, on-screen host and self described "Carivangelist" who's traveled to the beach and beyond to share the culture, lifestyle and personalities of the Caribbean with the world. For more than two decades she has appeared as a travel expert on PBS, been featured in National Geographic and The Washington Post, as well as a special correspondent for Travel + Leisure. Based in Miami, she's also jet setter in chief at JetSetSarah.com, where her passions travel, style and fitness meet. Welcome, Sarah. Thanks so much for joining us.
Sarah Greaves-Gabbadon 1:08
I am thrilled to be here, Angela, thank you very much for having me.
Angela Tuell 1:11
Yes, me too. You know, we have to start with what is a Carivangelist?
Sarah Greaves-Gabbadon 1:17
Ah, well see, this is a term that I coined. And it's a portmanteau of Caribbean and Evangelist because I feel like I, you know, the hype person, I haven't evangelist for the Caribbean. I'm spreading the gospel of the Caribbean; the gospel of the Caribbean being that all the islands are different. They're not all the same. They're not just sandy beaches and swaying palms, you know. Each island has a different culture, a different history, music, cuisine. That's the gospel and I'm spreading it.
Angela Tuell 1:46
I love that you mentioned that it's not just your beat, you know, it's your passion. How did that come about?
Sarah Greaves-Gabbadon 1:52
I think it pretty organically actually, Angela, because my mother is from Barbados. My father is from Jamaica, they met in England, they met in England, my father moved there in the 50s, when a lot of people were going from the colonies to the mother country of England and from Jamaica. And my mother came later, she came from Barbados to study to be a nurse, and they met there and I was born there. But you know, like many Caribbean families, you know, you had people coming and visiting all the time, or we were going to visit the Caribbean all the time. And I just, I guess I just organically developed a love for the place. That was my first, my second home and then my first home when I moved to Jamaica later on. But yeah, I just felt very, I always felt very proud of and territorial about the Caribbean and just always wanted to share it with the world.
Angela Tuell 2:41
Yeah. And for six years, you were the editor in chief of Caribbean Travel and Life Magazine. I'm sure that was a dream job.
Sarah Greaves-Gabbadon 2:48
Yes, I wasn't editor in chief for all six years, I was acting as an editor in chief for the last last few months, I think. I really, it really was a fantastic job. Because I mean, any job where you can do what you love and get a paycheck at the end of the day, or end of the month. It's a good thing, right? So yeah, we just, you know, I, I loved working there, I got to meet a ton of people, I worked with great people. And of course, you know, having having your workplace and your commute being from Florida to the Caribbean. And that's not bad at all.
Angela Tuell 3:18
That's pretty amazing. So what happened when you left there?
Sarah Greaves-Gabbadon 3:22
Oh my God, via the whole watershed of you know, the whole sea change in the publishing industry industry happened. And basically, like many of your listeners, I'm sure will relate media changed, people started to get much more of their information online, and not so much from subscribing to a magazine or buying a single copy of a travel magazine. And unfortunately, Carribean Travel and Life was one of those magazines that did not make it. It survived for a while as a digital brand, but stopped after 25 years, it stopped being in print. So I felt at the time, okay, well, naively, I thought, well, it's 2012. I'm just going to freelance for a little bit or freelance for a year or so until I get another staff job. And you know, we'll be off to the races. Hahahahahahaha.
Angela Tuell 3:22
That was your plan, right?
Sarah Greaves-Gabbadon 3:23
Yeah, that was my plan. And you know, God laughs at a plan. So I started to freelance, I really enjoyed it. And I think that for me, is was made significantly easier by the fact that I already had a niche. You know, I drill down deep on the Caribbean and I knew other editors who were able to help me with work and got to know other people. And before you knew it, what had turned into a sort of what was supposed to have been a one year stop gap has turned into I think now, a 10 year career, freelance career. I didn't dream of at the time, I really didn't.
Angela Tuell 4:44
Yes, sometimes things happen. And it's always for the best, right? We don't know that at the time.
Sarah Greaves-Gabbadon 4:49
Yeah, it doesn't always feel that way. But then you look back and you say, oh, okay, I see how the faith pieces fell into place, you know, yeah.
