There was no hesitation when I clicked the mouse to purchase my Early Bird ticket to TravelCon. At the time of the click, this past February, I was on a night shift at the hotel I was working at – not exactly where I wanted to be at 3 am. Not to mention, after quitting my job at Warner Music and living like a drifter in Europe, not exactly where I thought my life would be at 26. I clicked not knowing where I was going to be living come the conference in September or what airport I would be flying out of. I clicked just knowing that it was right.
I purchased my ticket to TravelCon two and a half years into being a blogger. Sure, I had figured some stuff out on my own – how to build a website, SEO, affiliate marketing, basic photography, etc, but I wanted more. I wanted to know what the rest of the travel community was doing. I wanted to meet them, learn from them, be inspired by them. Furthermore, I was so effing excited that I would be doing this is Austin, Texas. The live music capital of the world.
So, to be honest, this post is a little all over the place. It’s about Austin, it’s about music, and it’s about blogging. But during my time at TravelCon, the stars freaking aligned, folks.
7 Things I Learned in Austin, Texas
Everything Really is Bigger in Texas
Okay, so maybe I mean this metaphorically. OR, maybe I mean this exactly the way it sounds in regards to that giant plate of fried chicken I stuffed my face with at Gus’s Fried Chicken. Well, both are true, so let’s dissect the former.
Everything is bigger in Texas. Everything is bigger when traveling. Traveling makes everything brighter. The experiences had when traveling are magnified, out of touch with those had at home. Everything is sparkly, and everything is an opportunity. Within minutes of being in Austin, I went to Verizon Wireless to get a SIM card and ended up chatting with the service guy about everything Texas and Canada, about where he has travelled, and where he was going next. When I’m at home, I hate to say it, but i’m way less receptive to people.
I mean, this isn’t exactly a revelation, but it’s why I was drawn to TravelCon in the first place. Everyone who went to TravelCon was a traveler — most being travel bloggers, or in the travel industry somehow. I wanted to surround myself by people who make a living out of chasing that shiny feeling and by telling stories that make people light up.
Another thing that’s pretty big — The Texas State Capitol.
Austinians Take Their Music Seriously
Austinians? Austinites? Dunno.
It didn’t take me long to find out that everything I’d heard about Austin and music was true. Although, what else would you expect from the Live Music Capital of the World? If you’re looking for music in Austin, no matter what time of day, you’ll find it. Even if it’s in the form of playing a Stevie Ray Vaughan song on your phone at 5 am in front of his statue by the river. Cause you can totally do that, and nobody will judge you in Austin.
But seriously, if music is what you aim for in Austin, you will be able to find it in every way, shape, and form.
Not Everybody Can, or Should, Support Your Every Move
I have to say, I am extremely lucky in this regard. My family supported my decision to move to Toronto to work in the music industry, and they supported many interesting housing and creative decisions. But when I told them that I was leaving my life behind to solo travel long-term in Europe, they held their collective breath. And honestly, that’s all I could really ask for.
So many of us get caught up in the idea that if everyone in your life isn’t skipping along side you thinking you can do no wrong then they’re not supporting you, but that’s not what family is all there for. As it was so eloquently put in one of Nomadic Matt’s speeches, your family isn’t there to support your every life decision; they’re there to keep you from living under a bridge.
I mean like, yeah.
Austin is Just As Weird as They Say
Although there really is nothing quite like it, the easiest way I can describe Austin, Texas is to liken it to Venice Beach, Kensington Market, or Camden Town. It’s filled with weirdo’s living their lives the way they want to; just doing their own thing. It’s somewhere you can go if you want to find quirky shops filled with junk-turned-treasure, or jam out to rockabilly at 2pm on a Wednesday, or watch murals and art be made.
It’s also where you can head down to East Sixth Street – West, East, or Dirty – and dance to 90’s hip-hop songs being played by a keyboardist and drummer in a Cowboy Bar at 2 am.
What Being on the Right Path Feels Like
When I boarded the plane in Calgary that was going to take me to Texas, I had no idea what to expect. I had never been to the city before, and this was the inaugural TravelCon. I had no friends going, and so I was more or less a solo agent. That said, I was shocked at how easy it was for me to amalgamate. I made a friend within minutes of being in Austin, and I joined a BBQ/Taco/Beer crawl of 20 other people within an hour. I met other people at my hostel who were going to the conference, and while I was at the conference, I made a million friends as easily as sitting down at a table and then having someone come up and say hi.
Not to mention, I made so many business connections, and every piece of information given to me in the seminars I understood and felt inspired by. Everything was easy, and I was exactly where I should’ve been. Now, I’m not saying that success doesn’t come without hard work, because holy hell does it ever. But does hard work always have to be a struggle?
Read More: Honoring The Spirit of Gram Parsons at Joshua Tree Inn & Motel
Travel Bloggers are Really Fun Travel Buddies
Maybe it’s because we all have similar travel styles, or maybe it’s because we all know how to craft a good time that will turn into a story, but I have to say, meeting the people I did at TravelCon made my time there so incredibly special. When hanging around other bloggers, it wasn’t weird to suddenly stop for a photo shoot, or to record ourselves talking into our phones to post later on Insta Stories. It wasn’t weird to seize the moment and say yes to going back to a hotel room at 2 am for a swim in the pool when we knew we had to be up early the next day.
As they say in Ireland, everyone was in it for the craic. And the photos.
Finding a Voice in Blogging Is Everything
As bloggers, we’re constantly told to not reinvent the wheel. That’s not to say don’t be innovative, but stick to what’s tried and true in terms of setting up a blog, dealing with tourism companies, and delivering creative. However, the one thing above all that will make bloggers successful, is to be authentic. Be personable. Be yourself. People want to see your personality, they want to be your friend. How else are you going to make anybody want to read your blog? They want to see the up’s and the down’s of travel. They want your specific perspective.
Now, this isn’t exactly a revelation, but, for example, for so long I heard from other bloggers not to visit Southeast Asia. Chiang Mai is where digital nomads to go, and every nook and cranny of the area has been covered in depth 1000 times over. But then, during a panel session, someone said something that summed up how I really felt about the situation. They said that yes, there is no more “finding a hidden gem” in Thailand, but so what? Only you can tell your story in your voice, and with your unique perspective. Don’t refrain from telling the stories you want to because you’re afraid that you’ll be judged. Someone will always have been to, and will have written about, a country before you. Just do you.
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