2016 is my year of forcing myself out of my comfort zone. And my first adventure was to travel to the US for two conferences about social media and blogging.

Leaving behind Mr Mummy Project and The Kid, I ventured off for two weeks by myself to attend conferences where I knew absolutely NO ONE! And guess what? I had a blast. It was an epic trip with many highlights.

Qantas Plane to LA

My trip started with an amazing upgrade to Business Class courtesy of Qantas from Brisbane to LA. What can I say about this amazing experience except that I want to do it all again!

Qantas Business Class

Fully flat beds with pillow and doona, sumptuous food and amazing customer service – I can see why people spend the extra money to fly Business Class. Not to mention, the lounge access before the flight.

Qantas Business Class Screen

Qantas Business Class Meal

I even received a Kate Spade amenity pack full of mini-toiletries and a set of Qantas pyjamas. 13 hours never went so fast!

Qantas Amenity Pack

It was then a quick connecting flight to San Diego to attend Social Media Marketing World.

San Diego Skyline

It was an incredible conference being surrounded by three thousand other delegates and learning from some of the best minds in social media. After three days, my brain was packed with all things social media like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Periscope, Snapchat and other channels I’ve never even heard of.

In addition to the learning, there was lots of fun too in San Diego including the opportunity to work on my selfie skills.

SMMW

There were plenty of networking opportunities including a party on the USS Midway and I even had the chance to try a flight simulator!

Okay, I’ll be honest and admit that I did try to back out while I was waiting in line but remembering my mantra Step Out of Your Comfort Zone helped me to go through with the ride. As you would expect, it was stomach-turning 5 minutes but awesome for the adrenalin rush.

USS Midway San Diego

USS Midway San Diego

Flight Simulator on USS Midway in San Diego

This was followed by a sunset cruise around San Diego on the next night.

USS Midway San Diego

It was then north to my previous hometown Edmonton, Canada for a visit with friends and family. Here’s a view of the famous Canadian Rockies from above.

RockyMountains

From highs of 28 degrees in San Diego, it was a rude shock to experience Edmonton in a cold snap. One night, the temperature dropped to 0 degrees Celcius and it briefly snowed. (Made me realise how much I appreciate the weather in Newcastle).

Snow

But it was great to be back home and catch up with friends and even had a chance to stop by West Edmonton Mall. (That’s the indoor waterpark – handy when it’s freezing outside)

West Edmonton Mall Waterpark

After 5 days in Edmonton, I flew into John Wayne Airport in Anaheim which features a statue of the famous actor. I was in Orange County for Mom 2.0 Summit, a conference for blogging mums and dads.

JohnWayneAirport

The location at the Ritz Carlton Laguna Niguel was stunning with views of the Pacific Ocean. So California!

Ritz Carlton Laguna Niguel

Ritz Carlton Laguna Niguel

Ritz Carlton Laguna Niguel

Sponsored by Dove and their hashtag #BeautyIs, the conference was both educational and inspiring and focused on blogging, social good and creating community.

ShttyMum at Mom 2.0 Summit

It featured high profile speakers such as actress and singer Rita Wilson (wife of Tom Hanks) discussing balancing work and family.

Rita Wilson at Mom2.0 Summit

@BeautyIs Dove Beauty Salon

I had the opportunity to meet and talk with so many incredible bloggers from across North America.

As well as educational sessions, there were plenty of opportunities for fun. Lots of parties and even Run 2.0, a run along the beach. (This was mandatory for me, after consuming so much food. Check out the dessert bar!)

Party at Mom 2.0 Summit

Selfie at Mom 2.0 Summit

Running along beach at Ritz Carlton Laguna Niguel

Dessert Bar Ritz Carlton Laguna Niguel

It was a fabulous two weeks away and I’m back now feeling inspired.

So what I did learn?

  1. There was no need for Motherguilt. Mr Mummy Project and The Kid coped well in my absence and it felt so good to let loose and rediscover who I am.
  2. It’s fun flying by yourself. There’s time to catch up on new-release movies or a good book and someone else prepares and delivers food and drinks.
  3. As much as I know about blogging and social media, there’s still lots to learn and many people to learn from. Don’t be afraid to ask questions and seek knowledge.
  4. Don’t be shy. Put yourself out there and start talking to other people. I met heaps of people and had lots of fun.
  5. There’s no place like home. It was fun visiting the US and Canada but Newcastle is definitely home.