Want to know how to travel in style, just like the pros? We check in with frequent fliers to find out how often they fly, their favorite destinations and what they never leave home without.
Name: Laura Sangster
Occupation: Founder of The Journey Group (formerly Caribbean Journey)
Hometown: Little Rock, Arkansas
Residence: Atlanta, Georgia
College: Well, I dropped out during my sophomore year, packed a backpack and bought a one-way ticket to Costa Rica. I did eventually finish at one of the fine online universities.
College major: Marketing
Facebook: Caribbean Journey
Pinterest: Caribbean Journey
Google+: Laura Sangster
Short bio: While I loved the historic neighborhood I grew up in, I couldn’t wait to leave Arkansas. When the opportunity arose to go to boarding school in Sedona, Arizona, I jumped. I fell in love with the experience of meeting new people and immersing myself in new places. I tried the traditional path of college with hopes of going into the medical field, but ultimately my wanderlust won me over. I spent six months in Central America, renting a traditional house on stilts one block from the beach, spending my days trying to surf and my nights dancing salsa at open-air beach clubs. I returned to the US on a mission to never have that lifestyle be too far out of reach. I started my travel agency Caribbean Journey at age 22. At age 25 I sold it to a luxury magazine publishing house who hired me to launch a villa rental company. They relocated me to Miami, and I had an amazing two years in the world of luxury villas. They sold the company, and I was able to keep Caribbean Journey. I’ve been busy growing my business, raising four sweet kids, including a set of twins, and helping my husband bring his family coffee farm in the Blue Mountains of Jamaica back to production.
How often do you fly? 10-12 times a year.
How many countries have you been to? 26
How many continents have you been to? 4
Earliest travel memory: Flying to New York to visit my dad’s family back when there was still glamour in travel. I loved dressing up for the flight and sitting proudly between my mom and dad. I grew up hearing stories about my father’s childhood exploring New England and his aunt who started Polo International Magazine in the 1950s and had an office at The Plaza Hotel. For a little girl from Arkansas, it was amazing to see these places in person.
Favorite American city: Miami.
Favorite international city: I’ve been to the Caribbean so many times, I have to go outside the region to answer this and say I fell in love with the fast pace, night markets, amazing deals, and kind people of Bangkok.
Least favorite country: I haven’t met a country I don’t like.
I have no desire to go to: I’ve seen my share of small southern towns.
Friendliest people in the world: Nevisians.
Country with the meanest immigration officers: USA—never so much as a Welcome Home.
Favorite World Heritage Site: Blue and John Crow Mountains in Jamaica (they received their UNESCO designation this year!).
Favorite airline: Delta—hometown hero!
Favorite aircraft type: 777.
Aisle or window: Window.
Favorite airport lounge: ANY in the Caribbean since they are rare on the smaller islands.
Favorite U.S. airport: Atlanta.
Favorite international airport: I don’t have one.
Favorite hotel: Just one? Eek! Impossible. Gee Jam in Port Antonio, Jamaica for its uber cool vibe, Jade Mtn on St. Lucia for its high design style, Nisbet Plantation on Nevis for chef Tony, Belmont Farm on St. Kitts for their incredible rooms.
Favorite cruise line: I am not a fan of cruising. Give me a private catamaran sail any day.
Favorite travel credit card: Amex.
Favorite island: Jamaica if my husband is reading this. Really, it sounds cliché, but I love St. Barths. It’s just so easy and even a bad meal in St. Barths is fantastic.
Favorite beach: The Similan Islands in the Andaman Sea off the coast of Thailand. Heaven on earth.
Favorite fancy restaurant: Pampas—the #1 Zagat rated best steakhouse in the nation for 2014 one block from my house. And I don’t even eat meat. Everything on the menu is superb.
Favorite hole-in-the-wall: Any of the food stalls on Piñones Beach 30 minutes outside of San Juan, Puerto Rico.
Favorite bar: Nothing beats a easy day on Lime Key off the coast of Kingston, Jamaica. They have a ramshackle bar to serve the boaters that only comes alive a few days a week.
Favorite fruit: Mango (or Lychee if it is in my martini).
Favorite food: Fresh-from-the-garden, well-seasoned vegetables.
Least favorite food: Steak.
Drink of choice (in the air and on the ground): Vodka gimlet. If no limes in the sky, then champagne or chardonnay. And water. Lots and lots of water.
Favorite travel movie(s): Casablanca.
Favorite travel show(s): Who has time for TV? Before I knew what busy was, I religiously watched Globe Trekker.
Favorite travel book(s): “The Griffen & Sabine Trilogy,” “Sastun” by Dr. Rosita Arvigo.
Right now I am reading: “Making Ideas Happen” by Scott Belsky.
Top 3 favorite travel newsletters/magazines/blogs: Travel and Leisure, Conde Nast Traveler, Recommend magazine.
Favorite travel website(s)—besides JohnnyJet.com, of course! Skift, Andrew Harper, The Mango Seed (shameless self-promotion).
5 things you bring on a plane: Good headphones, Macbook, peppermint + lavender essential oils, woven wrap from FashionABLE, and hand sanitizer.
What do you always seem to forget? I think I have mastered the art of packing but I’ve left at least a half dozen iPhone chargers in hotel rooms.
What do you like least about travel? Rude and inpatient people.
What do you want your loved one to buy you from an airport Duty Free store? Nothing—are the deals really that good?
Favorite travel app(s): Delta, GateGuru, Skyscanner, Uber, Waze.
Most embarrassing travel moment: On my babymoon in St. Lucia, I accidentally took the wrong suitcase at the airport. Five months pregnant with twins, is that a good excuse?
I’m embarrassed but I haven’t been to: PARIS! And my husband is half-Jamaican + half-French…really, it’s shameful.
Worst travel moment: Having malaria in Bluefields, Nicaragua. I thought I was going to die.
What’s your dream destination? I have so many. I fall in love with almost every place I visit for one reason or another. That’s why I work in this industry.
Favorite travel charity: Sandals Foundation—Sandals has such a powerful marketing reach that it can get a high number of visitors to its resorts who participate and give back to local Caribbean communities.
Best travel tip: You’ll never regret being kind.
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