For those of you that follow me on social media, you’ve probably seen a lot of Disney pictures over the last few days and you probably noticed that my family was in NONE of them.
It’s true. I fulfilled my ultimate fantasy – Disney without kids.
It’s not that I don’t want to have that time with just my husband (what a dream that would be) or have my son experiencing the Disney magic again. It’s just that it’s nice to do what I want when I want and not hear anyone complain about their feet. And even if they do, I don’t have to do anything about it.
I just got back from what I saw one of my friends call a “professional vacation.” You can call it a blogging conference. You can call it an excuse for a girls getaway. Because all of the above are true.
When the Type-A Parent conference announced that they were offering a Type-A East conference and that it was taking place at Walt Disney World, I bought a ticket right away, not knowing whether or not my schedule could accommodate it.
I started talking to some of my closer friends in the space and asking if they were going. One thing led to another and I was soon buying a plane ticket (with my frequent flier points!) and rooming with three other women.
Here’s how it worked out:
Hotel: $260 (that’s 4 nights at the deluxe Contemporary Resort split 4 ways)
Food: Who knows? It was all on my Magic Band!
Business networking, peer networking, time with good girlfriends: PRICELESS
And because this was a work conference, it’s all tax-deductible!
I know there are many husbands out there that wonder how much “work” really goes on at these “work conferences.” And the truth is, it’s as much or as little as you make it.
My friend Sarah said she stayed up almost every night until 2 am brainstorming work ideas with her roommates. I also spent my evenings with my roommates but our evenings included wine and time in the parks.
So why is it important to go?
In this case, I met some great brands that I hope to work with in the future. I got to catch up with bloggers I’ve known for years who are still going strong. I got to hear from so many peers about topics like IFTTT, travel blogging, Instagram growth, and campaign reporting. And I got to meet a longtime blogging hero, Darren Rowse, better known in this space as Problogger.
But it also gave me a chance to reconnect with women I’ve known for years. Women that understand what I do. They understand my complaints and get my jokes. They share their professional knowledge and personal support. And I never have to explain exactly what it is I do all day at home.
In between those conference sessions, I found my people again.
Like my dear friend Susan, who was my travel companion for most of this trip. We started our time together at the Rose & Crown restaurant in the UK at Epcot. I loved that she only had to say “Rose & Crown at 2:15” and I knew exactly where to go to meet her. And I loved that we sat by the water sipping our drinks and sharing chicken masala curry and fish & chips.
After a full conference day the next day, we needed a girls night out – Disney-style! I met up with my longtime friend Andrea, along with Susan, and Ashley, Amy, Amy, and Amy (we’re definitely children of the 70s). We donned our respective costumes for an adult evening at Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party.
Another conference day and… another girls night out! This time, we headed to Epcot to eat and drink our way around the world at the Food & Wine Festival (we were down an Amy that night). At the end of the night, I even got everyone to indulge me in riding one of my musts when I visit the park – Spaceship Earth. Remember your ABCs? You can thank the Phoenicians!
On the last day, we were winding down and some even had to leave early. But my wise friend Andrea had made reservation months before for a party of four at the California Grill atop Disney’s Contemporary Resort. I snuck my way into one of those four spots and ended the conference with the most perfect evening. Drinks and dinner overlooking the Magic Kingdom as the sun was setting.
Over the food and drinks, we laughed and talked and even though my martini was pretty strong (and I drank it pretty quickly) there was one overall thing that stuck with me from our conversations. And that’s the value of good girlfriends.
I may not always have that one friend but I have many women in my life that remind me that friendship should be easy. These are the girlfriends that don’t look at me with disdain or jealousy. These are the girlfriends that will make me laugh even when I’m the grumpiest person on the planet.
And oh, how I laughed. I laughed so hard that I had tears rolling down my face and had to hold my stomach because it hurt so bad. That, to me, is a measure of a good time.
I don’t do “girlfriend getaways” with high school or college besties like many of my friends. I go to these conferences. Instead of celebrating a long history of friendship, I celebrate the future of women who are finding success with each other and on their own terms.