Lessons I Learned at a Travel Blogging Conference That Don’t Really Have Anything to Do with Traveling or Blogging

June 13, 2013


Two weeks ago I went to my first ever travel blogging conference – Travel Blog Exchange (TBEX) in Toronto. The three-day conference was jam-packed with keynotes and workshops and break-out sessions and other opportunities to network with industry professionals.

There was even something called “Speed Dating,” which, apparently, had nothing to do with dating or taking speed.

What it had to do with I wouldn’t know.

Because I didn’t do it. Whatever it was.

I also didn’t attend a single keynote or workshop.

I didn’t network with any industry professionals. Unless by “industry professionals,” you’re referring to “hotdog stand owners.” In that case, I had a really fabulous discussion with a man who sold me this:


In fact, during my three days in Toronto, I managed to attend a whopping total of exactly two conference sessions.

This was not entirely my fault.

Okay, so it was mostly my fault.

I did attempt to attend a few more sessions, but they were so crazy-packed that there was no room to sit, not even on the floor. And, well, I kind of have a strict “I’m not standing in the back of the room for an hour unless someone’s going to start eating fire and juggling monkeys on that stage” policy. And seeing as most of the sessions had big, scary, long names like “Virtual Social Digital Marketing & Viral ROI Media Strategy Sharing” I kind of had a feeling there were not going to be any fire or monkeys involved. (Unless ROI means monkeys. Please tell me ROI doesn’t mean monkeys, or I’m going to be really upset I missed that.)

So instead of, you know, standing around, learning stuff, I spent the majority of my weekend shoving food and drinks into my face and then making crazy-eyes at the camera.

In other words: the usual.

Yep, just another Saturday really.

With my boy, Aaron from Aaron’s Worldwide Adventures. Who doesn’t seem the least bit concerned he’s standing next to some crazy lady in a tiara.

This is not to say I didn’t learn things, you guys.

I learned a lot.

Except none of it really had to do with traveling or blogging.

I did learn a lot about how to get the most amount of free food into my face in the least amount of time possible.

Because priorities, people. I’ve got them.

Lesson #1: Just be yourself, and people will probably like you. Also, wine.
I was terrified before I showed up at TBEX.

Like, to-the-point-of-having-bad-dreams-for-three-nights-in-a-row terrified.

What if nobody would talk to me?

What if I got all jittery and sweaty and rashy like I usually do at these kind of things?

What if the people who met me were all disappointed because I tend to be a lot less funny and a lot more grumpy in real life than I am in my Internet life?

It didn’t help that prior to even leaving for the conference I kept on hearing about cool after-parties and other events I hadn’t been invited to. People hadn’t even met me and they’d already decided I wasn’t “exclusive party” material! What would happen when they did meet me and they saw me in all my sweaty, jittery, rashy glory?

I was doomed.

And then I showed up to the opening night party.

And people talked to me.

And I talked to them.

And I didn’t get too rashy or jittery.

I even managed to be kind of entertaining.

In a I’m-sweating-too-much-and-I’ve-probably-had-way-too-much-wine kind of way.

In my defense, the wine did have a picture of a cat on it. So I kind of HAD to drink a lot of it.

In my defense, the wine DID have a picture of a cat on it. So I kind of HAD to drink a lot of it.

Lesson #2: Sometimes the weirdest combinations are the bestest combinations.
This, my friends, is a cube of cheese rolled in maple syrup rolled in snow.


You guys, I’m not really a religious person, but I swear to you I saw the face of God right here.

I really did.

Lesson #3: No matter how old you are or how many people you know, you’re still going to have those awkward first-day-of-high-school moments.
I told you about my first day of high school right?

When I showed up to a brand new school where I didn’t know a single person besides my brother, wearing a shirt my mom had made me. Which seemed like a really good idea at the time. Until I got to school and realized that nobody else was wearing a shirt their mom had made them. And I walked into the cafeteria and didn’t know anybody. And I had to sit at a table of people who wouldn’t talk to me because I was the weird girl wearing the shirt her mom had made her.

I told you about that, right?

Well, when I walked into my first lunch at TBEX on Saturday and didn’t see a single person I knew, I felt the exact same way I did back during my first day of high school.

Anybody want to sit with me? Anybody? Anybody?

Anybody want to sit with me? Anybody? Anybody?

Except I was wearing a shirt I had made myself.

With a cartoon of myself on it.

Because that’s waaaay cool.

Yep. This happened.

Yep. This happened.

Lesson #4: Make your own destiny. Or “Invite Your Own Damn Self to That Party.”
On my second night in Toronto, I was informed that the cool after-party that I hadn’t been invited to that night was at Toronto’s hippest nightclub.

And that’s when I decided I was going to that party. Because invitation, schminvitation!

I’m not even really a hip nightclub kind of person, but I wanted to know what Toronto’s hippest nightclub would be like.

