How a Western Weekend Getaway Changed My Life

Tuesday, May 30, 2023
If you follow me on social media then you know I attended an amazing Western Weekend Getaway with Emily Kaufman, The Travel Mom. I feel like I've come back a different person- a more relaxed, confident, stronger person. Maybe it sounds kinda corny, but I think I found myself again. Let me tell you what I mean. Where do I begin?

This post is part of an editorial section called Beyond Momma, where I share personal thoughts and stories. You can check out more of Beyond Momma here.

First, let me tell you who The Travel Mom is. Here's a blurb from her Facebook page: "Over the past 20 years, Emily Kaufman, known as The Travel Mom, has built a loyal and engaged community of travel enthusiasts who watch her weekly on national morning shows, as a travel expert on Good Morning America and The Today Show; afternoon shows like The Kelly Clarkson Show and The Steve Harvey Show, cable news like CNN, and on NBC Nightly News, plus local TV stations, and online for the latest travel news, tips, and giveaways. The Travel Mom reaches an audience of over 6 million travel fans a month across multiple channels including TV, digital, social, and owned platforms including The Travel Mom website, and offline at The Travel Mom Experiences! The Travel Mom is a 360-degree media brand that touches TV, digital, and experiential all in one."

I met Emily The Travel Mom in 2019 at an amazing conference called Social Media on the Sand at Beaches Turks and Caicos Resort (you can read about that experience here). Social Media on the Sand was also a life-changing experience for me, and I learned so much about myself as well as from the guest speakers, one of which was Emily Kaufman. I followed Emily on social media and kept in touch with her through messages and comments after the event, and I'm so glad I did. She's just an amazing human being.

Social Media on the Sand, 2019 - That's me on the left and Emily Kaufman on the right

Everyone needs an Emily Kaufman in their life. You know that feeling when you hesitate to do something? That 'standing on the edge' feeling, like, should I do this? Should I go left or right? Should I jump/swing/slide? Should I make the trip? Should I take the chance? Well, Emily is like a kind, encouraging voice whispering "go!" in your ear, giving you a gentle push. She has inspired so many with her videos and experiences on social media. She also gives away tons of trips- literally giveaways every week. 

The Travel Mom's Western Weekend Getaway was a 3-day event featuring two nights of dinner/dancing, and three days filled with activities and fun at the stunning Mountain Shadows Resort in Scottsdale (Paradise Valley), Arizona. Guests included The Travel Mom’s Friends, content creators, tv personalities, journalists, artists,  travel enthusiasts and her Certified Traveler Community. Our weekend consisted of:

-welcome reception
-western dinner and dance party (live music)
-campfire karaoke and s'mores
-Sunday brunch with juice and mimosa bar
-gentle yoga
-casual hike
-guest speaker Tommy DiDario
-facials from Massage Envy
-mala bracelet making workshop
-pool time
-Bahama Mama cocktail and mocktails 
-E-bike rides from Schwinn Bikes
-cabana chair massages
-sound bath sessions
-meet and greet the artist lunch (with Rubem Robierb)
-Disco Dinner cocktail hour
-Disco Dinner buffet and dance party
-tons of trip and prize giveaways

The entire event had amazing sponsors such as LEGOLAND California, Sonoma County, Dry Creek Vineyards, RVShare, Hopper, SEALIFE Arizona and LEGOLAND Discovery Center Arizona, Atlantis Paradise Island Bahamas, Travel Guard,  Garden of Life, Celebrity Cruises, Schwinn, Massage Envy. That meant that there were also fun freebies and a goodie bag upon arrival. I met the nicest people at this event. I arrived knowing very few faces and walked out with connections for life! Where does that even happen anymore? Especially post-pandemic! I was blown away by the circle of kindness that enveloped me there. 

When Emily invited me to the event, my first thought was "YASSSSSSS!" and my second thought was, "I can't." Ugh, anxiety, go away!! My brain fights with itself: "I'm so excited to do this! I'm so honored she asked me!" and then... "This is terrifying. I'll be all alone." Emily reminded me that this was a networking event for me. She didn't tell me not to bring my husband and son, but she gently reminded me that the invitation was really for me. Which meant -gasp- I would have to jump into the deep end on my own. Before I was a mom and wife, I was carefree and solitary. I lived alone for ten years before I was married. I drove 12 hours to North Carolina on my own, took multiple solitary driving trips to Vermont for 6+ hours, stayed in Florida for a week by myself when I was just 16. I used to cut school (sorry, mom and dad) and take a bus to New York City with friends. But over time I tethered myself to my family. They were my security and safety; my comfort zone, and I didn't go far without them. And maybe you can relate to what I'm saying even if you don't have kids or a family but you're tethered to something else- your job, your home, even your dog - it's the same feeling, the same concept. For me, along came this opportunity from The Travel Mom, and I needed to make a decision. Stay tethered? Or let go?

My loves 

Truth be told, I compromised here a little. We have relatives in Scottsdale that we hadn't seen in years and I couldn't imagine taking a first-time trip to Arizona without my husband and son. So they made the journey out west with me, but we parted ways when we got to Scottsdale, with a plan to meet up again after the event, see our relatives and explore Arizona together.  An old friend was supposed to meet me at the event, too, but apparently the universe wasn't having that either (it was determined to make me go to this event alone). Not one but two of my friend's flights were cancelled from New York. She literally just couldn't get to Arizona in time. And so, I jumped into that pool alone.

And let me tell you, it was the best thing that ever could have happened to me. 

I met the nicest people and made important connections. I am so grateful for the members of Emily's Certified Travel Community who took me under their wings, and the other kind guests who let me hang with them for three days. We had some serious fun- from glitter bars to 360 Pixster cameras - I will never forget it!! Not only that, but I experienced new things like a Schwinn e-bike ride and an incredible sound bath (I promise to detail more of these experiences in my next Momma Musings post). 

The food and drinks at the event were also outstanding. Mountain Shadows Resort was incredible (more on that in another post, too!). I can't imagine if I had missed out on this event because of...fear. Doesn't that sound ridiculous when you say it out loud?

Mountain Shadows Resort pool (left), delicious food from dance party at El Chorro

Somehow, Emily The Travel Mom knew exactly what I needed. I am so grateful that she saw potential in me- that she had faith in me and knew I needed to step outside my comfort zone. So if you are looking to travel again, if you're looking for a new direction, a new page, a new experience, but you're afraid to leave that comfort zone, I'm going to be like Emily here and whisper "go!" into your ear. You can do this!

I'm not trying to sound like a walking advertisement for The Travel Mom- she never asked me to write this post but I felt compelled to share my thoughts with the world because that's pretty much what I do on this blog. 

So stay tuned for my other Momma Musings posts detailing more experiences from the Western Weekend Getaway. Go follow The Travel Mom and keep an eye out for another one of her  events. I can assure you that you won't be disappointed! And I promise that if you come to an event and you don't know anyone, come find me. You can always, always sit by me. Just be prepared to dance if a good song comes on. 

Post playlist: There She Go by Justin Bieber,  Could Have Been Me by Halsey

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