Jody robbins on spork chek bike

Those who know me, know I’m in love with the city bike. I almost feel like I was one of the original hipsters (sans thick eyewear) when I would cruise around the inner city on my beloved Schwinn circa 2002. So when my bike was stolen from our yard last summer, I was devastated. Immediately after the theft, I began searching for another cool cruiser.

It had to have:

  1. An upright frame (no road or mountain bike for this city slicker)
  2. A comfy seat
  3. Style

Bonus points for:

  1. Wicker basket
  2. Bell
  3. Gears

I was hooped. Online searches produced dismal results, and the bike stores only carried models in the $400-$700 range. Way. Too. Much. Hope flickered when I saw IKEA getting in the game. Upon closer inspection I realized that despite an attractive price point, the Sladda wouldn’t be the bike for me. First of all, it’s ugly. Second, like almost everything from IKEA, you have to assemble it yourself. Adding all the bells and whistles really jacks up the price, too.

Surprise, Surprise…

Then came Mother’s Day and I became the luckiest mama in the land. Behold what awaited me when I opened my eyes:

spork chek bike

Eve and her dad had been scoping out the bikes from Sport Chek for a few weeks. The Huz suspected I’d be enamoured by the pretty pale yellow and cool mint green cruisers they stock. When the price on Sims Charm went down to $150 (regular $229) the week before Mother’s Day, they struck.

Though we’re in the early stage of our relationship, I’m smitten with Minty (my new Sport Chek bike, yo!). Her seat is the comfiest bike seat I’ve ever sat on. Her fenders, oh, her fenders! They’re so stylish, as are the rims. She doesn’t come with gears and with all my addiction to spinning, I was worried this was going to be an issue for us. Surprisingly, it’s not. She goes plenty fast and to be honest, I’m a bit weirded out by how it hasn’t crossed my mind to switch gears.

How to Snag an Affordable, Cute City Bike and Sport Chek Giveaway

The only sore spot in our relationship was Minty’s chain fell off a few times on day two. I rolled her into Sport Chek, where their Service Shop had a looksy. Until then I had no idea there was a service area in the store that builds your bike for free (if you purchased online – store bikes are already assembled), plus does minor tune ups, brake and gear adjustments.

green cruiser city bike

Whoa here she comes, watch out boys…

Turns out Minty was born with a chain defect, so the dude quickly put on a new one for me and away I went. I haven’t looked back since. 

Do you still ride a bike? What kind is your favourite? Let me know by midnight, June 10, 2016. That weekend I’ll randomly draw a name out of a hat. If it’s you, you’ll win a $100 gift card from Sport Chek!

Thank you, Sport Chek for offering one lucky Travels with Baggage reader a chance to get all sporty this summer.

Number one tip for stress-free travel

Have you ever experienced a total travel snafu? I can’t count the number of times I’ve gotten into either tricky or annoying situations. There was the time our Eurostar train from Paris to London was delayed for 8-hours and we were left stranded in the freezing rain waiting for hours. Also ranking up there was when I had to go to a doctor in India after a firecracker misfired and imploded inside my sari! (Minor burn = great travel story.) And in the past year alone, my suitcases have been severely delayed no less than four separate occasions. With all these trips and mishaps, I’ve learned to make like a Girl Guide and be prepared in ways that go beyond emergency snacks and celebrity magazines. I’m talking about travel insurance

Convenient Travel Insurance

I imagine for some, getting travel insurance is one of those items that gets ignored on their pre-trip check list. It lies somewhere between renewing your passport and getting a bikini wax; travel insurance isn’t sexy, but it can save you a lot of time and money. Best part is, you can also pick it up at the grocery store or over the phone.

It’s true! Slackers like me have been saving time and money by getting travel insurance at the same time as we pick up our groceries. I bet you didn’t know you can easily snag PC Financial Travel Insurance To Go at select stores where President’s Choice products are sold. With summer travel on the horizon, it takes little effort to add travel insurance to your shopping list when you’re picking up other last minute trip essentials.

PC Travel insurance

The Deets

PC insurance has a few different plans to meet your needs and they’re available in all Canadian provinces. If the whole family is travelling together, they have different types of coverage you can choose from (either in-store or online). Of the plans you can purchase online, I was most jazzed about the Single Trip Medical Family Plan, where you pay the single medical premium for the two oldest family members travelling, and you’ll get Single Trip Medical coverage for up to five dependent children! Translation: easier on your wallet and the whole family is covered! The best part is all this can be done in the comfort of your home through PC insurance, either on your computer or by phone. 

