Business trip or pleasure junket?

bonggamom and friends on the Disneyland Cars Land Red Carpet
Bay Area mom bloggers from last year's Cars Land press event:  Techmama, SV Twin Mom, bonggamom, Xiaolinmama, The Silent I

This week I'm traveling to the Disneyland Resort for a press event: they want to make sure everyone knows about the newest section of Fantasyland, Fantasy Faire, and they're celebrating the debut of Disneyland Park's new live show, Mickey and the Magical Map.  Even though my time there will be filled with interviews and film tapings, there's going to be a press party and we do get lots of breaks to explore the parks.  And even though I'm going solo (the kids are outraged, but they've missed enough school to visit the Philippines last December), any visit to the Disneyland Resort is a great one, and I'm really looking forward to my trip.  Okay, I'm DYING to start my trip.  What with end-of-school activities, next year's PTA activities, the usual afterschool carpool runs and my regular work, life has gotten way too hectic, and this trip is starting to feel like my only chance to take a breather from everyday life and grab some time for myself.

I probably shouldn't have said that, because in doing so I feel like I'm feeding into the oft-maligned image of a mom blogger portrayed in the recent Wall Street article titled The Mommy Business Trip (can you just see the air quotes surrounding "Business Trip"?) characterizing us as trapped housewives who use blog conferences and trips as desperately-needed escapes.

Mom bloggers have gotten a lot of flak for that -- but they have risen to the occasion, expressing their outrage .  Personally, I'm not afraid to admit that yes, I do need a break, and yes, this trip will give me one. But I do think it's ignorant, condescending and unfair to stereotype bloggers who attend conferences and press events as moms who play (and party and raid minibars) while the kiddos are away.  At the risk of repeating everything bloggers have already said about this topic, here's my two (okay, three) cents:

* The article makes it seem like only stay-at-home or work-at-home moms use conferences to "escape" every day life.  What about those stories about dads who can't wait to get back into the office or on the road because they can't deal with the nagging wife and screaming kids?  The reality is that home life is hard, and any sane grownup needs a break once in a while in order to stay sane.

* Blogger conferences are no different than any other conference.  Every conference has dinners, after-hours parties, conference swag.   Bloggers use conferences and events to learn, network and connect with industry peers-- again, just like any other conference.  In fact, most bloggers work from home, so often times it's the only opportunity we have to meet the people we work with (PR agents, brand reps, fellow bloggers, etc..) in person.

* Quite a few bloggers I know travel and attend conferences so much, the reverse is true:  they're actually on the road so often that they look forward to spending a week at home, where life slows down and they can catch a breath.

Finally, I have three more points to make from a more personal perspective:

* I have never gotten drunk on a conference or business trip, and I never raid hotel minibars.  Why waste your money when you can buy the exact same items at the Walgreens just outside the hotel, for a third of the price?

* Getting time for myself is just a bonus, it's not the reason I'm going on this press trip.  Do you really think I would go through all the trouble of setting up the household to run during my absence (calling in favors from friends, arranging make-up classes, asking Alfie to work from home, etc..) just so I can get some "me" time?  It would be much easier and less stressful to check in at a spa over the weekend.  I'm doing it to maintain my connections with the Disney brand, to network with fellow bloggers who cover Disney events, and to keep my own brand relevant and fresh, by being the event and by getting the "scoop", "sneak peek" and unique perspective so that people will continue to want to read my blog.

* I'm probably going to be missing the kids and Alfie the whole time that I'm gone.  Hotel beds are way too big and lonely when you're used to little ones snuggling up to you as you wake up!  Sometimes being away from the ones you love (for a little while) makes you appreciate them all the more.

With that in mind, I'm leaving for the Happiest Place On Earth happy in the knowledge that I'm doing both my career and my sanity a lot of good!

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