And, in case you’re wondering, Toronto’s hippest nightclub has weird ferny plants on the VIP tables.

Ooo, foliage!

Ooo, foliage!

And it’s frequented by purple Power Rangers.

Just me and a Power Ranger. No biggie.

All up in the club. With a Power Ranger. No biggie.

And there was a waiter that walked by with a tray of free submarine sandwiches just when I was thinking to myself, “Geez, I could really go for a free submarine sandwich right now.”

Best. Nightclub. Ever.

Best. Nightclub. Ever.

I don’t know, you guys. I may turn out to be a hip nightclub person after all.

I mean, plants and Power Rangers and free subs!

What’s not to love?

Lesson #5: Know your purpose. It doesn’t have to be a noble purpose. Or even a good purpose. It just has to be a purpose.
One of the two sessions that I actually attended during the conference was labeled “Content Strategy: What are You Writing and Why.”

I had no idea what Content Strategy was. I hoped that Content Strategy meant “How to Write Blog Posts that Aren’t Five Million Words Long and Don’t Take Four Days to Write.” Because I could really use some help with that.

It turns out that Content Strategy is just a fancy word for “purpose.” And the whole point of the session was to explain how we should really have a purpose for our blogs.

Which, honestly, guys, that’s pretty much the only thing this blog does have.

You see, back when I first started blogging a million-billion years ago, my first ever blog post was a funny story about my lunch. And while my blog has changed names and platforms, expanded and contracted, been designed and redesigned, the purpose has pretty much remained the same: to tell funny stories about my lunch.

So these sandwiches and a fruit salad walk into a bar... what? This story is TOTALLY funny.

So these sandwiches and a fruit salad walk into a bar… what? This story is TOTALLY funny.

Recently I got into a little Facebook discussion with another blogger who implied  that there wasn’t much purpose to my blog – that the silly stories I write are just that.


He’s probably right.            `

But, you know what?

Silly is totally a purpose.

It may not be a grand save-the-world kind of purpose. But it’s still a purpose.

My purpose for attending TBEX was probably just as frivolous as my purpose for my blog.

I know I should probably feel bad about not attending more sessions or doing more travel bloggy stuff. But my purpose was never I’m-going-to-learn-a-billion-things-and-have-the-best-blog-ever-and-make-a-million-bucks-and-go-on-lots-of-free-trips-and-everyone-in-the-world-is-going-to-love-me.

And it never has been.

My purpose was to hang out with people. And have fun. And, okay, shove as much free food into my face as humanly possible.

And, yes, that’s totally a purpose, you guys.

Hello free desserts. Don't mind if I do.

Hello, free desserts. Don’t mind if I do.

Have any fun conference stories? What important lessons have you learned while at a conference?

I've blathered on long enough! Now it's your turn!

  1. On June 13, 2013 at 9:08 am Kim said:

    If I’d been at TBEX I absolutely would have wanted to hang out with you. P.S. Love the shirt.
    Kim recently posted..On not being clairvoyant

  2. On June 13, 2013 at 9:12 am Steph said:

    I love you, almost as much as i love cheese wrapped in maple syrup wrapped in snow (okay nowhere near that much). Seriously though, this is the most grounded blog post about TBEX I’ve ever read. I am glad you came and glad we got to party like crazy VIP people!

    • On June 15, 2013 at 2:32 pm Sally said:

      Seriously, how good was that cheese? I really have a feeling my life will never be able to go back to normal after that. All cheese has kind of lost its meaning since then. Kind of.

  3. On June 13, 2013 at 9:18 am Beth said:

    Loved reading about your experiences! I was really bummed to miss TBEX in Toronto but I’m hoping to make it out to Dublin.

    Since I’ve never been to a blogging conference and don’t know other travel bloggers… I think I’ll be having the same anxiety and nightmares you were having leading up to the event!

    Glad you were able to have a great time!
    Beth recently posted..Should I Learn Japanese if I Want to Move to Japan?

    • On June 15, 2013 at 2:31 pm Sally said:

      You’ll probably be surprised by how many people you end up talking to. I went thinking that I would only talk to the people who regularly read my blog and the bloggers I regularly read. But I ended up talking to tons of people who do read my blog but never comment. As well as tons of people who’ve never even heard of me and my blog. It was fun to try to explain to them what I do exactly. “Umm, yes, it’s UNbrave girl. And, yes, I’m a scaredy cat who writes about my couch.”

  4. On June 13, 2013 at 9:19 am Charli l Wanderlusters said:

    Is there a name for the maple cheese snow religion because I want to christen myself into that church?!