If you’re on your own, or looking for emergency medical coverage, plus all the bells and whistles such as: trip cancellation, baggage delay, flight accident and travel accident insurance, I’d recommend the Single Trip Comprehensive Plan.

My favourite is the PC Financial Travel Insurance To Go product. You can buy it in the gift card section at select stores where President’s Choice products are sold. Simply scan and pay for it at the check-out and then call-in or go online to activate your coverage; this only takes a few easy steps. It looks just like a gift card and can be used as such, making it a perfect grad gift or a great option for someone planning to travel soon. Best of all, packages start at only $15 for families and single travellers!   

Travel isn’t always glamorous. Accidents happen, and as much as you don’t want to dwell on the unknown, it feels so great knowing you’ve done all you can to have coverage for your family. After all, there are much more important things to worry about on your holiday, like what cocktail to have with lunch and when you’re going to fit in that nap. Right?

For more information on PC insurance travel products click here or call 1-844-724-6787. Thanks so much for supporting the brands that make Travels with Baggage possible.

Disclosure: This is a sponsored post on behalf of PC Financial® insurance. The opinions on this blog are my own.

When to Call It Quits

I felt very grown up the other night. You see, I called it. Not the kind of calling it when you think you’re right and then it’s proven you are. (This is especially gratifying when it takes places in front of your husband and you never even had said “I told you so.”) Nope, I simply called it quits on a Friday night.

Calling it quits is something strange and foreign to me. In recent years, I’ve learned the value and some good lessons about cutting things short. For example, “one for the road,” is never a good idea. Especially if you’re with desperate housewives or have suddenly run into an ex-boyfriend. Not that I would know. For real! I’m innocent.

Cutting it quits with a book or movie that’s not working for you is also a good idea. Why do we think we have to suffer through things that don’t bring us joy or anything positive? Friendships that drain you also comes to mind.

Sometimes things don’t gel. You try and try, and for some reason the night, the plan, whatever you had in mind just doesn’t work out. I love the saying: The road to hell is paved with good intentions. It makes me feel awesome about not doing the things I think I “should” be doing. It’s also a reminder if you try and try to fit a square peg into a round hole, it just won’t fit.

I feel I’ve done this massive build up and I’m about to let you down. My calling it wasn’t so dramatic, but it did make me feel proud. Nobody was at home and I had the night to myself after attending a work event. The work event morphed into a social event and I invited a few fun folks over to my place to keep the party going. People flittered off and the group got smaller and smaller. When I left with my friends I was raring to go.

I was:

  1. Tipsy
  2. Hungry (the waiter took away my untouched entree because I was gabbing so much)
  3. Free of family obligations

But then we couldn’t get into to any restaurant or bar that had seats (yes, I’m officially old). So I called it. I know my friends would’ve loved to come over to my house and raided the liquor cabinet with me, but I didn’t see the point. What I foresaw was hours chatting about the same topics we covered or dinner and a hangover in the morning.

So I called it. I had a Spidey sense, I honoured it and I went home. You may be reading this thinking “big deal,” but dude, this is a big deal for me. I’m always the last one standing, the one to close the party down. For me to prioritize myself, my sleep and my health at the expense of somebody else’s good time. Well, it’s almost monumental.

While I woke up Saturday morning refreshed, I also felt like shards of broken glass had pierced my throat. Could it be that somewhere deep inside of me I knew I needed my rest to try and fight off this cold? Maybe, maybe not. At least I’m getting better at prioritizing myself.

Are you in the habit of pulling the plug on plans when things don’t line up?

Book Review and Giveaway: Do Big Small Things

(Photo credit: G Adventures: Leo Tamburri)

Are you the type who consciously seeks out inspiration? Sometimes it just hits you: a perfect dewdrop on a leaf or a song you hear on the radio that ignites a fire within you. I love it when serendipity crosses my path, but I don’t count on it. I work at cultivating creativity and making my own luck. I journal a lot, I make bucket lists and I seek out tips from those I admire. So when I came across the delightful book Do Big Small Things by Bruce Poon Tip, Founder of G Adventures, I was immediately smitten.

amazon ritual

Bruce Poon Tip on an Amazon adventure (Photo credit: G Adventures)

Less a book and more a roadmap to adventure, this field journal is chock full of inspiration and activities from around the globe to help you realize your higher purpose. You won’t read it as much as you’ll write in it, think about it and rough it up. It’s not heavy stuff, but Do Big Small Things does uncover who you are and what you’re capable of. (I’m thinking it would also make the perfect graduation gift.)

