Why My TBEX Days May Be Over

Toronto skyline

It’s hard to believe it was just two years ago that I was nervously arriving in Vancouver for my first Travel Blog Exchange (TBEX) conference. I had launched this blog (then known as Katie Going Global) just months earlier in anticipation of quitting my job to travel around the former Soviet Union – not as a way to make money along the way, but simply as a way to share my stories and hopefully inspire others to travel as well.

I spent much of TBEX Vancouver a bit star struck, meeting bloggers like Ayngelina Brogan, Jodi Ettenberg and Michael Hodson, whose blogs I had been devouring in preparation for my trip. I was an unknown at the time, with hastily made business cards and no knowledge of things like search engine optimization, sponsored posts or affiliate sales.  While I found some of the sessions helpful or even inspiring, some were way over my head. And while I met dozens of fellow bloggers, I remember feeling like I was on the outside looking in – it all felt a little cliquey to me and I definitely was not one of the cool kids.

But looking back now, many of the bloggers I met in Vancouver are some of the friends I have kept in touch with the most over the last two years.  They are also the ones who supported me the most throughout my trip and several have opened other doors for me within the travel blogging industry. If it wasn’t for TBEX Vancouver, I likely never would have worked for Meet, Plan, Go for a year or written several posts for BootsnAll. And I certainly wouldn’t be writing regularly for Viator, covering Chicago and Russia.

Men of TBEX Party
New friends in Vancouver: Val, Michaela, Sherry, Amanda, Katie and Adam

I was no longer star struck when I arrived in Toronto late Friday evening. This time, I was anxious to catch up with old friends and eager to finally meet other bloggers in person after chatting with them online for months.  I was also looking forward to some solid sessions to help me learn how to improve my blog and my writing. With sessions divided into content, community and business themes, I was focusing almost exclusively on the content track.

I arrived at the convention center early Saturday morning, hoping to run into some of the people I was anticipating seeing the most. Much to my disappointment, dozens of unfamiliar faces passed me by. With more than 1,200 bloggers and public relations professionals attending TBEX (compared to a few hundred in Vancouver), I guess it shouldn’t have been surprising that I wouldn’t recognize anyone.  I immediately longed for the more intimate feeling of Vancouver and TBU Umbria (which I attended last April), and that longing lasted throughout the weekend. I felt like there were so many people trying to meet so many people that few had the time or desire to focus on making real connections.

By Sunday night, I was exhausted and, frankly, tired of talking to bloggers. As someone who is not trying to monetize my blog and who didn’t start blogging as a means to make money or travel for free, I felt like the oddball out – especially now that I am back working full-time with a measly 3 weeks of vacation time. I just didn’t click with anyone the way I did in Vancouver or Umbria or Girona.  It seemed like too many of the newer bloggers were there not because they loved to travel or loved to write or wanted to inspire people, but because they saw blogging as a way to fund their travels. People seemed more interested in talking about how to get press trips than about their actual travel experiences.

There’s nothing wrong with that, it just isn’t me.

At the same time, I had to admit to myself how torn I am – because there’s a part of me that wishes that was me. There’s a part of me that wishes I had been able to partner with tourism boards throughout my trip. A part of me that wishes I got invited on cool press trips. A part of me that wishes I had the guts to really ditch everything and try to make it on my own, to start my own business, to freelance, to struggle through paycheck to paycheck while having the freedom to travel whenever I want.  A part of me that wishes I wasn’t back working 9-to-5 when there’s a whole world out there that I still want to see.

I had to admit that I am a bit jealous of bloggers like Michael, Sherry, Ayngelina and the Hecks, who have been innovative and entrepreneurial in making a living not just from blogging, but from leveraging their blogs into other opportunities. They are doing things I wish I could do, but I feel like I have missed the boat. Dave and Deb may have said in their keynote that there’s plenty of room for everyone, but I already feel like I’m too far behind. I am afraid the ideas floating around in my head have already been acted upon by others and I’m too late.

So whereas I left Vancouver and Umbria inspired and excited, I left Toronto feeling a bit deflated, although it had little to do with the conference itself.  I had a great time catching up with Amanda, Adam, Sherry, Katie and Larissa and I was thrilled to finally meet Sally, Jaime, Spencer and Craig in person. I enjoyed staffing the Passports with Purpose table – a cause I am thrilled to be helping out with because it perfectly pulls together my fundraising background with my travel blogging. And I did make some solid contacts with a few domestic tourism boards, which should lead to a few more fun weekend trips later this summer.

But as I headed to the airport before the crack of dawn Monday morning, I just wondered where I really fit in this travel blogging world.  And I’m not sure I’ll go to another travel blogging conference until I figure that out.

92 thoughts on “Why My TBEX Days May Be Over”

  1. Wow! Cant believe the amount of comments on this. I kind of agree with Katie on this one. I have the longest running one man travel blog to all seven continents (started in 2007) and have barely made a penny on my blog, other newbie bloggers are making a mint, but are their stories any good? Passion for travel and blogging comes first and foremost. Making money is second. Its a thin line between good content and making money. Do what you love Katie and safe travels. Jonny

  2. Your honesty leaves me speechless. We do need money to travel or to live? Sometimes I see so many people traveling without money, they are my inspiration. Why not just do what makes us feel good about ourselves?
    Thanks for this article-post.

    greetings from france

    A traveler Colombian

  3. Hi Katie!
    Toronto was my first TBEX, and I really had no idea what to expect. I knew a few people that I’d met in person before, and a few that I’d become friends with online and we were finally going to meet in REAL LIFE!

    That part of it was awesome! I definitely felt the high school popularity contest thing going on… a few people that I had been looking forward to meeting kind of blew me off, but that’s OK, because the connections I DID make were meaningful and lasting I hope. That’s always what I’m looking for too, the authentic people and their stories.

    It’s a strange thing, this travel blog world. I think there’s room for us all. At least, I hope there is! (:

  4. Wow, you seemed to stir up a a lot of peoples thoughts, emotions, and opinions. Great title. Going every year might be a lot – skipping a time or two might be good – continue connecting to so many people. By all the comments on your post, I think you have made an impression. Keep up the good work.

