5 Tips to Survive A Conference

team-wiking-blog-her-2014 As you know, I’ve recently returned from BlogHer 2014 in San Jose, California. It was my 4th blogging conference, so I feel I have a few takeaways for people who may feel overwhelmed attending conferences or meeting new people.

1. Plan
Plan ahead! What do you hope to get out of this conference? Are you going to meet new people? Do you want to work with sponsors? Can you contact sponsors to schedule meetings ahead of time? Do you have business cards? Is your blog ready to share? Does it need to be cleaned up? Is your brand strong and your content relevant? Do you have a media kit ready to e-mail or share via dropbox? What are you going to wear? Plan to look and act professional, on behalf of your blog/brand.

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2. Network
With the last few conferences I attended I was able to network and meet people ahead of time via a facebook group, twitter, or a private platform. It eases your nerves a little and I find that more and more conferences are making this available for their attendees. You can even meet up with other attendees ahead of time or plan to meet for meals during the conference.

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3. Engage
Once you are at the conference, engage everyone around you. Be courteous and greet people. Talk to sponsors you are interested in. Share your business cards and have a short ‘elevator pitch’ about your blog/brand that works itself into normal conversation. Make yourself memorable, in a good way. I like to write notes on cards I receive from people about where I met them so I can contact them later. Remember why you are there and what your goals are. Share photos and quotes on social media using a hashtag to meet more people as well.

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4. Breathe
I am not a very outgoing person, so this is something a hard for me. I get overstimulated and like to take a break in my hotel room, just to unwind and take some deep breaths before going back out into the hustle and bustle of it all. You can also find other like-minded individuals to take a short break with outside of the conference. Don’t feel like you have to be 100% in the conference 100% of the time if it’s not something that makes you happy. This should be fun!

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5. Reflect
At the end of each day I like to think about my goals and take notes. Am I still on track? Am I happy with my progress? You don’t have to be able to cross off all of your goals at once. Please don’t be too hard on yourself, a little progress is still a step in the right direction. Remember all of those people you met? Contact them afterwards.

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My experience at BlogHer this year was positive. If there is anything I’ve learned about conferences it is that you get out of them what you put in. I feel satisfied with my progress for this year and look forward to partnering with some really wonderful companies in the future.

Have you ever been to a blog conference? What are your tips? If not, would you like to go? What would your goals be?

30/52 Daddy Time

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While I was away at BlogHer, the boys stayed home with Steve. He made these little videos to share with me, and I want to share them with you too because they are the sweetest moments for my kids. Søren is falling asleep, something sweet for any mom of a toddler. He’s so active during the day and gets so cuddly when he is tired so it’s a moment I miss the most when I’m away.



Aiden spending his hard-earned Minecraft minutes. He’s been asking to do chores around the house for chore points to convert to screen time or money later. I’m so proud that he’s having thoughts about earning things and managing his resources responsibly.
What are your sweetest moments of the day?
A portrait of my child once a week, every week in 2014. To see the whole series, click here.

Blog Party / San Francisco, California

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Carla, me, Jessica, and Nancy. team-wiking-blog-party-11 team-wiking-blog-party-12 team-wiking-blog-party-13 team-wiking-blog-party-14 Nancy and I. team-wiking-blog-party-15 team-wiking-blog-party-16 team-wiking-blog-party-17

Earlier this month I had the pleasure of attending Blog Party, a small get-together arranged by Jamie for San Francisco Bay Area local bloggers to meet up. It was hosted by Social Print Studio, in their ultra-hip San Francisco office and all of the delicious food was created by Andrea Pimentel of Bakin’ Bit. I snapped a few photos but focused most of my time meeting other bloggers in the area. All other photos are taken by Simone Anne of We Are Adventure.us. Afterwards Nancy and I headed over to Treasure Island to snap a couple night shots of the San Francisco skyline. It was a wonderful night and I’m definitely looking forward to the next one!

