Why I’m not going to TBEX

May 10, 2013 in Career,Life,Philosophy,Travel

When I was traveling through Jordan, staying in five-star hotels and being shuttled around in a comfortable bus with Wifi and a row all to myself and watching the sunset over the Dead Sea from my balcony, I realized that seeing the best a country has to offer isn’t necessarily the best fit for me.

You're perfect to me street art in New York City

And just as much as I was excited about going to Jordan, I was just as thrilled to be returning back to my life and routine in New York City.

I realized I don’t want to be a full-time travel writer or professional travel blogger; I don’t want my travel to be solely confined to press trips and sponsored trips (although I certainly don’t mind one every once in a while!). Although Jordan was bursting to the seams with memorable experiences, brilliant people, beautiful landscapes and uncontrollable laughter, I cherish those unexpected, unpredictable moments that are found in curious days and unscheduled nights: learning how to make my favorite Thai salad perched on a motorbike in the streets of Chiang Mai, deciding to go paragliding over a German castle on a whim, a wrong turn that leads to a double-wide trailer instead of the hotel.

I want travel to be an escape, a treat and a retreat. I want to sleep in late or wake up to see the sunrise, to not feel pressured to update my social networks or check my email. Sometimes, I want to leave my camera or my iPhone behind: to have those moments that are blur of feelings that can’t be captured with a hashtag. I want the thrill of last-minute city breaks, hopping on a train or a plane with just a duffel bag and a good book.

186b3d8ea53b11e2844022000a1f9adf_7

I’ve created a life in New York that I really, truly love. I like buying flowers for my nightstand every week, roomie wine nights with movies set in the city, sunny Saturday afternoons sampling our way around Smorgasburg. I like when my Saturday nights go from playing pool at a dive bar to listening to live jazz to Sunday mornings of sipping lattes on a patio and going to a yoga class. I have the best kind of people here: friends from high school and college, sorority sisters and former roommates and sweet coworkers, someone who makes me laugh. I enjoy riding the subway, people watching in the park, looking up and seeing skyscrapers. I have a job that pays me to do what I love: reading pretty blogs, writing about photography and fashion, building relationships, planning parties.

Travel is still one of the driving factors of my life: it’s still what I plan my weekends around, the first priority in my discretionary spending. But other things are becoming more important to me too: my yoga practice (and the very big real goal of spending a month in India to get certified to teach), developing a personal style (sprinkled with accessories picked up around the globe), figuring out a lifestyle that creates the maximum amount of happiness.

Sunset from the Wiliamsburg Bridge in New York City

In less than a month, TBEX will be upon us: travel bloggers will be meeting the faces behind the Twitter handles and handing over media kits in hopes of a press trip and Instagramming and Facebooking every moment. I’ve been debating whether I should go: Toronto is a quick flight from NYC, there are plenty of people I’d love to meet (and even more who I’d like to see again) and those in-person connections are what lead to the best opportunities.

But when it comes down to it, it’s not the right fit for me anymore. I’d rather stay in New York and have a birthday picnic with all of my friends in the city. I have a big work event that week, and it’s important to me that it goes well. And, most significantly, I go to Iceland the week after–and that is the sort of travel that gets me utterly, truly, giddily excited. It’s with my best friend, not a group of strangers. It’s renting a campervan with no itinerary and no expectations: just the open road in a stunning brand-new country.

It’s a chance to travel exactly how I want, and to blog about it exactly how I want. I’m not a professional travel blogger, by any means, but I travel (and I do sun salutations, and I shop, and I wander around New York City for hours on end) and I write and I take photos. And right now, that’s exactly the life I want.

  • camorose

    Aw, thank you! Anytime you’re in NYC, look me up :)

  • Even though I completely understand your decision not to go to the conference, you will be missed. We will actually be in NYC for a day after TBEX with Scott’s parents. We should try to meet up, if possible!

  • LostInCheeseland

    Good on you! The travel blogger arena, much like the lifestyle or fashion blogger scenes in their own way, is rife with expectation, overlapping coverage and a one-size-fits-all model of exploring a new place. If your work becomes solely based on the last place you were shipped off to free-of-charge with luxury lodging, readers will drop off. I could tell you were happy when you were back packing and discovering the world on your own – it fits you!

  • Kristina

    Amen! And hey, your upcoming trip to Iceland sounds super exciting!!

    When are you coming back to Melbourne though?? :)

    Kristinahttp://le-fabuleux-destin-de.blogspot.com.au/

  • I can completely understand where you’re coming from on this. You are lucky that you have a full-time job that you love, AND that you’re able to still travel a lot and blog the way you want to.

