Six Reminders from TBEX Toronto

the perfect necklace, worn by Jessica Spiegel. t: @andiamo

After weeks of reflection about the most recent TBEX (Travel Blogging EXchage) conference in Toronto, I’ve come to realize what I really learned from attending the conference.

Yes, it is a great place to meet PR, tourism boards, travel businesses, and especially other travel bloggers to create connections and develop partnership ideas, etc.. Each year I leave inspired (if not overwhelmed) about our growing industry and the steps I need to take to better my blog, my brand and myself.

But this year, after my third TBEX, I realized more:

I love travel bloggers

we had a good time and yes it's a Vuvuzela

I love travel bloggers. I do. And the decision to live in a flipkey house with a dozen other bloggers, many who I never met in person, might be considered bold by some, but actually it only reminded how much I love my peers. These are my kind of people.

Lola, the organizer and a true purveyor fun from Lola’s Travels took the idea of creating a Real World Blogger house and made it a reality; she made it real. The house and life at RWTBEX (Real world TBEX) made the weekend epic. Thank you.

There is No Magic Potion for Revenue or Success

I tried many “potions” or cocktails in Toronto too. I even started to reacquaint myself with Gin. But nothing. No magic revenue potion.

Each year I’ll admit I hope to discover the special magic potion on how to make it all work out. I do. But I know now, or rather I accept it takes commitment to the pursuit. Yes, it takes commitment – the C word.

a molson canadian piint

I also tried the local brew... a must in Canada

And I noticed commitment on all levels at TBEX. Whether it was the commitment of Traveling Ted to make sure the RWTBEX house is stocked with beer (navigating odd alcohol laws ) or a commitment to brand like the example set by lazy travelers. Commitment was everywhere.

And many speakers told us (again this year) even with commitment, this job will not make your rich. Ah, but I know better, travel is the only “purchase” that makes you richer, right? And if that is true, and I agree it is, than I just need to keep on keeping on…

Travel bloggers are Very Educated

I’ve always said (quote me on this please), “the RTW (a’Round The World) is more valuable and much cheaper than MBA.” And I stand by it. I learned more in my 11 month travel sabbatical than any classroom or collective study. Now outside of corporate for a few years, I have even learned so much more. I imagine my friend and teacher Erin from the World Wanderer agrees too.

When the all the bloggers are in a room together it is amazing how much of the world; the places, the attractions, the local scene, the customs, the cuisines and the cocktails we all know across all seven continents. Collectively we know how to navigate and experience the world. That’s impressive. But even more impressive is the fact we are all in a pursuit of fun (happiness). That’s an even more educated person in my eyes.

The World is an Amazing Place

a toast to Toronto, a fabulous city

I knew this, well I believed this, but collectively I was reminded that we all believe this. Yes, many of us see dire places and poverty on our travel and most aim to lend a helping hand, but we also see the best in the world. I believe we see the world through a positive lens and we are a positive force.

We also talk and share. I listened to so many stories about places to visit from all over the world. Many places to add to my bucket list for sure, but I definitely often find myself talking about Mexico. Mexico gets some bad press, but when talking to many bloggers including Alexandra of Crazy, Sexy, Fun Traveler, she told me it was her favorite country. It might just be mine too.

Travel Bloggers are Very Creative

I am constantly impressed how creative the community is in travel blogging. Just from the weekend at the FlipKey House there was the Vines (love this app) Yishyen of Small Crazy put together over TBEX about FlatDeej. There was also walking into the RWTBEX house on Sunday Night and being greeted by Christopher of Captain and Clark the creator of a new game flying pong with help of the GQ Tripping.

But even beyond this, I am constantly impressed with the whit and wisdom my fellow bloggers share. Sure, most of us wear many hats and essentially all own little enterprises and I never felt more excited to partner with even more bloggers on future projects.

a Sunday night reunion (after the sunset of course) to play and pursue fun

Content is King

First off, there are no rules. Content is what you create. Sure “old world” wants to tell us not to use the word “iconic” or “nestled” (this is my first time using them and it feels so good) or that we are not professional or …. when I listen to those “preaches” I just say blah, blah, blah. Let them have that world. I don’t want in.

the CN Tower reflected off a car window in downtown Toronto, Ontario, Canada

it is always good to reflect... and also capture that reflection

For me, what makes travel blogger content king is our experience(s). We are authentic. And kudos to Bruce Poon Tip of G Adventures for talking about this (why wasn’t he a keynote?).