Angela Tuell 4:55
What are you most proud of with your career thus far?
Sarah Greaves-Gabbadon 5:00
I think two things. Personally, I'm proud that I made it as a self employed person, because I was never one of those people who thought, oh, I want to have my own business, I want to be my own boss, that was never me. I would happily still be at Caribbean Travel and Life if it continues. I don't necessarily think that I have a natural entrepreneurial spirit. But somehow, in the last 10 years, I've been able to carve out a career for myself, I've had to learn to do things that I never had to do before, like photography, something as basic as photography, you know, back in the day, I would travel with a photographer all the time, and they weren't they worried about the images, and I just had to make notes and think about the words. But now, to a greater or lesser extent, all journalists are multimedia, journalists, they've had to learn those skills. And I'm proud that I've been able to celebrate a decade, which thanks for reminding me because I didn't even realize, well, it's a decade now, a decade of self employment. And then the other thing that makes me proud is just being able to share the diversity of the Caribbean with with the world. Because it's true - most people think that every Caribbean island is the same. They don't know Antigua, different from Angola, different from Aruba. And if I can do anything through my videos, and my work online and in print, to help people see how rich and diverse the islands are, and I'm really proud of all of that.
Angela Tuell 6:15
Speaking of the islands, I won't ask your number one favorite unless you have one, but what are some of your favorites?
Sarah Greaves-Gabbadon 6:21
Four. Okay, I have four, I have four. I don't have any children and favorite children, but I have islands. I love Jamaica. I lived there for a very large portion of my life. And Jamaica really is, you know, it's a total package. It's got rivers and mountains. It's got hills, it's got beaches, it's got great food and amazing culture, music. You know, it really has a little of everything. And if someone was going to the Caribbean for the first time, I would recommend that they start with Jamaica. It's also the largest English speaking Caribbean island. So there's a lot to explore. You can go to Jamaica once a month and do different stuff every time you go.
Angela Tuell 6:59
Yeah, we went there on spring break. And I'm sure we need another experience. As an adult in life.
Sarah Greaves-Gabbadon 7:05
Right, yeah, maybe go for a different experience. And then at the other end of the scale, I like really small places. So I like Anguilla. It's only 35 square miles. It has 33 fantastic beaches, many of which are not crowded in the least none of them actually are crowded. And it's a very, very low key but high end island. I like to say it just a few minutes flight from St. Barts and I like to say you know Anguilla and St. Barts are sisters, they're equally wealthy. But St. Barts is the flashy fancy hoity toity one. And Anguilla is the boho barefoot casual, you know, hippie chick one. Yeah, they're both but but they're both equally moneyed. Just less pretentious ones less pretentious, than the other.
Angela Tuell 7:53
I like that, right?
Sarah Greaves-Gabbadon 7:54
And I'm three and four I love, I love any places where you can go and easily Island hop and sort of have this vacation from your vacation. So I'd love to go to the Turks and Caicos because if you go to Providenciales, which is the main island Provo, you can easily take a ferry and island hop over to North and middle Caicos for the day you rent a car, you know, have a completely different lifestyle. Because northern middle Caicos make Provo look like it's a teeming Metropolis very, really quiet. And then, and I will put the Grenadines in that column. And one of the Grenadine islands that I've come to love my newest favorite is Bequia. I went there for the first time in 2019. It's tiny seven square miles they make. It was known back in the day for having a history of whale watching and boat building, but it's, it's very much like, well, for now anyway, sort of like the Caribbean that time forgot. You know, very low key, one main street. Just really chill and relaxing. Not a whole lot to do besides, you know, being on the water or just lying on the sand. But sometimes that's that's all you want. Right? That's exactly what the doctor and the doctor ordered.
Angela Tuell 9:11
Is that the one that you've said is the best kept secret?
Sarah Greaves-Gabbadon 9:13
Yes, that's the one that's the one. And I was really thrilled because just today actually, one of my followers on Instagram, sent me a message and sent me a photo of her in Bequia and she said oh send really loved it and she was between jobs and she decided to go and she's there for two weeks. So I feel like, well, my work here is done.
