Tag: travel

Healthy Swellness: 2022 in Review


Yes, I’m writing this on January 19th. The end of 2022 snuck up on me, and then I caught a cold at the beginning of the year that I’m still recovering from.

Also, maybe it took me awhile to write because 2022 was pretty unremarkable year for me. It feels like it just ‘happened’ rather than me truly living–I’m sure it being the third year of the pandemic added to that feeling. Did you feel like this about 2022?

But even with a year where life seemed to be on hiatus, I had some bright moments:


I made it into the Century Club on Peloton when I trialed the Bike+. It took biking daily so I could hit that target while I had the bike. I also ended up buying a spin bike once Peloton picked up the Bike+–I haven’t ridden it much as my focus this year was getting my running back on track. Speaking of Peloton, I also got to test out the Peloton Guide and interviewed Matty! Yes, I fangirled. and asked for a photo at the end of our zoom interview. I really need to get myself to the Peloton Studio in NYC!


As for running, it took many months, but finally towards the end of summer onwards, I got back to running 3-4 days a week. All shorter distances (the longest was 12k) but my goal was consistency. A couple of setbacks — mainly getting Covid in September — but I was happy to be running 100k a month for the last few months of the year.

Boybands 4EVER

You know that I love both Backstreet Boys and NKOTB and it seems I’ve now started to travel to see them. And good thing I did–I went to Detroit to see NKTOB in the summer, and they ended up cancelling their Toronto show, so it’s the only time I got to see their Mixtape Tour with En Vogue, Salt & Pepa and Rick Astley.


Backstreet Boys and their DNA Word Tour —  I saw it three times this year (this is on top of seeing this show back in 2019 in Toronto and Brooklyn) and I also went to Jingle Ball in Detroit for them, and I know that might seem crazy but their shows bring me such happiness. I went to the July 1st show in Toronto, and when tickets in the pit for the show the next day were cheaper than the original price, I snapped up a ticket and it was the best decision ever because Drake made a special appearance. I’d have been devastated to have missed that. Such an epic Toronto moment. I also drove to Ottawa to see the again and Nick pointed and smiled at me. Life made.



So many great opportunities the past year work-wise. Banff (love!); got to write up some fun pieces for the Star (South Algonquin, Paris, a series about biking and more), Destination Toronto, NUVO (Brazen, W TorontoCasa MaderaSimpl Things, Sunny’s Chinese and Superfresh) and CAA. Events started again, too, and had the opportunity to attend some fun ones (including one with President’s Choice where I got Billie Jean painted as latte art!).

Ice bath, baby

In February, I reluctantly emailed a pitch about the cold plunge/ice bath trend…reluctantly because I knew the pitch would be accepted and that would mean I’d have to try an ice bath. Oh how far I’ve come since that first ice bath  experience at Othership (where I was gripped with anxiety about it all week leading up to it), I did my first lake plunge with Unbounded with Yeti, have been back to Othership another couple of times, and did a weekend with Yeti and unbounded at the Trace Resort at Oak Lake. Where I got to do at least three ice baths (I kind of lost count!), including one where I managed to do 4.5 minutes. Unbounded has since opened Unbounded Well at Stackt Market, where I’ve been a few times. I also took part in the huge event in the Beaches to kick of cold season. The challenge of it is what I like most about it. And nothing beats being able to accomplish something that makes you feel stronger and more resilient than ever. That’s the draw of running marathons for me as well.



Have I mentioned one of my favourite spots I’ve visited? Yes, I’m talking Alberta–I love, love, love the Rocky Mountains and got to go to Banff twice in 2022. And once was food-focused with Pursuit! Eating great food and those majestic mountains? I think that’s what’s called #blessed, haha!


