Don’t Hate Me Because I’m Tropical

What child of the 70s didn’t secretly hope to one day travel to a magical island where dreams could become reality? Hope to be greeted by a suave man named Mr. Roarke and his trusty little sidekick Tattoo. Hope to have all their wishes fulfilled and hope they didn’t come at a price…

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Because wasn’t there always a lesson to be learned on Fantasy Island? Wasn’t Mr. Roarke always showing up at the most inopportune times saying something like, “Yes, you have found true love. But true love comes at a price. And now you must make a choice.”

I truly loved that show. Everything about it. The stories, the premise, and the tropical setting. It seemed like paradise to me. An unobtainable paradise at that.

As a small town girl, I love spending the occasional afternoon at the airport on the observation deck (back when you were actually allowed in the airport if you didn’t have a ticket). I would watch all the people coming and going and imagine what it might be like to someday be one of them.

Young wanderlust

I hopped my first flight when I was a senior in college. It was memorable but only because it was a military plane taking my NJROTC unit home from a week at the Great Lakes Naval Training Center – a week I still refer to as Hell Week. I had bigger dreams though and when I was in my early 20s, I jumped at a chance to take my very first tropical vacation!

An offer came in the mail promising accommodations in Ft. Lauderdale, a cruise to the Bahamas, and a few nights in Freeport - all for the low, low price of $59.99!

Actually, I don’t remember what the exact cost was but it was cheap enough that it seemed obtainable. So my boyfriend and I made the drive from Cleveland, Ohio all the way to South Florida. We enjoyed a room at the Hilton Sunrise and then after just a few hours of our time (translation: an excruciatingly long and high-pressured timeshare pitch), we boarded a “cruise” to the Bahamas.

Discovery Cruise to Bahamas

The cruise was nothing more than a big boat where we sat doing nothing for 6 hours while we made the journey across the ocean. The accommodations in the Bahamas were modest but I embraced the island life. I got appropriately burned, had my hair braided, and even had a Conch Lovers pizza at the local Pizza Hut.

Braids from the Bahamas

Since that trip, the one that made me feel like I was finally breaking through the bubble that had kept me in my own little world, I’ve taken as many opportunities as I can to explore the world. With my husband, we’ve gone on several cruises, visited a few islands, and even learned to avoid a sunburn. While I still love to explore, there’s something about the Caribbean that instantly transports me and relaxes me.

And as you read this, that’s exactly what I’ll be doing if all goes accordingly to plan.

A few months ago, my friend Maria Bailey mentioned that she might be hosting a tropical conference and that I might want to make sure I had my passport at the ready. Sadly, my passport had been expired for almost 10 years (same with my husband) and my son didn’t even have a passport. It’s something we always thought we should have anyway so I used it as my excuse to get things in gear.

When Maria announced the Social Media on the Sand conference at the Beaches Resort in Turks & Caicos, I was cautiously excited as I mentioned it to my husband. We both tend to throw caution to the wind when it comes to travel, so I signed up, got invited, and that’s where I’ll be September 15-20.

Social Media on the Sand #BeachesMoms

If you’re into tropical travel, family travel, all-inclusive resorts, the Caribbean, or just generally looking at droolworthy photos, I hope to have plenty of that for you. Follow the hashtag #BeachesMoms and look for my photos in Instagram (pending wifi). But before you drool too much, let me just mentioned a few things you should know.

  1. Social Media on the Sand is an invitation-only, social media conference. So how did I get lucky enough to land an invitation? I filled out a form saying I was interested in being invited! If you’re interested, you’ll want to check out the conference website and sign up for updates.
  2. I’m paying to go to this conference. In fact, I’m paying for my whole family. People are usually pretty good at disclosing when they aren’t paying for something but sometimes it’s good to disclose when you are, just so there aren’t any false assumptions.
  3. This conference is sponsored by Beaches Resorts, along with many other partners. As with most conferences, the sponsors and partners greatly supplement the cost for attending. In other words, I’m paying for my family but I’m getting an amazing deal.
  4. Flying to Turks & Caicos is expensive. HOLY COW!

Those are the big ticket items. But we have our passports in hand, our tickets are bought and paid for, and the weather forecast is telling me that my dream is going to become my reality. As long as these last season tropical storms stay out of my way. Mr. Roarke better not mess up this fantasy for me!

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