Join Us for Year 3 at OpenStack Summit!

Registration for Spousetivities at OpenStack Summit in Sydney, Australia is now open. If you’re interested in joining us for some great activities while OpenStack Summit is running, get signed up today! I encourage you to book early so I can put the final touches on the tours and make these the perfect activities for our group.

Here’s a quick overview of the events planned:

  • On Monday, November 6, we’ll depart early at 7:30 am from the Hilton Sydney. On this journey we will make our way to the picturesque Blue Mountains. During this full day outing, we will experience wildlife up close, see spectacular sights like the Three Sisters, and the Olympic Park, and so much more. The days is filled with extraordinary transport including a Mercedes Sprinter, cable cars, and a river cruise. This is a great way to kick off our time in Sydney and you don’t want to miss it!

  • On Tuesday, November 7, we get an up close look at the beautiful city of Sydney! We’ll leave the Hilton Sydney at 8:30 am and begin our in-depth city tour. We will stroll the Royal Botanic Gardens and take advantage of great photo ops of the Harbor Bridge and Sydney Opera House. We will explore the areas only locals go as well as some beautiful hidden beaches. No visit would be complete without visiting the famous Bondi Beach so that is on the list as well. There is simply too much to list about this incredible day tour of Sydney.

  • On Wednesday, November 8, we’ll depart the Hilton Sydney at 8:00 am. On this day we are heading to Hunter Valley. Need I say more than Wine Country? This fantastic journey takes us on a path that just might allow us to see kangaroos in the wild, but kangaroos or not, we will enjoy some of the region’s best wines from both large wineries and small, boutique ones as well. Because wine is never enough on a Spousetivities tour, you will also get to sample cheeses and, maybe best of all, chocolates!

Why are you still on this page? Go get registered before tickets sell out and you miss these great adventures; tickets are already on sale. Here is your chance at a fabulous week in beautiful, warm, Sydney, Australia!

See you in November!


Spousetivities at DockerCon Europe

Registration for Spousetivities at DockerCon Europe in Copenhagen is now open. If you’re bringing a guest to DockerCon and they are interested in joining some great activities while DockerCon is running, now is the time to register! I encourage you to book early so I know how many are joining us and can plans meals and perfect the tours for our group.

Here’s a quick overview of the events planned:

  • On Monday, October 16, we’ll leave Bella Center Copenhagen at 9:45 AM. As the temperatures will likely be cold in Denmark, we will tour the city by bus. Still, in order to get the full picture, sometimes literally, we’ll step off the bus to take in the beauty that is Denmark. On this tour, you’ll get your bearings of Copenhagen during this introduction tour to the capital of Scandinavia. The history of Copenhagen is, to a great extent, the history of Denmark and on this tour we mix the two with anecdotes and personal stories which gives you a personal and unique experience. You’ll see many of the sites considered to be “must dos” in Denmark including:

    • The Church of Our Lady
    • Christiansborg Castle
    • The Stock Exchange
    • Amalienborg Palace
    • The Opera House
    • The Marble Church
    • The Little Mermaid
    • The Gefion Fountain
    • Rosenborg
    • The Little Mermaid
    • Tivoli
    • The Medieval City
    • Christianshavn
  • On Tuesday, October 17, We have a day of castles, coastlines, and more! We’ll leave the conference center at 9:45 am and travel the beautiful countryside to Kronborg Castle. Kronborg is a 600 year old Renaissance castle located in picturesque Elsinore just one hour North of Copenhagen and across Öresund and Sweden. Kronborg is home to Shakespeare’s Hamlet. Today the castle is a UNESCO world heritage sight and holds a precious place in the hearts of many Danes. After our tour of this fantastic site, we’re off to Frederiksborg. This is another impressive renaissance palace from the hay-days of the Danish past. Coronations took place here for 200 years! Frederiksborg palace also served as a Royal getaway. After a devastating fire in 1859 the palace was reconstructed with help from Carlsberg to host the National Historic Museum, which still resides at the palace. Lunch will be provided on this whirlwind day of experiencing Denmark’s history!

