After 13 hours and four flights including a mechanical delay and an unplanned diversion to Austin, I’m finally home. Home from where? The Travel Blog Exchange, otherwise known as TBEX.
TBEX 2010 was a convention for over 250 travel writers, held at NYU’s Cantor Film Center in New York City. Southwest was a sponsor for the event, and I was asked to attend as our representative. I must admit this was an honor I relished greatly! As an airline insider, I was excited to meet many of our Customers as well as others who also work in the travel industry. Including Southwest, there were Employees from five different airlines at TBEX. I was also eager to learn more about travel writing, which has always been a “dream job” of mine. But who am I kidding, wouldn’t everyone like to travel for a living? Even as a grade-school student, I would hammer out vacation stories on the family typewriter (yes, an actual typewriter!) when we returned from places like England, Scotland, and the Bahamas. Thanks to my father, who worked for SWA in my youth, it was at an early age that my love for travel was cultivated--and it became the air I breathe.
During the two-day conference, I learned that travel writing is about so much more than going somewhere and reporting what you did. Your writing should tell a story, complete with an arc and characters. The best travel stories are from when things don’t go according to plan. The story should be verbose. For example rather than saying “It was a sunny day at the beach” you should say “I napped beneath a towering palm tree with a salty breeze cooling my skin, listening to gentle waves lick the sugary sand.” It involves all of the senses and gives your reader the feeling of being there. Photography is an integral tool in conveying a place to your readers.
I learned about different types of travel bloggers. Some are the type who are invited by hotels, resorts and restaurants to review their product. Others blog about their jobs within the travel industry, and the travelers they meet, offering tips on how to make your travel experience better. Finally, there is the type who call themselves nomads. Nomads are independent travelers who roam the world, immersing themselves in a place and its culture. Some nomads live life one day at a time in hostels, hitchhiking or “couch surfing.” Other nomads live in a city or region for weeks or months at a time. I chatted with a fascinating woman who left her job as a lawyer in New York, and she has been traveling since 2008! Her experiences have been incredible to read. Travel like this takes a huge leap of faith, and extreme personal confidence. It is not for everyone, but I find it so appealing. Above all else I learned at TBEX, I learned a more personal lesson of self realization: I want to write about travel too.