I also got to visit Edmonton for the first time, or just a bit outside of Edmonton with Hydroflask, Arc’teryx, Keen, Sunday Afternoons and Leatherman for an unforgettable glamping trip. You know it was an incredible trip if I’m calling it incredible despite having to rough it with very exposed outdoor showers and thunderboxes (which I managed to only use once when we were out in the wood, as I trekked 4 minutes to the actual washroom the entire time at our glamping site). What made it so incredible? Besides the stunning yellow autumn leaves at our site and the great group on the trip, one day was devoted to From the Wild. If you’re able to attend anything with From the Wild and eat and drink with Kevin Kossowan, do it. Sometimes I find myself in situations that are so great and I think “How did I get here?” and that’s what walking through the forest, learning about his adventures and tips and tricks for cooking delicious things in the field felt like. In awe of the magical beauty of everything around me, that I’m learning about and tasting…


I also took so many great road trips this year and I really have come to enjoy driving alone. This year I went to Southampton to the very chic Beach Motel. Home to Montreal a couple of time where I got to eat so much of my mom’s home cooking and some of the spots in Montreal I’ve been dying to try. I went to cottages, visited Buffalo and Windsor/Detroit (a few times now so much so that I now have some solid favourites for food and it does not include the Cheesecake Factory in Buffalo–not that there’s anything wrong with CF, I’ve actually never been!). So much time on the road and the best thing about that? Billie Jean being my co-pilot, obviously! Thank you to Buick, Chevy, GMC, Mazda–that’s a Mazda CX-50 we’re in at the top of this post–and Volvo (that’s the XC90 Recharge just above) for the test drives this past year. Being able to drive so many different vehicles has both made me both a more confident driver, and also has given me a good sense of features and design elements that make a difference. Whenever I get a car, I’ll be well versed in what’s a priority for me.

Alright, 2022, I guess you were more than OK.

Up next, my goals for 2023!


Leave a Comment January 19, 2023

Travel Swellness: 7 Ways to Make Solo Road-Tripping Better


When driving alone, I can get bored pretty quickly. I think doing the drive from Toronto to Montreal as a passenger on the weekends every two weeks when I first moved to Toronto really made me develop a deep dread for being in a car for hours. So the idea of driving solo several hours alone has always been a bit daunting to me up until recently. Now having done it a couple of times, I have a few tactics to make driving solo for several hours easier:

Pack great road-trip snacks you’re excited to eat. I swear that having snacks to look forward to helps break up the drive into chunks of time. This is no different than a regular day for me; I’m always planning what I’m eating next. Some snacks I tend to pack for road trips: bagels, apples, almonds, sour patch kids, Pringles (the can makes it easy to eat in the car), Peanut M&Ms, and if I’m organized enough to pack a meal, I like making pita wraps because they’re easy to eat on the go. To drink, I bring a Sap Sucker and Bubly, although I do try to somewhat limit my fluids so that I can avoid stopping for a ton of bathroom breaks.

Plan for fun stops along the way. I used to only focus on getting to my final destination as quickly as possible.Now, I try to plan for at least one stop along the way so that I have something to look forward to. It might be at the beginning of the trip (for example, I’ve gone to San Remo Bakery to pick up doughnuts so that I have a sweet treat to look forward to) or a practical errand midway (such as Giant Tiger to pick up the last few cottage essentials–and I’m always checking to see if they’ve got the $6 bike shorts I scored two summers ago). Or sometimes I’ll stop somewhere touristy, such as the Big Apple in Cobourg. Incorporating stops helps to break up the journey; rather than facing a long, boring six-drive to Montreal, it’s only two hours til the Big Apple, and then another one or so til I stop for gas. This method of breaking up the drive into chunks reminds of running 10 and 1s; it’s easier to mentally wrap your head around getting through the next 10 minutes rather than hours of running (when in the thick of marathon training you’ve got those 30k runs as you near race day!). In fact, when I was getting drained completing the mileage for the Great Virtual Race Across Tennessee, I planned fun stops during some runs, including meeting my friend in the park to hike. Look how much marathon training has taught me, haha!

Plan your gas stop and bathroom breaks. Like in a marathon, for a road trip you need to plan when to fuel and when you go to the bathroom. I now know that I fill up on gas every three hours of driving or so; with that in mind, I plan my other stops accordingly–it’s all about spacing apart the breaks from driving and giving your legs a stretch and some fresh air (for Billie Jean, too!). When I get gas, I usually pick up a double-double at Timmies, too, cuz I’m a good ol’ Canadian, eh! It’s my little road trip ritual.