  • On Wednesday, October 18, our day again starts with an 9:45 am departure from the conference center. We’ll head out on foot (dress warmly) to experience some world-renowned Nordic foods. While learning more Danish culture and history, we’ll sample a eight fabulous tastings of the best food in Copenhagen.Discover why Copenhagen is the home to the world’s best restaurant Noma and arguably, the world’s best chef. If that’s not enough, after the food experience, the tour proceeds to Tivoli Gardens. Tivoli opened in 1843 where guests, including Hans Christian Andersen, were struck by the exotic gardens as guests have been ever since. You’ll have time to explore Tivoli and enjoy this beautiful part of the city of Copenhagen before wrapping up an unforgettable day!

I think you’ll agree that we have a great line-up of activities to experience Denmark in a unique and personal way. Don’t wait too long to register—tickets are already on sale. Don’t miss your chance at a fabulous week in beautiful, Copenhagen, Denmark!

See you in Copenhagen!


Spousetivities Returns to Barcelona for VMworld 2017!

Registration for Spousetivities at VMworld EMEA in Barcelona has been open for a few weeks now, and events are really starting to fill up. If you’re interested in joining us for some great activities while VMworld EMEA is running, time is running out! I encourage you to book early—it’s quite likely the events will sell out.

Here’s a quick overview of the events planned:

  • On Monday, September 11, we’ll leave the conference center at 8:30 am. Our first stop is the famous La Sagrada Familia, after which we’ll meet up with a local chef and do some shopping at the marketplace. Once we’ve gotten what we need, the chef lead a short cooking class, and then we’ll enjoy the delicious food we’ve prepared. Important note: Monday 9/11 is Catalunya Day, a holiday. The metro will be closed, so plan accordingly!

  • On Tuesday, September 12, We have a day of hiking beautiful coastlines, cliffs, and coves! We’ll leave the conference center at 8:30 am and travel north to Costa Brava. Costa Brava boasts some amazing panoramic views of the Mediterranean via winding cliff-top trails and hidden coves. Lunch will be provided in a charming coastal village.

  • On Wednesday, September 13, our day again starts with an 8:30 am departure from the conference center (just look for the Spousetivities sign outside the conference center). We’ll head south of Barcelona to the world-renowned El Penedès wine country. There, we’ll sample a variety of high-quality organic wines, including cavas, reds, and whites. Lunch is included (food is always included when joining Spousetivities in Barcelona!).

  • Wrapping up the week, we’ll start Thursday, September 14 by leaving the conference center at 8:30 am to head for some medieval villages in the Empordà region. Inland from Costa Brava (where we’ll hike on Tuesday), this region has a number of wonderfully preserved medieval villages that are not to be missed. You’ll get the opportunity to explore Peratallada (meaning “carved/cut stone”), with its labyrinthine streets surrounding a fairy tale-like castle. Lunch is provided, and we’ll also have a small wine tasting before heading back to the conference center.

All in all, I think we have a great line-up of activities, even for those of you that have been to Barcelona multiple times. However, don’t wait too long to register—tickets are already on sale and many events are already at 50% capacity (or higher, in some cases).

Here’s hoping I’ll see you in Barcelona!


Celebrate 10 Years of Spousetivities at VMworld!

Spousetivities was born at VMworld 2008 in Las Vegas when one conference attendee spouse (OK, it was me!) said to herself, “Surely I’m not the only one that comes to these things and spends the week in the hotel room or roams the city alone!” Indeed I wasn’t the only one!

Spousetivities at VMworld US 2017 marks 10 years of my initial vision—now known as Spousetivities—providing organized activities for non-attendees. Since 2011, I’ve also offered Spousetivities at VMworld EMEA, providing safe and organized activities for folks traveling to or within Europe.

