My Entirely Personal TBEX Wrap-Up. WARNING: Excessive Hyperbole

I started this blog in August of 2007 with no agenda other than to write about being an expat. I certainly had no way of knowing that three years later, I’d find myself among a group of people who have helped me, hired me, inspired me and, most importantly, who understand my insatiable need to live the life I do. The conference was called the Travel Blog Exchange TBEX10, where travel writers, bloggers and PR professionals gathered to teach, learn and party like freaking rock stars.

There are many, many people who have already written about the conference with insight and intelligence. I’m not one of them, because I’m still on such a high that it may be months until I gain any kind of perspective on it. But I want need to write about it just the same, because otherwise I may just burst into flames from the awesome.

First and foremost, I got to spend lots of time with (most of) my BootsnAll colleagues:

  • Sean Keener, who so generously welcomed me into the BTN (and his own) family and actually considered every crazy, overly ambitious idea I had about our new collaboration, Travel News Daily. (Shill: It’s our new blog, and it’s crack for travel addicts. Go there now.)
  • Jessica Spiegel. I just. I can’t even. She is. I mean. Just. I. Yeah.
  • Katie Hammel, editor of BootsnAll and writer of WhyGo Iceland and WhyGo Chicago, who patiently sat with me and answered every single one of my nit-picky questions about how my WhyGo France site works.
  • Joanna Haugen of WhyGo Las Vegas, a whip-smart and remarkably calm woman, even when she won the trip to Curacao from Diamond PR!

Spud Hilton of the San Francisco Chronicle is one of my idols and the first non-BootsnAll person I met. He said, “Hi, I’m Spud” and I replied, “Oh my God, I love you!” before introducing myself. I’m fairly certain he and Jim Byers of the Toronto Star were having a grown-up discussion about journalism on the terrace of the Professor’s Loft at the beginning of the BootsnAll/Euro Cheapo party, but I joined them anyway and we talked about good and bad travel writing for an unforgettable (for me, at least) 15 minutes.

I finally met several people whose work I’ve long admired, and whom over the last few years I’ve come to know as well as one can on the Internets. It’s a weird feeling – there’s an initial “OMG you’re real” moment, followed by the kind of camaraderie that comes from longtime, in-real-life friendship.

  • Pam Mandel of Nerd’s Eye View. Not nearly enough time spent with her. I weep at the loss.
  • Mike Barish of Gadling. He is the human equivalent of a basket of sarcastic, funny puppies, and I hope I was not the only one to tell his girlfriend that I had a crush on him.
  • Wendy Perrin of Conde Nast Traveler, with whom I share a past in the theater! Who knew? Again, not nearly enough time spent with her.
  • Paul Brady of Conde Nast Traveler. After a year-long Tumblr love affair I met him on Saturday night and I forget what I said that made him laugh, but somewhere at that moment an angel got its wings.
  • Melanie Waldman of Travels with Two. We both graduated from NYU in the same year (I won’t tell you when). We did not know each other then, but that didn’t stop us from behaving as if we had been besties since the Reagan Administration.
  • David Farley, author An Irreverent Curiosity, who hilariously asked me if I had been wearing clothes when my Miss Expatria photo was taken (see right-hand sidebar). Our conversations devolved from there to the point where we’d just look at other and laugh.
  • Mary Ann Grisham of Enchanted Traveler. We couldn’t find each other for two days, but made up for it on Sunday afternoon with many hugs and nearly incoherent babbling about France.

TBEX was founded and organized by Kim Mance and Maren Hogan of GoGalavanting. I met Kim, the most dynamic woman on the planet, in Rome last year, and we hugged about 5,000 times over the weekend and hatched evil fun plans for TBEX Europe. This was my first time meeting Maren, who is so elegant it’s almost hard to look at her, and who always had a moment to listen to me gush about how much fun I was having. Love them both ten times.

Justine Chellel of Keystone, one of the Vail Resorts at TBEX, should get a raise for the way she rallied when I told her I don’t ski and hate the cold. She promptly invented the most delicious-sounding, entirely apres-ski weekend idea, involving lots of blankets and five-star dining. We then bonded over our Delaware Valley roots and love of scrapple. Jessica and I are going to make sure she has the best Italy honeymoon ever.

