When I first decided to go to TravelCon in Austin Texas last year, I was overwhelmed with emotion. Primarily, I was excited, but I was also nervous about meeting so many of my favorite bloggers, scared that I was out of my league content-wise, and anxious about having to network. That conference was my first foray into a deeper Travel Blogging culture and it’s safe to say that attending that first TravelCon changed my life in a big way. The conference led me to meet people who’ve since turned into real friends, and I was inspired to make some changes that helped me grow my blog as a business.
Because of how I felt about TravelCon the first time around, I didn’t hesitate to book my ticket for the Boston edition of the conference. It was a no-brainer. But, as was ought to happen, TravelCon in Boston felt much different than it did in Austin.
For starters, I already knew a ton of people when I walked into the conference and, perhaps because of that, I used the time as a way to catch up with people I already knew rather than network with others. Secondly, I knew what to expect the second time around — in Austin, every day was a bright and shiny new experience but, in Boston, I kinda had the experience figured out. Instead of trying to cram absolutely every event into the three days, I slowed my pace a little. I only went to what I knew I would get the most out of, and, with this mindset, I even slept through the second night party (gasp!).
Also, as a city, the vibe in Boston is much different than Austin. From the moment I stepped of the plane in Austin, I knew I was in my zone, with my people. The culture there was right up my alley, and I found myself just as in love with the place as I did with the conference. In Boston, however, I didn’t quite feel the same way. A part of this is because I had already been to Boston once before in 2015, and had already crossed the major Bostonian bucket list items off my list. Another aspect to this is that I just don’t jive with Boston — it’s a beautiful city with a lot of great elements to it, but Boston and I are not kindred spirits.
Don’t get me wrong, I still greatly enjoyed my time at TravelCon this year, it was just very different. That said, I have already purchased my ticket for TravelCon 2020 in New Orleans. To say I’m excited about visiting Nawlins is an understatement, and I have VERY high expectations that I’m certain will be met.
So, without much further ado, here’s my recap of TravelCon 2019 in Boston, Massachusetts!
TravelCon 2019: A Recap
This year, the Keynote speakers at TravelCon were Cheryl Strayed of “Wild” and “Dear Sugar” fame, Mark Manson, author of “The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*CK”, Kiersten Rich of The Blonde Abroad, Tahir Shah, an author, journalist, and documentary filmmaker, and Tony Wheeler, the creator of Lonely Planet.
I have to say that the Keynotes were my favorite part of the conference this year. Every single one of the speakers was incredibly unique, had an interesting story to tell, and was able to deliver the information in a concise way. Yet, while they were all great, my favorite was Tahir Shah.
Tahir is a storyteller, and when he got up on stage that’s exactly what he did. He told us stories of growing up with a dad who duped him into believing that Morocco was actually Afghanistan, he told us stories of giving his Moroccan house an exorcism after townspeople told him it was full of Genies, and he blanketed all his stories under the theme of Afghani folklore. After his talk, I heard people say how they didn’t love his angle; that they didn’t think his keynote was actionable or that it provided business-building information. But when I heard Tahir speak, I thought exactly the opposite.
Tahir has built a career through storytelling, and that’s exactly what I aspire to. Hearing him speak, all I could think was how much I admire his style and aspire to include more of that in my own work. Of all the keynotes, his was perhaps the most unorthodox, but it impacted me the most.
Now down to the nitty-gritty — the content. The content is everything that I took away from the breakout sessions, both what I was able to attend in person and what I’ve since watched online through the Virtual Pass.
On this, I think it’s important to mention that I really took the time to figure out which sessions I wanted to go to in person. Last year, I mainly chose the sessions based on who was leading them (aka my favorite bloggers), but this time, I wanted to really learn and advance my blog.
So, with that said, I felt as though a lot of the content this year was geared towards beginners. The sessions I went to were about concepts that I was definitely interested in improving, yet contained information that I’ve already grasped and am past knowledge-wise. Going forward, I’d hope to see more intermediate and advanced sessions for those really looking to take their business to the next level.
As with last year, for such a new conference, I thought TravelCon Boston was a well-organized event and if there were any hangups with it, the organizers didn’t let it show. From the timeliness to the location to the speakers, the event came across as a well-oiled machine.
I’m looking forward to see how it all comes together next year.
As mentioned above, I only went to the first night party and the last night party this year, but both of them delivered. I’m talking open bars (for the first few hours anyway), dancefloors, and a travel blogging community that is looking to boogie. Plus, the locations of each of the party spots were in good areas of town and easy enough to get to.
The only thing that struck me odd was about the parties was they opened the last night venue spot up to the public. They have mentioned they’re not going to do this next year however, so we’re all on the same page.
As far as value for money goes, I felt that, even though I got the attendee discount of $299 USD this year, TravelCon Austin was more educational and valuable. I will admit that my thoughts towards this have more to do with how I chose to go about networking and which sessions I attended, but from an objective viewpoint, I got more out of Austin. The energy was greater in Austin, and as a result, I felt I got more bang for my buck.
Overall, TravelCon is a great travel blogging event to attend. With the right attitude, you’ll meet tons of people, learn a bunch about the travel industry, and hopefully get some perspective on how to advance your business. If you’re planning to attend TravelCon 2020 in New Orleans, my advice is to say yes to every opportunity, go to the talks you’re most inspired by, and don’t be shy to give your business card to as many people as possible. Keep your mind and options open and you’ll have the time of your life.
Just remember to find me and say hi!