The activities offered by Spousetivities provide a safe yet enjoyable way for non-attendees to enjoy the conference location. Conference attendees can enjoy the conference, knowing their spouse or family member is not alone, is safe, and is having an enjoyable time. Further, all of the organized activities are planned during the day, so your partner is free to join you for some of VMworld’s lively evening activities!

Registration for this year’s activities isn’t quite ready yet, but it will be soon! I’ll be opening registration just after the July 4th holiday, so check back here then for more information on the activities (and the great sponsors that make them possible) as well as a link to registration.

Also, if you haven’t considered bringing a family member or partner with you in the past, perhaps this year would be a great year to try it! Check out the Spousetivities Facebook page or follow @Spousetivities on Twitter to get a feel for what these events look like and what past participants have to say about them.

Spousetivities is a great example of the energetic community that surrounds VMworld and makes these events so great for attendees (and non-attendees!). Here’s hoping I get to see you in Las Vegas or Barcelona!



Docker and Spousetivities at Your Service!

Tired of leaving the family behind when it’s time for a conference? After all, you know you need to go; it’s good for your career. You learn, you get hands-on training, and you make connections in the industry. Why wouldn’t you go to another conference? Oh, that’s right—the family is having to stay behind again. It’s so hard to leave the other parent to manage everything while you’re gone, even if it’s for a good reason. Right?

Not this time! You don’t have to leave anyone behind. DockerCon is offering childcare for infants through age 12 each day of the conference. That frees you up to stay focused on everything the conference has to offer. Wait, what about my spouse? Or my boyfriend? Or even my parents or siblings that want to go to a great city like Austin? No worries there, Spousetivities has you covered! Thanks to the support of VMware NSX, for less than $250pp your loved one gets 3 days of incredible activities, including transportation, food, wine tastings, and fabulous tours. Don’t forget, they also get daily chances to win awesome prizes.

What are you waiting for? Go ahead and register your family for these great opportunities. It’s sure to be a conference like no other! It’s a triple slam with DockerCon for you, DockerCon Childcare for the younger ones, and Spousetivities for the non-attendee grown-ups.

See you in Austin!


2nd Annual Spousetivities at DockerCon

Let’s head to the fun and diverse city of Austin, TX! This year, Spousetivities tags along to DockerCon and offers up some great events for your partner while you network and learn. If you’ve never heard of Spousetivities, check out this info so you know what we’re all about. If you already know about Spousetivities, then head on over to the registration site and get registered so you don’t miss out on the fun.

Still not sure this is right for you? Read on to find out a little more about the activities in beautiful Austin.

Here’s a quick overview of the activities:

  • Tuesday – We will venture out of Austin and into Waco to stroll the aisles and take in all the Magnolia Market has to offer. If you haven’t heard of Magnolia Market, it’s the brainchild of Chip and Joanna from HGTV’s “Fixer Upper”. Whether you’re looking for a one of a kind trinket, or just looking to explore Texas, this is a day not to miss. A trip to Texas is never complete without a food truck lunch so that is another part of this great day.
  • Wednesday – This is a longer day, but so worth it! Not only will we tour LBJ State Park, we will also dine at Hye Market. To make the day even more perfect, we will wrap up the day in the quaint town of Fredericksburg. Again, you don’t want to miss this day trip!
  • Thursday – This is a day that literally has everything! We’ll see all the highlights in Austin then head out to Hill Country. This day we will feast on the famous Salt Lick BBQ before exploring two great wineries, complete with tastings! If you can only join one day, this is it!

This week is brought to us thanks to the support of VMware NSX.

Now you’re convinced right? OK, so here’s one more thing to sweeten the deal. Prizes! Each day you tour with Spousetivities, you’ll be entered into a drawing for a great prize. We’ve given away everything from iPods to VR headsets to iPads. Now, head on over to the registration page and sign up for one or all of these great events. See you in Austin!


So Much “New” in this New Year!