Angela Tuell 9:34
Yes, that's what it makes you know that that what you're doing is fulfilling, right? What are some of the things you've learned about the islands that many don't know?
Sarah Greaves-Gabbadon 9:43
Well, I have a lot of interesting dinner conversational points. For example, in Jamaica, we stand for the national anthem ahead of every movie, did you know that? You go to the movies and and national, a video recording of the National Anthem plays and everybody gets up and stands for the anthem, and then you sit down for the movies. And then when the movie starts, it's just like, halfway through no matter if it's like, in the middle of someone talking, the film just cuts and there's intermission, and everybody gets up and goes for snacks. Yes. Another quirky thing for example, in Trinidad or if you're going to Barbados, be very careful what you wear, because in those countries, you it is illegal for civilians to wear anything that has camouflage on it. No camouflage patterns. Yes. In the Dominican Republic is the only Caribbean island I know of where you can go hot air ballooning, you can do this hot air. But yeah, you can do this hot air balloon ride over the sugarcane fields in the morning with a bottle of champagne. So that's not bad.
Angela Tuell 10:49
Wow. Yes, that sounds nice.
Sarah Greaves-Gabbadon 10:51
Right. And then, you know, people think, of course, the Caribbean is synonymous with beach, but we have a lot of off the beach experiences that people don't know about. So you can you know, a hike one of the volcanoes in St. Lucia, or in St. Kitts or Naevus you can go down into the Boiling Lake Dominica. You know, we have a lot of things that are not just not just focused on the beach, there's a lot of stuff that you can go hiking. Jamaica's most famous coffee is Blue Mountain 47,000 feet above sea level. And you can go and hike into the Blue Mountains and to our coffee estates when you're in Jamaica, too. So it's not just rum and reggae.
Angela Tuell 11:29
Gosh, you make me want to hop on a plane right now. What are some of your best travel tips? I know it depends on the island, I'm sure. But do you have some general ones?
Sarah Greaves-Gabbadon 11:30
Oh my gosh, you know what I think is my best travel tip? And it applies to whether you're going to the Caribbean or anywhere else in the world. And that is when you get off the plane and you enter the immigration hall or the customs hall or whatever you call it. Turn left. Go to the left most lane because it has been proven that most people are right handed and when they enter a room they turn to the right. And so you find that the lines for immigration and customs are longest on the right hand side of the room and shortest on the left. So my big tip is turn left. It's also very nice to turn left when you get on the plane you go to first class too, but we can't always do that.
Angela Tuell 12:18
No, no. What about your favorite items to pack?
Sarah Greaves-Gabbadon 12:22
Oh my gosh, I have, well obviously I never go anywhere without my iPhone. I mean, if I left my iPhone, which is basically my my office, right, I would have to come back home. But I'm definitely team carry on. And my favorite bag is the Away larger. I think it told me Away Bigger, Bigger Carry On in the aluminum. I like a hardshell case. I do like - they're not very forgiving of overpacking - however, I find them particularly - the ones that have a clamp like the Away one does. Not I don't like this. I don't like the zipper bags because the zipper is the most vulnerable part of any luggage. So I always have to have a bag that has a clamp or a combination. So anyway, my Away Bigger Travel, Bigger Carry On in aluminum is my favorite. And then I never - it's always half packed but it's one of those bags that's like you pack it like a clamshell, you know on either side. And one side is always fully packed with essentials. And one of those essentials is a bag. It's a very fancy cosmetics case, toiletries and cosmetics case from an Australian company called The Daily Edited and it is made of leather and transparent plastic and it's it's kind of hard to explain but it's it's it has two sides. It's double decker it looks to you you look at it you think oh no, this is way too big. This is not TSA compliant. But it actually is because a half of the bag that is clear is that same size as a quart baggy. But then the other side that is leather is much more capacious. So I never traveled without that. Yeah, if you look it up. Yeah. It's called the day, The Daily Edit or The Daily Edited. I can't remember but there's they have a store in New York, but it's an Australian company. And of course they're online. Love it. Never travel without it.
