Thinking of attending Intuit’s Quickbooks Connect Conference in San Jose California? I would highly recommend it; if you have attended in the past then I’m sure you would agree that it is the foremost conference for Small Business Owners and Accounting Professionals.
Now if you are like me and have children you might be asking, how can I balance a conference in California with my busy family life? Well it certainly isn’t easy, you can take the time away from the family unit and attend yourself; or like our situation, my wife and I both share an interest in the conference, but also have three children…so we bring them along with us. Now this may only work if you and your significant other can get time away from the daily grind, and you are able to trade off on the parenting duties while away, but if you can pull it off, where better to mix business with pleasure than sunny California?
So if you have ever thought of bringing your kids along to QB Connect San Jose, or haven’t attended yet because of your busy family life; here are ten helpful tips on how you can get the most out of the conference with your family in-tow.
Packing for the Trip
Now, not everyone would agree that less is more, but we find that minimal packing is the key when traveling with the family. This means, no checked luggage and only carry-on by means of backpacks…I know what your thinking, a weeks’ worth of clothes in a backpack, but it is possible; not to mention super efficient in getting through the Airport checkpoints. Now this takes a fair bit of planning on what essentials you should bring, but it is worth it when you don’t have to lug around heavy checked baggage. Our girls are old enough to carry their own backpacks but this may not be the preferred option for some families with younger children.
For us we are travelling from Canada so Air Travel is a definitely required, and this would be the main expense when bringing the family along, so doing your research will pay off. We find direct flights are key, as dealing with connecting flights with children can be unenjoyable and difficult. Booking in advance is an great way to save money and if you happen to have frequent flyer points, even better. Most Airlines offer services to pick your seats after your tickets have been purchased, we find that this is very important to ensure that your family is all sitting in proximity to each other on the plane. Another helpful hint is that some planes are no longer equipped with onboard tv’s for in-flight movies, so just in case we bring along our laptops and iPads with movies pre-downloaded to make the flight more enjoyable.
The good thing about the hotel is, whether you are traveling alone or bring the family along it is not necessarily an added expense to your trip. For us we alway try to find a hotel with a swimming pool, as for QB Connect San Jose, the Fairmont San Jose is a bit of a hub for conference goers. But there are plenty of other hotels in close proximity to the Conference centre.
Finding a hotel close to local attractions is helpful to cut down on travel costs if you don’t have a rental car. As for the Fairmont San Jose, we have been very pleased by the friendliness of the staff, the cleanliness of the facilities and the overall ambiance of the hotel; this is one of the nicest places to stay in San Jose, and has plenty of amenities.
Now food can be a bit tricky if you are not local to the area, Where should you eat? Which places are good? Do you have to alway eat out at Restaurants? We found that San Jose has plenty of wonderful restaurants to offer, from fine dining to sports bars to family restaurants and plenty of local cuisine. Another great option is to take advantage of the mini-fridge in your room and hit up the local grocery store to stock it full of breakfast and snack items…this is a great way to save some money and keep the kids fed.
Of course California also has a lot of great desert places too! A couple of our kids favourite are Cream, which is an ice cream sandwich bar, where you get to pick your cookies, ice cream flavour and candy toppings….yum! But the go-to place by-far for desert is My Milkshake, where they combine a traditional milkshake with any candy and candy combination that you can imagine.
I hope I haven’t made you too hungry! There are also some great dinner events associated with the conference, most of these are graciously hosted by the App Partners attending the conference. Either way, you and your family will not go hungry.
San Jose certainly has it fair share of activities for the family, from major attractions like Katy Perry concerts and San Jose Sharks hockey games to something more cultural. The Children’s Discovery Museum is a favourite of ours, from educational science stations to sensory play and even a bubble area, there is hours of fun to be had by the whole family, and with children of all ages.
And new this year is “Bill’s Backyard”, an interactive Nature playground, with waterfalls, plants, climbing structures and tunnels…a bit hit with my girls for sure.
