TBEX 2011, the annual travel blogger conference, came to a close on Sunday, ending several days of seminars, sightseeing and happy hours in Vancouver.
Like many of the 600-odd attendees, I approached TBEX as a networking opportunity. I met bloggers that I follow online, discovered new blogs and shared experiences and tips with my colleagues.
Scroll down for the social highlights of TBEX 2011. For different perspectives on the conference, click on the article links at the end of this post.
Most Scandalous Event
The Men of TBEX party capped off a happy hour-packed Saturday. Each of the twelve participants displayed a unique style– and willingness to disrobe for the cameras.
The party doubled as a photo shoot, allowing attendees to gawk at the travel hunks. Lonely Planet’s Robert Reid (Reidontravel.com) donned a full suit, while freelance writer/stand-up comic Mike Barish (Mikebarish.com) stripped down to his Speedos.
Most Generous Travel Bloggers
Lauren Nicholl and Anis Salevesen of Tripping.com brought donuts and mimosas to share with bloggers on Friday’s Amtrak ride from Seattle to Vancouver. It was especially thoughtful considering it was Lauren’s birthday!
No contest: Jodi Ettenberg of Legal Nomads was the most adorable blogger at TBEX, with her Jordanian keffiyeh scarf and wide smile. Neither JD Andrews (earthXplorer.com) nor I could resist her charms!
The Hot-Enough-To-Be-A-FOX-News-Anchor Award
Kelley Ferro of TripFilms.com is an expert video blogger who multitasks as a host, filmmaker and producer. She has the reporting prowess of a young Barbara Walters, combined with the looks of a FOX News anchor– a winning combination.
Most Worthy of “Zoolander” Legacy (tie)
The Men of Travel shared a key trait: they savored the spotlight. Dylan Lowe (Grandcanadianhitchhike.com) honored his British roots by donning a crown, while Mike Barish practiced all manner of poses. “Mr. July” Joseph Hernandez (Josephbhernandez.com) spun pinwheels while “Mr. January” Jeremy Branham (Budgettraveladventures.com) demonstrated how to keep warm in the winter with gloves, an umbrella and little else.
Jeremy Branham (@Budgettravelsac) also won honors as the “slickest” contestant in the Men of Travel contest. He donned baby oil for the photo shoot!
Most Random Appearance in a Photo
The TripAdvisor party was one of TBEX’s most controversial events, since it was listed in all of the official materials but was “sold out” before most bloggers found out about it.
I snuck into the event without an RSVP (shhh!) and had a great time catching up with Tina Rozul (Christinarozul.com), Johanna Fausto (ActionJojo.com) and Anis Salevesen of Tripping.com. When we received our TripAdvisor photo, it included a bonus friend! I’m not sure of his name, but he looks like he’s having a good time!
Best Travel Companion
Kudos to Paul Thompson (@FlyingPhotog) for putting up with my endless chatter and photo requests as we ditched a half-day of TBEX seminars and journeyed to Stanley Park. I’m not used to being a solo traveler, and it was nice having someone to explore Vancouver with since Jake couldn’t make the trip!
This adorable inflatable guitar wins the prize for “best prop” at the Men of Travel photo shoot. It wasn’t as bold as Mike’s inflatable palm tree or Jeremy’s pink umbrella, but it was cute as a button.
It gamely posed for a photo with me and Brooklyn native AnneMarie Dooling of Frill Seeker Diary.
Perhaps inspired by the MTV Movie Awards, Mike Barish planted a big kiss on the cheek of NYC travel writer David Farley (dfarley.com). How romantic!
Best “Village People” Reenactment
The Men of Travel looked eerily similar to the 1970s disco band, although I don’t recall an “Irishman” being part of the original mix. New York blogger Andrew Hickey (Thebrooklynnomad.com) took on that role as TBEX’s “Mr. March.”
Tallest and Shortest
Somehow, in a sea of people, the shortest and tallest TBEX attendees found one another at the Men of Travel party! I don’t have any firm stats, but a visual scan proves that Eric Giuliani (@EricGiuliani) and Tina Rozul (Christinarozul.com) fit the bill.
Thrill-seeking blogger Dylan Lowe (Grandcanadianhitchhike.com) is clearly prepared for his hitchhiking journey across North America: he’s already shown an aptitude for dumpster-diving. He scooped up this Canucks hockey stick from the bay before boarding the AMResorts cruise.
Jenny Leonard (Whereisjenny.com) and Norbert Figueroa (Globotreks.com) displayed their complimentary snuggies, awarded during the TBEX conference. The lounge wear came in handy during the windy harbor cruise.
No surprise here: The Traveling Canucks displayed the most hometown pride. Vancouver residents Cam and Nicole Wears advised TBEXers on local attractions and converted jaded New Yorkers into Canucks fans. It was easy to spot the blogging duo in their hockey jerseys!
Want a frank assessment of the TBEX conference? Just ask Michael Hodson of Go, See, Write. This lawyer-turned-adventurer has a direct style that engages readers– and makes him an ideal drinking companion. When I first met him he had almost completely lost his voice, presumably from nights out on the town– and that was the day BEFORE the conference started!
Best Hawaiian Attire
Matt Long of Landlopers wins this category for his fashionable use of Kona beads. He may think of himself as a “typical Gen-X professional,” but he’s got a stellar sense of style! I joined him and Keith Savage (traveling-savage.com) on the AMResorts harbor cruise.
Jade and Bob of Vagabond3 danced to live jazz on the AMResorts cruise. They were downright adorable!
Most Shameless Insertion into Powerful Blogger Circle
The award goes to… me! I slipped into this power blogger triumvirate– featuring Anil Polat of FoxNomad, Michael Hodson of Go, See, Write and Gary Arndt of Everything, Everywhere– to snap a quick photo. I should have asked about their secret tips for increasing page views when I had the chance. D’oh!
Kelley Ferro of TripFilms.com and Joseph Hernandez (Josephbhernandez.com) earned raves for their outfits on the harbor cruise. Hopefully this photo will land them a spot in the next Ralph Lauren ad campaign!
Best Appearance by the Banff Squirrel
The Banff Squirrel (@Banff_Squirrel) pops up in the strangest places, as you can see in this photo of Mike Barish from the Men of Travel party.
Best Photo Caption
The Banff Squirrel strikes again! This northern critter is known for his wit, and his #TBEX tweets did not disappoint.
What an apt description for a photo of me and Tina (aka @Crozul):
Links to Blogger Posts on #TBEX:
“TBEX – What I Learned” by Dangerous Business
“Travel bloggers dream big at TBEX” by Vancouver Observer
“TBEX Day 1” by Vagabond 3
“Narrative, Local Beer & Hockey: What I Learned at TBEX” by My View From the Middle Seat
“”TBEX Wrap-Up, Musings & Behind the Scenes Views” by Tightrope Traveler