I did it! My cheap ass finally decided to man up and invest some money into something that I really believe I can do. I had started a travel blog back in college “This is me Living”, paid my 14 year old, whiz kid cousin to set up my WordPress site and write some code (yeah, he was 14 and taught himself how to code!) and started writing articles.
I had the ideas, I had the travel experiences, but I just didn’t have the resources, the knowledge or the social circle to lead me in the right direction. After about a year of random posting, I let the site die.
Years later, I moved to Chiang Mai, met a ton of inspiring travel bloggers and decided to give it another shot, feeling pretty bummed that I let years of traveling go by without properly documenting them.
After giving the new blog half of my effort and attention for the first 5 months of its life, I jumped on the chance to attend this new travel blogger retreat that just happened to be in the country where I was living.
I took a plane, a car, a boat, hitched a ride on the back of a local teen’s motorbike and finally arrived. Here is how it went ………
Where Did We Stay?
The Travel Bloggers Retreat was held at Buri Beach, a resort with attentive staff, an amazing buffet breakfast (that accommodated my vegan diet) and an envy inducing swimming pool overlooking the beach.
I even had one of those princess moments, falling into the impossibly large bed of my bungalow and rolling around in it until I drastically rose to sift through all of the free tea bags I spotted on the desk. I unpacked my entire back pack, hung my clothes in the closet and Skyped (on their amazing fiber optic wifi) with anyone who answered me so that I could show them my new home for the week.
This was my first retreat of any kind, and although I don’t have much to compare it to, I thought the flexible and laid back schedule was what made it so interesting. Beginning with a day purely dedicated to settling in and enjoying a welcome BBQ and drinks on the beach, the rest of the week was laid out like this….
Breakfast buffet: Wake up whenever you want, eat as much as you want and look out into the sea as you do it.
Speaker on a chosen topic: If you are interested and feel like joining, come watch one of the experienced speakers educate you on a useful topic.
Lunch break: Go alone or with a group and eat whatever you want, wherever you want on the island.
Workshop on a different topic: If you don’t feel like working in your bungalow or swimming in the pool, join a workshop on specialized topics in the resort’s restaurant.
Activity on the island: From jungle trekking and volleyball to sunset yoga, snorkeling and night market visits, you can join in with the group or wander off to explore on your own.
Dinner: Do what you want, but the organizers know the sweet eating institutions of the island and will gladly take you there for a meal and beers.
Evening Entertainment: Drink more beers at the reggae bars, attend a half-moon party or do some night swimming at the resort. You can also work in your bungalow and go to bed early like the grandma you are too.
Everything was completely flexible and “go with the flow,” just the way I like!
What Did I Learn?
I have a notebook full of notes and a mind full of well-nurtured ideas. Some of the concepts we learned about were,
–Building relationships with brands with Love and Road
–How to write, publish and sell an e-book with Travel Dave
–How to build an audience and write with personality with The Blog Abroad
-Photography skills and photo editing with Nomad is Beautiful
-How to create and utilize a podcast with Five Dollar Traveller
–How to use SEO methods when writing with Five Dollar Traveller
–What Periscope is and how to use it with Traveling Toad
I had pre-existing knowledge on some of the topics, but much of it was new to me. While I am now putting all of these practices into action, the most useful thing I learned was that people out there are doing it. They made a lifestyle of travel and making money from the road work for them and that I could do it too.
I learned that people who have now found success were once just as overwhelmed, pessimistic and self-conscious about their work and their abilities as I sometimes am now. I learned that there is hope for what I’m trying to accomplish.
Who Did I Meet?
Networking is a hefty part of travel blogging and making new friends is an added perk. I got to hang with newbie bloggers, people who really know what they’re doing and bloggers with interesting niches, different from my own.
Attendees here were admirable travelers who had become entrepreneurs, e-book authors, writers for popular publications, business people, adventurers and all around lovely individuals with shared passions.
AND….because there were only about 30 of us, it was easy to get to know people on a level beyond business.
My Final Thoughts
This experience was and will be different for every single person who attends. For me, it was necessary to take my blog and my mentality about it to the next level. It wasn’t about the factual information that I learned and jotted down in my notebook.
What was truly invaluable was the structure that kept me on track, the personal accounts of people who have done it before who were willing to chat and answer questions, the social network of like-minded people who provided inspiration and motivation and most importantly, how I felt about myself for being there. My attendance at the Travel Blogger Retreat helped me gain faith and confidence in myself that I was taking my dream seriously, creating something out of my passions and can be successful if I don’t give up.
Who May be Interested in This Experience?
Travel bloggers of course! This retreat is useful for people who are new to the scene and ones who have been around the block ( or should I say… WORLD ) a few times. Even if you don’t have a blog yet or have a blog that is not exactly travel related, the retreat can be useful for you too!
Do You Want to Attend The Next One?
Word on the street is that there will be a sequel to this Travel Blogger retreat in 2016. As details aren’t finalized, I don’t have much to share, but from my experience, it will probably be even better. When I find out the info, I will let you know how you can join the Travel Bloggers Retreat in 2016 and by signing up to my newsletter, you can receive updates straight to your inbox!