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Why I’m not going to TBEX

Why I’m not going to TBEX

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.

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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.

  • just keep going and being yourself! i love the courage you have, the way you just do what you feel is best for you.

  • Happy for you πŸ™‚ I feel similarly when people try to call me a “travel blogger” just as I did when they called me a “food blogger.”

  • I’m totally with you. This is why I don’t go to travel blog conferences and shows. I’m not really interested in press trips and there are so many other great writing/new media festivals available that focus solely on the that, which is where I’d like to better myself.

  • Fiona

    Good for you – travel for its own sake. You get a whole other, unpackaged view of a country if you go alone – and different from every else’s. I love the fact that you’ve struck an independent path instead of “following the flock”.

  • I appreciate this post a lot – As much as I love my current nomadic life I painfully miss my exercise schedule and sunday morning brunches.

    My biggest struggle is where do I want to stay and create that life again – until I figure that question out… I keep wandering. Travel will always be central to my lifestyle, but I do miss the community and events that come with a home base.

  • kmmunoz

    I really liked and appreciated this. Sometimes while reading other travel blogs, I get the sense that they’re doing things for the purpose of writing about it later, and not experiencing as much. I also recently just moved back to NYC and it’s refreshing to hear from someone who values travel as much as I do, but also having a life. I planned to only stick around for a few months, but now I know I’m here longer-term, and it’s nice to not feel guilty about it. πŸ™‚ So basically, THANKS!

  • gillamiester

    love ya babe. great post

  • Great post! I struggle with the decision to mix travel with work/profession. My soul needs travel, but I fear that if it becomes work, I will strip the very source what’s nurturing my soul! The flip side is, if you do what you love, you never work a day in your life. But I can totally relate to wanting to leave the cameras and Internet tether behind and just enjoy the moment and the place!

  • I don’t go to TBEX, because I loathe conferences. I think it’s great that you’ve decided this for yourself and you’re putting it out there. Must feel very freeing!

  • Perfect! I think you have made the right choice. We decided to pull out of TBEX too. For very similar reasons. I want to stay home too. I have so much I need and want to accomplish and TBEX is just another distraction. Plus it is way too far and expensive for us to come. I’d love to see many of our online friends but it’s just not possible.

    We really dislike press trips too and while I really appreciate them we no longer want to go on them. It’s not our preferred style of travel and we want to do our own thing. We are planning a family road trip around Oz instead–our time, our schedule. It’s going to be lovely. Although we’ll still be doing the travel blogging thing.

    New York sounds magical Christine.

  • I had the same internal debate last year for TBEX / TBU in Europe. I have never been to any Travel Bloggers Conference and was really looking forward to all the networking… but then my improvised plans of going to China for a week happened – and I preferred to do the travel for love (when, where and with whom I want) than to do it for work. I spent the entire week in China without a phone and a laptop but with my favorite people on Earth.

    It was totally worth it!

  • PhilaTravelGirl

    What a great place to be in your life and writing. I’ve just started writing and going to TBEX to see what it’s all about but already have people tell me I should have ads, should get others to pay and it doesn’t seem right- I travel to experience the world on my own terms, glad to hear others do too.

  • “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.”

    I need another one of those types of trips soon.

  • You need a media kit for TBEX?! Haha.. I don’t know that I have the will power for that. LOL. Slightly sad we won’t be seeing you, but so glad to have met you in NYC in person! I love this post and your reasons behind not going is honest and truly inspiring. Well written as always. Jealous you’ll be campervaning with no itinerary in Iceland, tho. πŸ™‚

  • this is absolutely 100% the same feelings that i have. im so glad im not in a boat all by myself. πŸ™‚ mine all started last year when i was on a sponsored trip…and i was like ‘ew….this is so not for me’. sure, stayed in nice sponsored hotels is nice, but not really my thing at this point in my life (maybe when im like 50). sure, having super fine dining experiences on someone else’s dime is nice…but im equally as content with taco bell, and the people that read my blog know i dont spend $100 on food, so its a bit stupid of me to write like i would. and i dont always enjoy my experiences enough to write about it. so by traveling on my dime, i can choose what i write about and not write about. and i have no pressure of blogging about it by a certain deadline. πŸ™‚ and NO 7am wakeup calls! haha!