    Love your round up of the TBEX, I’m a total noob blogger and only found out about the wonder that is TBEX when I was miles away in New Zealand and unable to finance a trip over to Canada. Sounds like you had a swell time though, VIP party girl.
    Charli l Wanderlusters recently posted..Travel Talk | Religion and Respect

    • On June 15, 2013 at 2:28 pm Sally said:

      TBEX was definitely a fun time, but I doubt I would have went if it was far from me. I just don’t think it would be worth it — especially considering the fact that I’m not a professional travel blogger and don’t really care that much about SEO and press trips and that kind of thing. But seeing as it was only a quick 3-hour bus trip away for me I could totally justify it.

  5. On June 13, 2013 at 9:21 am Monica said:

    I totally think that silly is a purpose and I love it that it’s yours.
    I’m going to TBEX Dublin so I’ll take a few of these tips with me, especially #4, I like that one!
    Monica recently posted..Safari Style: What to wear on safari

    • On June 15, 2013 at 2:26 pm Sally said:

      Have fun at Dublin! I sooo wish I could go. Although I probably would end up dying from another weekend of unbridled food and drink binging.

  6. On June 13, 2013 at 9:30 am Dustin said:

    Good thing you only took photos with Aaron, and didn’t go on a road trip with him. Could have been your first & last TBEX with his driving skills…

    ps: great shirt
    Dustin recently posted..Wrinkles of the City: Rethought – Berlin

  7. On June 13, 2013 at 9:49 am Brendon @ Nerd Travels said:

    Great post about TBEX. Your posts are always hilariously awesome 😀

    I think your shirt is super cool, I will definitely remember these tips when At TBEX Dublin haha

    Also funny stories about lunches are the best types of stories
    Brendon @ Nerd Travels recently posted..Climbing Cotopaxi Volcano,One Of The Highest Most Active Volcano’s In The World.

  8. On June 13, 2013 at 9:53 am SVV said:

    You’re awesome (and silly.)

  9. On June 13, 2013 at 10:00 am Ali said:

    Your silly stories make us laugh, and that’s a wonderful purpose! Glad you had a good time at TBEX and knew your reasons for going. Those conferences are great for socializing, I love finally meeting people I’ve only ever talked to online.
    Ali recently posted..Weekly Photo – Mini Europe Paris

    • On June 15, 2013 at 2:23 pm Sally said:

      Yes, it was definitely a fun social event. I just wish I could have been a bit more coherent. By Sunday I was so tired & hungover, I completely stopped making any sense. I feel bad for anyone who had to meet or talk to me that day.

  10. On June 13, 2013 at 10:23 am Rose said:

    My whole reason for ever attending conferences is free drinks and free food! Here’s a tip — make nice with the vendors. They usually have company credit cards and are willing to buy you food or drinks for no reason. Also follow them around after the day sessions are over. They are usually in charge of the after parties so just grab a vendor and don’t let go until he/she puts a free drink in your hand. Oh, and if the bartender asks if you are on the vendor’s tab — ALWAYS SAY “YES”!!!!

    • On June 15, 2013 at 2:20 pm Sally said:

      I obviously needed to take a crash course on conferences from you before I went. My only experience with conferences has been with teaching conferences and the only free stuff they give out is books. BOOOO! I had no idea I was going to get free food and booze. Next time I will definitely be more proactive and start following around the vendors like they’re my BFFs.

  11. On June 13, 2013 at 10:39 am Leah Travels said:

    Here’s the deal. I normally think I’m cool and preform well in social situations, but I was SOOOOO nervous to meet you. You are, after all, my writing hero. Behind Harper Lee, of course.
    Leah Travels recently posted..Three Great Alternative Mexican Beaches

    • On June 15, 2013 at 2:19 pm Sally said:

      Nervous? To meet ME? And writing HERO? ME? It’s possible you’ve lost your mind. But I love it. 🙂
      I regret we didn’t get to talk more (and that the few times we did talk I was totally non-coherent and hungover). But next time!

  12. On June 13, 2013 at 10:46 am Erik said:

    I learned many of these lessons as well, except I had beer instead of wine. It was great meeting you. Keep making me laugh!
    Erik recently posted..Cafe Gollum- Amsterdam- Beers & Bars of the Europe 2013 Trip

  13. On June 13, 2013 at 11:17 am Noah @ Somewhere Or Bust said:

    I learned that I should have worn the shirt that I had made about my blog. Damn it. I wish I could do it all over again. Now, as for that cheese wrapped in syrup, I hope you had the bleu because that my friend (who I didn’t get to meet at TBEX) was mind blowing.
    Noah @ Somewhere Or Bust recently posted..Airport Bathrooms: A Hidden Culture

    • On June 15, 2013 at 2:16 pm Sally said:

      I was really surprised no one else was wearing their blog t-shirts. I mean, seriously. It was a blogging conference. We’re all a bunch of dorks. Why not just embrace our dorkiness and wear t-shirts about ourselves already?
      And, yes, I tried all three types of cheese (for JOURNALISM) and the bleu cheese was by far the best. And I’m not even a huge bleu cheese fan but it totally worked.