  5. Hey there: Just found your post and thanks so much for writing it! I’m a fellow Minnesotan who also lived in Chicago (now in Minneapolis). It was my first TBEX and to me, I was disappointed too as it reminded me why I don’t like BlogHer. Too many people and a feeling like the whole travel blogging thing has gone from a passion to what you said: Marketing, kissing ass and how to make money. I write purely from my heart and I write to share with others around the world what I’ve seen and done in my travels. I also write a lot about global volunteerism and giving back, something I strongly believe go hand and hand with travel. I am really proud of my smaller sized blog and do not advertise nor do I ever want to loose my authentic voice by having trips paid for. I struggle so much as a blogger because when you go to these conferences you feel like if you aren’t huge or doing all this kind of marketing stuff, that you are chopped liver. I am conflicted about the future of where I want to go and after TBEX I realized that I am just going to keep plugging away, sharing my views of the world and not selling myself out. Yes, it would be lovely to be paid to travel but sometimes I fear it really takes away from the randomness of traveling itself. Anyway, I wish I would have met you at TBEX! 🙂 Thanks again for your great post! Nicole

  6. I’ve been to one conference only, TBU in Porto, and I’d like to go again, but I’ve been struggling with the same issues as you outlined. I LOVE the writing, photographing and sharing aspects of blogging, as well as connecting with other likeminded people, but there just seems to be a massive emphasis on the business side of blogging these days.

    On a different note, I noticed you mentioned your Norwegian heritage in an earlier posting, but does your last name have something to do with Finland as well…? Wonders the Finn living in Norway! 🙂

  7. I guess you could say I’m sort-of-obsessively following all of the post-TBEX ‘thoughts’ posts because, well, I’m trying to sort out/justify my own feelings. And this post really captures a lot of how I felt. Specifically:

    “It seemed like too many of the newer bloggers were there not because they loved to travel or loved to write or wanted to inspire people, but because they saw blogging as a way to fund their travels. ”

    Because, you see, I’m a new blogger. Well–not really. I’ve been blogging for four years now. But I was new at TBEX. And I also hoped to find LOTS of people who wanted to talk about, well, travel. And writing. And the intersection of the two. But I, like you, had a hard time making little more than a surface relationship with 99.9% of the people with whom I spoke. Why this is…well, I’m not sure. I’ve been attempting to write about it myself (but failing miserably!) But please know that we ARE out there. The people you wanted to meet. We were just sitting alone all week…

  8. Hi Katie
    We met at tbex Girona. Nice to read your thoughts. Is a bit difficult to mingle with so many new faces. Hope you are not discouraged to go to conferences you just need to choose the ones that fit your way.

  9. A very honest and well written post. I quite enjoyed my first TBEX, but I definitely see your side as well.

    As we are trying to make a go of this (Vanessa full time), it was indeed exhausting being “on” from Thursday through Monday at all times, whether meeting other bloggers, sponsors, speakers, tourism boards, whomever.

    Even for the after hours events it was still “working time”. I didn’t want to be the one slurring my way through a sloppy pitch on my 7th glass of wine; or trying to make new friends while barely being able to stand. (I did see some of that though!)

    I ultimately found TBEX very successful for what I was trying to get out of it. I did learn a lot and met some wonderful people, whom I hope to keep in contact with.

    In fact, Vanessa and I even applied to be speakers at the next TBEX.

    That said, while I was prepared with materials, pitches, etc, I wasn’t ready for just how all encompassing and exhausting that it would be. I’ll be better prepared next time, and know what to expect.

    If you do change your mind and decide to attend a future conference, please let me know. I would love to get together for a coffee and chat about just how wild and crazy things can be, and hear a different perspective on things as well.

    Kudos to you for stepping up and saying how you felt. It is certainly a viewpoint that TBEX is wise to keep in mind. It all started with travel writers wanting to meet and share. If the pendulum swings to a mostly corporate feel, it will likely lose the appeal for many others as well.


  10. Great post! I haven’t been to a TBEX yet, but I feel like it’s become more commercial and less about blogging in seeing reviews of the events the past couple years. Until now I haven’t had the means to attend an event, but even if I had the means, I don’t think I would want to attend one now. Anyway, thanks for sharing your experience!

  11. I think priority number one is to enjoy blogging. Although it would be great to capitalize on what we do and make either enough money to quit a job or at least to fund traveling, how would it matter if we don’t enjoy what we do.

    I am sure you enjoy blogging and travel or you would not have come this far. Perhaps you just need to take a step back and do what you enjoy and not worry about the other part of travel blogging. You have a job now, so at least you don’t have to worry about monetizing it for now.

    I agree with what Matt says. You have a ton of knowledge on a place in the world where there is little information. That information is quite powerful.

    1. Thanks Ted. And you’re right, with a full-time job again now, I don’t need to worry about the money side of things and can just do this for the fun of it. I think where I’m struggling is that there’s a big part of me that wants to eventually ditch the “regular” job and use my blog and travel experiences to move into something different, but I am not sure how to make that happen.

  12. It was so great to meet in Vancouver and I’m sorry I missed out on Toronto but I couldn’t bear to leave Ecuador. But I totally hear you on the TBEX stuff, actually the idea of 1300 bloggers in one place gives me anxiety.

    1. It was great meeting you as well! I don’t blame you for staying in Ecuador – I probably would’ve done the same. If you ever come through Chicago when you’re back in North America, let me know!

  13. As one of the organizers of TBEX I completely understand what you are feeling Katie. I do think TBEX could still be for you, but it might not.

    Let me try and explain with a story. I will try to keep it short 8).

    I have been attending the NAMM show since around 1995. That’s the tradeshow for the musical instrument industry. I was a wannabe rock star and every real rock star you can imagine was/ is there. Back then NAMM had about 30,000 attendees. Today its closer to 60,000.

    I was with my band mates and our goals for that show were to meet rock stars, go to the cool parties and try to get some sponsored gear. We did all three! I was hooked from that moment on.

    As I got more serious about my music my goals changed in going to NAMM. We wanted to get real gear sponsors, make connections with people in the music industry and get our band a record deal.

    We landed some more gear sponsors attended some more cool parties (We got hammered with the president of Gibson Guitars one night. Still a highlight for me)but we never landed that record deal.

    I gave up the dream and got a real job (running tradeshows) but I still go to NAMM every year. I have friends in the music business (including people who run the NAMM show now) and friends who still play in bands and it is a reunion for me. That is the one time each year I get to see some people I have known for nearly 20 years now. And every year I meet new people too. I go to bed before the raging parties and sometimes I just make it up for the day and meet with a few people instead of staying for four full days.

    My point is the NAMM show is still for me. The show got much bigger, my goals changed and I changed the way I attended the show. I make sure I get out of it, what I want to out of it.

    Other people are there with the same stars in their eyes I had the first year. Others are buyers looking to stock their stores with guitars, drums and other stuff. Every one of those 60,000 people at NAMM comes with their own goals.