    im really happy to know im not the only one out there who just blogs for the pure enjoyment and not to make a living out of it. its so refreshing to hear it. there are too many blogs out there that i cant get an honest feel of a location from because literally ALL of their ‘trips’ are sponsored or paid for. and when they write about it, they write as if they were sponsored and there is little honesty behind the stories. i know not every place is 100% perfect and i like to hear about its upsides and downsides…but no one ever writes about the downsides except bloggers who arent continuously sponsored on every trip they go to.

    anyways, good luck with traveling and your job…and you wont be seeing me at tbex either obviously πŸ˜‰ πŸ˜‰

  • Love this! I’ve never been on a press trip but I know it’s not for me, at least not full-time. I prefer to travel for travel’s sake and as much as I’d love to go to TBEX to finally meet some people, I really don’t want to surround myself in the industry — I enjoy writing my blog for fun, not for press trips or as a business. Plus I find updating social media just for my own sake hard enough when I’m on holiday, never mind if it was required work!

  • πŸ™‚ I only once tried writing a travel blog and I have to say I admire you – it takes so much time and energy. What I can, at least partially relate to is the feeling of ‘wanting my routine back’. Ever since I left home for college (even a year before that) I’ve spent most of my summers visiting various places and travelling a lot – mostly Italy and France. As much as I LOVED it I also like the ”September feeling” when summer’s over and when I need to go back to college and my routine. I always feel exhausted at the end of summer and really rarely ”cry” because I need to restart studying but rather welcome it πŸ™‚ it’s the ”steady, calm” life … such as this Saturday afternoon – after having lunch I’m having this pause, reading your blog, drinking coffee, planning going to the gym in the afternoon and looking furiously at the article I’ve been translating and which has to be done by Tuesday πŸ˜€ I’m glad you’re ‘in control’ with your life and I’m so glad to read that you like where you are at the moment -it’s the best feeling ever πŸ™‚ bisous de Croatie πŸ™‚

  • Aw I wanted to see you! But I’ll be in the city again sometime this summer I’m sure.
    Good for you on doing what makes you happy though.

  • This is exactly where I have been for the last few months. I almost bailed on TBEX for the same reasons you mentioned — and because I didn’t feel like I got much out of it last year — but it ended up working out to combine it with a trip to visit Scott’s family. There are a few people I wanted to meet up with there, but for the most part, the professional travel blogging lifestyle is a big turn off for me, including the conferences and press trips. I did a semi-sponsored trip to Europe the past two weeks and it was on my own schedule and I realized how much I really miss that type of traveling. Having a home base I love, a regular exercise routine and a great group of friends is one of the most important things in my life right now.

  • Definitely think it’s important to do what you want – and not just do what’s available and what’s “expected.” NYC is a great place to spend a summer so I’m sure you’re making a good choice πŸ™‚

  • This Battered Suitcase

    I totally agree with this, even though I am going to TBEX this year. I’m only going to meet other travellers, to be honest. Like you, I have never been after the sponsored trips, never wanted to be chained to my computer or my phone or my camera. I travel because I love it, and I write about it because I want to. I think we are very similar in many ways – though we won’t be meeting at TBEX, I hope we meet somewhere else!

  • purplekat99

    I totally am in the same boat, which is why I have never been to a blogging conference. I would like to go someday, but only if it’s like super convenient, and so far, none have been.

  • Cat of Sunshine and Siestas

    I’ve been just to TBU (which was a quick, cheap flight from my home base) and found it to be a great event for meeting others, for seeing a new city and for getting help to questions I had about self-hosting (my new site went live literally right in the middle of the weekend). I opted out of the blog trips afterwards, but am going on my first trip this weekend. Rather than inviting bloggers, the city tourism board of Calpe, Spain have invited socia media and marketing experts, and since I’m completing a master’s in PR and online marketing, I’m way more excited about meeting other professionals than I am about the windsurf lessons. You make a lot of great points!

