Shining a spotlight on celebrities and athletes who love to travel. Created and developed by Stacy Steponate Greenberg
Writing comes in all variety of shapes and sizes, and the one thing they all have in common is that Sarah Jio seemingly excels at all of them. Journalist, novelist, NY Times best seller, international best seller, Sarah does it all and always with a distinctive style and flair. Interviews with Maya Angelou, romantic novels and a successful column for Glamour.com, Sarah manages to juggle them all while at the same time chasing her three boys around her beloved Seattle. Simply put, Sarah Jio is living life to the fullest. The Overhead Compartment spent some time with Sarah to learn about her travels, her writing, and that one time she chatted with Gwyneth.
The Overhead Compartment with Sarah Jio begins now….
OC: You live in Seattle and talk about how it’s the greatest city in the world, what are the three top must-see and do things there?
SJ: Yes, I adore Seattle and feel so grateful that I get to call this wonderful city home. My favorite Seattle experiences, in no particular order:
*Ferry ride to Bainbridge Island: I grew up taking ferries back and forth from my family’s home on the peninsula to Seattle. I spent a lot of my life on ferries, and even after hundreds of rides, ferries haven’t lost their magic for me. A trip to the island is fun and picturesque, and you can just walk on and enjoy an afternoon on Bainbridge Island.
*The houseboats on Lake Union: I set my fourth novel, Morning Glory, on a houseboat that I rented as my “office.” There is nothing more quintessential and charming than Seattle’s houseboat community. Though many of the docks are private, you can still take a nice walk along Eastlake and get a feel for the community. It’s charming.
*Pike Place Market: This iconic public market is beloved by tourists and locals. I go there often and take my kids. In the summer we buy honey comb and flowers. I love the old cobblestones and all the colorful people and produce.
OC: Top three favorite restaurants in Seattle?
SJ: *Westward: Gorgeous views, amazing seafood, right off of Lake Union.
*Mkt: Restauranteur Ethan Stowell really nailed it with this one.
*The Pink Door: I’ve loved this place for years. Wonderful menu and in the summer, there is no better place to have a chilled glass of wine than on the Pink Door patio.
OC: Has the city recovered from that heartbreaking defeat in the Super Bowl?
SJ: Ha, not really! I have friends who are still a bit melancholic and pouty about the loss. I admit to being sad the day of the big game, but there is more to life than football (though my mother may not agree!).
OC: You’re a bestselling author of seven novels and have written for O, The Oprah Magazine, Glamour, Real Simple and The New York Times to name a few. What’s the biggest challenge when writing an article vs a novel?
SJ: I was a journalist for years before I even attempted to write my first novel. Both are such different types of writing. After so many years crafting articles that required significant research and interviews, I was really drawn to the idea of sitting down at my desk and being free to be creative and make things up. Of course, I still put in a ton of research for each novel, but research might mean reading a biography about a person who lived in the decade I’m setting my story, or taking a trip somewhere beautiful to get a sense of a setting (hello, Paris!).
OC: What celebrity/personality was the most fun and interesting interview? Why?
SJ: I will never forget my interview with Gwyneth Paltrow several years ago for Glamour. That morning, my babysitter flaked, so I had to do the call with a fussy infant. To keep him quiet, I nursed him, and confessed this to Gwyneth. She laughed and said she’d done the same thing when her kids were babies and she had no other option to keep them quiet during business calls. She was warm and down to earth.
OC: What is your most vivid memory of interviewing Maya Angelou?
SJ: It was one of the greatest honor’s of my career to have had the chance to interview Dr. Angelou. I’ll never forget her voice: smoky and kind. She told me about the soup she made the night before for dinner (tomato with sliced steak), and encouraged me to remind my readers that women should care for and look out for other women. And I’ll never forget how gracious she was about having to end the call a bit early—after all, President Jimmy Carter had just knocked on her door.
OC: Where do you find your inspiration and ideas for your novels?
SJ: I find inspiration all around me. The idea process if my favorite part of my job and I try to remain open to the many ways that ideas find their way into my head—from a conversation I might overhear at a café to a snippet of a conversation with a friend or even a song on the radio.
OC: What is your favorite city to visit on a book tour?
SJ: I recently returned from a book tour to Russia. One of my novels there hit the bestseller list last year, so my publisher invited me over to do several events. It was such a memorable trip. Moscow is such a beautiful, mysterious, complex city.
OC: What do you do if you have down time in that city?
SJ: My schedule was very packed, but I loved getting to sneak away to see the Bolshoi Theater, St. Basil’s Cathedral, Red Square and some of the other amazing sights.
OC: Favorite place for leisure travel?
SJ: I love the Caribbean. I recently took my children, and they fell in love with St. Thomas and St. Martin. I am at my happiest beside turquoise blue water and white sand. I also visit one of my dear friends in Santa Monica as often as possible—my home away from home.
OC: What do you like to do in your down time for leisure?
SJ: I love cooking. I also look forward to visiting wineries and learning about wine.
OC: First thing you do when arriving at a hotel in your room?
SJ: I find my way to the window or balcony and take in the view. And then I check for bedbugs.
OC: Complete the following sentence: I never leave home without:
SJ: A spritz of La Vie Est Belle.I found this perfume in France and became instantly addicted!
OC: Every mom knows the challenges to try and balance work, family and travel….how do you best find that balance?
SJ: I’m better at balance some days than others. Sometimes I feel like I’ve got it nailed, and other times I feel like I’m drowning. What I have learned, however, especially in my thirties, is to stop being such a perfectionist. I used to be extremely hard on myself, and I’ve given that up. Nowadays, I cut myself more slack, forgive myself more. I am not perfect, and my life is not perfect. I’ve learned that I’m happier when I can embrace all the imperfections.
OC: When traveling with kids, every parent has experienced that “You know you’re a parent when….” what was your “parent moment”?
SJ: Oh, so many! Parenting is a comedy show at times. You have to laugh. The things that come out of my mouth on trips with the boys could end up making a great coffee table book (For example: “we don’t eat rocks!”). On a cruise ship recently, somehow all three of my boys melted down at the same moment. They were tired, didn’t want to eat their vegetables, and somehow thought it would be a good idea to “sword fight’ with their butter knives. When the fits began, I just smiled my way through it. The fellow moms around me gave me encouraging, knowing looks. We’ve all been there.
OC: Travel secret/habit about you that no one knew until now:
SJ: I was just in Cabo San Lucas, where I discovered my love of a seasoning called “Tajine.” It’s made with lime and salt, and you can sprinkle it on fresh fruit, like pineapple, or use it as the salt on the rim of a margarita. I fell in love with this stuff and while I was still in Mexico, I ordered a bottle of it on Amazon so I’d have it when I got home.
Sarah Jio, please use care upon departure as items may have shifted in The Overhead Compartment during our journey. Thanks for choosing us for your travel tips! Have a wonderful day!
Stacy Steponate Greenberg brings over 15 years of travel and marketing experience to Pursuitist. With her column, The Overhead Compartment, Stacy interviews celebrities and athletes bringing an insight into their lives and travel habits. Stacy spent 11 years at Starwood Hotels and Resorts Worldwide in various capacities, serving stints as Director of Marketing for the St. Regis and Sheraton brands, and Senior Director for Starwood Residences. Prior to Starwood, Stacy worked as Manager of Marketing for Hyatt Hotels. A native of Chicago, Stacy resides New York City with her husband and two kids, who like to “rate” the various hotels on their travels with their mom. Reach Stacy via Twitter twitter.com/StacyGSG.