I got to meet all of these wonderful ladies: Anita of Dessert First Girl, Kate of Undeniable Style, Kaitlin of Love and Kait, Jessica of Dinner at Holmes, Jessica of Fab in Lombardia, Jeanna of Clean Eats Girl, Lila of Lingering Day Dreams, Katie of Lovely Letters, Jessica of Thread and Bones, Jacqueline of Birds of a Thread, Einat of Design Break Online, Bobbie of Even if Nobody Reads This, Ana of Fluxi On Tour, Tanya Troshyna, Suzanna of Zoso Lights, Michelle of Young Hip and Psychic, Christine of Christine Kaurdashian, Carla of Alyssa and Carla, Sarah of Snixy Kitchen, Kelly of Dear Ponytail, Kelly of A Side of Sweet, Chelsea of Ginger Side of Life, Diana of Diana Willard Blog, Nancy of Spiffy Kerms, Jamie of J for Jamie, Latrina of Of Trees and Hues, Ellen of Cannibis Now Magazine, and Nina of Wear Flowers in Your Hair.

Some sponsor love: BuluchuLilikoi Design + Letterpress, 45 Wall Design, Sucre Shop, Sweets Simply, P, Pennie Post, Fiona’s Sweet Shoppe, Xumma Semi-Sweet Cola, Darling Magazine, Ebba, J for Jamie, Tattly.

Hi There!

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I don’t normally update my blog on the weekend, but I’m at BlogHer 2014 and wanted to introduce myself to everyone. My name is Jessica Doll and I’m a photographer and travel blogger. I live in the South San Francisco Bay Area, California. My family and I travel quite often and I am inspired by all things travel. I hope to also inspire other families and travelers to travel often and travel light. Team Wiking started as a way to update our far-away families but has evolved into a way for me to document our adventures at home and abroad.

If you are at BlogHer and see me, feel free to come ask for a San Jose City Guide or just read my blog post. Thank you so much for taking the time to stop by, whether you’re a new reader, or someone who has been reading for awhile.

Our most recent trip was an Alaskan Cruise.
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My personal favorite so far was to Copenhagen, Denmark.
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We also really love our California beaches.
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Reader Favorites
1. Alaskan Cruise Review
2. Travel Light Alaskan Cruise
3. San Jose / BlogHer City Guide

Travel Light Series
I love to travel light, which is why I only take a carry on for trips of any duration. I have a monthly feature about it:

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52 Weeks Series
This is a weekly project that documents my boys that I started at the beginning of the year and is more personal to me:
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House Tour
Our adventures at home usually take place at our house, where we feel pretty comfortable:
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If you like Team Wiking, please feel free to subscribe or follow me:

Follow Jessica from Team Wiking on Twitter! Follow Jessica from Team Wiking on Instagram!
Like Team Wiking on Facebook! Jessica from Team Wiking on Pinterest
Add Team Wiking to your RSS feed. Follow on Bloglovin

Happy Weekend!

Seacliff Beach / Aptos, California

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During the summer Aiden likes to spend time at Grandma’s for a week or two. We always allow him since we don’t live near and he really enjoys it. We took the opportunity to head to Seacliff State Beach in Aptos, California to give Søren some much needed toddler beach time. We haven’t spent time at this beach since we took our anniversary photos in 2011 so it needed a visit. The weather was warm and perfect, especially for the fisherman and fishing pelicans. Søren enjoyed some time with each of us, enjoying his temporary single child time. The beach was more crowded than others that we’ve visited lately but we kept to ourselves in our little umbrella and had a great time.

Review / 11 Day Alaskan Cruise

Cruise Ship docked in Skagway, Alaska

In case you haven’t been reading lately or aren’t caught up, we just returned from an 11 Day Alaskan Cruise aboard the Star Princess. It was one of the best trips that we’ve ever been on. The scenery was amazing, but we had to deal with our 2 year old during the trip as well.

Booking
We booked the cruise online through Princess Cruises. Financially it was on par with our trip to Denmark last year. Booking was easy and since we booked ahead of time with a low deposit we were able to pay the cruise off and save up spending money by our sale date. If you are interested in cruising and would like a referral (and a discount!), please contact me. We were able to print our boarding passes and luggage tags at home.