Angela Tuell 14:10
I love that. So you were recently on the PBS show To Dine For with Kate Sullivan at your favorite restaurant in the world. For those who haven't seen it yet, please describe this for us.
Sarah Greaves-Gabbadon 14:24
Yes. Okay. So what the show was called To Dine For this award winning journalist Kate Sullivan. She goes around, she's interviewed people like Deepak Chopra and Jon Bon, Bon Jovi, and she basically meets people at their favorite restaurant and then talks about their career. So when she approached me, I knew it had to be a Caribbean restaurant. And we talked about Anguilla, which I told is one of my favorites. And this restaurant is called Sandy Island, and it's basically a tiny, tiny island, a sandy state really, that is home to a restaurant. So you go to Anguilla and you go to the pier at San Diego. Round and if you call the boat you can see it you can basically like wave from the pier and someone over from the Island will see you and they'll come over and a little motorboat and the motor boats have names like Bliss and Happiness. And that's kind of how you feel when you get there because you're there and it's like this island is yours this tiny little island the size of I don't know, I don't know how to put it into real world terms but really small. It's not you know, nobody lives there. It's just a restaurant and a hammock and a bathroom and beach. Oh my god, it's the best. You just lie - you know that the lady who owns it her name is Simone Connor and she tells you that you should just relax in the hammock and listen to the sound of the wind and waves band. Which is basically the sounds of nature right? And the thing, two things you have to go for when you go there one is the Rum Punch which is fantastic. And dusted with a little sprinkles of nutmeg on the top. Then but then you have to go to the for the Anguillian delicacy which is Anguillian crayfish which is kind of like lobster but smaller, sweeter, really juicy. They do it, they prepare it over a grill in the kitchen. The kitchen is run by five car batteries, which is all very rustic, but it's the best meal you ever have in the best surroundings and always the best time. I love going there.
Angela Tuell 16:19
It looked like get on the - it definitely the food looked amazing as well. On the show.
Sarah Greaves-Gabbadon 16:23
Angela Tuell 16:24
I also hear one of your specialties is shopping. So what are some of the best finds you've come across on your journeys?
Sarah Greaves-Gabbadon 16:31
Well see I pride myself on you know wherever I go. I can spot a shoppertunity at any time, whether it's on the street, in a boat - anywhere. So I've got a lot of stuff. My, my favorite things really are art. I like to buy art from local art from the places I go to. I love color, and it's great to have something in your home that brings back a good memory and just looks good in your home, right? So there and that art could be like woodcarving from Jamaica. There's a great store in Jamaica called the Gallery of West Indian Art in Montego Bay. I have a lot of woodcarvings, painting wood coverings from them. I bought red cowboy boots in Mexico, in the airport in Cancun, which you know, they're very famous for the leather work in Mexico and they're great boots. So I have a pair of red leather cart, cowboy boots that I love. I was in the Grenadines and I bought a piece of a half of a coconut shell that was beautifully painted in acrylic, sort of a pastoral beach scene. Gorgeous. I mean, I have so many things as I always feel like, you know, I should support the local economy economy when I go to these places. I do that by bringing back something. By spending? I think spending helps, right?
Angela Tuell 17:47
Yes, I feel you. I am exactly the same way. You know, in your freelance writing and travels I'm sure you work with lots of PR professionals. How can we best help you do your job?
