Jet Set Sarah ✈️

Age-Disrupting Badass, Caribbean Queen, Wanderlust Extraordinaire

Sarah Greaves-Gabbadon—or more popularly known as Jet Set Sarah—is an award-winning travel writer, editor, Caribbean travel expert, TV host, avid runner, and power lifter (seriously, there's nothing this woman can't do).

06/22/17

interviewed by Natalie Pattillo

Iconversation

Omg, y'all, when I first laid eyes on Sarah Greaves-Gabbadon's Instagram feed, I knew I had to befriend her somehow. Even before meeting her, you can sense that her personality shines like luminous sun rays you've been longing for after a brutal winter. Oh and her sense of style? It's electric⚡️ (homegirl knows how to shop + dress).

I scrolled to see what her travel posts offered: intel on where to find souvenir shops in Tulum, how to plan an adventure in the powder-sand beaches of Guana Island and the lowdown on why Caribbean KFC tastes so damn good. When I saw her cheerfully posed with a large bucket of crispy fried chicken, I couldn't help but email her to see if she ever passed through New York. She responded (!) that she's based in Miami but would be in NYC in early June meaning that she'd be available for an in-person Iconversation. Ahhh, sweet serendipity.

I'm a connoisseur of Caribbean KFC, and in my regional taste testing I always use an "original thigh" as my control. So far nothing has come close to Jamaican KFC, but when I heard that Grenadian KFC may or may not have native nutmeg in the batter, you KNOW I had to try it! And I did, this morning during my and @brianmajorbklyn's Facebook Live broadcast, "10 Reasons You Should Visit Grenada." So how did it taste? Is there really nutmeg in it? Can it compare to Jamaica's gold-standard recipe? You'll have to surf over to Facebook.com/JetSetSarah and find out! #kfc #jamaicankfc #gettoknowgrenada #jetsetsarah #kentuckyfriedchicken #puregrenada #grenada #caribbean #caribbeankfc #grenadianlife #grenadiankfc #freetowonder

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On the day of the interview, we were set to meet on The Highline, and I immediately spotted Sarah sporting a bright yellow shirt and super cool polarized specs. Her gorgeous Afro looked regal. Inside I was thinking, Shit, am I cool enough to hang with this Queen? #socialanxiety 😁

I walked up to Jet Set Sarah, introduced myself, and was so thrilled to learn that she is even more dazzling in real life (although her virtual presence is also 🔥). My anxiety melted away as we walked and talked. While posing for our camera, Sarah told me that her love for adventure blossomed at age 3 when parents took her on a trip from England to Kingston, Jamaica.

"I looked out the window of the plane and I said, 'Mommy, the clouds are upside down!' That was my first travel memory. I was so enchanted that the clouds were below us and not above us, because as a small child, you're always looking up. And I was in this capsule and the clouds were below me and it was just magical. Now, I'm 50 years old, and I travel 3 or 4 times a month and I'm still enchanted with the magic of traveling and flight."

It's not just a serene island or luxurious resort Sarah is looking to explore. She looooves waiting in airports. Waiting to board a flight feels like her natural environment. "What most people consider to be unpleasant means to an end are, to me, glamorous shrines of infinite possibility," she explained with enthusiasm so contagious that I started feeling like airports were filled with wonder and fun. "I just find every single aspect of traveling so special because it helps you work out your place in the world." 

Sarah's excitement for her next adventure begins to build a few days before her trip. And she doesn't board a flight without "jewelry for her face" (aka stellar sunglasses), colorful sarongs, her iPhone arm band (so she can jam out while running & power lifting), and protein bars. 

Sarah's been writing about travel for decades and for the last six years was an editor at the now defunct Caribbean Travel + Life magazine. As a Carivangelist (Caribbean evangelist—coined by the travel queen herself), Sarah finds joy in teaching people about the diversity of Caribbean landscape and culture. "People tend to think all the Caribbean islands are exactly same, but they’re not. The people from each island are different; the personalities of the people are different; the food is different."

As a self-proclaimed "black-belt shopper", Sarah is all about buying local. "If you don't bring back souvenirs from your adventures, how will you remember you went?" she said with a matter-of-factly grin. It's also her personal life mission to make damn sure that no one comes back from the Caribbean with one of those "dreadful caps with the dreadlocks attached." 

Then, as I was recording the interview and listening to Sarah tell me about her exciting life, my phone shut down from heat exhaustion (literally...it overheated in the NYC sun). Perfect time for a paleta (Mexican popsicles made with real fresh fruit ), Sarah suggested. 

As we were strolling towards the paleta stand, I asked Sarah, "Do a lot of people ask you how they can get your life?" Sarah chuckled while taking a nibble out of her hibiscus infused frozen treat.

"Oh yes, of course, but I remind them that the hustle of a freelance writer isn't always as glamorous as one might think. It's an amazing life but one that comes with dedication. You can't do it for the money. And I've been doing this for decades, yet sometimes, people often want to pay me less than my contacts, experience, and skills are worth." In the freelance world, talented writers like Sarah have to constantly win over editors and prove their value everyday, which can take a toll on a person. "But, even if I suddenly became a millionaire, I would still be a travel writer because it's my passion!"

Retirement plans? None for this jet setter. "Just because you're old doesn't mean your life is done! I don't plan to stop traveling or writing just because of my age. I love what I do. Why stop?!" #preach 🙌🏾  Speaking of aging fearlessly, Sarah recently decided to go grey/au naturale with her beautiful hair because she's confident that "it's a great time to be [her] age." We 1000% agree!

Think I've perfected my bird calling skills. #jetsetsarah #hiltonaruba #jcrew #macaw #macaws #aruba #caribbean #jcrewstyle #fashionover50 #styleover50

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