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Alaskan Cruise Itinerary
Day 1 Embark from SF
Day 2 At Sea + Formal Night
Day 3 At Sea
Day 4 Ketchikan, Alaska
Day 5 Juneau, Alaska
Day 6 Skagway, Alaska
Day 7 Glacier Bay National Park
Day 8 At Sea
Day 9 Victoria, Vancouver Island, British Colombia, Canada
Day 10 At Sea + Formal Night
Day 11 At Sea
Day 12 Disembark to SF

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Packing and Clothes
I feel like I packed pretty well for this trip. I followed my Alaskan Cruise Travel Light post closely. It was hard to find a balance between formal and cruise wear and clothes appropriate for an Alaskan excursion. For the boys a down vest and windbreakers were the perfect blend of outerwear. Vests during excursions, layered with a windbreaker when needed. A warm hat for each person is a must if you plan on visiting a glacier or spending any amount of time on your balcony. Dresses that go from Day to Night are nice for the formal nights, and tennis shoes are perfect for shore excursions. We brought umbrellas but didn’t use them much as a few gusts of wind rendered them useless. I wish that we had brought gloves for the glacier walk since our hands got pretty cold.

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Embarkation
Boarding the ship was very easy, from filling out forms to getting our cruise cards. Cruise cards are very important on the ship. There is one for each member of your stateroom, even young children. They act as your room key, your identification, and your credit card. You need them with you in port as well any time you get off or board the ship. When we arrived to our stateroom we had lots of information waiting for us regarding the cruise. We even had custom stationery with our names printed on it. I thought that was a nice touch. Shortly after boarding we attended a mandatory safety drill. It didn’t take much time and made us feel safer on the ship.

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Life At Sea
We spent most of our time at sea relaxing in our stateroom. It gave us some quiet time away from the hustle and bustle of the rest of the ship or outings while in port. It was nice in a sense that we had very distinguished moments of excitement and peace. We never felt cramped or restless.

When we felt like leaving our cabin, there were lots of activities on board the ship to choose from. You receive a newsletter each morning with a schedule of events and locations. Aiden enjoyed the kids club on board the ship. They did activities and he got to hang out with other kids his age. Søren was too young to leave in the kids club for his age group but we could go play with equipment and toys while supervising him. There were also pools and hot tubs, sports areas, a casino, a spa, etc.

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Food + Dining
For our dining option we chose “Anytime” so that we could be more flexible with Søren’s moods. We ate breakfast at the buffet. There was always a nice selection and decent food. Aiden and I had a different smoothie every day along with our food. Søren’s favorite was the belgian waffles and bacon. Steve had biscuits and gravy quite a bit.

Steve and Aiden preferred to visit the lunch buffet. I went once but didn’t prefer the food so Søren and I stayd in the cabin and would have room service lunch dates. The hamburgers were quite good.

When it came to dinner we frequented the Capri Dining room. Often we’d sit at the same table with the same waiter who was very good with Søren and understood that we didn’t have a lot of time to spend on dinner if we wanted to enjoy it. One night we decided to stay in the cabin so we ordered Pizza via room service (free/included, 24 hours a day) and had a movie night. It was actually a lot of fun and made our little room feel a little bit like home.

There were a lot of selections available on the ship, even an ice-cream parlor. We found that traveling with Søren makes us creatures of habit. We tend to stick to what works best for us. As a side note; only basic beverages are included in your cruise fare, soda, espresso, and alcoholic beverages are extra.

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Shore Excursions
We booked all of our shore excursions through the cruise line using the online Cruise Personalizer. It was very simple to reserve them ahead of time and determine if it was something appropriate for Søren and if we’d need to bring his car seat. When we arrived in our cabin all of our tickets were waiting for us. All of our excursions were charged to our cruise account and settled with the rest of our charges at the end of our trip. You can also book through an outside service, like Tours4Fun.

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Souvenirs and Shopping
The only shopping that we really did on this trip was a few gifts for people and a couple little trinkets for our jars. The kids got socks and tee shirts. There are lots of suggested shops from the cruise line, but they were the same in every port. I enjoyed finding little shops that weren’t part of the tourist mega-shops. One that I found was Caribou Crossings in Juneau, Alaska.

