Just over a week ago, I boarded a ferry and sailed across the Irish Sea, Dublin bound. My initial reason for going was to take part in TBEX, the worldâ€™s biggest travel blogging conference. However I was also incredibly lucky to have been selected to take part in the BlogHouse, a 3 day intensive blog workshop run by a number of very experienced bloggers, prior to the conference and also invited to sample the delights of the Wild Atlantic Way on the west coast of Ireland with the Irish Tourist Board, Failte Ireland in the three days after the conference.
Right now, Iâ€™m not going to tell you about what I learned at BlogHouse, TBEX, the spectacular scenery I was treated to, or how wonderful the Irish were (these guys give the best welcomes I tell you), or how much craic I had (not to be confused with crack â€“ remember kids, drugs are bad).
But over the next few weeks I WILL share those experiences with you too. It has been epic! And as I sit here watching Dublin slowly fade out of view, Iâ€™m leaving Ireland with both joy and sadness in my heart.
What I actually want to tell you about now, is the people I met and the profound effect theyâ€™ve had on me. The wonderful people of the travel blogging community.
Us travel bloggers are an eclectic bunch, brought together by our love of travel â€“ whether it be solo, budget, luxury, adventure (thatâ€™s me by the way), weekend breaks, package holidays, gap year, or nomadic. The way we travel is as diverse and unique as every single person in the community.
I was incredibly excited but apprehensive before I arrived in Ireland. Nervous because I didnâ€™t really know anyone, excited to meet so many people whose work I admire from afar, and I also wondered how welcoming they would be to a newbie like me. It reminded me of the way I felt just before I took off on my first RTW (round the world) trip or perhaps even the first day of university. I often worry what people will think, and sometimes evenÂ that Iâ€™m just notâ€¦ good enough.
I was discussing my fears with a friend of mine a few weeks ago, and so she sent me a Ted Talk by BrenÃ© Brown on The power of vulnerability and connection. And how allowing ourselves to be vulnerable, allows us to connect with others and the world around us. Being vulnerable is not something I can say that I am overly comfortable with (I mean, who is?), but I made a pact with myself to be just that – be open, to have fun, meet people, learn and just be myself.
I went to TBEX and I stuck to my promise, I was my vulnerable, non-perfect self. Â And for all my worrying, I can honestly say that I have never felt so welcomed by a group of people. People from all walks of life, with different dreams (and boy, travel bloggers sure know how to dream), and such a zest for life and adventure that it has knocked me sideways. A community who accepts and celebrates the beauty and diversity in the world and the people in it. We laughed, we learned, we debated, we partied (like rock stars I might add), we dreamed and we planned. But this is a common thread amongst many people Iâ€™ve met on my travels, not just the ones who write about it. I can honestly say Iâ€™ve never felt so much energy from one group of people. It was electric.
As we get older, life begins to speed up. So whatever your dream is, go after it. Be vulnerable, put yourself out there, be a mess (but a lovely one), be adventurous, make a fool of yourself every now and again, tell people how you feel, be yourself. I now feel so inspired to keep doing what Iâ€™m doing, trying to get the most out of this fleeting thing we call life.
Yes sometimes things might not work out the way you planned, but you learn from it. And sometimes it may be the best decision you ever made. Thatâ€™s adventure.
I know in my heart that I have become part of an amazing group of people who I know will influence my life in so many ways in the years to come. How? No idea! But, what I do know is that I am so glad to have met you, learned from you, planned with you and most importantly, dreamed with you.
So, with all that said I just want to say thank you to all of my colleagues and teachers who I can now call friends.Â You welcomed me into yourÂ world with such enthusiasm andÂ I feel that Iâ€™ve learned so much from each and every one of you in those short few days, both as a blogger, and personally. I canâ€™t wait to share many more adventures with you in the years to come. Meeting people from all over the world and learning from themÂ is whatÂ it’s all about. We are all connected. You, me and all those peopleÂ we meet on the road.
Oh, and if I didnâ€™t hug you enough or tell you how much I loved you at TBEX â€“ well Iâ€™ll say it again. I bloody love you guys.
You are why I travel.