We’ve been there, experienced it. We’ve seen it at sunset, watched a sports match with local fans, shared a pint and some conversation with new friends, broke bread with families who took us into their home, and more. Much more. Yes we lived it, did it, enjoyed it and we loved it.

Our content is our personal experiences. and that is king. People want to know what is it really like “there” and that is the power behind travel blogging.

Thank you TBEX for both these lesson and reminders.

stay adventurous, Craig

A special thanks to FlipKey  for allowing …for allowing me to learn about their product and for providing access to one of their houses while I was at TBEX. And also thanks to Traveling Ted who also committed to taking photographs of the events at RWTBEX, the two images with me inside them were taken by him.

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  • The World Wanderer

    This just made me all sentimental. Can we go back now? Seriously though, this was my first TBEX and it was what you said above that made it so special. Especially the first one, I love you all too!

    • craig zabransky

      Erin, glad the post resonated with you… and no doubt travel bloggers are special folks indeed… it was a pleasure getting poutine with you too …stay adventurous, Craig

  • yishyene

    Aww I LOVE THIS POST!! (of course duh obviously i mean duh)..
    It was my first TBEX and I was soooo glad I made it..from winning the comp and getting my passport stolen and canada rejecting my visa.. so much drama but SO WORTH IT! x

    • craig zabransky

      Yishyene, glad you thought it was worth it… and no doubt you made the RWTBEX house special indeed… glad you crossed the pond to join the festivities, perhaps I’ll cross the pond and see you in Dublin for the next installment… stay creative, Craig

  • Crazysexyfuntraveler

    LOVE this post so much :))) And gotta agree with every single thing. You really summed it all up! And yeah, Mexico is the best!

    • craig zabransky

      Mexico is definitely the best… glad you enjoyed the post too… Plus, it was a pleasure to finally meet you in person… stay crazy, sexy, and fun… Craig

  • Traveling Ted

    Thanks for recognizing my commitment to not only the state of the RWTBEX liquor cabinet, but also the dedication to capturing the craziness on camera. Great meeting you my friend, and you summed up the Flipkey house and the conference perfectly.

    • craig zabransky

      Thanks Ted, it was an absolute pleasure meeting you too… And thanks for helping to make #RWTBEX what it was… so special. And I look forward to our paths crossing again in the future… maybe even in Chiang Mai some day… stay famous, Craig

  • Joshua

    It was really a worthwhile experience for me and I have to say the people in the RWTBEX house were some of the people I appreciated meeting the most. The input, fun and friendship I got out of it was immense :)

    • craig zabransky

      Thanks Joshua… it was a pleasure to meet you too… and yes, we were a good dam time us RWTBEXers, a good time indeed 😉 Stay adventurous, Craig

  • Anita Mac

    So great to catch up with you again Craig! And you have nailed it….the world is an amazing place and I loved spending time talking to so many fantastic people who could share their experiences from around the world. What makes a travel blogger tick? I don’t know but I am glad to be part of something so awesome! Glad to have spent some time in the “iconic” RWTBEX house…it was far too short lived but such a pleasure!

    • craig zabransky

      Anita, yes… I am so glad to be part of it too…. and it is times like TBEX and RWTBEX that I am often most reminded of it… stay adventurous, Craig

  • Christine Williams

    Great post! Really good insight to TBEX and the world of blogging in general. Thanks for introducing what seems like a terrific group of bloggers. My boyfriend and I recently started a travel blog and are always looking for new tips. Thanks again!

    • craig zabransky

      Thanks Christine… it is a wonderful community of folks. Enjoy it. Stay travel blogging, Craig

  • TripsByLance

    Just stumbled upon your post. Craig, it was my pleasure to meet you and get to hang out in Toronto. One of the things I realized at TBEX is while we are at home we might have some friends like us — people who enjoy seeing the world, meeting people, enjoying new experiences. But in general, they don’t get “it.” That big it doesn’t even need describing. I don’t think it can go into words, honestly. It’s that thirst for knowledge and experiences that can only be fulfilled on the road. And I think that’s what made Toronto so much fun. It was a joy meeting so many great people. If you ever find yourself wanting to explore Memphis let me know. And I hope our paths will cross down the road.

    • craig zabransky

      Lance, thanks, I know this “it,” this big “it” you speak of… and you bet when I find myself in Memphis I’ll be sure to let you know… stay adventurous, Craig

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