have you ever daydreamed of quitting your job to travel with no fixed address? that’s exactly what Jen and her husband Tom are doing. they’ve been scheming for two years and as of the end of this month, they are off to Japan to start a year full of travel. with stops in Cambodia, Croatia, Bali, and Bolivia – to name a few – the itinerary will give them a taste of the entire world.

i’m looking forward to living vicariously through her photos and blog posts. i was happy to see Austria on the list, as it’s one of my favourite places in europe. if you haven’t been, you definitely should! the architecture, the mountains, the whimsical beauty. i’m swooning pretty hard from memories alone!

as Jen’s packing her bags to leave calgary, she’s sharing with us her favourite travel daypack essentials!


these are the things i always either have in my purse or in a travel daypack:

eating at restaurants gets old when you’re travelling, not to mention expensive. i love going to grocery stores or farmers markets and picking out items to make myself a picnic lunch. the spork comes in handy all the time for eating on the go.

wet wipes
from cleaning my hands when there is no soap in the bathroom or after eating a particularly messy ice cream cone, i never travel without them.

i am obsessive about using sunscreen. i love the sun and don’t like to stick to the shade but i also don’t want my skin to look like a prune as i age, so daily sunscreen protection is key.

the ultimate travel accessory. it instantly dresses up an outfit, covers your shoulders when needed for modesty in temples and churches, keeps you warm when the sun goes down, acts as a travel pillow on long bus or car rides and works as a beach towel or picnic blanket when needed.

lonely planet travel book
yes, i’m that traveler! i love the Lonely Planet travel books. they always find me the best places to visit, eat and stay. plus in areas where you don’t want to hire a guide, you can act as your own tour guide with the help of the book. i often rip out pages of my book to throw into my purse so i don’t have to carry the whole book around with me. it might make it less usable in the future but it’s more convenient at the time and you look like less of a tourist.

toilet paper 
if there’s one thing i’ve learned from traveling around the world, it’s that toilet paper is a luxury! i always carry a stash in my purse and restock before i leave a hotel.

portable phone charger
like most people i use my phone a lot and when i’m travelling i never want to be stranded without it in case something happens or i need the GPS (i’m hopeless with directions).

camelbak UV purifier
when you’re in countries where the tap water isn’t drinkable, the cost of bottled water can really add up. that’s why i carry a UV water filter. within seconds my water is safe to drink and i can save my travel dollars for wine instead of water.

camera (nikon 1 J5)
i refuse to let all my travel memories be captured on an iPhone camera. so even though it’s sometimes bulky to carry around, my nikon is always with me.

what are your travel essentials?

i’d always consider myself a lover. but at UNDRCARD boxing studio, i’m definitely a fighter!

a boxing workout can sound rather intimidating and trying something new can always be a bit nerve-wracking, but when it involves getting your aggression out by punching things, i’ll always be on board.

their first impressions are spot on: the studio is beautiful and the staff is really great.

they help you get checked in, pick a bag, and teach you how to put on your hand wraps. there is also a video playing outside the studio that walks you through the wrapping process – it can be a bit confusing, even if this is your tenth time wrapping your hands.

once your hands are wrapped and class is about to start, the big barn door slides open and you step into what could only be explained as a dance hall with heavy bags. low coloured lights and loud music accompany one of the sweatiest workouts i’ve experienced.

the class starts with a warm-up to get your heart pumping, followed by some shadow boxing so you can learn the six fundamental punches (jab, cross, left hook right hook, left uppercut, right uppercut) as well as a few combinations you’ll be throwing once you put your gloves on.

because of the many different possible learning styles in the class, the punches are referred to their names, but also to their numbers. a basic combination could be “jab, cross, left uppercut, cross” or “1, 2, 3, 2.”

once everyone is experienced at few air punches, and thoroughly confused by the combinations, it’s time to put on the gloves and work the heavy bag. you’ll practice the six punches again to get a feel of what it’s like to punch a bag and work through the combinations you learned.

there will always be a few cardio and strength bursts worked into the class, too. you’ll find them in the form of high knees, burpees, pushups, squats, jumping jacks and more. when you think about doing jump squats followed by speed punches up the length of the heavy bag repeatedly, you’ll know why i describe this class as a super sweaty one.

the class ends with abs and stretching, which you’ll be quite thankful for as you’ve probably been dreaming about laying on the floor for quite a while now. if you’ve never thrown a punch before, you’ll quickly figure out that boxing is a full-body workout. besides your arms, your core will be on fire and your booty will be burning.

one of my favourite things is that it really is your own workout. you control your speed and intensity when punching, and you don’t have to be in unison with anyone else in the class. if they want to punch really fast, but your heavy-bag opponent requires a bit more footwork, you can move around, slip some imaginary punches and strike when the time is right.

although i might need to work on my fight face a little bit, i can throw a mean punch. to me, UNDRCARD is definitely a knockout!

the fine print:

a drop-in is $24 and you’ll need to purchase hand wraps on your first visit, which start at $8. there are class passes and unlimited memberships available, too. the prices are slightly above the average – for example, their 10-class pass is $199, where most fitness studios sit at $180 – but it’s not enough of a difference to break the bank. in addition to the boxing group fitness studio, UNDRCARD also offers a ring, gym and private training. if you’re looking for something a little less fitnessy, there is an in-studio coffee, food and juice bar, 20 seat common area with complimentary wifi, and merch store.

let’s keep it simple:

is it a good workout? yes!

is it for me? definitely yes!

have you boxed before? 

i’ve been daydreaming about filling my entire apartment with flowers. my living room is so bright and airy, it’s so welcoming of plant life. i have two plants and a cactus and almost bought 17 teeny succulents in little pots yesterday from the market. if i have any secret admirers, message sister for my address and feel free to send along beautiful blooms.

tangentially, if this rich individual would also like to buy me a new car and pay for my adult braces (which i might need), that would be really neat.

on the flower note, i really can’t wait for spring and all of the wildflowers to be in bloom. so many hiking plans, and with my full weekends free i actually have the time to enjoy allthemountains!

follow-up from last week: i sprained a few ligaments down the pointer finger/thumb side of my hand, but the good news is that i didn’t break anything in my hand says the x-ray. the pain is pretty strong, but the swelling is going down. my paw is multi-coloured, but i know it’s healing. i’ll be back to boxing in no time.

are you noticing people are becoming oversensitive about, well, everything? i mentioned a general company policy to someone on instagram the other day (from the work account) and they responded back to tell me how attacked and hurt they felt by that. i could only shake my head.

the skin on my face is so ridiculously dry, no matter how much moisturizer i put on. someone help! i’ve been trying to fix it, and then a report on 660 news radio this morning talked about how dry skin makes your skin age faster, and i freaked out a little in my car. there was a great deal of rearview mirror glancing at my dry, flaky forehead.

this weekend we’ll be celebrating Jen’s 30th and sunday is full of fitness plans. i’ll be the one in the corner protecting my mitt.

what’s up for the weekend?