  14. On June 13, 2013 at 11:24 am Heather said:

    You need to create an online store and sell branded merchandise like that fab shirt. I’m thinking coffee mugs, mouse pads, aprons. It could be the start of your empire!

    I have yet to attend a blogging conference, but if I ever do it will be mainly to meet people and put faces to blogs. Sounds like you made the most of your time there!
    Heather recently posted..Tai O Fishing Village and Hong Kong’s Big Buddha

    • On June 15, 2013 at 2:12 pm Sally said:

      Yes, I am definitely thinking about making the t-shirts available to the public. I can’t imagine people wanting to walk around with a picture of me on their chest, but, hey, who am I to stop them from doing so?

  15. On June 13, 2013 at 12:46 pm Diana said:

    A pox on that blogger who thinks your writing doesn’t have a purpose! I read it to laugh and vicariously live through your experiences and travels so that my life doesn’t seems so dull at times. Thanks for bringing sunshine to my world! (And I’m not just saying that because I’m a relative!).

  16. On June 13, 2013 at 12:49 pm Megan said:

    I like your purpose. Mostly because it aligns with what I think my own purpose is, and it totally makes sense in my brain. It’s really a greater metaphor for life and stuff. Meeting cool people, having fun, drinking wine with cats on the bottle, and eating free food – isn’t that what life is about? At the very least, I’m sure those are some of the main points.

  17. On June 13, 2013 at 12:59 pm Tillie said:

    Hello! Silly IS a purpose!
    I looove your blog posts.
    Aaaall the way from Greenland you guy (you can’t really say that, huh?).
    And I loove the t-shirt. I really do!
    And I looove the way you write! It makes my day! It does! Yaaay! 😀

  18. On June 13, 2013 at 1:04 pm Alana - Paper Planes said:

    I wasn’t able to go and now I’m not jealous about missing the sessions, but the food…
    Alana – Paper Planes recently posted..>> Moment at: a Forest Temple >>

    • On June 15, 2013 at 1:45 pm Sally said:

      Yeah, I was actually really surprised that they kept on feeding us. I knew about the parties, but I didn’t know we’d also be getting lunch and breakfast and stuff. Overall, even though I only attended two sessions, I feel like it was totally worth the expense. I only spent about $120 on my ticket & my accommodation and I ended up eating probably $200 worth of free food. Win-win!

  19. On June 13, 2013 at 1:09 pm Priya said:

    I’ve been waiting for you to write this post! Love it! I was twitter stalking TBEX peeps and it looked super-duper exciting!
    And I LOVE the silliness. What’s more important? Silliness or seriousness? I think we all know the answer to that questions.
    This post makes me feel both better and slightly terrified about my conference-y trip next month. Mostly terrified as I’ve been having mini panic attacks. No lie.
    Priya recently posted..Quarter Life Crisis: My Friend Katie’s 25th Birthday + An Introduction To A New Series

  20. On June 13, 2013 at 1:23 pm Madhu Bhardwaj said:

    You go girl. Let the others have content strategy and ROI.
    Finally every one is going to die.
    All those high sounding words will stay here and be forgotten. The purpose of a blog is to express the bloggers feelings. If he manages to entertain others while doing that. It is a bonus.
    Madhu Bhardwaj recently posted..Tempting Taste Buds: Missing Her

  21. On June 13, 2013 at 1:47 pm krishnakumarpradhan said:

    I like your frankness,and the skill toicturise the happenings at the party.Though I have no experience of such meetings, i could imagine all you said about.

  22. On June 13, 2013 at 1:48 pm krishnakumarpradhan said:

    I omitted a space and a p after the words skill to
    krishnakumarpradhan recently posted..Gravatar and WordPress.com, Together Forever

  23. On June 13, 2013 at 2:07 pm Jenna said:

    The way this post made me smile and really want to meet you shows your blog’s purpose perfectly. 🙂
    Jenna recently posted..Tips to Understanding Renaissance Paintings

  24. On June 13, 2013 at 5:16 pm Carmel said:

    Oh right….and I hope silly is a purpose or else my marriage is just a sham. 🙂
    Carmel recently posted..MY UNDERWATER FEARFUL ADVENTURE

  25. On June 13, 2013 at 6:39 pm Christy@SweetandSavoring said:

    Your lists are always the best ones to read 🙂

    But also, oh my lord am I always thinking about content and purpose. Half of me cares and the other half doesn’t- like, I’m sharing what interests and inspires me and also being way too honest sometimes. Food! Travel! Day Trips! Depression. So basically I envy you and your silly-lovable travel blog. The end.
    Christy@SweetandSavoring recently posted..San Francisco Reflections from the Airport

    • On June 15, 2013 at 1:35 pm Sally said:

      I think it’s entirely possible to have a purpose and write about the stuff you love. Just make your purpose that — to only write about the stuff that inspires and interests you. If it’s interesting and inspiring to you, it will definitely inspire and interest other people. I guarantee it.