    The ones who love it, the ones who can’t wait to go are the ones who know they are a part of that community, they know what their goals are and make the show what they want it to be so it works for them.

    You can definitely do that at TBEX or any other industry or community you choose to be a part of. You can come to TBEX and have a quiet dinner with your friends every night. Take some tours, come in late, take a long lunch. You aren’t required to attend the sessions, do speed dating or feel pressure to meet as many people as you can.

    Yes it is going to be more crowded. Yes there will be new faces, but you get to choose how big of a dose you want to take of that stuff.

    Whatever you decide. You are always welcome at TBEX Katie.

    Rick Calvert

    1. Thanks Rick. I really appreciate you taking the time to respond. And I will definitely take your points to heart.

  14. Katie – thanks for your honest post. I know this may seem silly – but most days I feel the same way – I’m too far behind, I question what I should be doing, and I long for a regular paycheck (ok – you at least already have that covered!). Everything in life is tradeoffs and I must admit – I’m so proud of you for doing this solely for the love of it. You take a lot of your free time to continue it – but trust me – I have noticed how it has opened doors for you and I love the direction you have taken it. You are blazing your own trail – a unique one that I hope you are very proud of. Lord knows I was THRILLED when I found out about your involvement in PwP – I wish I had the time to take that stuff on.

    For me this TBEX was also an eye opening experience – I too hadn’t been since Vancouver. But the one thing that I was very clear of in the end is that I cherished the more one on one time with my dear friends more than anything else. I could skip all the parties and be just as happy to simply sit and talk to people like you…friends who I have a history with and admire.

    1. Thanks Sherry! I wish we’d had more time to talk at TBEX – it would be great to catch up more! You’re right, everything is tradeoffs and I think it’s easy to always think the grass is greener on the other side. I look at you and others and think “gosh, I could never do that” but at the same time think “gosh, I wish I had the courage to do that.”

  15. Pingback: Travel Blog Exchange: Travel Bloggers Bid Farewell to Toronto - TBEX USA

  16. This was my first TBEX and I did not really go in with expectations. It was a bit overwhelming being surrounded by 1000+ people that I did not know or only knew online. By the end of the weekend I had made some new friends that were not only online.

    I thought the seminars were hit or miss and the speed dating was confusing.

    I started my blog about a year ago for fun. I mainly did it because I love travel and talking to others about it. I also really enjoyed all the other travel blogs that I was following and wanted to become part of the community.

    I have a business that provides my income and do not see replacing that with a full time blogging income.

    Overall I enjoyed TBEX and will consider attending again.

    1. Glad you had a good experience Jeff! You sound kind of like I did after my first TBEX. 🙂

  17. Hi all! Good article and comments – lots to think about.

    This was my first TBEX experience and I have to say I found it valuable. While some sessions were a better fit for me than others, I still learned a lot and made important connections.

    I’ve never considered press trips or tours to be “free trips”. I consider it bartering. In exchange for my reviews, my photos, I get paid through what I’m sure Revenue Canada would consider “taxable benefits”, not actual income.

    I’ve signed up with the Blog with Integrity program as a gesture to my commitment to being fair and honest. I have never had any illusions that travel blogging and being a freelance writer is a free (or even always fun) ride. It’s incredibly hard work and, while I understand why members of the general public think it’s all fun and games, it’s actually very hard work and I have put in 12-19 hour days every single day since I left my full time job 6 weeks ago to turn my part time work into a full time career. I understand what Erika was saying about it’s a bit of a rat race, but that doesn’t bother me too much, in the sense that I didn’t think I was escaping the rat race by being a full time travel writer. I was just finally in the race with my own kind of rats!

    In the past month and a half, I have never worked harder in my life – but it is deeply satisfying and I know I have made the right choice after years of doing writing part time and being miserable in a regular job that I hated.

    In any organization or group, there are always going to be people who ruin an experience or an artistic aim or a community feel by being too commercial, too self-centered, or too exploitative. Unfortunately, I’ve never had a job, role, or volunteer position where I haven’t encountered this. While it’s sad to see this in the travel blogging community, it’s not surprising and, in fact, it’s probably always existed. It’s just now that our numbers are so much bigger, so are the number of bad eggs and now they’re a big enough group to have a bit of sway.

    Cliques at TBEX? Sure – I expected that. What was a bit rough was hearing from so many people about how it wasn’t the same because there were so many new bloggers, as if we had ruined the good thing that was going on. It’s hard to hear that your presence is contributing to a deterioration of the community feel of TBEX when I feel I have finally have some colleagues after thousands of hours sitting at an isolated desk, finally have some friendly faces to turn to when I face such harsh judgement from my “real life” for my unconventional career choice.

    1. Thanks for your thoughts Vanessa! I’m glad to hear so many people did find TBEX to be quite valuable and I think a lot of my experience was based on comparing it to past blogging conferences that just had a much different feel and the fact that I’m kind of in limbo right now.

      I hope I didn’t give the impression that I found the presence of new bloggers annoying – I didn’t mean that at all. What I found frustrating was how many (who I met anyways) seemed to be in it, for the lack of a better term, the wrong reasons. They just started yet seemed to have a sense of entitlement when it comes to getting press trips or other comps and that really bothered me. So many bloggers have worked their butts off to create a quality blog and build an audience and it just felt like some of the newer ones I encountered were just looking for shortcuts – that they didn’t consider press trips “work” but rather an easy way to fund their travels.

      I think they could definitely take some steps to not make it feel so big, while still welcoming bloggers new and old. Niche-focused lunches or other breakout sessions would have been great. I would’ve loved to meet new bloggers with an interest in some of the same areas I write about. Even publishing a list of attendees and their niches in advance would have been super helpful to try to identify who you’d like to meet.

      By the way, I’ve never heard of the Blog with Integrity program – will have to check that out!

  18. I totally understood the feeling of a sea of unknown faces. This was my first TBEX, one I was so excited about, and I got there and felt completely overwhelmed. I thought I would recognize so many people, and I realized I didn’t know as many as I had thought I did.

    While I got to catch up with some people I’ve been in touch with, there were many I didn’t see all weekend, I would see them far away for a minute, and then never see them or get to say hi. There were just so many people there.

    What I did enjoy was my time spent with the people I’ve built a strong connection with online and met up with previous to TBEX. That bond solidified this weekend, but I didn’t get all the new connections I was hoping for. Maybe there were just too many people, many with their connections already formed…

    1. I hear you! There were so many people who I was looking forward to seeing and it ended up just being a fleeting hello. Granted, some of that was my own issue as my flight was delayed on Friday so I missed the entire opening party, missing out on a big chance to socialize. But then on Saturday, I was literally at the party almost an hour before I found any of the people I had been trying to find.