Do Big Small Things

(Photo credit: G Adventures)

It asks question like: how do you spend your time, what are you passionate about and who have you met that inspires you? If you take the time to ponder the questions and write out your answers, it’ll serve you in the years to come in ways you can never imagine. I fully believe when we take the time to reflect and do this inner work it unleashes something in the universe. When you’re open to new experiences and pushing out of your comfort zone, that’s when you find out who you are and what you’re capable of.

mystic China

Is walking along the Great Wall of China something you aspire to do? (Photo credit: G Adventures/Attit Patel)

Stephwerely from Good Reads wrote: I’d describe this book as a New Year’s resolution, but in printed form. It’s a reminder to look towards the future, and to be mindful of who you are and what you’re capable of. And she’s right. It’s a book that shows you, ever so gently, how you can pay it forward. It has loads of space where you can record what you’ve received and what you could give back.

travel journal

In the midst of the journaling pages are heartwarming stories of small acts that have produced big results. It’s not at all preachy, but it is motivating. Filled with wisdom and catchy visuals,  Do Big Small Things is a place to record your experiences and the wisdom you’ve gathered along the way. I can’t think of a better tool for self exploration.

Interested? Leave a comment before midnight on Friday, May 20, and let me know what inspires you. I’ll randomly draw a winner to receive a free copy of this uplifting book.

Planning the Perfect Mother’s Day: It’s Up to You!

I do Mother’s Day like I do my birthday: I organize it all by myself! No need to pity me, I truly don’t mind. I’d way rather do what I want and get what I like than be disappointed by Safeway flowers and an early breakfast filled with things I don’t eat. (Sorry, kid.) I realize this sounds harsh, but whatever. The huz is thrilled he doesn’t have to make reservations for brunch and my daughter understands her mom needs mommy time. Here are my two scenarios for my Mother’s Day this year.

Mother’s Day Itinerary #1

  1. Sleep in.
  2. Go to one of the those awesome workout classes you have to book into in advance.
  3. Replenish calories lost with a decadent brunch. I’m thinking River Cafe or somewhere with lots of house-baked carbs. I’ll be dining with a girlfriend on Saturday, not Sunday to avoid the crowds.
  4. Chill out at FloatLife. I’m so stoked to do this. You go into this pod filled with water and 1,200 lbs. of epsom salts. Then they close the pod lid and you just float in the dark. It’s total sensory deprivation, which I’m curious about.
  5. Shop. Wherever I want for as long as I want. Only wish I could spend as much as I want…

That’s all I have planned for now. I still have hot yoga and meeting another girlfriend for dinner in the back of my mind. I haven’t set these up yet, as I don’t want to be too planned, you know?

mother's day brunch

Mother’s Day Itinerary #2

While I have one day planned, I like to think of Mother’s Day as an entire weekend devoted to moi. Another option I’m toying with is getting out of the city. It’s always such a treat to go to Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel. Even if I’m not staying overnight, wandering it’s cavernous halls and sussing out the spa and restaurants never disappoints.

Of course, you could tuck into the very decadent Mother’s Day brunch (they’ve got two restos offering it), but you’ll definitely want to make reservations for that. Personally, I’m more inclined to head to the Ivor Petrak Room (located on the Mezzanine Level 2). There, some of my favourite brands are setting up a pop up shop. Poppy Barley (local, ethically made leather footwear) will be showcasing their latest collection and Cory Christopher will be in the house sharing his floral design skills. Cory is amazing, BTW. I met him at Christmas in November, and you can ask him anything design related and he’ll give you brilliant tips.

Best (for me) is, Veuve Clicquot is celebrating Yellow Week at this iconic hotel. It doesn’t get much better than sipping champers while shopping, unless of course, you head into The Rundle Lounge, where you’ll receive a complimentary appetizer with every two glasses of bubbly purchased.

And what’s a visit to Banff Springs without a Willow Stream Spa treatment? Wasted, that’s what:) Normally manicures and pedicures don’t grant you access to the full spa experience, but they do this Mother’s Day weekend! Just make sure you hit those tranquil mineral pools before your polish goes on.

Do you do anything special for Mother’s Day? I’d be curious to know who plans it in your family.

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