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Disembarkation
The night before we arrived back to San Francisco, we placed all of our luggage in the hallway. Before we set it out, we placed our color tags on them and secured them with TSA approved luggage locks (these). The color tags we put on them were given to us based on our preferred disembarkation time. At our time we simply went to our disembarkation meeting area and after scanning our cruise cards one last time were escorted off the ship. Our luggage was in the same area as our color tags and after collecting it we headed out of the cruise ship terminal bound for home.

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Downside
Overall this was a dream trip for us and the customer service was top-notch. However, we did hit a few snags along the way.

I encountered some rude attitudes when ordering food over the phone for room service, then when they brought the food was told that I sounded like a kid on the phone. I don’t know why the sound of my voice would make someone want to give subpar service.

Søren started getting his second molars and had a fever for a few days. I brought a thermometer and tylenol but was unable to purchase children’s ibuprofen on the ship without seeing the medical officer for an extra $75 first.

He also is a normal two year old and doesn’t always use his manners in every situation so it was really the main stressor for us. If we did it over again we would definitely wait another year or two to bring a child his age.

Aiden got seasick once or twice. I got him some dramamine but he ended up really sick during our tour of the Bridge anyway. Having your kid throw-up in the Captain’s bathroom is not the ideal cruise experience but we all survived.

I also didn’t like that after receiving a very relaxing massage I was bombarded with an immediate sales pitch for their spa products. It derailed the relaxing experience for me.

Like I stated earlier, these are very minor negatives to a very positive experience. I’m hesitant to even share them, because I know that over time they will fade and all that will remain will be the dream-like cruise we took to Alaska.

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I hope that I covered all of your answers from this post. Do you have any other questions about cruising? I’d be happy to answer them for you in the comments.

Travel Tips / BlogHer14 / San Jose City Guide

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With BlogHer 2014 just around the corner, I put together a little gift for those I interact with who might not be familiar with all San Jose and the surrounding area has to offer. All of the information in this post is printed on postcards and attached to my business cards. I know that non-California locals will probably want to go places like In-N-Out or Five Guys, but I chose to share places unique to San Jose that are well known and loved by locals.

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EAT

Falafel’s Drive In
A local institution.
2301 Stevens Creek Boulevard, San Jose, CA 95128

Freshly Baked Eatery
Fresh-baked sourdough.
152 North 3rd Street, Suite 101, San Jose, CA 95113

Happy Dog
5-Star hot dogs.
284 South 11th Street, Suite B, San Jose, CA 95112

Angelou’s Mexican Grill
Order online!
21 North 2nd Street, San Jose, Ca 95113

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SHOP

Valley Fair Mall
Super Duper Burgers, Indoor Mall.
2855 Stevens Creek Boulevard, Santa Clara, CA 95050

Santana Row
Kara’s Cupcakes, Cocola, Outdoor Mall.
356 Santana Row, San Jose, CA 95128

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LEARN

Computer History Museum
1401 North Shoreline Boulevard, Mountain View, CA 94043

San Jose Museum of Art
110 South Market Street, San Jose, CA 95113

The Tech Museum of Innovation
201 South Market Street, San Jose, CA 95113

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DAY TRIP
If you have a day to spare…

San Francisco, California / Approximately 1 Hour
Golden Gate Bridge, Pier 39, Ocean Beach, Alcatraz

Santa Cruz, California / Approximately 1 Hour
Beach Boardwalk, Wharf, Downtown, Beaches.

Monterey, California / Approximately 1.5 Hours
Cannery Row, Aquarium, Carmel, 17 Mile Drive

Sacramento, California / Approximately 3 Hours
State Capitol Building, Old Town, Sutter’s Fort

I hope this gives you a little insight into this area. If you are coming to BlogHer, come find me and I’ll give you a card with all of the info on it, you already know what I plan to wear. In case you’d really like to attend but can’t, BlogHer has set up an online system for those of you at home! Check it out here.

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