  26. On June 13, 2013 at 7:24 pm Steph | A Nerd At Large said:

    I’m so glad I got to say hello to you at TBEX, even though I stopped making sense prior to our meeting and I feel as though I didn’t make a terribly good impression. I vaguely recall prattling on about my hat or some other nonsense.

    It seems to me that you got all of the important lessons out of the conference without ever having to burden your retinas with a single powerpoint slide. Well done!

    Next time I need to make me a homemade cartoon shirt. My only TBEX regret is forgetting to jump on the cheese/maple syrup bandwagon. People kept telling me that it would change my life, but I would get blathering away at someone and forget. I blame Serena Ryder. She rearranged my brain cells (in a good way.)
    Steph | A Nerd At Large recently posted..Foto Friday: Royal Botanical Gardens

    • On June 15, 2013 at 1:31 pm Sally said:

      Hold on a second? You mean you didn’t try a single cheese-cube-covered-in-maple-syrup-covered-in-snow? You, my friend, seriously need to get your priorities in order!
      Also, I don’t remember making any kind of sense ever during the entire conference, so I’m really no judge at that kind of thing. I vaguely remember us babbling away at each other for twenty minutes until I decided I needed to go take a nap. I hope the next time we meet we’ll both be in a better brain space!

  27. On June 13, 2013 at 8:17 pm Ruth said:

    Just thanks for you being entertaining you! Now, find a way to come to the west coast!

  28. On June 13, 2013 at 9:56 pm Jeff @ Go Travelzing said:

    I know I was at the same conference as you but based on your description it does not seem like it. Are you selling those shirts because I think you might have some fans out there?
    Jeff @ Go Travelzing recently posted..The Book Museum – Chester Beatty Library in Dublin

    • On June 15, 2013 at 1:26 pm Sally said:

      Umm, yeah, you were probably at the conference where people actually learned stuff and networked and stuff. I was at the conference where people just ATE ALL THE FOOD. And by “people” I mean “mostly me.”
      And, yes, t-shirts are in the works! I can’t really imagine anyone wanting to wear my picture on their chest… but I wouldn’t want to stop anyone from doing so either.

  29. On June 14, 2013 at 2:01 am Hollie Mantle said:

    This post was great, (content-driven or not!)

    And are those desserts on miniature stands? Are they fake oreos? Are they sendable to Japan by post…?
    Hollie Mantle recently posted..I have a confession

    • On June 15, 2013 at 1:25 pm Sally said:

      The Oreos were HAND-MADE. Because, apparently, factory-made Oreos are not swanky enough (who knew?) And I would totally send you some if I hadn’t eaten them all!

  30. On June 14, 2013 at 2:23 am Angela said:

    That cheese cube looks amazing. Everything else you wrote is also pretty awesome but I can’t stop thinking about the cheese cube!
    Angela recently posted..Through our eyes // 05

    • On June 15, 2013 at 1:24 pm Sally said:

      It was amazing. I will probably continue thinking about it for the rest of my life. I wouldn’t even be surprised if “maple-covered cheese cube” is the last thing I say on my death bed.

  31. On June 14, 2013 at 2:54 am CeCe said:

    Your blog has many purposes, like how your “silly” posts make hundreds of people laugh. I always look forward to your posts!

    ….and totally saw God and even the Loch ness monster in that cheese cube.
    CeCe recently posted..….And Do The Harlem Shake

  32. On June 14, 2013 at 7:05 am Leyla Giray said:

    Absolutely the BEST post-TBEX wrapup I’ve read (not that I was there or anything). Still, the best!

    • On June 15, 2013 at 1:22 pm Sally said:

      Aww, thanks, Leyla. And I totally read ALL the post-TBEX wrap-ups in previous years even though I never went. Just wanted to know what I was missing!

  33. On June 14, 2013 at 8:22 am RenegadePilgrim said:

    I am so bummed I didn’t make it to TBEX this year. I love reading your blog because you tell stories, which is more than I can say about most travel blogs. Good storytelling is a lost art and I enjoy your style of writing. If travel bloggers focused less on SEO and all the technical crap, and more on creative content that tells a story we’d all be in a better place. I’ve recently decided I’m just going to write about my experiences and share stories and not worry so much about hotel reviews and reviews of places I have visited. Too much pressure! Basically, I am going back to the “I don’t care if I ever make money on this blog, I’m just going to write!” stage I was in at the very beginning.

    Keep writing funny stuff and people will keep reading it because they can relate.