Spousetivities has a lot of “new” in this new year! If you are reading this, you can already see the new look for the website, courtesy of my wonderful husband, Scott Lowe. You can now search the site for information about events that interest you most. More updates and improvements are being added so check back to see the latest as we continue to improve the site. I hope you enjoy the fresh, new look as much as I do!

Spousetivities is now known as Spousetivities®! So excited to announce that Spousetivities is now a registered trademark as is the phrase “spouse activities”. After 8 years, it really feels official now. Thank you to Jeremy Brown for helping with the trademark process.

Spousetivities is pleased to announce new events this year. The first of these is coming up in April. That’s right, you can join in the Spousetivities fun at OpenStack Summit in Austin, Texas. The event runs April 25 – 29th. More information about this event coming in another post. Other new events you should plan to attend include DockerCon in Seattle, and AWS re:Invent in Vegas.

Don’t worry, Spousetivities events will still be at your old favorites, too. Plans are underway for VMworld US, VMworld EMEA, and OpenStack Summit in Barcelona as well.

Be sure to watch for more information here, on Twitter, and Facebook as more information for all of these events will be flowing in soon!


More About Spousetivities

Since Spousetivities started—unofficially in 2008, then more officially in 2009—there has been a lot of speculation about what the program is and what the participants do. I’m writing this post to give a little insight to those that may not know much about Spousetivities and the purpose it serves in the larger IT community.

First, I think it’s important to talk about what Spousetivities isn’t. Spousetivities is not a bunch of women getting together to gossip and go shopping while our husbands/boyfriends/significant others go to technical conferences.

First and foremost, Spousetivities is a community-focused and community-driven program designed to help to promote healthy work-life balance. Spousetivities allows couples (and families) to travel together for business while ensuring that accompanying partners and family members not attending the conference have fun, safe activities to do. This ensures the conference attendee doesn’t have to worry about those traveling with him or her, allowing him or her to fully take advantage of the all the conference has to offer.

Second, Spousetivities is an opportunity for networking and friendship. Many of the participants over the years have remained friends long after the events. Personally, I’ve made a number of good friends through the activities, and I know others have too. Similarly, in some cases, we have been able to support small businesses that are run by participants as we share our companies and ideas with each other. This is a productive and supportive environment that participants have come to love and appreciate over the years.

Third, Spousetivities is a great way to experience the conference’s host city. In an effort to make these activities unique and successful, I update the activities and plans every year. Starting out on tours in individual rental cars in 2008, Spousetivities enjoyed group rates on public tours over the next couple years, and now participants enjoy private tour buses and sometimes even limousines for transportation!

Fourth, Spousetivities is a unique way for IT companies to show they support the community and work-life balance. Spousetivities allows companies to sponsor the activities and show that they believe that the support of one’s spouse/partner and family is important. This year at VMworld 2014 in San Francisco, Spousetivities is thankful for the support of our sponsors: VMware NSX, The Virtualization Practice, VMUG, Xangati, HyTrust, vBackup, Origami Owl, and Wine Shop at Home. The support of our sponsors helps keep costs down and allows Spousetivities to offer private transportation and exclusive tours.

So how did it all begin? After traveling with my husband, Scott Lowe, for several years to conferences, I finally said “No more!” I was tired of his crazy schedules while I sat in hotel rooms or ventured out only to get lost or be bored going places alone. (For those that know me, I am quite the social person so being alone in a big city was not my thing.) Furthermore, finding my way around was challenging, and I once got lost in LA. Believe me, that wasn’t pleasant! I finally agreed to attend VMworld 2008, if Scott would ask if any other spouses were coming and if they’d like to meet for lunch. A flood of responses poured in and the “lunch” quickly became a trip to the Hoover Dam, a Grand Canyon excursion, tours of “the Strip” in Las Vegas, and much more. At the conclusion of the week, everyone asked me to please do it again for 2009. It was very clear there was a need in the community for such activities.