Oh gosh, who else? There were a million moments I never want to forget. Lola Akinmade of Matador and Mike Yessis of World Hum graciously accepted my fan-girl praise.  Bobby Laurie of the Crew Lounge at Upgrd may be the next inductee into my Gay Mafia. Pete Meyer of Euro Cheapo was so, so easy to talk to. Mike Richard of Vagabondish is in the running for my Travel Crush of 2010. Chérie King, the Travelbee, was an absolute joy with a face like a sunbeam.

And finally, no one else is gonna say it, so I will: Robert Reid of Lonely Planet and the 76-Second Travel Show and Jim Benning of World Hum are hot and smart and funny and I want to put them both in my pocket so we can travel together all the time. Even though Robert yelled at me during the Weber Shandwick Travel & Lifestyle party at the Omni Berkshire for saying I’d rather be attacked by a shark than a bear.


36 thoughts on “My Entirely Personal TBEX Wrap-Up. WARNING: Excessive Hyperbole

  1. I love your writing style – thank you to Jessica (@ItalyLogue) for introducing your site to me.

    “I may just burst into flames from the awesome” will be a new catchphrase around my house, I guarantee it.

  2. Jessica and I have a panel you need to help us pull together. Let’s just say it’s, uh, er, uh, um… yeah. It involves travel writing and hotness. Yeah, there we go.

    Please come spend a week in the PNW. Soon.

  3. Actually, I seem to remember it as “Oh my God, I totally #&*@$ love you!” But I understand if you wanna keep this a family friendly site.

    (And I only remember it vividly because I totally #&*@$ love you for saying it. Most of my feedback involves the “#&*@$” and “you,” but without the love.)

    Thanks for the kind words.

    Muchas mahalo,

    • Honey, I know! I keep reading the TBEX summaries and going, “What? He/She was there? NOOOO!”

  4. I loved hanging out with you. I too hope we are related, even if only by marriage. Someday I am coming to visit you and maybe…I could pay you to say things like this to me all. day. long.

    • It’s true. We were walking behind you in the mid-day heat on the return from the Outback lunch; we were all melting and there you were, floating along like a summer breeze. You’re divine. GIRL CRUSH 2010.

  5. I. Love. You.

    If that weekend in Colorado comes through and your man-friend can’t go, this here non-skier who also hates the cold would happily be your roomie. “Travels with two” is, after all, open to interpretation.

    P.S. I believe I know the panel in question, ladies…and I applaud the effort. Not complete without several of the aforementioned. Carry on, now, as you were.

  6. You’re such a rock star Christine.

    I’m seriously considering about taking you up on your offer to fly in and out of France on my way to / from Vietnam and Switzerland. I’m sure you must have a comfy couch with plush pillows you could spare.

  7. What a treasure trove of links. Talk about crack for the travel addict. Thanks so much for the info.

  8. This was such a fun post and all of it true (from what I remember). I wish I had had a chance to talk to you more. I hope next time.

    I think I’d also prefer being attacked by a shark than a bear. But don’t quote me on that.

  9. Hi,
    TBEX sounds like a great event and I’m bummed I wasn’t there!! I say let’s do one in Europe for sure. I’m happy to help in any way to get it off the ground. Get in touch when you want…

  10. This fabulous post makes me sad I couldn’t attend TBEX this year. I hope to meet some of you one day and cross paths again with those I’ve had the pleasure of meeting in the past. Sounds like it was a great gathering of travel minds. ~ @Cajun_Mama

  11. So, so, so love your list!! I felt exactly the same way!!! You are such a great, fun writer, and I cower in your French expat presence! Can I hang with you and Julie of Provence Post? Sounds awesome! She’s a Midwest girl hanging in Wisconsin this month, and I’m next door in Minnesota.

    Greatly appreciate the link back! Was so fun to find you in person, even though it was late in the day. I’ll be sure to stay later at the parties next time! Now I know where I can find you.

    Europe TBEX would be awesome!

    A bientot!
    Mary Ann

  12. Pingback: 13 Days of Travel | Up Up & A Gay | A Flight Attendant Blog

  13. Was an absolute pleasure finally meeting you in person Christine!

    You’re soooo warm and generous. I’m a huge fan of yours.


  14. It was so awesome to finally meet up! And I can’t wait to do it all again next year in Vancoov!

    (And I’m of course flattered to be nominated as your “Travel Crush”. You’re too kind =P)

  15. Pingback: 13 Days of Travel | Up Up & A Gay

  16. Pingback: TBEX 2010 Wrap-Up and Photos | BootsnAll Travel Articles

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