  19. I have to agree with you — I probably won’t go back to TBEX again next year unless it’s really close for me (like it was this year). I did enjoy my time there, but I suspect this is because I didn’t come in with a lot of high expectations. I kind of knew it was not going to be “my” kind of travel blogging event. So I just kind of scrapped most of the sessions, and focused on meeting people and socializing (maybe a bit too much! Yikes! my liver is not happy!).
    It was great meeting you, too. If you’re ever in Buffalo, let me know! It would be fun to hang out again.

    1. Yes, great meeting you! I skipped out on some Sunday sessions, which finally gave me a chance to talk to some people and in retrospect, I wish I would’ve skipped out on some of Saturday’s as well. Oh well.

      If you ever come through Chicago, let me know!

    1. You’re probably right Matt – my struggle is figuring out exactly how to capitalize on it and make enough money to support myself.

  20. Katie, thanks for your candor. I’m struggling to find my place in the travel-blogging world (let alone this big blue world), and reading your words allowed me to identify similarly with your thoughts on the matter, especially about writing. One thing I need to carry through is making the transition from scientific-/technical-writing to travel-writing: different wor(l)ds, different “story” structure, different information to be relayed. Thanks again for your post, Katie.

  21. TBEX isn’t the only conference for travel bloggers. Maybe there’s another that would be a better fit. Or maybe it would be more cost-effective (and more fun) to meet up with like-minded bloggers during your travels or theirs.

    1. The only other one I’m aware of is TBU, which I have been to in the past but cannot attend this year at all. If there are others in the US that are smaller and more writing-focused, I’d love to know about them. I’m back working full-time so my upcoming travels will be pretty limited, although I’m always happy to meet up with travel bloggers who come through Chicago (which has been a few in the last couple months).

        1. oh yes. 🙂 wish I could take the time off to go this year, but definitely keeping it on the radar for next year!

  22. Hi Katie – Hope you’re doing well! Thanks for writing this article. I was hoping to make this my first TBEX this year but ended up not being able to attend. Though I’m not as far along as you are in the blogging world, I can definitely identify. I am also back to a 9-to-5 after a great time on the road. I don’t plan to give up traveling or writing, but struggling with what I want to get out of it and how I want to differentiate myself. I still do hope to make it to a TBEX one of these days, but I’m sure that I’ll feel out of place and a bit overwhelmed…oh well, that’s not a good enough reason not to go at least once. Perhaps next year.
    Hope to bump into you along the road again one day soon!

    1. Hi Nailah!

      You’re very welcome! It’s always nice to hear from someone who’s in a similar place as I am. I definitely wouldn’t discourage you from going to TBEX – I think that just, for me, it doesn’t serve the same purposes that it originally did.

  23. I’ve never been to TBEX so can’t really comment from a position of knowledge. With the workshop on content I can see the appeal and clearly you did too which is why you chose to go to it. (Although I’ve always liked your content so far).

    I think it is a case of each to their own for the delegates. If you want to monetise then fine, if you want press trips then fine, just make sure you have a disclosure in your article.

    I’ve never made a press trip (never been offered one). All the reviews I’ve written are for places I’ve paid for and have been on work trips (I don’t work for a travel company). My blog is hobby and I have some monetisation because I haven’t yet covered my website costs.

    1. I agree to each their own – although to some extent, I fear that the bloggers who are only getting into it for the freebies and not focused on trying to produce good content can give a bad name to the rest of us. I only hope that tourism boards & companies can differentiate between the two.

  24. Katie and all of the commenters, thanks for sharing your thoughts about TBEX. I am a newish travel blogger in Australia and I have wondered if it would be worthwhile to attend a conference like TBEX. Your comments have provided more information about what my expectations should be for the future to assist with my decision making. Thanks.

  25. I felt like you at my first conference in Porto, at TBU (I’ve been unable to make it to TBEX Costa Brava and can’t make it to Dublin, either) – unprepared, not sure where I wanted to take my blog and unaware about the business. I found it inspiring, so I’ve looked into several other conferences in Spain. Event Blog España was not intimate and BORING, and just recently I was invited to Calpemocion, a combination blog trip and social media/tourism marketing conference. As one of only 50 VIP bloggers, I really got the chance to get to know people, network and share my story. More has already come out of that experience than what I learned at TBU (while also dealing with bedbugs in my hostel!)

    I love the networking opportunities at conferences, and geek out over the conference material, but it’s like one big party where I feel left out!

    1. Wow, Calpemocion sounds great! Wish there was something like that in the US (if there is, I don’t know about it).

  26. Hi Katie, I just stumbled upon ur blog today. Great post and refreshingly honest. I’m from Vancouver and now wish I was a blogger back then! Judging from ur post and comments it was a more intimate conference. I started my blog last year. I was going to go to tbex Toronto but dates didn’t work out. I’m kind of on the fence too about attending since it seems overwhelming for newbies – not sure if I’d feel like an outsider since I too also have a full time job and blogging on the side. I think I’m getting clearer on the fact that I will try to leverage my blog for other writing opportunities like copywriting, but if advertising, writing or freebies come my way I will only agree to what I feel is right so not to turn off readers. Sometimes blogging as a hobby may be a blessing in disguise – since we have other pay cheques coming in we can be picky with advertisers we work with unlike full time bloggers who need each pay cheque.

    I’m just giddy that after years of trying to find a hobby, I’ve discovered writing as a passion 🙂

    Good luck and if u ever come back to Vancouver you can contact me thru my site.


    1. Thanks Parm!

      You’re right – one of the benefits of having a full-time job is I don’t feel pressured to take ads or sponsored posts to try to just pay the bills. I did some of that early on while I was on my career break trip and I felt like I was selling out – it just wasn’t for me.

      And yes, Vancouver was so much more intimate than Toronto – and still being new at that time, I think I was able to soak things up a lot more and learn more. Now that I’ve been at it for 2+ years, I am looking for ways to step up my game even more and people seem to think that means monetizes rather than just finding ways to make my content better. I can always improve as a writer, I’d love to improve as a photographer, etc.

      Will definitely let you know if I come back through Vancouver – I didn’t get to explore much when I was there before!

