I Got My 1st Tattoo Ever at the Annual TBEX Circus in Girona this year.

I’m not exactly a travel blogger. I’m a traveler at times, and when I travel I usually blog. Mostly, I’ve blogged as nothing more than a hobby and personal creative outlet. Though I’ve done my share of traveling (been to 30+ countries, but who’s counting?) and hope to keep at it, I always end up back home near my family in Los Angeles, and not surprisingly, back in Spain, lately Barcelona. Who says avid travelers don’t have roots? Or perhaps some places truly are more enchanting than others.

While I was intensely drawn to go to TBEX, I was also hesitant. I wasn’t really sure it was for me. What is most interesting, is that I learned about TBEX from my latest job working as a docent in Barcelona— where I essentially tell engaging stories and share useful information to tourists for a living. Exactly what travel bloggers do virtually.

Ultimately, attending TBEX made a lot of sense.  And it forced me to think about “going pro” as Amy Porterfield put it in her presentation, and taking all this blogging business much more seriously. I’m still not sure who my audience is, what all my objectives are, or how I can make any income from this effort, but I’m certain some of these things will work themselves out as I carve out my own niche. That said, for me, TBEX was informative, well-organized and fun.

Now where did that whole tattoo idea come from? On my way to TBEX, I joked with my friend, Cristina Slattery, another conference attendee and travel writer, that by Sunday we’d surely walk away as proud card-carrying members of the TBEX Club. Either that or that we’d both come back with freshly inked TBEX tattoos after a weekend holiday of tremendous learning, with only slight moments of debauchery.

Steps at Plaza Sant Domenec

The folks #inCostaBrava certainly do know how to throw an incredible party— I will never forget that decadently catered opening event at the castle on Thursday night—a gourmet and magical feast. Unfortunately, despite coming home relatively early, I still missed Friday’s keynote speech. Luckily, Peter Shankman was on the on the same bus I was on going home, and I think he might have been practicing some of his material on us! And, I just thought it was wonderful that Chris Guillebeau quoted John Mayer at one point in his closing speech.

Remember this? I had this memorized and knew exactly where to find the cheese & risotto.
Lily Heise & me at the River Cafe Bar

The River Cafe Bar was memorable, too. That sizeable, albeit cutre night club that we managed to fill up was a tad less so, however. Stages are meant to be danced on dammit! And that reenactment of the Napoleonic Battles of 1809 on Saturday night was a bizarre treat. Oh, Girona, you are a rare find and we love you!

Prep for Napoleonic Battle Reenactment 1809

So, I fibbed in the title. No tattoo for me. Besides, tattoos aren’t really my thing. But, who doesn’t love the circus? (Plus, it sounds just like “conference” and is much more interesting, isn’t it?) TBEX drew in an eccentric and colorful cast of characters this year, like any good circus should. I was proud to be a part of it. And I think everyone was pleased with the turnout.

I walked away with a handful of new friends, an even bigger handful of potential professional contacts, some new insights on social media and the travel industry today, and a better overall understanding of how I may or may not fit into and thrive in the travel blogging world. I think Cristina walked away with much of the same, as well as knowing more about herself as a writer, not a blogger necessarily, but armed with more information about the distinction between the two.

Final thoughts? Travel writers, keep writing and get techy. Bloggers, keep blogging and get literary. What I mean to say is we can all learn from each other. If you need to learn more about blogging and the internet, do so. If you need to improve your writing, consciously work on it. (I could certainly use an editor!) The travel and tourism industry is dynamic and it’s great that so many organizations supported TBEX this year. And that TBEX and its organizers brought us all together. That´s empowering.

Be unique, find your voice, learn to take better pictures and remember, SEO rules the virtual world. Signing off and definitely looking forward to TBEX 2013 in Toronto.

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