Every travel blogger should attend TBEX, and believe me, I never thought I’d be saying that about a travel conference. I had no clue what TBEX was until this past April when I was hit with a mean case of writer’s block. I turned to social media for some inspiration, and while swiping through my Twitter feed, I came across a post on upcoming travel blogging conferences from a favourite follower of mine, Laura (@GrassrootsNomad). I read through the various options, double-checked my calendar and settled on TBEX (Travel Blog Exchange), the largest networking conference for travel bloggers, online travel journalists, media creators and travel brands. With some encouragement from Laura, I snagged a conference ticket, booked a flight, and busied myself, preparing for what was to be the best gift I could have ever given myself as a blogger and business owner.

Now, because TBEX was such a multidimensional experience, and I want to share everything with you, I’m going to break my posts into a five-part series over the course of a week. I’ll be introducing you to my new favourite bloggers, showing you around Minneapolis/St. Paul, preparing you for your first speed-networking interviews, and providing you with as many tips as I can so you can get the most out of this great conference.

What is TBEX?

Travel Blog Exchange is a conference that occurs three times a year across three continents; Asia, North America and Europe, they’re not simultaneous, so if you’ve got the time and the dollars, you can attend all three! Official activities such as keynote speeches, information sessions, and speed-networking lasts three days, however, there are tours, activities and fam trips bloggers can participate in before and after the official conference.


Here is why I love the culture of this conference and why I think every travel blogger should attend TBEX:

Not All Travel Conferences Are Equal 

should attend tbex
Bloggers from left to right: Lauren MacLean, Amanda Folk, Jesse Anderson, me, Baker Manning & Stephanie DeRosa

I have to be honest, travel industry conferences were really not my thing.  Over the course of a ten year career as a travel consultant, I’ve been subjected to my fair share of debaucherous, cult-like, booze infused, hype-fests. Swimming in a pool of sales-hungry sharks, hundreds of voices chanting corporate mantras in robotic unison, it wasn’t for me and I never felt like I fit in. My first TBEX experience could not have been further from my previous experiences. No cultish behaviour, no cut-throat competition, no right way to do things, but rather, a group of fun-loving, travel savvy, business owners. I feel that every travel blogger should attend TBEX because it provides the opportunity to become part of an authentic community of experts, each one eager to share knowledge and ideas, offer support, and make the world a better place by, one travel tale at a time.

Travel Bloggers Are a Community Like No Other

should attend tbex
Dining with Context Travel and these fabulous human beings, Donna & Jeff Baker of savoryroad.com

I’m going to throw on my anthropology hat for a moment. Travel bloggers represent one of the most eclectic online communities anywhere. They’re all ages, varying socioeconomic backgrounds, ethnicities, nationalities, religions, each with their own set of niche interests. But with all this diversity, they are bound by one a single passion; seeing the world while encouraging others to do the same. Travel is an intangible thing. It’s conceptual, emotional, and experiential, and it can be hard to explain to someone who isn’t interested in travel, why you can’t live without it. Travel bloggers speak their own language, they’re storytellers and they are dedicated to helping their audience see the world, one incredible experience at a time. If you ask me, that’s pretty extraordinary.

There’s More than One Right Way to Run Your Blog

should attend tbex
Keynote Speaker lawyer-turned-Disney expert Lou Mongello encouraged TBEX’ers to stay true to who we are, don’t be afraid to fail, and follow our passions

We all know there’s no one secret to travel blogging success, it depends on your audience, your brand and what works for you. For me, I had a litany of questions about how to make my travel blog more prominent. I wanted it to reach further, inspire more, yes, make me money, and after listening to inspiring keynote speeches, when the conference came to a close, I had at least 50 ideas I could pluck from to kick my blog into high gear. Every travel blogger should attend TBEX if what they’re doing isn’t working – Bring an open mind and prepare to be rewarded.

Travel Brands Love Bloggers

Admittedly, I’ve always thought travel brands relied almost solely on traditional forms of marketing and blogger partnerships were a distant second or third. I learned that several of my favourite travel brands see travel bloggers as the future of travel marketing and are eager to tap into our knowledge as important resource. You will have the opportunity to formally meet these travel brands during speed-networking (more on that later), and informally during opening/closing parties and around the conference. If you’ve always wanted to form a partnership with your favourite travel, you should attend TBEX to learn how.

TBEX Takes You to Cool Places

should attend tbex
Cathedral of Saint Paul, dedicated to Paul the Apostle

I just spent five action-packed days in Minneapolis, Minnesota and loved every moment of it (more on that later). But let’s be honest St. Paul Minnesota has never been on my radar, and now, thanks to TBEX, I can’t stop talking about midwestern history, food, culture and the soul of this beautiful state, its people. TBEX’ers are heading to Manila and Stockholm this year, and Rocket City Huntsville Alabama next year. If traveling to locales you’ve never considered, you should definitely attend TBEX.

If I’ve piqued your interest, you’ll want to follow my five-part series on TBEX this week! I’ll be introducing you to my new favourite bloggers, showing you around Minneapolis/St. Paul, preparing you for your first speed-networking experience, and providing you with as many tips as I can so you can get the most out of this great conference.



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