    I, too, prefer to travel and blog “my way” – though it’s a bit tougher when you’re trying to fund all that travel solely by the blogging! I think I’ve found a good balance, though. I DO work with companies and sponsors, but they are mostly ones I reach out to on my own, after my travel plans have already been made. That way I get to set out the terms, and can still mostly do things the way I want!

  • Living in Sacramento, I’ve already had the chance to meet you. Whenever you come back here, we could meet again. So from that perspective, glad I’ve already checked it off the list. We are a small travel blog community here in Sacramento and even though you’re in NYC now, glad you’re a part of it :)

    As for TBEX, I am going this year but it may be my last one. I am growing tired of the travel blog conference. However, I will have an opportunity to meet people I have known online for years. That is my real motivation. After this year, we will see if I go again.

    Like you, I have a full time job. I take time off to travel and write. However, I will be as honest as I’ve ever been. There is a part of me that despises the group press trip. I went on one recently to Pittsburgh. And while there were 6 of us on the trip, I was the only blogger. Most wrote for newspapers, 2 international guys, and 1 for a guidebook. I am not against the press trip thing. However, I don’t want to do the same thing as everyone else. I want to do something unique, based on my travel interests so I am not writing about the same thing as a group of other people. Like you, I want to travel the way I want. I love working with CVBs when traveling. They are always helpful. However, the group press trips seem to turn me off a little. Maybe that’s just me.

  • I agree with you Amanda. I don’t like the big group press trips. A bit of a turn off for me. However, I love working with companies and CVBs when traveling! I just like to set it up my own way for my travel style and interests.

  • Oneika the Traveller

    Shaking my head in agreement with your post! Like you, I’m a serial expat (lived in France, Mexico, Hong Kong, and now London) who blogs and travels on my own terms. I documented my adventures worldwide on my blog before it became “a thing”, working full time at my job as a teacher and saving up money to go on my trips during school holidays. It wasn’t until I moved to London two years ago that I became aware of professional travel bloggers, press trips and sponsors. Since then, I’ve worked with a number of CVBs but because it’s usually within the context of a trip I’ve already planned and 90% of the sponsorships I get are things I am fully capable of paying for on my own. This means I’m able to maintain my objectivity when reviewing stuff, and I like it that way. I’m not made out to be a full time travel blogger — I’m horrible at social media and even worst at posting to deadlines. I write my blog for me and as a lovely consequence I’ve been able to inspire others with my travel adventures! Glad to know I’m not alone!

  • :) thank you for writing and sharing your experiences! :)

  • Your posts always come at the best time for me. While not trying to make any travel related decisions, I have been trying to choose a direction for my life, and realizing what I want and what is important to me are obviously really important to that. I want to have the life *I* want, not the life other people want for me, or think I should be living.

    And when I decided to come home early from my big trip to Ireland, it was because the way I had decided to travel wasn’t the way that was best for me…it was what I thought SHOULD be best for me.

    Also, that last picture of the sunset is incredible. 0_o

  • I can totally relate to this Christine. I’ve come to the same conclusion myself. I don’t want to do this full-time. I have a good full-time job with great benefits and I’m glad that I’m not dependent on press trips to fund my travels. However, I am going to TBEX, because the creative part of travel blogging is still very important to me and I figure my skills can always improve. I haven’t been to TBEX in 3 years, and it’ll be fun to catch up with my blogger friends in person. But I doubt I’ll ever be the person who goes to TBEX every year. I mean, that’s travel money and one of my limited weeks of vacation time each year that I could be spending in a destination of MY choice, you know? Anyway, more power to you. The beauty of having your own website is that you can do things any way you want. Not all travel bloggers have to do things the same way.

  • Perhaps one of the most honest travel posts…. ever. I used to do press trips a long time ago. While they can be nice, it’s nothing like the kind of travel experiences I’d actually seek out. The CVB itinerary would never include sites like underground warehouse parties or family dinners with local villagers! It’s in those random places you fall in love with traveling- not Yahoo’s top 5. Pay attention tourism boards!

  • jouljet

    Totally with you, not that I am at any point of scoring press trips. But doing what I want, when I want is what travel is about for me. I get antsy if I am trapped in a group, unless it’s part of a sport-watching event. Ha! And definitely could not imagine being happy with someone else’s schedule set for me!

    Great, real, post! Enough Summer in NYC!

    How long is your roadtrip in Iceland? Looking at adding that to some travel plans for next year!

