A Newbie Heads to TBEX 2013-Toronto

Jun 2013
I’d been giddy with anticipation about my upcoming trip to Toronto. Attending my first blogging conference – TBEX {the travel bloggers exchange}-has been on my wish since I originally heard about the event, so when I surprisingly won a ticket from author Tim Leffel, I had to put my plans into action. Although you know I am all about the travel experience, the thought of attending ANYTHING with 1200 people I don’t know, even though I’ve met quite a few on line, makes the pit of my stomach feel like it’s on a fast spinning merry go round.
Scenes from TBEX and photos of Jodi Ettenberg, Mariellen Ward and Trey Ratcliff

The opportunities of the event were incredible, and the attendees and speakers represent a who’s who of the new media travel industry. The real ROCK STARS. Three days of travel experiences from Tourism Toronto, photography tips from the professionals and the chance to hear and learn from bloggers I’ve admired and followed on line and have given me inspiration in so many different ways. Combine that with the chance to engage and pitch brands you’d like to establish relationships with {hmmm… another one of those things in my wheel house!} and as you can see, I had a head spinning weekend ahead. I was thrilled to have the good fortune to meet Jodi Ettenberg from Legal Nomads, Mariellen Ward from Breathe Dream Go, and keynote speaker Trey Ratcliff of Stuck In Customs. The list goes on and on, but these three were on the top of my radar. In addition, the break out sessions had information on content, building community, tricks of the trade and monetization. For a first timer, it threatened information overload.

As I sat in seat 15A, getting ready to land, I thought, WHAT HAVE I GOTTEN MYSELF INTO! Just as my anxiety was reaching new heights, there was a bit of commotion on the plane. The man in front of me was trying to fill out his customs card and didn’t speak a word of English. His frustration level was intense. The woman next to me just happened to be a Mandarin speaker and lots of laughing erupted. It reminded me of the cross cultural experience and why I love travel so much, why I’m following the advice I always give my kids, to step out of my comfort zone. WAY OUT..
I took a deep breath and reminisced about the 80’s when i found myself living in Toronto with my soon to be husband, and discovering all the free events the city had to offer. I’m anxious to see how it’s changed since the days I was an artist in residence at Harbourfront, and a big night out was to attend gallery openings with complimentary wine and cheese. The international flavor of the city captured my heart then, and although I’ve been back a few times for sporting and family events, this time I plan on exploring like the traveller I am, getting into the nooks and crannies and soaking up a whole lot of blogging inspiration from some of the best in the business.
If you’d like to see more of this great city and hear about highlights of the conference-Come along for the ride!