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    Takeaways from TBEX

    Shortly after I sat down to draft this post on Monday night, a rather controversial article came out from the more-vocal-than-usual Adventurous Kate. She speaks about the Travel Blog Exchange being “unethical and irresponsible” – Very different from the TBEX that I know. I must say it was a little bit disheartening to read immediately following my own attendance and participation, but the organization’s representatives responded thoughtfully & well. I took a few days to process it all (probably longer than I should have, quite honestly) and ultimately decided that it left a really bad taste in my mouth. The way that she describes the organization is so vastly different than my experience with them, and I think that many others bloggers would agree they feel the same way. It’s also led me to take a very different angle on this post than I was initially going to.

    Kate’s piece has me wanting to voice two things to keep in mind:

    The first is that controversy (unfortunately) always sells.

    The second is that if you’ve been considering attending TBEX Zimbabwe and are having second thoughts about it after reading that post, DON’T. I encourage you not to let a single person’s perception of an organization skew your view of the entire thing and dissuade you from attending what I found to be an informative event full of progressive and compassionate people.

    Allow me to walk you through my own account…

    Over the course of 4 days, I had the privilege of picking the brains of industry professionals; the editors of Lonely Planet, Coastal Living, and GONomad for starters! I rubbed elbows with some of the world’s notable travel writers and influencers; Don George, Samantha Brown, and Bruce Poon Tip of G Adventures.

    I got to have dinner under rockets at the U.S Space + Rocket Center and connect with likeminded travelers and media professionals. How many people can say that?! I was able to visit a {seemingly} small Southern city that I probably wouldn’t have gone out of my way to otherwise, and I ended up loving it after learning about its’ role in aeronautics and witnessing firsthand its’ charm.

    I sat among individuals of all different levels within the travel media industry, from the blogger starting out to the seasoned journalist who’s “made it”. Together, we attended breakout sessions about SEO, found out how to use Pinterest to increase our online traffic, and discussed turning our greatest passions into paychecks.

    I learned that 2017 is the year of International Sustainable Tourism, signed a pledge to #TravelBetter moving forward, and completed a training about responsible travel and the role it plays in the betterment of the world.

     To me, attending this conference was not only a massive step forward in legitimizing my blog, but also opened my eyes to how we, as travelers, possess the manpower to change the world as we know it and be an absolute force for good.

    THAT’S what I took away from my weekend in Rocket City, and people ought to know.

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