    • On June 15, 2013 at 1:20 pm Sally said:

      I love that you said you went back to the feeling you had at the beginning of blogging. I think I’ve done that too. My original purpose for my blog (besides, you know, funny stories about my lunch) was to keep in touch with family and friends while I was living overseas. For a while, when I was traveling and reading a lot more travel blogs and hanging out with travel bloggers, I got caught up in what I thought people would want to read — not necessarily SEO stuff as I still have no idea what SEO means. But I started writing lots of posts about stuff that other travel blogger people were writing posts about — blogging, “authentic experiences,” etc. And, yes, I did get lots of traffic. But my family and friends stopped reading — they didn’t care about those things. So now I try to write every post with the intention of writing something that even my mom would want to read. Even though my mom totally hates the Internet and hardly ever reads my blog. But still I want to create stories that are accessible and interesting to everyone — not just other travelers or bloggers. And, hopefully, I’m doing that.

  34. On June 14, 2013 at 8:53 am Selly said:

    I heart your funny stories and your humour. It’s great to know I have a place I can go to, even if it’s virtual, where I can read funny stories, have a good time and chat to a lovely girl. I think the purpose of your blog is spot on! Keep them posts coming!

    P.S. Your shirt is totally fabulous!!!

  35. On June 14, 2013 at 11:18 am Mikeachim said:

    Everyone – here’s how I met Unbrave Girl at TBEX:

    At a party, I noticed a strange glittery shimmer hanging over a group of people. As I approaches I was met with gales of laughter, which flipped my plate of buffet nibbles away from me and threw me onto a table with a crash. Picking broken pieces of champagne flute out of my posterior, I struggled back onto my feet, gritted my teeth and set my face against this mirth-born maelstrom, like Shackleton, inching forward, step by step.

    At the raging centre was Sally, her every word setting off Mexican-wave-like mirth-induced convulsions in the crowd. Unicorns and fairy dust swirled around her, and waiters fell over each other to bring her trays piled high with cubes of the most exotic cheesemeats delicately enrobed in the finest flash-frozen entra virgin maple lichor…

    None of this is exaggeration. It may even be understatement.

    It was a delight to meet you at last, Sally. 🙂
    Mikeachim recently posted..TBU Rotterdam and TBEX Toronto: You’re All Individuals

  36. On June 14, 2013 at 2:57 pm kle said:

    Ah! Your posts are hilarious 🙂 and thats a hell of a purpouse for a blog! And thanks for sharing your experience and pictures! As someone else already said, if i’d attended TBEX i would have loved to hang out with u!
    kle recently posted..“Indiana Jones and the cursed House”: Surviving an Insect Apocalypse in Thailand

    • On June 15, 2013 at 1:06 pm Sally said:

      Maybe next year we should just all throw a mini alternative TBEX. Lots of fun and hanging out and food. No stupid stuff where we are supposed to sit around and learn stuff. Sound good?

  37. On June 14, 2013 at 6:01 pm Sine said:

    I totally hate conferences. And having to sit at one of those tables when you don’t know anybody.

    And I totally love your silly stories. Reading one of your stories is so much more rewarding that having to find a place to sit at one of those conference tables. Even for all the free food in the world.

    • On June 15, 2013 at 1:04 pm Sally said:

      This was the first conference I’d been to in years. I used to have to go to lots of conferences in Japan for work — but I usually knew people there so it wasn’t so bad. Plus, they were conferences for dorky English teachers, so I never felt like I wasn’t the “cool kid” as, at least, I wasn’t walking around wearing sneakers with my skirts like a lot of the other participants. TBEX definitely felt more clique-ish. Luckily, I found a pretty cool group to hang with, so I didn’t mind that I wasn’t one of the coolest kids in the room.

  38. On June 15, 2013 at 4:20 am Ceri said:

    I think I’d probably have too many issues with those conferences. Seriously, girl – your blog is one of my absolute favourites. *I’m* always wishing I could write more like you. Don’t ever change!
    Ceri recently posted..NY Bucket List: #1 – Visit Central Park

    • On June 15, 2013 at 12:54 pm Sally said:

      Aww, thanks, girl. It’s funny because going to the sessions I kept on hearing ways that my blog was all wrong — my posts are too long, too rambley, too pointless, too chronological. But I ran into so many readers (people I didn’t even know who read my blog) who said they loved it. So obviously I must be doing something right — even if the experts don’t agree!

  39. On June 15, 2013 at 11:16 am Diana said:

    Hilarious! I used to work trade shows and never did get used to networking – I like that you just went off and created your own fun! And now I’ll forever be curious about maple syrup and cheese….

    • On June 15, 2013 at 12:53 pm Sally said:

      Don’t forget the snow! That was an integral part of the recipe as it made the maple syrup just tacky enough to wrap around the cheese without dripping off. But you had to make sure to shove it into your mouth quickly so the maple syrup didn’t melt and start dripping all over you.

  40. On June 15, 2013 at 7:00 pm Jess said:

    I made it to one panel. And most of one afternoon keynote. I also made it to five pastry shops, two places with great donuts, and one restaurant that was pretty much a wonderland of cheese.

    I’ve decided I am apparently really bad at going to conventions, but that’s okay, because I am still awesome at eating all the best things.

