From its humble beginnings in 2009, the annual Travel Blog Exchange, or “TBEX” Conference has grown to become the world’s largest travel blog conference, and now draws attendees from far-away places including Great Britain and New Zealand. Originally hosted in Chicago, the conference has also been held in New York City, Copenhagen and Vancouver. This year’s North American conference was held in Keystone, Colorado, and Southwest sponsored the conference for the second time.
TBEX is a diverse network of travel bloggers and authors. Some attendees write casually for their personal blog, sharing what they encounter as they travel with close family or friends. Others write columns for online travel sites like Gadling or Huffington Post. A few TBEX members have even gone on to be sponsored by National Geographic or are starring on television shows.
Within travel blogging, the list of topics is as equally diverse as the group of writers. Some are specialists who write about a particular destination. Others focus on experiencing the variety of local food & drinks. You will also meet some who write on fashion and luxury travel. One particularly interesting niche includes the travelers who go to help a worthy cause, such as Passports With Purpose. In 2010, PwP collected nearly $65,000 to build 25 homes in a small village in Southern India. In 2011, $90,000 was raised to build two libraries in Zambia. For this year, the goal is to raise $100,000 to build 5 wells for two earthquake-ravaged communities in Haiti. Donations can be made on their website.
Apart from the snowy mountain slopes during the winter, Keystone has much to offer those who are visiting for adventure or purely to relax. Mountain bikers can take their bikes to the top of the mountain via ski lift and cruise down dusty trails. Fly fishermen can cast their line for Rainbow Trout, and food lovers can enjoy fine dining with locally-produced beers and wines. Keystone, Colorado is less than two hours from the Denver International Airport – and once you get used to the high altitude, you’ll want to stay a while.