Of course our trips to Silicon Valley are never complete without visiting the The Tech Museum of Innovation, it is three floors of interactive science and technology; from building your own robots and catapults to virtual reality a BioDesign Studio and new this year is Body Worlds Decoded, exploring the human body. We learned this year that if you purchase a yearly family membership, they apply a portion to your entry fee towards it; of course we are not local so won’t use the membership that often, but next years’ QB Connect San Jose is earlier than it was this year, therefore our one-year membership will still be valid when we return next November.
And new for us this year was the Rosicrucian Egyptian Museum, which boast to be home to the largest collection of Egyptian artifacts in Western North America. Now this museum is not within walking distance to the Hotel, so a rental car or Uber would be required. There is a unique and interesting collection of ancient artifacts; and a very reasonable entry fee.
This attraction was a favourite with my oldest daughter as she has been studying ancient Egypt in school recently. There is also a Planetarium in this building. This museum will definitely be on our list for next year.
I know what you’re thinking, this is all great spending time with the kids but what about the conference? Of course you may decide that one of the parents goes to the conference while the other explores San Jose with the children; but it is possible for you both to take in the conference. My wife certainly gets more out of the conference than I do, so she is the primary attendee, but we will usually purchase a one-day pass for me on the “Main Day”, for me to check out the conference. Of course with both of us at the conference the children are not yet old enough to keep themselves entertained….this is where Netflix is handy…..just kidding!
For the past three years we have been using a wonderful in-Hotel Nanny services provided by Town and Country Resources. They offer extremely qualified and lovely care providers and they will come right to your Hotel room; we usually have crafts or games for the nanny to do with the girls or often times the nannies will bring activities for the girls with them. This is such a great service and it allows my wife and I to attend the conference together and into the evening hours provides us with a bit of a date night.
Of course a large conference like QB Connect San Jose can be tiring, not to mention having the family along, but there are many outlets for relaxation. The Fairmont San Jose offers an onsite Health Club and Spa called Tova Day Spa, or there are plenty of coffee shops in the area, a beautiful park to go for a stroll, a cocktail lounge in the Hotel lobby and of course the Hotel pool.
Whatever your means of unwinding there are plenty of options nearby. The Hotel also offers plenty of sitting areas if you just want to curl up with a good book, your laptop or unplug and reflect on your conference experience.
Now if you are planning on brining your kids along, you may want to request any homework that they may miss ahead of time, but one thing that we found was amazing is most of their homework can be completed online. Our kid’s school uses Google Classroom for a lot of their assignments and schoolwork, so while we travel the girls can sign into their accounts and stay up-to-date.
Whether you are looking for souvenirs, clothes or gifts, San Jose has plenty of shopping places, from the traditional malls to boutique shops, you should be able to find what your looking for. As I mentioned early we are a backpacking family so usually our shopping is kept fairly light.
With every conference there is always a great deal of networking, and in this day in age when many businesses run virtually, a conference is often one of the only chances for colleagues and business acquaintances to meet face-to-face. As noted previously the Fairmont San Jose lounge is a bit of hub for conference goers, usually in the evening this proves to be an excellent spot to meet-up, mingle and chat with fellow conference goers. I find too when my wife may be at the conference, the girls and I generally interact with acquaintances than may be taking a break or traveling through the hotel.
And no matter how much you plan your trip, you never know what surprises a vacation may have in store; for us this year it was an outdoor skating rink next to our hotel. My wife and three girls are all figure skaters so this was very exciting for them. Just be chance we happened to be there during the opening ceremonies and have the pleasure of meeting one on my wife’s childhood idles, Olympic Figure Skater Kristy Yamaguchi. We were also able to skate on the outdoor rink amongst the Palm Trees, which was an incredible experience.
So I hope these tips have been helpful for you to perhaps consider attending next years’ event with the whole family. San Jose certainly has something for everyone and QB Connect San Jose is definitely the go-to conference of the year if you are in the Small Business or Accounting industries. So if you make the trip with the family next year, look us up and we can “Connect”!