tales from a tbex first timer

theromanticSince we landed on Sunday night, I’ve been contemplating how best to recap this past weekend at TBEX and for the past day or so, I was coming up blank. If you attended in person or followed the hashtag on twitter, I think you probably got a pretty good sense of how happy everyone was, and if you didn’t… then you’re probably not into a full second by second recap of what went down, right?

What I can say is this: it was so, so, SO much different than I expected, and in all the best ways.

First thing’s first–Colorado, you’re the prettiest:


Per the hubs, our view from the opening night party looked straight out of a Pixar movie.

So, how was TBEX different?

People were normal.

This doesn’t seem like it should have been a surprise, seeing as I willingly committed myself (and the hubs, who deserves a big thank you) to a weekend in the wild west with a bunch of strangers. But I started to get a little panicky last week that maybe everyone was going to be really weird? Or like, really competitive and guarded and not helpful to the travel blogging newbie? Or everyone would be besties and I’d be the awkward redhead apologizing to the hubs for dragging him out to the middle of nowhere only to be shunned by an entire community of people I’ve never met before? What if there was a sweat lodge?? I’m not a conference person, I don’t know what happens at these things.

Then we got there and everyone was welcoming and warm and friendly and supportive, and everyone–literally, everyone–we chatted with had a story to tell and wanted to hear ours, too.

Travel blogging is a baby business.

TBEX is three years old. It’s not even a kindergartner. It would be daydreaming about all the things to come during its first year at Hogwarts (…too far?). All of the things I expected to learn–the ultimate how-to’s, the secret guide to success, all the answers on how to make millions on three blog posts–don’t really exist. Everyone is learning together, and even the best of the best don’t really have any definitive answers on how to move forward. The biggest thing I noticed was HUGE discrepancies between each session. SEO is important! No it’s not, creativity is important! It’s every man for himself out there! No, you should join hands with other bloggers and storm the gates of all the brands you want to work with! There is literally no secret, and everyone is just testing the waters and trying things out to see what works best for them, their brand, and their readers. Lucky you, you bunches and bunches of guinea pigs.

 Change is good.

Ok, this one I expected. I mean, why else plan to spend three days with a bunch of people talking about your blog if you don’t want feedback on your site and advice on how to improve? I am, however, surprised by the changes we should focus on. I fully expected my lessons to focus on blogging platforms and SEO and site layout and boring stuff… but it wasn’t just that. There’s so much more that we need to perfect before we worry about long words like optimization. I mean, what? The wino and I had a Very Important Meeting today (via FaceTime) (are you so jealous of our lives?) and you may notice a few tweaks here and there. If you notice and you like, tell us. We want feedback!

And seriously, if you haven’t been to Colorado or the last time you were there you were 10 and don’t really remember much (see: me), then plan a trip.

More details on the rest of our weekend excursion to come!



the romantic



  1. June 19, 2012 / 23:18

    Well said, lazy. It sums up well many of my feelings/experiences in the conference. The best was meeting (most) of the people I met!

    • June 20, 2012 / 09:27

      the hubs and i both agreed that meeting everyone was the best part of the weekend! also like your inclusion of (most) in there 😉

  2. GQ
    June 20, 2012 / 00:25

    Ah sounds like a great experience. We’re so bum we didn’t get to make it. It would have been so much fun to finally put the Tweets to the faces. 😉

    • June 20, 2012 / 09:27

      someone else pointed out to me that this just means we’ll have to meet up somewhere else in the world. i vote somewhere tropical.

  3. June 20, 2012 / 07:12

    Many of the things you mentioned are my own fears with heading to TBEX. Would I fit in? Would I be deemed “worthy” to attend etc etc. Sounds like you had a great time, and have eased some of my fears of going next year…and I will be there!

    • June 20, 2012 / 09:28

      i really can’t recommend it enough, and i wasn’t sure i would come out on the other side feeling that way. we’re sad we can’t make it to costa brava!

  4. June 20, 2012 / 10:47

    Hear! Hear! My hat’s off to the Hubs, too. Great and accurate summary. Here’s to storming the gates together. 🙂

  5. June 20, 2012 / 15:01

    your insights still ring true…although I tend to think the people are not normal, but special. It is amazing how much world knowledge walked the halls at Keystone. It was great to learn and share with everyone.

    stay adventurous, Craig

    • June 20, 2012 / 15:21

      totally agree with that. someone we chatted with said that they loved feeling like they could talk about past trips without sounding pretentious or like they were bragging, and we felt the same.