Sarah Greaves-Gabbadon 17:58
Well, yeah, I couldn't I couldn't do my job without the PR professionals who helped me and send story ideas and let me know of hotel openings, blah, blah, blah. I think that, you know, I know that it must be tough to be a PR person because you send out 1,000,001 press releases, and you're not necessarily going to get any immediate bites or very few immediate bites. So I think if PR people think about the long the long game and remember that it's about building relationship, because there are many PR people who I've never met and who have been sending me things for years. And none of them hit but then something lands and when it lands, it lands big. You know, I I immediately like, oh my gosh, this would be great for Travel + Leisure the rule of law. Oh, which brings me to another thing. So the most infuriating thing is when you get a press release, and you're like, oh god, yes, this is great. I need it for tomorrow's podcast or a blog post I'm doing next week or whatever, you have an urgent need for it. And then you respond quickly and say Yes, can I get more details. And then it's crickets. So just feel like if you're going to send out a press release, make sure someone is on alert for the next couple of hours after because there are times when it just comes in at the right time. It's so fortuitous, and you need something like right now, particularly if it's for something like podcasts or digital. But, I mean, as I said, I could not do my job without PR people. You know, as they get to know us writers better they have a better idea of the kinds of stories we're looking for, the angles we're looking for. And those people that have developed relationships with over a long time, you know, Jen, you know, we've traveled together so they know me as a person, not just as a name or a byline. And so then it becomes easier to kind of gauge what might interest me and what might work for my publications.
Angela Tuell 19:43
Yes. What kinds of stories and angles do you prefer?
Sarah Greaves-Gabbadon 19:47
Well, I'm guided by my passions really. So if there's anything about local art or artisans or personalities because I do believe one of the big you know, beaches, bring people to the Caribbean but it's the people of the Caribbean, who make the tourists to keep coming back. So I'm always, I'm always looking for profiles of interesting Caribbean people, particularly artisans. I'm always looking for new hotels. I'm a special correspondent with Travel + Leisure. And I'm always looking for places for the It List, which is their roundup of new an annual roundup of new and notable hotels. Gosh, you know, just anything new, really, because every time as a writer, every time we pitch to an editor, we're having to answer three questions: Why this? Why now? And why am I the person to write it? So as a PR person, if you can suggest something that is new, or that is fresh, and you can sell it if you can - Basically, if you can sell it to me, I can usually sell it to my editor.
Angela Tuell 20:48
What are you currently working on?
Sarah Greaves-Gabbadon 20:49
Oh, my gosh, a whole lot of travel. I just, I just finished up a big feature on for Travel + Leisure about Grand Cayman Islands. I don't know if you know what the Cayman Islands were basically the last of the Caribbean countries to open after the beginning of the pandemic. So they just opened at the end of last year. So I'm just working going back and forth with my editor about that. And then I'm planning a whole lot of travel between now and June. I'm going to Toronto, I'm going to Barbados, Aruba, St Thomas, Turks and Caicos Islands and Curacao. Lots of different stories. Yeah. So I like you know, there's 30 something, 30 something Caribbean islands that basically are on the tourist map and that we traveled to. So, obviously, I don't get to even though I travel three times a month, I don't get to all of them every year. So there are places that I like to get back to every couple of years, you know, just to refresh my knowledge, because you can guarantee that, you know, I'll be doing a panel or something and some will ask someone will ask me a question. Somewhere. I haven't been there, so I'm like, mmmmm, gotta get there. Gotta get there. So -
Angela Tuell 21:53
Right. Have you been to all 30?
Sarah Greaves-Gabbadon 21:55
I have not been to all 30 of them. I've been to Dominica once, but it was too short. So I don't count it and it's definitely on my list. Okay, I would like to go to Mustique in the Grenadines. I've been to some of the other Grenadine Islands like Bequia and Canouan but never Mustique. And there are many pieces, of course that I want to go back to because they're always changing. I mean, even Jamaica. Even though I live so much of my life there, I haven't been for a while. And it's such a big country. And so much has changed since I lived there that, you know, I could happily go back every quarter and find a whole lot of new stuff to report.
Angela Tuell 22:28
Well, we can't wait to keep watching your travels and all of your advice and inspiration. Thank you so much for joining us.
Sarah Greaves-Gabbadon 22:36
I am thrilled to do it. I'm happy that you have me and yeah, just follow me at JetSetSarah on Instagram and JetSetSarah.com.
Angela Tuell 22:44
Wonderful. And we'll have the links in our show notes. Thank you. That's all for this episode of Media in Minutes, a podcast by Communications Redefined. Please take a moment to rate, review and subscribe to our show. We'd love to hear what you think. You can find more at Communications Redefined.com/podcast. I'm your host, Angela Tuell. Talk to you next time.
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