A Little Community…Travel and Blogging Collide in NYC for #TBEX

Sitting down on the stained cement curb or worn bench overlooking a market is one of my favorite places to hang out in a foreign country – and not because I like the burning scent of urine that floats up from below, unwelcome but eternally present, or even necessarily the view of the market, busy and often a touch exotic – it’s because of the person who invariably sits down right next to me and strikes up a conversation as we jointly slurp down sticky and dripping bags of chili-powdered mango strips.

Manhattan Skyline at Sunset, NYC

Manhattan at sunset from the Staten Island Ferry

That’s where my stories are born, and those are my most vivid and happy memories. Similarly then it’s the people I met this past weekend at a travel bloggers conference in New York City that stick out the most – more than the panel discussions that were noticeably light on content is the memorable collage of faces, stories and experiences of others on similar paths around the world.

SEO Panel Discussion at TBEX

SEO and Monetization Panel at TBEX

What I learned is that within our own families and social circles most of us travelers are anomalies. We are often the odd ones out – choosing more modest lifestyles to save up and then spend those precious earnings sleeping in cheap rooms that make us wish that the word “dirty” adequately summed up what it’s like to see bugs on the floor, mold in the crevices and a sad, limp mattress, naturally sheetless, drooping in the corner.

I am so happy that I was able to attend the Travel Blog Exchange conference this year, dubbed TBEX (by the travel community on Twitter) and actually meet the faces behind the other blogs that I follow. These other travelers continually inspire my own travels – their words and photos often fueling my next off-the-cuff and rapid travel decisions.

Without further ado, the people I met at TBEX and fun experiences we shared:

Andy Hayes and I were able to spend a whole day gabbing about SEO and future plans as we walked the quirky Roosevelt Island – an almost anti-traveler’s destination in the city, we both couldn’t help but enjoy the surprisingly good music from a guitar player hiding himself in the bushes near a foot-path as he sang to himself and strummed his guitar; he wasn’t busking and soliciting tips, just enjoying the peaceful little island looking out over Manhattan. Thanks Andy, look forward to our planned joint ventures!

Shouting over the painfully loud music at the equally painfully trendy Ace Hotel I met Amanda (The Lost Girls)– though I choked a little on paying for the $9 beer, I stayed am was so glad to see that Amanda is equally as sweet in person as our emails. I dare-say an inadvertent late-night confession session means we’re BFFs now, no?! ;-)

Friends eating Japanese food at Otafuku in NYC

Gary, Bessie, Jodi, Kyle, Audrey and me! (Dan's behind the camera taking this lovely pic)

Jodi (Legal Nomads) was one of those unexpected finds – I didn’t know she was coming to TBEX…nor that she was such a foodie! Along with Dan and Audrey (Uncornered Market), Gary (Everything, Everywhere), and Kyle and Bessie (On Our Own Path) Jodi showed us how to eat our way through New York City – my favorite foodie experience was stealing away with this group to Otafuku  for street-side Japanese barbecue topped cabbage pancakes so hot and fresh the plate burned my lap and we filled that hour with jokes and stories.

Rounding out the weekend was an impromptu Chipolte lunch with Dave and Deb (The Planet D), Trisha (Travel Writers Exchange) and Margo (Travel Belles). Each have personalities completely matching and exceeding their online friendliness. So glad that I had the extra few days in NYC to meet up for poutine and french fries with Dave and Deb, Melanie (Travels with Two) and several others at Pomme Frites – another recommendation from Jodi that exceeded my expectation for a french fry restaurant…sweet mango chutney mayonnaise, who knew it was so good?!

There were so many other travel bloggers I met and loved (Craig/Stay Adventurous, Steph/20-Something Travels, and Dave/Go Backpacking) – their stories each unique, some in the middle of their RTWs, others weekend and family travelers, but all with tales that had me horrified and grossed out (thanks for the toe-nail story Jodi) falling out of my chair with laughter and itching to get back out on the road.

Thanks for the sense of community TBEX-ers as I hit the road again but now know so many of you are out there too! :-)

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23 Responses to A Little Community…Travel and Blogging Collide in NYC for #TBEX

  1. DavenDeb July 11, 2010 at 2:37 pm #

    We totally loved meeting everyone in NYC and it was awesome to spend some extra time chatting with you! What an amazing woman you are. I wish we had the whole week there to spend some extra time with everyone, but looking forward to the next meet up with some of our favorite bloggers and friends from online. Great post Shannon.

    • ShannonOD July 13, 2010 at 8:02 pm #

      Thank you so much Deb :-) Not sure when we will meet again but definitely
      hoping that the next time we share a beer it's done settling into the corner
      of a cool pub in another corner of the world :-)

  2. SoloFriendly July 8, 2010 at 3:06 pm #

    I love reading these stories. The best part about that weekend were the connections we all made with others and the stories we now share. I'm so sorry I didn't meet you, Shannon. I can't believe how many people I didn't.