    I would still consider the entire trip worth it, though, for nothing else but that maple cheese thing. I would happily go back to Toronto just to get more, but I can’t because that party is over. That knowledge brings me constant woe.
    Jess recently posted..Eskimo Ice Cream

    • On June 16, 2013 at 1:28 pm Sally said:

      Why didn’t we meet? And why didn’t you invite me on your pastry-shop-hopping? That sounds like the best use of time EVER.

      • On June 17, 2013 at 7:55 pm Jess said:

        Maybe I should have spent more time talking to people and less time staring at that cheese.

        We should volunteer to host our own track of programming at the next convention. It would be called the ‘I’m just here for the food’ track, and instead of panel presenters we’d just assign people to bring snacks to share with the group.
        Jess recently posted..Eskimo Ice Cream

  41. On June 16, 2013 at 7:53 am Neens said:

    All I can say is that I read your blog religiously, and I’m pretty sure I don’t read that facebook sourpuss’s blog. If for some unfathomable reason it should turn out that I do, I would stop. Because in the words of Stephanie Tanner: “How rude!!”

    PS: Isn’t it always about the food? I’m confused… ;o)
    Neens recently posted..Going fridge-free was easy – now I’m cooking without gas and electricity

    • On June 17, 2013 at 9:46 am Sally said:

      I didn’t know you were there either! That was one of the big problems with TBEX — too big so I couldn’t meet all the people I wanted to meet. Booo!

  42. On June 17, 2013 at 11:50 am Paul Farrugia (globalhelpswap) said:


    We are going to our first Tbex in Dublin in October. I hope we get the same amount of free Guinness!!
    Paul Farrugia (globalhelpswap) recently posted..A guide to Ko Lanta

  43. On June 17, 2013 at 5:21 pm JadeAdele said:

    this is the first blog post I read of yours. I was referred here by nerd’s eye view, and it’s absolutely true, you’re hilarious. Thanks for the laughs. 🙂
    JadeAdele recently posted..Traditional Chocolate de Agua

  44. On June 18, 2013 at 12:16 am nicole | the wondernuts said:

    Your blog’s sole purpose: to make people lol literally.

    Purpose complete. =)
    nicole | the wondernuts recently posted..Singapore Street Hawker: How Food Should Be

  45. On June 19, 2013 at 2:12 pm Sherry Ott said:

    In awe of your silly purpose. 🙂 Lovely meeting you – if it was only for a short time!
    Sherry Ott recently posted..Amusing Myself

  46. On June 20, 2013 at 3:50 pm Montecristo Travels (Sonja) said:

    AGAIN so close and yet so far … *sigh* had I known you were there I so would have gone … just to hang out with you… and like… show you more food places in Toronto!
    Montecristo Travels (Sonja) recently posted..Seeing Ottawa and Gatineau Through Fresh Eyes – The Bommeresque Visits!

  47. On June 20, 2013 at 7:05 pm Kali said:

    That’s a perfect purpose!

    When I go to conferences (and sadly I’m yet to go to one for bloggers) I’m a constant notetaker…I’m too serious. I wish I could be as casual as you.

    Going to any conferences in the near future?

    • On June 21, 2013 at 6:34 am Sally said:

      Probably not. The only reason I went to TBEX was because I wanted to meet people & it was only a few hours away. So I doubt I’ll be going to another one unless it’s a quick 3-hour bus ride away. It probably wouldn’t be worth it to go all the way across the country to party. OR WOULD IT?

  48. On June 20, 2013 at 10:19 pm Teresa said:

    LOVED you and your silly, make me LOL (hard) blog from the first time I laid eyes on it. Meeting you in person was a highlight for me at TBEX and having it happen so randomly at the opening night party was awesome! The fact that I can completely relate to your religious experience with the cheese cubes wrapped in snow hardened maple syrup–BONUS! So happy you have rediscovered your purpose and hope you never feel “less than” again! As a new blogger, I was SO excited to attend my first TBEX and think I probably scared a few (maybe a LOT) of people with my over-enthusiastic personality. I wanted to soak up EVERY single minute of lessons, tours, networking, socializing and just basking in the environment of my tribe. I think I tried to do too much and would have fared better to have just hung with you! I am taking your words to heart and reevaluating “WHY” I started my website and blog 4 months ago and trying not to get caught up in the advancing my numbers, etc. business side of it. I never had a desire to make money or get free stuff, just wanted to inspire others to get out and travel. After a couple of the sessions, I felt like if I am not seeking this, I am undervaluing myself. Really, for me, if one person reads my blog and is inspired–that’s enough. I know that the joy you bring to me and SO many others that are fortunate enough to have found your blog, is enough purpose for its own Avenue Q show. My only regret at TBEX is not having enough time to just “be” and hang out with all the bloggers I have found online and love. Viva La Silly (with my fist lifted high). PS–I thought about making my own T-shirt to wear at the conference too–would have preferred to buy and wear one of yours 🙂 Finding a soul sister that rambles more than me (and is funnier too) makes me your number 1 fan! You can add “You inspire me” to your list of purpose.