  • I’m so happy to read this. I’m a travel blog reader (not writer), many of the blogs I used to love I cannot stand to read anymore because they only do press trips. That is not the kind of travel that the majority of readers can do or afford! It’s quite silly actually.

  • I do wish you were going to TBEX, though, because I’d love the chance to meet you! I’m a huge fan of your blog and have nominated you for a few awards! You can read about and accept them here:
    http://thetraveluster.com/2013/05/07/more-blogging-awards/

  • camorose

    Thank you–always easier said than done πŸ™‚

  • camorose

    Haha yes–totally get what you mean!

  • camorose

    All about finding the right fits for you πŸ™‚

  • camorose

    Thank you! It’s all about eeking out a path, a little bit at a time πŸ™‚

  • camorose

    NYC is a pretty awesome place to have a base–there’s constantly new things to try out and plenty of travelers in town. And JFK is a great international hub! Probably the best “home base” for travelers πŸ™‚

  • camorose

    Aw, thank YOU for the sweet comment! Trying really hard to enjoy NYC as much as possible because I don’t know how long I’ll be here–although, as I’m sure you know, it’s a pretty easy place to get sucked into!

  • camorose

    #babyyoudabest

  • camorose

    I’m lucky enough to have a job that I love AND this crazy little hobby with travel and blogging! Best of both worlds–but totally get what you mean. I thought for a while I wanted to freelance write and travel full-time, and after doing it for a bit, I realized it’s just not the best fit for me.

  • camorose

    Yes! Just wasn’t quite the right fit for me in terms of conferences.

  • camorose

    Thanks, Caz! I won’t lie–Sydney is still super tempting to me as a home base. The only thing NYC lacks is a great beach πŸ™‚ I’m still super open to working with tourism boards, etc. but I think I just want to make my style of travel the priority so that I can stay true to what makes the most sense for me as a person, a traveler and a blogger.

  • camorose

    Love. That.

  • camorose

    Everyone has to figure out their own path and their own style–just stay true to what you think is best for YOU and your blog. That’s what matters most!

  • camorose

    Yes! I’m SO looking forward to it.

  • camorose

    Thanks, Kieu! Feel free to come back and visit NYC any time πŸ™‚

  • camorose

    Thank you! So glad that you were able to relate. It’s all about finding a balance, but I definitely want to keep this blog as something that I really enjoy–not something that is a source of stress.

  • camorose

    Exactly! I also feel like I’ve been able to develop plenty of great online-offline travel friendships organically–by being in the same place or traveling to where they live, etc. I think I’d be overwhelmed if I was surrounded by everyone at once!

  • Everyone I speak with tells me that the older you get, the more those really close friendships mean (& the fewer of them there are).

  • camorose

    Yes, exactly–I like that I have a life where I can have afternoons of drinking tea and reading magazines and watching a movie and not feel guilty about it! Thanks, as always, for being such a loyal reader!

  • camorose

    Yes–you and Steph need to get back up to the city! Gelato crawl, perhaps?

  • camorose

    So nice that you were able to combine it with another trip! I was considering it, but I’ve had a few things come up with work and such–and it just didn’t feel like I’d really enjoy if it it was too forced. Feeling very content with my decision to stay in NYC! if you’re ever in the city, though–we should catch up!

  • camorose

    Yes–I swear, NYC is the best “home base” for a traveler. So much to do and so many people to meet!

  • camorose

    Yes–I think we would get along splendidly! Come by NYC soon πŸ™‚

  • camorose

    Fair enough–totally, totally understand πŸ™‚

  • camorose

    You definitely will learn a lot –I definitely was able to pick up a lot of best practices by chatting with the other bloggers on the trip!

  • camorose

    Totally, totally get that. I feel like it’s hard to trust bloggers and their opinion when everything is always comped–no matter how much they say it doesn’t affect their opinions.