    • ShannonOD July 10, 2010 at 1:43 am #

      I was also just a bit overwhlemed by just how people there were to
      meet in such a short time! We'll have to make sure we cross paths next
      year if you're at TBEX11 :) thanks for stopping in!

  3. Andy Hayes July 8, 2010 at 12:29 am #

    Shannon, our secret adventure to Roosevelt Island was stellar (despite the heat)! It is always great to spend time with you in person (we gab enough as it is online), so really looking forward to the next time.

    • ShannonOD July 10, 2010 at 1:43 am #

      Thanks Andy, was sad that we didn't meet up that last time but an
      Asian adventure sounds like a decent compromise :)

  4. Melanie@TravelsWithtwo July 7, 2010 at 11:24 pm #

    Shannon, I loved meeting you in New York, too! I'd share pesto mayo with you anytime, anywhere. :)

    It's so funny how a conference highlights a world within a world, isn't it? You nailed it perfectly — as travel bloggers, most of us are truly the black sheep of worlds from which we've come, but which we now only visit.

    As you gear up for Bali, it's got to be nice to know that a whole extended family is looking out for you — and really gets the journey.

    • ShannonOD July 10, 2010 at 1:43 am #

      You're so spot on, that's really what I took away from TBEX was the
      feelin that we are all out there together floating around and I loved
      that nearly everyone had some Bali tips or a person to talk to once I
      get there :)

  5. Nomadic Chick July 7, 2010 at 10:46 pm #

    I loved how you personalized each encounter, gave me a sense of who each blogger is. :)

    • ShannonOD July 10, 2010 at 1:43 am #

      Thanks Jeannie! Hoping that I can write up our own meet up at some
      point if our paths happen to cross while you're on your RTW :) I'll be
      on Asia for a good while!

  6. margowrites July 7, 2010 at 8:28 pm #

    Anomalies in a good way – I think you've nailed it. Loved, loved, loved meeting you too, Shannon! I look forward to our paths crossing again someday :)

    • ShannonOD July 10, 2010 at 1:43 am #

      I hope so too Margo! It was wonderful to meet you and share some
      wanderings around NYC :)

  7. Michael (ArtofBackpacking.com) July 7, 2010 at 8:31 pm #

    TBEX was awesome. Took a week to recover from all the drinking though! It was nice meeting you. You going next year?

    • ShannonOD July 10, 2010 at 1:43 am #

      Was so fun to meet you Mike! I bought a ticket for next year just in
      case I can make it, but it's a big maybe right now. You going?

      • Michael (ArtofBackpacking.com) July 10, 2010 at 4:46 am #

        I got the ticket as well but I have no idea where I'll be. Likely coming out of Asia. Hope to see you there!

  8. adventurerob July 7, 2010 at 3:09 pm #

    Wow, from what I've seen on other peoples blogs you've seem to done the most networking :-) Good work!

    • ShannonOD July 10, 2010 at 1:43 am #

      Thanks Rob! There were still tons that I wasn't able to meet – TBEX
      was surprisingly huge! :)

  9. Kyle Crum July 7, 2010 at 2:43 pm #

    I keep saying that the TBEX weekend was a weekend around “normal” people (i.e. people like us), where people didn't mind when you couldn't come up with a decent answer for “Where do you live?”.

    Hopefully, we'll see each other in some far-flung destination in the future!

    • ShannonOD July 10, 2010 at 1:43 am #

      If you guys are headed back to Asia at some point then I am sure our
      paths will cross :) thinking a Bangkok reunion is in order at some
      point?!

  10. Stephanie July 7, 2010 at 12:21 pm #

    Jodi was really spreading that toenail story around, wasn't she….

    It was awesome to meet you as well and to connect with so many internet friends on a more personal level. Particularly for me, just starting my RTW travels, it was great to pick everyone's brains!

    • ShannonOD July 10, 2010 at 1:43 am #

      How gross was the toenail story?! Love that it turned out to be her
      TBEX story thouh and looking forward to hearing yours as you head out
      his fall!! Seems like it's just creeping up steadily :)

  11. Audrey July 7, 2010 at 5:51 am #

    TBEX feels so long ago, doesn't it?? I'm with you on the best foodie moment being at Otafuku with all of you – great Japanese food and company. And, it is nice to be amongst other anomalies with great travel stories for a weekend :)

    • ShannonOD July 10, 2010 at 1:43 am #

      It really does seem like Tbex was ages ago but I still have some nice
      warm and fuzzies going on from meeting everyone :)

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