None of this would be possible without the support of the community and the sponsors. The community launched Spousetivities, including the very name. In a conversation during the 2008 activities with John Troyer, the name was born. From there, another friend (Joep Piscaer) secured the URL to launch the website. Before I knew it, Spousetivities was born. Further support came from the community podcast, vBrownBag, numerous people on Twitter and Facebook, and of course the many sponsors over the years. Clearly, the community has built the Spousetivities brand.

There you have it: a clear explanation of who and what Spousetivities is all about. I’ve listened as people make fun of “Spousetivities” and what they perceive the program is. Hopefully, this makes clear what it is, why it exists, and the importance of keeping the program alive and moving forward.


Giving Back to the Community

For seven years, Spousetivities has been fortunate to be part of the VMware/VMworld community. Since 2008, we’ve been the only community-focused and community-driven spouse activities program, and it’s been an honor. Spousetivities exists thanks to the support of the community. However, Spousetivities also exists to provide support back to that same community.

Last week, a member of our community was tragically taken from us. Jim Ruddy died in a car accident, leaving behind his wife Stephanie and their children. This is a horrible loss, and the community continues to mourn his loss. (My husband, Scott, worked with Jim at EMC for a number of years, as did many others.) In honor of Jim and to support the family he left behind, I worked with other members of the community to establish the Jim Ruddy Memorial Fund. As of this writing, that fund had raised over $15,000 to help support Stephanie and the kids in this very trying time.

No amount of money can replace Jim. However, this is a difficult time for Stephanie—not only emotionally and physically, but also financially. For that reason, Spousetivities is setting aside 10% of all proceeds raised by activities at VMworld 2014 to be donated to Jim Ruddy’s family via the Jim Ruddy Memorial Fund.

If you haven’t donated to the Jim Ruddy Memorial Fund yet, please consider doing so. If you (or your spouse/partner/significant other) is participating in Spousetivities at VMworld this year, please know that your participation means also helping a family in their time of need.

Being part of the community means giving back to the community.


Another Look at Why It’s a Great Idea to Sponsor Spousetivities

As I am approaching 5 years of offering Spousetivities at IT events, the questions about what I do and why are swirling in my head. Many people ask why companies sponsor Spousetivities. Below is part of a post from last year detailing why it is so important that the community continue to sponsor these events.

Naturally, I’m a bit biased, but I think that sponsoring Spousetivities is a great way for companies to say “Thank You” and give something back to their employees and customers. When a company hosts a conference, they ultimately expect attendees to give up as much as a week of their time to come hear about their products and how these products or services can benefit them and their employers. Instead of asking attendees to come to a week-long conference and leave their families behind, a Spousetivities sponsor is telling attendees it’s OK to bring the family. While the attendee is learning about that sponsor’s products and innovations, the attendee’s family will be enjoying some great activities. And when the day is done, the attendee and his or her family can be together instead of spending that time apart. Most companies boast a family friendly attitude, and sponsoring Spousetivities is a way to show that attitude in action.

This is true not only for the sponsor companies–those companies that organized the conference–but for all companies. And the size of the company doesn’t matter; I’ve had companies both small and large decide to help sponsor Spousetivities.

In addition to supporting families, sponsoring Spousetivities offers companies a unique way to advertise. Given that their logo is put on T-shirts, menus, blogs, and other items, they have plenty of visibility in the community. Companies benefit not only from their pro-family support, but from the attention drawn to their company through these events. It’s a “win-win” situation for companies.

So, if you’re a company that wants to join in this exciting opportunity to support your employees and customers, and advertise in a unique way at the same time, simply contact me. Upcoming events include EMC World in Las Vegas, Dell Storage Forum in Boston, VMworld US, and VMworld EMEA. I’m still seeking additional sponsors for all of these events. I can also plan activities for other conferences, VMUG’s, or company-hosted events. For more information, please contact me for arrangements.