What a Week! Part 2

[caption id="attachment_3049" align="alignleft" width="300" caption="Celebrating the Canucks' victory with happy locals."][/caption] So I have to say: a week into being 26, and it's been a pretty awesome year so far. I just returned from my whirlwind trip to the Pacific Northwest and my first time in the breathtaking city of Vancouver, British Columbia. I highly recommend spending your birthday in downtown Vancouver when the Canucks are playing in the Stanley cup (and win). The streets - and its pedestrians - were painted blue. Not only every bar, but every store, pizza place, smoothie shop with a TV in it was over capacity with dedicated Canadians cheering on their beloved hockey team. Even my pretty pink tiara and winning smile wouldn't guarantee entrance to a bar. It took many tries, but eventually I was able to celebrate my birthday with the rest of Vancouver. Okay, enough about me. The real reason I was there this past weekend was because of TBEX (Travel Blog Exchange)! It was at Vancouver's waterfront convention center that travel bloggers and travel professionals from all over gathered to learn, network, and socialize. With 600 registered attendees, it was difficult to get to know everyone, but we did our best and I'm happy to report that Anis and I not only learned a great deal from these talents, but we also made some wonderful friends, of which I am only able to highlight a few. I believe these few are speakers whose powerful take-home messages apply to not only travel bloggers, but travelers in general. [caption id="attachment_3058" align="alignright" width="300" caption="From Kirsten's Paris iPhone Collection. See more here: http://www.facebook.com/kirstenalanatravels"][/caption] In addition to being the official event photographer, Kirsten Alana also taught a workshop all about how to take phenomenal photos with your iPhone. Her take-home message was that in this day and age, no one has an excuse to not take good photos whether you have a fancy DSLR, point-and-shoot, or just your smart phone handy. Thus, no one has an excuse to not have a visually compelling travel blog. And now I want an iPhone. (Tweet @Kirsten_al for iPhone camera app tips. She has a lot.)   Benny Lewis is quite a character. Not only is he a fabulous dancer and daredevil when it comes to trying Asian fusion vegie hotdogs, he has learned over a dozen languages. And is currently working on another. This, ladies and gentlemen, is the mastermind behind Fluent in 3 Months. This Irish polyglot has made the seemingly impossible possible and his take-home message was that there is no such thing as "language talent." Imagine being able to converse with every Tripping host you stay with around the world or every Tripper you host in your city! Please check out Benny's site to learn more. [caption id="attachment_3065" align="aligncenter" width="640" caption=""Communicating" with fellow bloggers (Benny on the right.)"][/caption] Gary Arndt, creator of Everything Everywhere, and arguably the most influential travel blogger graced us with his participation in panel discussions, workshops, and the closing speech of the conference. Although much of his expertise and focus at TBEX was about building a successful blog, he wrapped up the conference with the reminder to never lose sight of your love to travel. I believe this to be something to take home no matter what your profession may be. We would also like to include a few travel bloggers who we had the pleasure of getting to know this weekend and who are up to some crazy adventures: Dylan Lowe (aka Traveling Editor) and his Grand Canadian Hitchhike Michael Hodson (Go, See, Write), Ayngelina Brogan (Bacon is Magic), and Jeannie Mark (Nomadic Chick) will be taking off on their Ultimate Train Challenge along with several other notable travel bloggers. Sherry Ott of Ott's World and the Mongol Rally with Dave and Deb from ThePlanetD! Thank you to everyone who was a part of my first TBEX, first time in Vancouver, and 26th birthday. It's going to be a tough one to top! -Lauren