Have a playlist planned. I much prefer running with music or a podcast on my AirPods and I need entertainment for my drives as well. I only listen to a handful of podcasts regularly, so if I know I have a road trip coming up, I will save new episodes to listen to in the car. Podcasts really help the time fly by; I drove five hours to Meech Lake in the fall and by the time I’d listened to my favourites (Dave Chang Show, Smartless, Conan O’Brien, Spilled Milk, Fake Doctors Real Friends, and Recipe Club) I’d arrived! I’d take breaks in between podcasts for music. Since I don’t own a lot of music, I’ve very much enjoyed the Sirius XM subscription in the GM Canada cars. I set my favourites before I hit the road so I can easily switch between pop, hip hip, 80s, 90s, and 2000s. If you’re into audiobooks, download a few for your drive, I bet that’d be a great time to have a listen if it’s a format you enjoy (I find my mind wanders off when listening to audiobooks so they’re not my jam for road trips.)

Dress for the drive. You’ll want to be comfortable, obviously. For winter drives, I typically take off my winter coat and wear a sweatsuit or a sweater and leggings. More important than your outfit is your footwear; in the summer, this means wearing footwear other than flimsy flip flops (which can slip on the pedals) and for fall and winter, I opt for sneakers or boots that don’t have an overly chunky sole (too much of platform and I can’t feel the pedal!). Avoid wearng jumpsuits or onesies as your ootd; trust me, you do not want the hassle of getting half undressed at every bathroom pit stop!

Sing! Learn a new language! One of my IG followers suggested learning a new language while driving, and I love that idea! I haven’t tried it yet (although I am learning Italian with the Babbel app), but I do regularly sing in the car. If a boyband comes on or some classic 90s RnB, you’ll find my singing at the top of my lungs behind the wheel. I find singing helps keep you alert for the drive and you end up feeling more energized after you’ve belted out some Mary J Blige. And while I’m not really one to talk on the phone, if you love phone calls, use this time to chat with that friend you’ve been meaning to catch up with.

Driving with confidence. Besides all of these little tactics I use for going on solo road trips,  for me a big part of what makes me comfortable and confident with driving solo is knowing the car I’m driving can handle the conditions and that its features help me drive more safely.

My recent test drive of the 2022 GMC Acadia AWD was perfect for my trip cottage-hopping. While the highways were clear, it was white-out conditions in Gatineau on the day I departed for Wentworth and the roads were slippery for most of my two-hour trek, but all-wheel-drive got me safely to my destination. And let’s hear it for the heated steering wheel and seats; much appreciated in the -21 degree weather (and I think the more comfortable you are, the more focused you are on driving)! Also, because I do not pack light, the ample trunk space (plus I put down the third row of seats to expand it) was put to good use with all of my cottage groceries, luggage and work-from-cottage essentials stashed in there; they didn’t have to be piled up, which would’ve blocked the rear window). The Acadia also had heads-up display is something I always appreciate as it helps me be more aware of my speed (when I get in a zone, I’m a little bit of a lead foot!), and the blind-spot detection light is super helpful for keeping you aware of your surroundings (even though, of course, I always do shoulder check before changing lanes). I will tell you that I never would’ve predicted I’d love GMC, but I do! Although I don’t love parking them (so big!) I do love being the big GMC SUV on the road surrounded by little cars. Maybe that confidence was BCE: Big Car Energy. Does this mean, ahem, size matters?!

(Side note: Just last year, an old SUV I was driving solo one day in the summer went dead right as I was in the middle of making a turn onto a busy downtown street. There I was, in the middle of the intersection with the car completely dead. Talk about panic! It makes me appreciate cars like this smooth driving GMC Acadia all that much more!)

