April 16, 2024

There’s something unique to be said about going through unexpected events which take you to unimaginable places. In the face of tragedy, Sasha-Gaye McTaggart-Francis began developing a deep love for an unlikely soulmate, travel.
She tells Saturday Living, “My aunt, who was a nurse at a golden age home for over 20 years, went to a lot of funerals, and as a young girl, I was right there with her. So, honestly, it was funerals that made me know several corners of Jamaica.”
Then she got wind that her passion could provide the perfect opportunity to gain experience of cultures both, near and far. “Nature and the great outdoors always have this calming effect on me,” she said, adding, “Whenever I’m stressed, I go to a water body or I look up in the sky or on a mountain.”
She finds these visual images moving and humbling. Additionally, they stand as reminders that no problem is too big to solve. It’s actually small in comparison to other problems of the world. It was there, amid doom and gloom, that she decided to pump her attitude of gratitude into her new travel business.
“Seeing things that have no end humbles me and makes me see that my problem is small in comparison to the size of the earth and what it takes for the earth to keep on spinning,” the travel entrepreneur further highlighted. It helped that additional income was needed since her job had cut hours and bills.
She glimpsed an advertisement via Facebook searching for travel agents. And while inquiring about the role, that’s when the thought hit her; she’s always travelling so why not start a travel company? Today, her brand SGMF Travel Services offers bookings for hotels, villas, adventure packages, flights, and cruises, as well as travel insurance. “We also empower and mentor persons who are interested in becoming travel business owners, providing travel advice and tips before, during, and after trips,” she added.
Revitalising and inspirational by nature, the experience continues to take McTaggart-Francis to new places, supplying the avenues to unlock her full potential. “I take the time to customise every trip and attend to all my client’s preferences. I also surprise them with a thank you gift or something special when they are celebrating a birthday or anniversary. I follow up with my clients after their trip, and get their feedback.”
Customers have shared raving reviews about Grand Bahia, Hilton, Yaaman Adventures, and vacation homes at Drax Hall and Richmond Estates. On a personal note, the businesswoman has ‘staycationed’ at Breathless Montego Bay Resort & Spa, Moon Palace Jamaica, Bay View Eco Resort and Spa, and Sunscape Resort. “Breathless has the best rooms. Moon Palace offers exceptional customer service. Bayview is very relaxing and Sunscape has the best entertainment activities,” she admitted. Outside of the shores, she has adored Panama’s culture, visiting the Panama Canal, shopping malls, and urban communities.
The travel enthusiast is hoping to tick Dominican Republic, Canada, Mexico, and Greece off her ‘dream countries to visit’ bucket list. On the professional side, she endeavours to take her business to the very top.
Since embarking on new adventures, like signing up for wedding expos, to get the word out there, she is confident that others will fall in love with being in the outdoors, much like they have fallen in love with one another. Her advice to those seeking to explore the island or travel the world, but don’t know where to start is to vacay ah yaad before going abroad.
“I find that persons might have a desire to travel, but they sometimes choose somewhere far away first. Then when they hear the price, they are deterred from travelling. Become a master traveller close to home first as it is usually cheaper and it prepares you for what is to come and how you can combat it,” she said.
Also, travelling close to home first, she said, “will teach you how to enjoy yourself because you would be less fearful or anxious about unknown territories the closer you are to your familiar home”.
krysta.anderson@gleanerjm.com
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