I've just returned from one of the most memorable trips I've ever taken. The destination: Ireland. Surprised? Well, it wasn't just a trip. For the first time since I started this blog nine months ago, I convened with fellow travel bloggers.
Convened is an understatement. I spent five days with a group of twenty bloggers on a tour across the northwest of Ireland, courtesy of Failte Ireland and Discover Ireland. Next, I joined over 600 bloggers, writers, editors and travel industry reps at TBEX, the world's largest travel blogger conference.
Looking back, I'm having trouble finding the words to describe what I experienced during this week. Meeting so many likeminded people who share my burning passion for travel resulted in a tsunami of inspiration, knowledge, excitement and positive energy. My head is still spinning with all of these new impressions and inputs.
Perhaps the biggest joy was a product of being able to commiserate over the struggles that I've experienced the last nine months. What struggles, you ask? Let me elaborate.
To most of my friends and the people around me, I've been on a never-ending holiday, enjoying myself in some the world's most paradisiacal places. If you look at my stories and pictures, it's easy to see how one would come to this conclusion.
What the palm trees and immaculate beaches fail to convey is that I was also going through an intense struggle while learning all the nuances of running a blog: writing effectively in a foreign language, mastering basic photography techniques, creating videos, using social media, and perhaps the biggest pain, figuring out how to put it all together in a way that is fun to read.
Then there is the mental aspect of running a blog. That little voice that pops up in your head at times, making you question yourself: do people really care about what I write? Am I good at this? Is this just some silly endeavor that I'm undertaking that will fizzle out in a few months? Why is no one commenting on my posts?
Being able to share all this with others bloggers was a great relief. Talking to someone who understands what you're talking about is always nice, and I now know that every blogger is going through the same thing. Phew...ok, so it's not just me!
Here are a few pictures of some of the bloggers I've made friends with (pictures by me and Tammy Burns)
I made so many new friends and met so many amazing people that it would be impossible to mention them all, but I would like to take the opportunity to say "thanks" to a few:
*Steve (aka backpacker Steve) for showing me how to create cool videos
*Christa (aka The Fairytale Traveller) for all the communication and networking lessons (and for being so bad-ass; this woman's life really is on steroids)
*Paul from Global Help Swap for...uhm... just being awesome
To give you a little insight into what TBEX looks like, here's a video of the opening party at the Guinness Storehouse, courtesy of Failte Ireland.