  6. June 20, 2012 / 17:27

    So bummed that we missed you at TBEX. We had a blast and would have loved to chat with you. Let’s meet up somewhere around the globe!

    • June 20, 2012 / 17:33

      i know, so disappointed we didn’t get to see you either but we approve of plan b!

  7. June 20, 2012 / 18:24

    Since I wasn’t able to attend, I enjoyed reading about your time at #tbex. It’s interesting what you said about the “baby” stage and the conflicting information you heard. I guess it all depends on what a given blogger’s goals are. Nice recap!

    • June 20, 2012 / 23:04

      it totally does depend on each blogger, but all in a good way! i felt like it was more motivational–i left feeling like we’re doing a lot of things right, even if there’s plenty of room to grow.

  8. June 21, 2012 / 13:25

    one of the best things to have come out of me blogging & now attending TBEX is meeting the people behind the writing personas. we really do all have a lot in common & i love being in a community of people that enjoy many of the same pleasures in life that i do. i always say the world is a wonderful place & it’s the people that make the places & sights all the more special.

  9. June 22, 2012 / 11:04

    I really hope I can make it to TBEX next year! Also, Colorado is on my list and your pictures further confirmed that I need to visit there ASAP!

  10. June 22, 2012 / 13:51

    I also had a minor little bout of panic a few days before leaving that no one would talk to me, but agree that everyone was wonderful and so willingly helpful! Enjoyed your recap. 🙂

    • June 22, 2012 / 14:17

      i know, it was so intimidating at first! it was a nice surprise that almost everyone was so great 🙂

  11. June 22, 2012 / 19:23

    Glad to hear everyone in the blogging community was welcoming. I am not surprised. I have met a few face-to-face and corresponded for years with others on twitter and everyone seems really laid back and cool in the community.

    • June 22, 2012 / 22:20

      yes, such a relief that everyone we met is completely how they appear via twitter/their blogs. still couldn’t help but be a little nervous!

  12. travelrinserepeat
    June 22, 2012 / 20:51

    Great wrap up of the conference! Still so much to do…

    Also, I’ve never heard Colorado described as ‘straight out of a Pixar movie,’ but I like it!

  13. June 23, 2012 / 00:34

    I love your recap, as everything you said rang true for me. It was my first TBEX and I was so worried about going, since I consider myself a travel blogging newbie (I actually just wrote a blog post expressing some of these very sentiments a few days ago). But like you said, everyone (and I mean EVERYONE) was super friendly, helpful, and just all-round wonderful. Deciding to attend despite my fears was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made in my professional life, and you can be certain I’ll be back next year, and the year after that…

    I don’t think we met there (the days are a bit of a blur!), so if not, we should definitely try to meet next year, when we’ll be the experienced Jr. Kindergarten kids. 🙂 I’d love to hear your thoughts in-person on Year 2.

    • June 23, 2012 / 10:40

      i love hearing that other people were feeling anxious, too, and i love hearing even more that we were all proven wrong. we’ll definitely have to meet next year! it’s a date.

  14. Francesca
    June 23, 2012 / 10:00

    So glad you enjoyed the conference! Gotta love learning experiences, especially ones that take place with a group of friendly, helpful, like-minded folks, in one of the most beautiful places in the world.

    PS – Pity party alert: I’m even sadder now that my TBEX plans were scrapped at the last minute. Wish I could have been there.

    • June 23, 2012 / 10:42

      i’m sad we didn’t get to meet, but luckily it doesn’t seem like tbex is slowing down anytime soon! we’re throwing our own pity party that we can’t get to costa brava. xo!

  15. Ms. Boice
    June 25, 2012 / 01:35

    Love your recap. I only stumbled on TBEX via twitter and started following madly that weekend what everyone was posting. Am looking forward to hearing where it will be in 2013 and am determined to be there.

    • June 25, 2012 / 07:52

      can’t recommend it enough. excited to find out where 2013 will be!

    • July 5, 2012 / 10:08

      we wish! unfortunately we don’t have the time right now, but trust me, i was trying to figure out any way possible to get us there 🙂 you’ll have an amazing time!!

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