  27. In regards to your thoughts about “missing the boat” and feeling that others are already doing what you are thinking of, I think the important thing to remember about the internet (and really, any type of media) is the constant demand for new content, even when it is not completely new or innovative. This isn’t really a bad thing. I read a lot of cooking blogs, and I see plenty of recipes that are not particularly ground-breaking, but if they have nice photography and genuine enthusiasm from the blogger, I get totally jazzed about making the dish. I think that if you are interested and inspired by what you are writing about, that comes across and adds so much more value than paid reviews and press trips. I found your blog and read it because the theme of your trip was compelling to me, and I think you have provided some great information for other travelers with similar interests. If you continue to be genuine and write what you find to be interesting and useful, you will continue to engage your readers (like me!).

    1. Thanks for commenting Katie! With respect to missing the boat, I was referring more to some other ideas I have about non-blogging pursuits that are still travel-related, rather than anything with my blog. But you’re right, there is a constant demand for new content and it is so important to be inspired by and enthusiastic about what you’re writing about – it definitely comes through in writing!

  28. I haven’t been to a travel blogging conference for many reasons, but I felt like I was the only one who didn’t go this time! Seeing all the updates on Instagram, FB, and Twitter made me really wish I could have gone.
    The fact that you work full time and have the type of life that most people can relate to is an advantage. You don’t have to be traveling all the time to write about travel and to inspire people.
    The people wanting free stuff and talking about press trips all the time will pay the price for that later. Readers don’t want to see so many blog posts about that type of travel experience. I have gone on a couple and loved them, and I understand for those who blog for a living that it’s an important component of their work, but bloggers need to be very careful about the content that comes out of those trips. Post after post about amazing hotels and meals just turns a lot of people off. However, thank you for admitting that you also wish you could do some of those things. You say the things that most people are too afraid to say 🙂

    1. Thanks Jenna. One of the things I promised myself from the get-go when I started this blog was that I would straight up and honest about things, even if it meant sometimes being negative or pessimistic. I worried during my trip that people might be turned off by my posts when something wasn’t going right, but I found that those were some of my most popular as people were interested in the ups AND the downs of travel – a realistic view of it. I think you’re right – the people just wanting free stuff and a bunch of press trips may still get the SEO traffic, but they’re probably less likely to have regularly engaged readers. I would take a small number of very engaged readers over a gazillion quick page hits any day. 🙂

  29. It was great meeting you Katie! I can definitely relate. This was our first TBEX and I thought I would see a lot more familiar faces coming into this. After the opening night event, I knew this conference has grown into something a lot bigger than anyone had expected. It was really difficult to spot many bloggers we’ve been following for the last 2 years in prep for our RTW. A big plus was that we did get to hang out with many of our favorites and that was awesome. But other than that, we didn’t do much ‘professional’ networking like speed dating because we have no plans to monetize our blog.

    Like you, we’re on the same boat back to the normal 9-5 gig back home. So we have to be very selective with how we spend our time off. That doesn’t leave much room for press trips. Not sure I’m willing to give up where I want to go travel to most over a press trip with limited vacation time.

    1. Great meeting you as well! Wish we’d had more time to talk!

      And I hear you on the vacation time thing. I did meet with some tourism boards, but mainly with an eye toward doing short weekend trips around the country that won’t take up much, if any, vacay time (hence why my TBEX was so short – flew up after work on Friday and flew back Monday morning and went straight to the office!)

  30. 39 comments after this post says it all. Your blog is a huge success. As to where you fit in, who cares? Continue the blog because you enjoy it. Your blog is one of the best I have seen. The so called celebrities of travel blogging have nothing on your blog. Keep up the good work.

  31. It was such a pleasure meeting you- as you know, I’ve been a fan for a long time.

    This was my one and only TBEX. As I confessed to you on Saturday, I was horribly intimidated the whole time, especially after my first interaction didn’t go well. I would have done better in an intimate setting, and a fear that is lost forever when it comes to TBEX.

    I learned a lot, but like you, my blog isn’t a money maker (although yours is much better written and higher quality period). Speaking from a solely selfish perspective, I wish you were a full-time on-the-road blogger, I got addicted to you blog when you were on your long trip 🙂

    Best of Luck- I’ll be reading!

    1. Thanks Erik! It was great finally meeting you – I really appreciate you following along with my journey!

  32. This was my first-ever TBEX and I attended the Navigate Media BlogHouse (with a lot of those bloggers you mentioned!) beforehand. I will say that I didn’t feel like I got much out of TBEX beyond the networking. I, like you, work full-time and haven’t thought much about monetizing my blog.

    And I also felt like much of it was catered toward businesses, rather than the bloggers. I only attended two sessions that I really enjoyed (storytelling with photography, and basic storytelling). I think I’ll probably attend another, just to see, but if it’s like this one, I imagine I’ll be done with them as well.

    1. Hi Megan! I also really enjoyed the photography session – probably my favorite of all I attended.

      I hope you enjoyed the BlogHouse experience – I think for newcomers that’s a great opportunity to get to know people in a much smaller setting.

  33. Katie, I so wish we had met at TBEX this past weekend! Reading your post really struck a chord with me. I’m by no means a veteran of the travel blogging industry – Keystone was my first TBEX and my blog is a mishmash of a mess at the moment – but I love travel, travel writing and storytelling. I’m actually a travel editor (at travelandescape.ca) for that very reason – I want to help good travel stories come to life and find audiences.

    I also felt disillusioned with some of the people I came across who seem only interested in travel blogging so they can score free trips. That was never my goal when I started out – in fact, all my articles with the exception of one have been written based on travels I funded myself. I’m not saying I’d turn down the freebies (I have been on a press trip, after all), but the lure of freebies isn’t what attracted me to telling and sharing travel stories.

    I think there may be more like-minded people at TBEX than you think. And even though the masses have grown substantially over the years, those ones who think like you and feel like you are worth seeking out. I still plan to attend TBEX next year (and maybe even Dublin if I can), because I do think there’s room for all of us there – those who are new, those who are experienced, those who work full-time and dabble in blogging on the side, those who write for themselves and those who write for others, and those who still don’t know where they’re going or what they’re doing. And the like-minded people will find each other… even if it’s through post-TBEX blogs like this 🙂

    For me, I’ve never viewed travel writing/blogging as a full-time profession. It’s meant to accompany other work, whether it’s writing, editing, shooting videos, leading tour groups or doing something else that relates to media and/or travel – or something else altogether. To me, it’s impossible to rely solely on travel blogging to live, and I think too many people have views that it’s the easy way to travel for free. It’s not. And I’m glad you’ve said it out loud. Trust me, there are a lot of people standing behind you on this.

