I’m presently hanging out at Dublin airport reflecting on my first travel blog conference experience. Appropriately the view outside of the floor to ceiling glass windows is all green: grass, trees and a fleet of Aer Lingus planes. The land of Guinness, leprechauns and lucky four-leaf clovers has really turned on the charm for me this October.
It’s not all about beer and mischievous little green men though; Dublin is a charismatic European city, brimming with stories, interesting old buildings and arts-based culture: poetry, writing, dance and song.
A refreshing difference from other sport-obsessed regions of the world. In fact, Dublin is one of only a few dubbed a UNESCO City of Literature.
Also, surely there must be an accolade for this being one of the happiest places in the world; or at least something that recognises the Irish as hysterically funny? Everything is a joke here − but in a good, laugh-your-ar$e-off kind of way. The people are what have made this trip for me, and honestly, I’m sad to leave.
I was here for the huge international TBEX travel blogging and media conference, and met an array of people from all around the world (although had the most fun with the Irish locals).
The flight from London set the tone of the trip, as I made one new friend – an English expat living in South Africa – a really interesting, enlightened woman named Patti.
She thought she might be boring me by discussing her psychic abilities, international flair, and understanding of the ‘Universe’, but no, I assured her we were obviously meant to be in seats next to each other.
She was excited to be meeting up with a new love – an Irish friend who after many years had turned into something more. She said he’s the funniest person she knows, which as I discovered seems to be a trait the Irish are born with.
The moment I walked out of the airport I was greeted with good humour. As I sought the correct coach line to wait in for a transfer to the city, I presented one driver with my e-ticket:
“Hi, I’m AirCoach,” I smiled, enquiring whether he was indeed with the company I’d booked with. He replied without a beat, “Hi I’m Graham, give me a hug!” It only worked because of his Irish charm and ‘favourite uncle’ persona, and it was indeed funny, so I thanked him for the kind welcome to Dublin.
He directed me to the correct line and as I wandered off, called out, “Miss you already.” How could I not feel welcome?
The opening night of TBEX was a blast.
Awesome drummers set the mood as we entered the famous Guinness Storehouse for a tour, food and of course, beverage sampling. My drink of the night was called a Black Velvet – a delectable mix of Extra Stout and Prosecco.
The days of TBEX learning and networking flew by, and it was a dream for this nerd girl from Australia to have the opportunity to meet and talk to the world’s most innovative travel and tech editors, journalists, bloggers, entrepreneurs and innovators.
The best part of the experience for me was to be able to meet and mingle with people I aspire to work with and/or be like. It’s a real buzz, and I’d encourage all of you to take an opportunity to attend an international conference covering topics of interest to you.
There’s nothing like stepping out of your comfort zone and experiencing something like this. I’m a little shy but decided before I attended that I’d make the most of it, so I took a chance, introduced myself to new people, chatted, swapped business cards; I think I may even have scored a couple of friends and work leads. Trust me, if I can do it, you can too!
The TBEX team along with the Irish sponsors have to be congratulated on the outstanding job they did hosting, educating and inspiring all of us.
Most inspiring from the TBEX event (aside from Dublin itself) was probably Dan and Audrey from Uncornered Market speaking about their passion for travel and how they have turned it into a business. They ran a beautiful exercise with us as a group.
Close your eyes. Think of the first travel experience that meant something to you. Think about it, savour it, remember it; what was it that you loved? How did it make you feel?
I was 19 or so, when my brother and I made the big (for us, anyway) journey across the pond on our own from Australia to America and Canada. It was to be five challenging, scary, amazing, beautiful weeks. In fact, the best of my life to that point.
I kept a diary of the experience, and to this day it remains the one article I’d save in a fire.
I’d not considered it before, but it’s not even the contents of the diary that I’d want to retain, more the memento of how I felt on and after that trip. I discovered a passion for travel and adventure. I finally got to realise the big world my parents always talked about; I felt enlightened, empowered, inspired.
As much as that was the single most important venture of my younger life, I didn’t have an opportunity to embark on another real life-changing travel adventure for ten years.
Things happen for a reason though, and travel later in life is where ‘life’ has really begun for me.
Dan and Audrey’s #closeyoureyes exercise actually brought a tear to my eye. What do you think of when you consider your first travel experience?
They described the “transformational power of travel” – how it changes us, but also has the capacity to change lives for the people in places we visit.
I love this description because there’s so much truth in it.
Travel Ireland – add to your bucket-list
Take a look at the video above to see where our Dublin Bus tour took us on a beautiful sunny day out in Ireland (hint: castles, mountains and coast)!
During TBEX we were introduced to the new must-do Ireland attraction: The Wild Atlantic Way, 2500km of coastline dotted with beaches, harbours, headlands and stunning viewing points – an exhilarating drive along the absolute edge of Western Europe. Need more encouragement? Check out ireland.com/wildatlanticway.