Yesterday somebody tweeted their annoyance about the constant stream of Twitter updates featuring #TBEX. Holy fishballs, they weren’t lyin’. Since I unplugged for the travel bloggers conference (ironic, no?), I missed all the Tweeting madness. I figured perhaps I could catch up once I got home. Um, no.
Seems like I wasn’t the only person completely immersed in TBEX extravaganza. Here’s what I learned this weekend.
It Really Isn’t Weird Meeting 200 or More Internet Friends
I fretted a lot pre-TBEX. Packing my suitcase and throwing in a dozen outfits, I kept agonizing over what to wear, what to say, how to be presentable, how to not horrify an audience after too many beers.
But meeting everybody was like meeting old friends. I walked into the opening party on Friday night and ran immediately into the other Matador editors. We squealed and hugged and shared some wine and carried on like usual. No big deal.
Networking is a Bitch
The above mentioned, I didn’t network nearly as much as I should have. I handed out less than 50 business cards, and while I met a lot of new people, I found a really great group of friends and stuck with them a lot. I don’t regret this at all as we had an amazing time, what with the mechanical bulls and beers and all. But I should have really used my time more wisely to introduce myself to new circles more.
For the most part, things went smoothly. Although I did trip up in front of Matt Stabile from The Expeditioner (huge fan) and smashed my camera on the pavement. I also accidentally turned off the lights in the bar at Professor Thom’s, so a bartender had to hop onto the bar to get my attention and yelled at me in the middle of the crowd.
Travel Bloggers Like to Party
Travel Blogging and Creating Online Content are the Future
After listening to inspirational folks like Gary Ardnt (Everything Everywhere) and Evelyn Hannon (Journeywoman) discuss their lives as full-time travellers, I got the impression that the benefits of creating online content has been barely tapped.
As a 20-something blogger, I look up to these leaders. Someday, I might steal their spotlight.
I Fit In
At some point between the 7 a.m. hangovers, the noon networking lunch breaks, and the excitement of diving into my swag bag to discover a weather predictor (oh what fun I’d have with that in Newfoundland!), I stepped back and thought, “Holy shit, this is where I want to be.” I’m nowhere near as well travelled as everyone else at the conference was, but it’s the passion that drives us. Nerd passion.
iPhones and Twitter are Taking Over
I don’t know how many times this weekend I paused to find whole groups of people completely oblivious to the outside world, immersed in their phones. We’re supposed to be observers, right?
Of course, I’m only saying that because I’m bitter the venue’s WiFi didn’t work, so I couldn’t enter any of the Twitter-based contests. I also can’t afford an iPhone for another year, and my lame-ass Samsung Instinct doesn’t even have an app for Foursquare. It’s a Mac world, my friends. I’m just a rebel.
Time is the Issue
So yeah, there were dozens of other people I really wanted to chat with, but alas, time evades us. Next year I’d like to share one more drink with Steph Yoder, eat poutine with Jodi Ettenburg, have a chat with Trisha Miller, and hear the adventures of Deb Corbeil and Dave Bouskill. I might even go visit Doug and his wife of Authentic Seacoast Resorts.
Not to mention the hoards of other people, especially the Matador Network folks like Lola Akinmade, Eileen Smith, Andy Hayes, Carlo Alcos and Nancy Harder. They’re the most encouraging people you’ll ever meet.
Everybody is Different
I loved hearing from the experts, I did. But I still feel like I have to carve my own path, and it doesn’t necessarily involve doing what everyone else is doing. Maybe I’ll strip. Who knows?
Vancouver 2011. I’m more geared up and inspired than ever, especially after talking to so many folks like JoAnna Haugen (Kaleidoscope Wandering) who convinced me I should start campaigning my way to Vancouver. Flying from the east coast to the west is not fun, but I feel like BC is gonna steal all the thunder and there needs to be some sort of Newfoundland representation, right? I’ve been dropping tourism brochures all around New York City. Vancouver, you’re next.