    1. Thanks for commenting Tammy! The response to this post is giving me hope that there are more like-minded folks out there than I may have thought. I just need to find you all at conferences! 🙂

      I agree, it’s not possible for most to make a living off blogging. And those who are traveling full-time and making a living aren’t doing it solely through their blogs – they have used their blogs as a platform for other ventures. I wish TBEX had sessions focused on doing that because that is what appeals to me more.

  34. For me, I don’t feel like it matters which way you want to take your blog. The conferences I’ve been to have introduced me to new places and fantastic people and I can’t see myself not attending them in future. There will always be new faces at these events. I’m still to experience a TBEX though!

  35. I felt exactly the same after I went to my first TBEX event. There are so many people out there doing awesome things that I was totally overwhelmed? I think you need to remind yourself that it’s only the very best bloggers who are at these events. There are probably thousands of bloggers who feel like their blog isn’t even big enough to go to TBEX and just look how many people have responded to your thoughts already. I think all these comments prove that you fit the travel blogging world and, if you want it, there is already a massive space for you.

  36. Sorry we didn’t get to catch up more. I really wasn’t around the conference too much — no desire to see any of the sessions and I didn’t have any industry things I needed to do, so just hit a couple of the parties for the most part to see friends. Wish I’d have had a chance to see you more, but they were sort of madhouses.

    How about you get some travel time and hop over to Europe at some point this fall and we’ll hoist a few pints? 🙂

    1. totally understand! I only even made it to the Saturday night party so I missed catching up more with a lot of people.

      Unfortunately, no Europe for me this fall – Nepal is the only trip in the cards for me with my limited vacation time. How about you swing through Chicago on your next North American stint? 🙂

  37. We’re in the same boat as well – although we’re “quitting”, or deciding to settle back down in Austin and take smaller trips (I haven’t publicly announced it yet). We have funded 99% of all our trips over the past year and in the craziness of trying to monetize my blog and making it into something I could sell, I realized that I entered another rat race. I’m done. Although we did have tickets for TBEX Toronto, we had to get rid of them due to lack of funds. After seeing that so many people attended, I’m not completely sad about our decision.

    I do have my own rant to go on about bloggers who only care for a free ride and somehow get it despite their crappy content… but I’ll just hush over here and watch it from the sidelines at this point.

    1. That’s an interesting way of putting it Erica – just entering another rat race. Can be true, I suppose!

      Would love to hear your rant about bloggers who only care for a free ride and get it despite crappy content…you’d be preaching to the choir. 🙂

  38. I think this is inevitable with anything that grows large enough; the early participants were passionate, the later participants see the major players making great money, and think they can do it as well. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, since some people don’t have the time or energy to write consistently with nothing to show for it, but of course the “only in it for the money” crowd (even if they’re rather small) can be detrimental to the entire group. I’ve unfollowed a few bloggers whose Twitter feeds consist exclusively of pictures of fancy hotels they’re staying at. Um, do I really care?

    I also think that cliques are inevitable. I think certain circles of bloggers will form, even if it’s something that started on Twitter. People follow people, look at recommendations for who to follow, etc etc, which makes new cliques of newbie upstarts form, since the big players don’t always have time for the little people, but little people have time for each other. I think there’s plenty of room for communication between new and old, but any time you get thousands of people together, they’re going to form smaller circles. Maybe tiny workshops of 10 people might be useful in the future. Wandering around a conference room with a thousand people just doesn’t lead to intimate social connections.

  39. I know how you feel. I felt the same way to some extent. I openly admitted I wasn’t at TBEX for the sessions or much of the actual conference. For me, it was about reconnecting with old friends, making new friends, and partnering with companies, brands, DMOs to build relationships for the future.

    I’ve got some ideas but like you, I am not realying on this to make a living. I am exploring options but you are right – this conference lost a little bit of the community. It’s just too big. People I wanted to see for days, I didn’t end up seeing until the very last day or not at all.

    Like you, I did feel a little defeated thinking it’s too late for me. However, I do think my niche will open some doors that others don’t have. Is this my last TBEX? I don’t know. But I knew when I went here it really wasn’t about the conference. Maybe it should be.

    I’ll say something about the people I know, hung out with, and the time we had together (including you). I am so happy and excited to have so many friends who share the same passion as me. I have genuine close connections with people (Dave and Deb, Cam and Nicole from Traveling Canucks, and a few others) that I love. For me, I feel more like my true and best self than I’ve felt anywhere in a long time. For that, I am very thankful to TBEX for bringing us together and giving me that opportunity to really enjoy who I am.

    Like Jennifer says, I like my life. I don’t want to travel full time. And I do believe there is a place for people like us too – in the world of travel and at TBEX.

  40. I felt the same this year. I’ve been to every tbex, even though I haven’t had a blog of my own since the very first one in Chicago! I’ve still always been a blogger(writing on a company’s blog)but this year I felt very much outside the blogger circle.

    I want to tell great travel stories and I want people to enjoy my work. I don’t want to be a celebrity. I want to help someone travel better (better as defined by that person’s needs), not tell someone how to “get paid to travel the world.” I want to tell people about amazing destinations and the people that live there, not all about MY amazing trip.

    I’m not giving up on tbex yet. I’m sure I’ll be there next year as an exhibitor rep, but I don’t think I’d spend my own money to go. For my money, I’d much rather invest in Book Passage. I went last year, and though it’s not cheap, it was incredibly worthwhile. I actually walked away with tips to make my writing better and with information I could act on to find more outlets for my work.

    1. Very well said, Katie. 🙂

      I would love to go to Book Passage – it looks like a great conference. Can’t swing it this year, but I’m definitely gonna keep it in mind for next year.

      1. Funnily enough, I was *just* commenting on Twitter (and Katie above responded!) about really wanting to attend Book Passage this year. We’ll see…

  41. Well put, Katie. Particularly since there’s no “right” or “wrong” with travel blogging, but simply what’s right or wrong for any one of us in particular. I too enjoyed the more intimate setting of earlier conferences (such as TBU Umbria, where we met). On the flip side, I enjoyed the fact that the sheer scale of TBEX Toronto allowed for multiple sessions which allowed bloggers to pursue their particular area of interest.

    What is astounding is just how popular travel blogging has become in the past few years. I do agree that there is a certain component who have probably flocked to blogging with an idea of glomming free travel–this will likely be a steady presence, although my guess is the individuals who make up this component will be transient.

    Like so many industries that are in their relative infancy, we are likely to see a lot of change–in blogging as well as the conferences surrounding it. Ideally things will mature to a point where we have the luxury of attending meetings that are intimate and focused on our unique interests as well as those “big commercial shows”.