  • I feel the same way, Jeremy!
    I feel that this may be the last TBEX I attend, though for me attending TBEX is an escape from the rainy Melbourne winter and a stop to catch up with old friend and make new ones before continuing on my travels. This year? Montreal, Boston, Italy and Iceland.

    The fact that part of my trip has been sponsored just means that the cash I have saved from the sponsored part of my journey is going towards another week of solo-travel or spending it on bigger ticket items which I may not have been able to do (ie: a fancier dinner, an extra tour, etc.)

    I don’t think all sponsored trips are -always- about positively biased writing (this is in reply to a comment above yours, not yours Jeremy!). I visited Vancouver as a visitor and am about to write a post about why I don’t get why Australian’s love the city and an honest review about a ’boutique’ property I stayed in which was anything but.

  • I really like this post. You’re so open and honest about what makes you happy – that’s exactly how life should be!

  • camorose

    This struck such a chord, Lindsey–thank you. I do love discovering the world on my own and also trying to make places more accessible for my readers–if only in a “wow, I never would have thought about visiting there” sort of way. And as much as I love travel, it’s really only a part of my lifestyle now–not my entire life. I think all bloggers can agree that we’re just trying to figure it out as we go along :)

  • camorose

    Oh my gosh don’t even talk to me about that–I still miss Melbourne like crazy, and it’s always a liiiiiittle bit on the horizon. We’ll see! :)

  • camorose

    I definitely respect the way you work with tourism boards, Amanda–I think we have the same approach in taking opportunities when they come and working to make partnerships benefit your existing plans and desires. Keep up the good work!

  • camorose

    As for TBEX and networking–absolutely. But I’ve been able to foster a lot of organic connections with other bloggers through my travels, whether that’s been in Chiang Mai or Sacramento, through Twitter or my blog or other bloggers.
    As for the group press trip–agreed. It’s a cool opportunity, but I think it makes more sense for the traditional media model than for a blog that’s based a lot on personality.

  • camorose

    Yes–definitely agree with that. I like to do things that I could pay for on my own–however, I do think I can provide the company a valuable service by offering a review, promoting on social media, giving a first-person account of the experience. It’s all about being authentic about what you’re doing and why–and when it comes down to it, it’s YOU who has to be comfortable with the partnerships you strike.

  • camorose

    Sometimes you have to listen to the signs, even when you don’t want to hear them–you’ve got to do what works best for YOU, not necessarily what has worked best for others. Good luck in figuring it all out!

  • camorose

    That last sentence–exactly, exactly. When it comes down to it, I’m the person who has to be comfortable with my decisions and my choices of what to do on this blog.

  • camorose

    I think the group press trip model works well with traditional media, but not for blogs that are based a lot on a particular person’s personality and interest. I do think the model will start shifting to reflect this–so many CVBs are interested in working with bloggers and social media influencers, and making it as authentic as possible.

  • camorose

    Exactly–I can’t handle waiting on people or having to adhere to other people’s schedules. I’m just not used to it!
    I’ll only be in Iceland for a week, but I can’t wait!

  • camorose

    Absolutely agree that sponsored posts don’t have to always ring positive–they need to be honest, above all else–but usually, I’m seeking out experiences that I want to do, and thus, it usually ends up being a pretty positive review. I always figure that the money I save by having an activity or accommodation be sponsored just goes toward more travel, or to the upkeep of this blog!

  • camorose

    Thanks, Emily! :)

  • eriksmithdotcom

    I’m going because it’s only a four hour drive from my home in Detroit and I get a chance to meet so many people whose work I admire. I’m never going to get a press trip, I still have days on my blog where I get less than 40 views. Like you, I have a good life, and while travel is a passion and an obsession, it’s in perspective for me. I consider myself lucky- I still get to travel the way I want, and that’s exactly how I intend to travel.

    Speaking selfishly, I’m disappointed only because I’ve admired your writing for a while and had hoped to meet you, but I understand and admire your reasons for not going.

  • ericakuschel

    Holy crap lady – you have hit the nail on the head. We’re not going either (can’t afford it) but we have also decided to settle back in Austin, a city I love. Right on sistah!

  • Nomadic Matt

    The problem is that too many bloggers only go on press trips. I’m a travel blogger and I go on maybe 2 a year. I pay for all my own travels. I want to travel my own way. Trips are a perk of what we do not what we do and if you can’t afford to travel without all those perks, you’re probably in the wrong field.