How do you approach your road trips? I’m still learning (and I dream of one day driving to Banff and Jasper to hike with Billie Jean) so would love to know if you have any strategies for road tripping (especially driving solo). And more importantly, what podcasts should I add to my library for my next road trip?? ‘Cause I’ll need way more to listen to if I’m going to tackle longer drives!


Leave a Comment February 15, 2022

Travel Swellness: 2020 Travel Predictions

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Where do you see your travel taking you this year and in the decade ahead of us? Has what drives your decisions changed over the years? The experts at Booking.com have examined research and their insights from travel reviews and these are five trends they’ve identified that will impact how and where we travel in the years to come that I found most intriguing


Let’s take it slow.

Rather than FOMO and racing through to fit in as much as possible, we’ll be going at a slower pace. Nearly half of travelers will be taking a slower mode of transportation as a means to reduce environmental impact and an even greater number will be opting for a longer route to experience the actual journey itself. This means methods such as bikes, trams, boats and even our own two feet will be more popular means of transportation.

Kinda sorta like when I run in the mornings to explore a city. Or take in the sights as I run a marathon (like I did recently in Istanbul, let me tell you, that was a slow pace, haha). And earlier in 2019, driving for many hours in Alberta was one of my all-time favourite trips and the drive wasn’t just about getting from point A to B, but was a defining element of the trip. How can you beat singing your favourite songs in the car as you enjoy the mountain views and brilliant glacial lakes around you? With the occasional mountain goat, bear or deer sighting, too!


Let’s hear it for “second city” travel.

More travelers will choose second city travel, that is lesser known destinations, so as to reduce over tourism and reduce the impact on the environment. More than half of the travelers they spoke to would be interested in an app that suggested a destination where tourism would benefit the community.

Is taking the road less traveled of interest to you? I love the idea of this, especially having often been overwhelmed by crowd of people at popular sights recently, like at the Grand Palace in Bangkok. I think further to reducing over tourism and being kind to the environment, I think many people, myself included, like the feeling of discovery. Exploring that little gem that not everyone has been to.


Pets are a top priority.

Pet-centric travel is set to explode. More and more travelers are taking their pets into consideration when it comes to their vacations. 34 percent will choose their holiday based on whether or not they can take their pets with them, in fact. And, good news, the number of pet-friendly accommodations on Booking.com continues to rise.

I travel semi-regularly with my dog, Billie Jean, and I can tell you she plays a big role in my travel decisions. We spent August in Brooklyn last year and also did a road trip to the Drake Motor Inn, and being able to travel with her simply makes life better. In fact, I was recently considering a trip in the next few months, but given that the accommodations are not dog-friendly, I doubt I will go on this trip.


Snag that coveted reservation.

Culinary goals will be key in travel decisions. Booking a table at the hugely popular restaurant for an unforgettable dining experience is a trend that speaks to me. Just a few weeks ago, in advance of my trip to Thailand, my friend and I obsessed about where to book dinner and selected Michelin-starred restaurant Gaa as a decadent treat. And we were crushed to learn that Jay Fai was closed the days we were hoping to go early in the morning to get our name on the walk-in list. Several years ago, another friend and I diligently worked on getting a reservation at David Chang’s Momofuku Ko, clicking for a spot the second the reservations opened up and finally scored two seats at a late time. If Booking.com is correct that food-motivated travel is on the rise, this means I’ll have more competition when it comes to getting that coveted reservation, doh!


Going the “all-amusive” route.

With limited time when it comes to vacations, more and more people are looking for vacations that can deliver all of the experiences and attractions they’re interested in. 57 percent would rather go on one long trip that offers all of the activities they’re into close together. Booking.com predicts will have the travel industry curating itineraries, deals and routes that encompass a healthy range of interests. This more time-efficient way to travel makes sense to me; I look to plan well-rounded trips when I’m setting an itinerary for myself, with time for culture, fitness, R&R and food (OK, food takes a higher priority for me, but I do like my travel to include everything! Unless it’s got a baby elephant, then all I need is to cuddle with a baby elephant and that is everything).

Do you have travel plans for 2020 yet? Where are you off to?

Leave a Comment January 2, 2020

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