    Meanwhile, great to be able to meet and connect with other like-minded bloggers face to face. Even though I didn’t see many people for very long periods of time at TBEX, just being able to meet a long-time Facebook or Twitter friend in person made a strong impression on me.

  42. Very honest post, Katie. I do think there’s room for us working gals too in the travel blogging world. Frankly, I don’t connect to the travel style of the nomadic travelers on an indefinite trip. I have a career I’m not ready to give up, yet I travel more than 6 months of the year. I travel on a lot of short breaks like you are doing now and go on around 4 big trips each year on my vacation time.

    I think many more people can connect with people like you and I because we can truly show them that they can have a career and see the world.

  43. Unfortunately I did not get to go to TBEX this year- with launching a new site, getting married and moving all in the same two months, traveling was just too much for me. I wish I had gone to see you and other favorites from Vancouver. I completely agree- the Vancouver experience was something that I truly hold as one of my dearest memories. not for the conference really, but for the interactions and friendships I made there. It was such a pleasure getting to see you again in Chicago (yay) and that is what I love about this community.

    I heard some great things about the Toronto conference and some things not so great. I wish I had gone to know the comparison, but I feel like I always leave feeling defeated! I get overwhelmed with how much I should be doing or what to do compared to what I have time for. And without a doubt, I compare myself to everyone else there, even though we have different styles, etc.

    And I do feel like the larger community does allow for people who aren’t totally passionate about travel but more about the money side of things. I think its a slippery slope and makes it hard to find the good travel blogs when there are so many crap ones out there.

    Hopefully we’ll get to meet up again when I’m in Chicago next time!

  44. I so admire you for this really, really honest post. These are basically the same reasons that I decided to step back from the world of travel blogging (and the press trips and the conferences and the tweeting and the commenting and the following and so on) and focus on what I personally love most: the writing (travel and otherwise), plain and simple. I totally commend and respect those that passionately follow the travel-blogging path, but, for different reasons, it just isn’t the right path for all of us. Your honesty about this is refreshing, so thank you for that.

  45. As someone who has been at every North American TBEX, including the one-room version in Chicago five years ago, I can totally understand how you feel Katie! I think what TBEX is now missing is more breakout/niche sessions or meet-up opportunities for bloggers to get to know each other and not just the brands. It’s my plan to mention that fact in my feedback.

    I want you to know that the PWP team is completely thrilled to have you helping out and that I personally am so very grateful for all of your work at our table this year, which was really critical to the fundraiser’s success at TBEX. We truly couldn’t have done it without you. And I’m glad that we got the chance to meet even if I didn’t feel like I had the chance to hang out or talk with you that I would have liked.

    1. Thanks Mara! I agree – more break out, niche focused sessions or meetups would have been great. It was just so hard to find the people I really wanted to talk to and then also have time to have any sort of quality conversation.

      I’m also thrilled to be working with PwP – I hope we’ll have a chance to chat more soon!

  46. I didn’t actually meet you, but I do remember seeing you. As I don’t have the privilege of having a previous TBEX to compare to, I can understand your feelings on the subject. I was grateful to be able to meet the few people I actually was able to talk with, but as the only previous conferences I have been to have been over 3,000 people, this is pretty much what I thought would happen.

    I am glad I went, and I will probably go to another one or two in the future as I could use the connections with others and the ideas. Not sure how much I learned, but I am sure it will be beneficial when I have time to digest it.

    1. Thanks for the comment Jason. I’m sure anyone attending for the first time would have a much different perspective. I’m glad you found it beneficial and made some good connections!

  47. Thank you for that post Katie!! even if I’m still pretty new to the whole blogging business I’ve seen couple of conferences nearby that I could actually go to but I’ve decided to skip them. I’ve been following lots of travel blogs for a long time and I can see how they got worse and worse, only because bloggers do everything to monetize their sites, they seem to forget what this whole business is all about. I follow blogs because I want to read about the real experience and the places that everyone can explore and not about some fancy hotels and group trips. Yesterday (I think) Adventurous Kate posted about chanhes on her site and among comments many people mentioned how tired they were with her site and how it missed what it was about in the first place – the independent blog of solo traveler. That was the sign for me that people really don’t want to read about all the organized activites of group of bloggers.
    I chose not to go to the conferences because I want to follow my way in the blogging world. I nottices after the conferences that suddenly most of the blogs chance in the same direction and that is not cool as they lose what’s unique in them along the way. I guess money opportunities are too big too resist. If I decide to join any conference in future it’ll be to meet bloggers I read and admire, but not exactly to follow the crowd. But these 1200 people on TBEX sound kind of overwhelming to me…
    (I don’t know if this comment makes any sense but that all has been in my head for quite a while now and your post made me writing in down, in a messy way;))

    1. Thanks Kami! And yes, you make perfect sense. 🙂 I really don’t read any blogs that are mostly press trips because that’s not what I want to read about – I want to read about the adventures, the mishaps, the stories – and when I was planning my trip, I was also looking for logistics – how do you get from A to B, how is this border crossing, what can I expect as an independent traveler in the place. Blog posts about press trips rarely include any of that.

      1. and you did a great job with your blog as it’s both entertaining with great stories and informative. Most likely I’m gonna travel to Russia later this year and I’m re-reading your posts from there, they are a great help to me! 🙂

          1. oh, another thing that is in my mind, regarding this post, is that lately I have a feeling that blogs are written for other bloggers rather than for “normal” readers who share the passion to travel and are looking for specific informations or just stories from the destinations. Each day I see more and more blog-related posts, like how to get more followers on yet another social media, tips how to write a travel blog etc etc. That’s definitely not what I’m looking for in the travel blog and when I see posts like that it’s usually the first step to unfollowing it. Today I got annoyed by yet another post about how FB destroys the blogging because it doesn’t show your posts to everyone, blablabla, and it really made me mad! It’s a travel blog, not a social media or tech one!!!
            (there, I finished, sorry for another rant;))

  48. Katie you’re in the exact same boat as me (minus the fact that I’m still not allowed to be employed full time in Norway). I actually have been very uninspired lately with blogging because the industry itself kind of irritates me. So many bloggers are only in it for the press trips and free travel. I have previously partnered with a few tourism boards but I absolutely refuse to do it these days and will not take any type of sponsorships or freebies. Why? 1) It’s false advertising to the people that are out there desperate for some true travel advice and 2) I like to travel the way I want to travel. I’ve always been a traveler and I like to make my own rules and own plans. I don’t want my trip planned for me and I have a budget I need to adhere to typically.