    • On June 21, 2013 at 6:23 am Sally said:

      I think I went through a similar transition as you when I first started really getting into the travel blogging scene (I had been blogging for years before that but had no idea that travel blogging was this thing people did). I got wrapped up in the numbers and felt like I need to do THIS because everyone else is doing THIS and I need to write about THAT because everyone else is writing about THAT. But slowly I got back to my original purpose — LUNCH. Every once in a while, I cycle back and forth between the two. But I always come back to LUNCH. I’m sure you’ll come back to your LUNCH, too!

  49. On June 25, 2013 at 3:38 pm Lauren @ roamingtheworld said:

    Love your attitude Sally and finding humor in everything!
    TBEX seems like a place where it can be easy to get carried away and lose focus about what you’re really about, what you want!

    • On June 26, 2013 at 8:21 am Sally said:

      It’s also pretty easy to get carried away and eat cheese and drink more wine than is medically recommended. So it’s all about how you want to get carried away, really.

  50. On June 27, 2013 at 1:35 pm Tom @ Waegook Tom said:

    Oh, TBEX. My post about it is coming up next week…I think…yes, next week. Although it won’t be as god as this. I mean, I have no photo of that maple cheese amazingness.

    Also, I loved meeting you. You’re pretty much exactly how I figured you’d be in ‘real’ life. And silly is totally a purpose. I leave serious stuff to serious people who can write serious things about it.
    Tom @ Waegook Tom recently posted..Tom’s Travel Awards: Colombia

  51. On June 28, 2013 at 4:37 am Efrutik said:

    You are funny, entertaining, and I can see that you are definitely sincere too! You know what, your purpose totally is making my morning right now so keep writing about what YOU want and sharing. Thanks! I seriously needed a cheer up and learned a few things. Mainly that free food is to be eaten, lol.

  52. On July 7, 2013 at 1:22 am Colleen Brynn said:

    Every word of this makes me smile. Love the humour. I didn’t even go to TBEX (and I am very apprehensive about ever going to one, for most of the reasons you touched on) but this is probably how my TBEX would go too. I totally relate to this, and maybe if I do end up at a TBEX, I will find you and we will see just how much food we can eat.
    Colleen Brynn recently posted..Beautiful To Meet You

  53. On July 12, 2013 at 9:49 pm Julie Munsch said:

    What a wonderful post.

    Funny because I saw you at TBEX, recognized you and your t-shirt, knew of your blog but, I also was shy and didn’t say “hello”. Which is ironic because I am the last person one would call “shy”.

    Also, if it makes you feel better, The Fifth is far from the hippest nightclub in Toronto and so invite, schminvite.. 😉

  54. On October 14, 2013 at 2:06 pm Lisa @ Xpedition Girl said:

    Thanks for this post. I am starting a new travel blog and it was helpful.
    Lisa @ Xpedition Girl recently posted..15 Things to Know to Travel on a Budget

  55. On October 10, 2014 at 8:08 pm Lisa said:

    So funny, trying to decide if I should go to one of these conferences and your posts just echoed half my thoughts. You keep blogging – laughing is a purpose and a damn good one!

    • On October 11, 2014 at 8:44 am Sally said:

      I’m totally glad I went… once. I doubt I’d go again (unless, like last time, the conference was practically in my backyard). But I really wanted to see what it was all about, so I did. Plus, I really enjoyed finally meeting in person so many people I had “met” on the Internets. Good luck with your decision!

  56. On March 25, 2015 at 9:44 am Linda said:

    I feel like the purpose of a blog is to attract readers. Whether is entertains, informs, or makes you crave pringles and ice cream. Your blog definitely entertains. I travel a lot in Europe but it was refreshing to read about your trip to Asia. Also, it showed me how cool the couches are in Asia and how I need to bring that to Europes attention the next time I go hahah. Whatever the intended purpose was when you started out your blog, it’s doing great and helps my day go by a bit faster at work! So thanks!! I started at the beginning of the archives, I’m sure you’ll see many more comments from me in future posts, so keep posting!

    • On March 28, 2015 at 11:04 am Sally said:

      Hi Linda,
      So glad you’re enjoying my blog! And, yes, all continents should have amazing Chinese couches! It’s about time we help bring awareness to this issue!

  57. On August 18, 2015 at 2:30 pm Claudia said:

    I have never been at a TBEX. And, matter of fact, I had not heard about your blog before. But a friend shared this post with me today and HEY, you’ve got yourself a new reader! LOL you made me laugh so much, that I want to read more of your funny story, for as purpose-less as they may be 😉 tehehe
    Claudia recently posted..Eleven things that Latin America taught me


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