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If you’ve never heard of TBEX before, allow me to bring you up to the times. You see, this is the future. We have phones the size of our palms and laptops the size of our phones. While we’re not quite getting around by jetpacks yet, we’re living in a remarkable era where the world is getting smaller by the day through travel.
And that’s what TBEX is about (
jetpacks and travel). It stands for Travel Blog Exchange but essentially, it’s the future of travel media. Where travel bloggers, writers, and travel brands alike come together to share our love of wine all things travel.
You see, TBEX is the big Shebang. The big Kahuna. It is ALL THAT and a bag of chips. It’s the conference of all conferences for anybody involved in travel blogging, travel writing, travel media, or tourism. While TBEX stands for Travel Blog Exchange, in reality the exchanging is so much deeper than just travel.
So my journey as a travel blogger started like many others I met that weekend. Before booking my one-way ticket to Europe back in December 2013, I knew that I would have some adventures to share with family and friends, and so to me, starting my blog as a humble little corner for people to
pretend they cared about my life check in every once in a while, seemed like a good idea.
Except I started lacking motivation to write. I didn’t feel like the effort I was putting in was worth it anymore and The Blog Abroad almost saw its last day in July 2014. But man, is struggle a beautiful thing in hindsight. I sucked it up and said if it was important enough to start, it’s important enough to finish, and I’m going to ride this puppy out.
Fast-forward almost a year later and I never dreamed that these same adventures would be shared and read across 125 countries around the world and having the likes of Matador Network and Elite Daily asking to republish posts on their platform of millions. It has truly been a magical journey.
That being said, the only thing I was missing from this journey was a network of other travel bloggers who shared this passion, and little did I know, there were conferences held annually to celebrate our crazy lives, not to mention on private beaches in exotic locations. WHAT IS THIS LIFE?! Two weeks before the event, I didn’t even know what TBEX was, and here comes our private chauffeur getting ready to whisk us away via boat to yet another party. Oh, ‘tis a rough life.
But despite being a newbie to this conference and this community, I wasn’t going to let that intimidation take the lead in how I interacted with others. It’s not about who has the most Instagram followers, most page views per month, been blogging the longest, or been to the most countries, it’s about how many people we can truly fit in this selfie without our tipsiness showing, our Sangria spilling on our shirts, and most importantly, not falling overboard. Now that’s a golden TBEX slogan if I ever heard one.
So if you were new like me, or are contemplating being at the next one in either Thailand, North America, or Sweden in the coming months, then I hope these can be valuable to you and something to keep in the back of your mind when you attend.
1.Don’t be afraid to ask questions.
Asking a question after a speaker’s session always seems like a good idea until the mic hits your hand and your brain cells collapse. It’s cute really, the synchronization of it all. Your heart beat is going autobahn speed, and your once logical-thinking mind just stops functioning.
But you ask anyway. You mutter out those half-coherent words and pray for a cohesive thought to slip out, let alone hoping you’re saying actual words to begin with. And then you get their response. And it puts you at ease. And all the eyes you feel on you are accompanied with nods of approvals or others scribbling down notes to the words provided by the speaker.
And the icing on the cake, someone approaches you in the lobby later and tells you that the question you asked was so spot on and relevant to a situation they were dealing with and that it provided so much affirmation to hear that someone else was going through it too (looking at you Bola Akande, wink wink).
Speak up my friends. Feel the fear. And do it anyway. ASK.
2.Dancing is the best ice-breaker.
Whether your moves are up to par with Beyonce’s or not (hey girl, heyyyy), let’s just all agree that any type of movement or gyration of the body is not only hilarious to watch, but extremely contagious.
I think back on half the people I met and I’m remembering that our first conversations were started on the dance floor. Whether we’re swinging it out to some Bruno Mars or pumping our fists to Avicii, there’s simply no better way to break the ice and get conversation going after you’ve had a good boogie session prior. Exhibit A:
3.There will be an endless supply of wine. Proceed with caution.
Maybe I have the willpower of a toddler. Maybe I just really love wine. Maybe I’m a product of a pitiful combination of the two. I gained a whopping 3.5 lbs that week, and I’m not even mad about it. The food on display throughout the weekend, accompanied by a tall glass of wine, were everything I needed to remind myself that this is what our stomachs and livers were made for. This moment in time. And I regret
Lunch time was the best! The buffet had options for every type of eater and when you got back to your table, there was the wine, with your name on it, inching closer to your plate, and reminding you of its existence.
And just when you pour that last cup, finishing off your second bottle with your table, ready to start the
sobering declining process, here comes the waiter, with yet another bottle popped open, pouring you another glass before your liver can even nudge your conscious to think otherwise. And oops, there it goes, in your mouth, down your throat,(get your mind out the gutter!) or don’t. These moments further confirming there is no such thing as willpower at a TBEX conference. This is a fact.
4.The first impression before the first impression.
You don’t get a second chance at making a first impression. But the tricky part about that is you’re making an impression just by being in the same room as someone. Your impression is being made every time you walk passed people, strut across the dance floor, or mingle with mutual friends of others.
A lot of times, we see people and make a “judgement” before actually introducing ourselves. My first impression of Wandering Earl, was
DAMN, THAT’S ONE HOT PIECE OF SPECIMEN everything I’ve heard about him from other bloggers – awesome spirit, laid back, down to Earth, etc. After attending his talk, I could confirm those impressions from others for myself.
Now this unfortunately works both ways. If someone has an unpleasant encounter with another person and chooses to share that with another blogger, welp, they can choose from there what to do with that information (hopefully giving them the benefit of the doubt).
When I went on the Catamaran Sensation ride, boy was I in my element! It was a little windy at first, and everyone seemed a bit shy and nervous to get up and mingle. So I made my way down to the open netted floor where I met two others and soon after, four more joined in.
This group of people went on to form a dance circle that I’d join two more times throughout that weekend. And because of the dancing (see number 2 again), many people went on to approach me throughout the conference asking if I was “the dancing girl with the Captain’s hat” and although I’ve heard of catchier nicknames, I proudly welcomed them all.
Lesson: If you want to be remembered, dance like it’s nobody’s and yet everybody’s business. HOLLA!
5.The fortune is in the follow-up
I think we’re all a little guilty of this, because we’re still coming down from this high from a week(end) of awesome inspiration, networking, and partying. Mostly the latter.
We get back home and sift through our stack of 80+ business cards from new contacts, potential sponsors, and fellow bloggers. We vaguely remember the faces of some, we do some social media stalking on others, and then we just kinda stop there.
No. Make an effort to go through every single one and follow up with those people. Whether it’s a fellow blogger you had a good time meeting, or a brand you’d be interested in collaborating with. It’s now time to put the pedal to the metal and get in high gear and use all the information you absorbed to propel your blog or brand to the next level.
The next TBEX will be held in Thailand, the launch of the first ever event in Asia! And I’m 99% sure I’ll be there! I’m super excited to not only explore a new continent, but to do it in style. For those who can’t make Bangkok, Thailand, look out for the others in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida and Stockholm, Sweden.
Here’s some more pictures from that unforgettable weekend:
Hope to see you in Thailand! #TBEXBangkok