    Anyways, I’ve never been to a conference. And I have no plans on going unless there is one in Oslo (and even then I’d probably only go if there are other bloggers I’m interested in meeting there). I have no desire to meet certain tourism boards and work with them unless it is completely 100% unpaid and they are just helping me here and there with learning the cities and places. I get frequent offers with things like rail passes around Europe and truthfully, I think it is absolutely pointless to offer something like that to anyone and everyone because the people that are using them this year are probably not offering anything exciting to the table in regards to how they use them. And I know I wouldn’t either. Yadda yadda, I’m rambling.

    But I know exactly how you feel. New bloggers come all the time and you can tell from the get-go what their intentions are. And truthfully, it leaves me very apathetic to the whole industry. That is why I continue to read a blog like yours (yours is one of the few I read)…it’s unbiased and you traveled because you wanted to. Thanks for keeping me interested and intrigued these past almost two years 🙂

    1. Thanks Megan! I really appreciate it!

      While I do accept complimentary stuff on occasion, I have sort of set rules in my head about what I am comfortable accepting and how much I’ll do it. If I am going somewhere anyway and can work with a tourism board to promote the destination as I travel independently, I figure it’s an added bonus. For example, I’m headed to Memphis in a couple weeks. Their tourism board is providing me with free passes to some attractions, but they were attractions I mentioned I wanted to see based on my research and what appealed to me. And I’d be doing the trip even if I had to pay for all of it – I booked my flights before I even reached out to the tourism board. I hope that doesn’t turn readers like you off too much. 🙂

      1. i think situations like that are completely acceptable. you had already determined what you were doing on the trip and then they helped you. i find press trips that plan every single thing to be a little inundating and perhaps not true to how the person actually travels. 🙂

        i guess i sympathize a little w/ these tourism boards that constantly offer and offer and really when i see what people are reviewing or writing about i feel bad for them. it’s probably all the marketing studies in me, but when you offer someone something that is essentially ‘free’, you expect to get a decent, honest, and thorough review or insight on return. i see most bloggers don’t offer anything new to these DMOs.

    2. Megan, totally understand where you’re coming from here, but let’s be careful not to discount the intentions of those who are trying to make a living off of blogging. I love to travel and I love to write, and I’m working hard to combine these two passions of mine into a career that can pay the bills. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with accepting freebies and discussing monetization when you’re working towards something bigger. It isn’t false advertising when it’s done correctly and the brand or destination is worked into a story that is applicable to the blogger’s audience. A lot of the best bloggers out there would have given up if they hadn’t eventually started making money off of all the hard work that goes into blogging. You’re right, it shouldn’t be about the free stuff – but instead, using the opportunities we’re given to enhance our stories for places and products we really believe in and support.

      Katie, I love your blog as well and I think its great that you’re continuing to travel and write, even with a full time job. I’m sorry I didn’t get to meet you at Tbex and even though you might be feeling disconnected and deflated, I hope you’ll keep writing and being a part of the blogger community!

      1. britany i never said anything about those actually attempting to make a living off of blogging. i simply just stated that most people are giving misleading reviews to people out there desperate for some information on a place. do you know how many times i have spoken to bloggers on a personal level and they have told me that since they received something for ‘free’, they felt an obligation to review it in a positive light? i find this SO wrong and so false. and quite frankly, ive been in the same shoes as many of those people back when i did work w/ DMOs and received sponsorships.

        there are actually some bloggers out there who accept sponsorships that are relevant to the way they traveled prior to blogging as a career. but there are more bloggers who accept any and every press trip offered regardless of their audience or intended market. im sorry, but if your goal with your blog is to entice readers to travel to italy and you extensively cover all regions and cities, then why are you accepting a press trip to new zealand? i understand that blogs and people evolve, but if one is truly doing it for a career, then their audience should be considered when choosing press trips or sponsorships. when people are just taking anything offered to them, it comes across as though they just want to travel for ‘free’. it’s just the way it is. im sure most bloggers that make a living off of their blog agree with me.

        1. I agree with you Megan – just trying to curb the criticism away from all bloggers who accept press trips and freebies. Blogger accountability, honesty, and integrity are definitely issues worth discussing though and I’m glad its something people are bringing up!

  49. You have totally summed up why I have never attended a conference before. While I somewhat regret not attending Vancouver back in the day, if only due to location, I probably will never make it a priority to attend unless it’s driving distance. In that case, if the next one is on the west coast, I do hope you’ll reconsider to attend as I would love to meet you! Your blog was a huge favorite of mine during your travels and I told people who aren’t even into blogging about it, mainly because the focus was so different then anything else out there.

  50. I hear ya Katie. I too miss the nice communal feel of Vancouver, when it really felt like we were on the forefront of something new and exciting. Keystone sure didn’t feel that way. And I kept saying to myself before TBEX this year that if it weren’t so close to me I probably wouldn’t have gone in the first place. But that changed this weekend.

    I’m so glad I went this year as I am leaving inspired and motivated to improve my blog. I never got into blogging to make money or get free trips, but, then again, after 3.5 years, I wouldn’t object.

    I left Vancouver without getting a whole lot out of the conference itself, and I think that’s still the case 3 years later. But I get so much more out of it from talking to other bloggers, most of whom are really cool people I actually want to hang out with! I go for the fun times and the networking and the chance to chat up all those great folks I know from Twitter, many of whom I only see once a year. And this year, I actually did get something out of TBEX itself…greater focus and a drive to be better at something I was a bit too casual with.

    Now I’m trying to figure out just how I can make it out to Dublin… And wherever next year’s will be! Because I just love interacting with those in our community!

    1. I’m glad you left inspired, Aaron. That was how I felt after TBU in Umbria, probably overall my favorite of the blogging conferences I’ve attended.

      I definitely enjoyed catching up with a lot of people I already knew – I wish I’d had more time to talk to more of them. I think if I was to go to another conference, I wouldn’t try to squeeze it in as a quick weekend trip, but would only go if I had the time to make a week of it and do some of the pre and post tours so I’d have more opportunities to hang out with people in smaller settings.

  51. It was great meeting you, Katie! It was my first Tbex so I had nothing to compare it to. I honestly came with a low expectation and left feeling like I got my $ and time’s worth (that’s the thing about low expectations 🙂 ) – Anyway, I believe that new opportunities and new creative ways to form partnerships will come up in the future and coming to these conferences is one of the ways to ensure that you won’t miss the next boat. Don’t give up on travel conferences just yet 🙂

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