I’d been in Lisbon for several days and was loving it. I was staying at a charming hostel, had eaten some delicious food, and was really getting to know the city.
But I had to fly to Italy in two days. Italy is one of my favorite countries, so normally, that wouldn’t sound like a burden — I mean, have you ever eaten GELATO? — but this time, it did. I wasn’t going (strictly) for pleasure, I was going for biznasss, to attend the Travel Blogger Destination: Italy conference.
And I didn’t want to go.
Just two weeks prior, I’d gone to Dublin to attend TBEX, a massive bi-annual travel bloggers conference. I’d had a great experience there, meeting lots of fellow bloggers and talking to a number of potential sponsors.
So I’d already done my schmoozing, my “networking,” blah blah blah. Plus, I was really digging my alone time exploring these streets. Wouldn’t you?
(BTW, I took a grand total of four photos in Italy. FOUR. And none of them have anything to do with the conference. Scroll down to see the other three gems.)
I hadn’t even planned on going to this conference.
I was planning on spending more time in Portugal and Spain when I was contacted by Emma, the lovely organizer of TBDI. Apparently I had an excitement blackout when she said the words “Italy” and “free accommodation,” because the next thing I knew I’d purchased a flight to the conference.
It was only later, in the midst of my torrid love affair with Lisbon, that I discovered I would be missing the entire first day of the conference, when most of the talks were occurring.
Remember that excitement blackout? Well…
While distracted by thoughts of pizza and raviolis, I had booked my flights on the wrong day.
Don’t let any travel blogger tell you they don’t make rookie mistakes: they do. Changing them was super expensive, so that wasn’t an option.
All things considered, I had a fair case not to go. I, after all, am not one to be afraid of travel failure.
I don’t know whether it was my duty-filled Japanese half (you said you would! don’t let “them” down!), or my cheapskate Jewish half (free lodging! non-refundable flights!), but go I did.
And, as I’m sure you can all guess, I’m glad.
How much I enjoyed this conference was the biggest surprise of my entire time in Europe.
It was a million times smaller and less-organized than TBEX, but that’s what I liked about it. It felt personal and real — less about the conference, and more about the people involved. Not that I have anything against TBEX (it was a blast!), but despite missing 98% of the speakers, I actually enjoyed TBDI more.
Maybe it was the abundance of pasta and cheese, or let’s be honest: wine, but I had a wonderful time.
I think it was because I had more opportunities to make genuine connections with people. There were less people there, and thus, more time to chat with them. And because of that,
I met a whole slew of inspirational peeps making the most out of their lives.
I learned something from each of them, and I truly hope I’ll have the opportunity to meet up with them again somewhere in the world.
I can’t believe I ever thought about skipping TBDI. My experience was a good reminder to take advantage of the opportunities that come your way, whether you feel like it or not. As travelers, we’re already more apt to do this — but after a while, maybe we get burnt out, or stop actively trying. So it doesn’t hurt to hear it again:
Don’t forget to say yes.
To getting out of bed early to see something amazing. To doing something that scares the shit out of you.
To going to a conference even though you’ll miss half of it.
Some of your experience are going to be major failures (um, yeah), but some are going to surprise you in the best of ways.
What’s one thing you’ve said yes to recently? Are you glad you did?
Thanks and hugs to…
The organizers of TBDI for all their hard work!
The people who made my time at TBDI so fun. They’re all incredibly talented storytellers, filmmakers, and photographers — and I highly recommend whittling away your afternoon getting lost in their sites. (Far more productive than Buzzfeed, I promise.) They’re sure to inspire you:
Adam from Travels of Adam
Ayngelina from Bacon is Magic
Brendon from Nerd Travels
Daniel from Canvas of Light
DJ from Dream Euro Trip
Ellen from Miss Ellen Miller
Emma from Brindisi Is My Destination
Eric, Josh, and Josh from Matador Network
Jo from Indiana Jo
Kate from Adventurous Kate
Kelley from TripFilms
Krista from Alla Fiorentina
Liz from Young Adventuress
Laurence from Finding the Universe
Melvin from Traveldudes
Michael from Go See Write
Nienke from The Travel Tester
Peter from My Next Amazing Trip
Wisaal from Wiscellaneous