    I hear what you are saying but there’s more to travel blogging than the press trip fest that traps so many people. I don’t think it’s fair to say the whole industry is about that but I definitely agree too many people are all about that!

  • I’m totally with you on this one. I did go to TBEX in 2011 which was great, it was so nice to meet those people and some of them are definitely still friends rather than just other bloggers, but yea, I love my life in Sydney. And I think that what you’ve said about Jordan is probably why I haven’t tried harder to turn my travel writing into a career (and to be honest I haven’t been good at updating my blog either!). I am cautious of where I mix business and pleasure, which is also part of the reason that I didn’t choose copywriting as my career path in advertising. I write for other reasons, not to catch consumers attention and I travel because I want to truly experience the world. The more you plan your life around constantly going and going and press trips (and luxury) the less it feels like what I set out to do. That’s just me, of course, but I get you. :) Enjoy your weekend in NYC!

  • camorose

    You’ve definitely been a long-time reader of the blog, and I always appreciate your comments. If the timing had worked out differently, it would have been a possibility–I really do want to visit Toronto soon!–but things just didn’t quite pan out. Enjoy your time at TBEX!

  • camorose

    Thanks, lady! Have been LOVING all of your Austin pics–so many other places to go, but honestly, I’d be pretty thrilled to get back to Austin for a weekend this summer! Still one of my favorite American cities–many thanks to you two for showing me around! :)

  • camorose

    Yup, think we’re on the same page here. I like the freedom to travel my own way, and you don’t quite get that option on a traditional press trip. I was just really turned off by a few bloggers and writers who explicitly said that they wouldn’t travel to places unless it was comped–I don’t think that’s the majority, but I want to be very intentional in keeping travel as something that I enjoy and that’s not just work. Stay cool in NYC this weekend–sure I’ll see you around this city at some point!

  • camorose

    I think we’re totally on the same page, Annie! Keep living the life in Sydney–as fabulous as NYC is, I do miss those beach sunsets! xxx

  • Good for you, hun. I’m exactly the same. I love the freedom of being an expat and not being an expat. I love knowing that I can go anywhere when I want to and I don’t feel obligated to write about my travel experiences and keep to routines and schedules. :) Like Alyssa said below, a lot of these press trips that people write about end up being wayyyyy out of my budget so I usually stop reading blogs like that. I love something that feels a bit more personable and not sponsored.

  • camorose

    It’s all about finding a balance, but I’m pretty happy with where things are right now :)

  • BWRick

    You two were definitely missed!

  • BWRick

    You are 100% spot on with your post Christine. There are no rules in new media. You are free to write whatever you want whenever you want and your blog is your castle.

    Just know that while TBEX is definitely there for bloggers who are or want to work full time as digital content creators, it is there for bloggers like you too.

    There are no rules that say you have to attend any sessions, meetings or press trips.

    TBEX is whatever you decide to make it and you will always be welcome at TBEX.

  • camorose

    Thanks, Rick! The timing just didn’t quite work out this time, but I definitely the networking would have been fantastic!

  • Just discovered your blog, Christine. Love this post and couldn’t agree more with your definition of travel.

  • camorose

    Thanks, Lily! Glad you can relate :)

  • Natalia

    It is so nice and refreshing to read pieces like this. Sometimes travel blogging just takes the fun out of travel.

  • camorose

    Truth.

  • Wandering Carol

    Sometimes the hardest thing for a travel writer to do is to stay home. Nice post.

  • camorose

    Thank you! It is hard, but living someplace as dynamic as NYC makes it a lot easier :)

  • Totally agree with you. I’ll be damned if my blog ever turns into the over-commercialized crap that populates the web these days. There are so many blogs that I used to really love, and avoid like the plague because it’s turned into a platform for fake bullshit. Pardon my french.

  • camorose

    You have to find what you love and just own it :)

  • Christine, I just discovered your blog and I’m so glad I did! This post was so refreshing!
    I’m relatively new to blogging and already I feel the pressure that comes with posting regularly and keeping up with social media. This was a helpful reminder to take a pause every now and then and do things simply because they make me happy…in the end it will make me a better person and a better blogger!

  • camorose

    Oh thanks Sarah! I’m so glad you found my blog and that it’s inspiring to you! :)

  • Great point you have there, Christine! I just found out yesterday that there is such an event as TBEX and it’s happening in Manila (my hometown) next week. Too bad the ticket prices have gone way up since it’s already considered as ‘last minute’ tickets, so I’m trying to figure out if this event is for me.
    Kinda want to attend, though, since it’s not all the time that TBEX is near me.

Previous post:

Next post: