I don’t even know where to start telling this story.
Less than a month ago I read a tweet from Traveldudes about an upcoming travel bloggers conference in Rimini, Italy, Travel Bloggers Destination Italy (TBDI). Thinking out loud, I happen to say “wouldn’t it be cool to combine our next holiday with an international bloggers conference” (since I was bummed at having missed the Getaway one in Cape Town recently) and two days later I have a return ticket to Italy in my inbox. Just like that.
Besides keeping the blog going (I’m doing 1, occasionally 2 posts a day now on weekdays), getting to launches, networking, blog admin, trying to keep fit, seeing friends and just generally being the queen of my castle I’ve been running around to get the admin for this trip done. So in my mind the 1st thing to do was to buy a ticket for the conference to secure my seat. And that’s when the trouble started.
I discovered you had to apply to attend the conference listing countries visited, motivation for wanting to come, blog stats and details on my social media presence. Imagine! I applied with sweaty palms, all kinds of things running through my head mostly that I’m not a travel blogger exclusively (and honestly as much as I love to travel I don’t want to be that) and held my breath for the next few days mostly consoling myself with the fact that I would just go off and have a fabulous holiday in Italy anyway if this didn’t come through.
I got in!
I’m super excited to be going, it will be my 1st time in Italy and of course we’ve built-in time to have a bit of a vacay. Right now other than Rimini the only other city confirmed is Rome and we’re debating daily how to spread out the rest of our time between Milan, Florence and Venice without falling into tourist traps – #firstworldproblems indeed.
The conference itself seems really well organised & they’ve helped me a lot with all my questions & the (many, many) hurdles in getting a Schengan Visa via the Italian embassy (I could write a blog post on that alone – shout if you need help). I haven’t had enough time to sit still and look at the conference agenda properly since I signed up, but I reckon I’ll have enough time on the flight. Some of the speakers I’ve heard of & follow online & many are new to me which is also cool. Besides travel & learning lots about Italy the conference will cover things like photography, vlogging (video blogging) & writing skills, how to work with PR companies and calculating the value (ROI) of online media.
Oh and we fly via Addis Ababa (Ethiopia) of all places 🙂 – I really wish we had a chance to do a few nights stay over on the way back but I think that opportunity will come soon-ish anyway. The layover will be just two hours and then hubby & I will board separate flights to Rome. In a nutshell, Travelstart is great for getting the cheap(est) overall flights but if you think there’s a 1% chance you’ll need to make even the slightest change to your travel plans rather skip them & go direct with the airline.
But I digress…
The conference also includes accommodation, most meals, shuttles to & from the venue & some tours (the regions of Tuscany, Marche and Calabria will invite several bloggers for post tours after the conference) & discounted train fares – sounds really promising. I am a bit concerned about the language factor but since people are joining from around all around the world I’m told it will be largely English and there will be translators. It’s still peak season in Italy so things are scarily expensive but I’ve already seen some discount cards etc. that we may get to help manage that.
I’m rambling. All I wanted to say is that I cannot believe I’m off to Italy in a few days & I’m looking forward to experiences & connections that I cannot even imagine. That for me, is always the magic that travel brings.
I’m working hard to prep & schedule posts while I’m away so do check back regularly.
Here’s a look at the day in a life of a travel blogger, shot in the city of Brisindi, Italy & starring conference organiser Emma Taveri who has been an amazing help to me so far…
Any tips/must do’s are SO welcome, do share!
I’ll be back on the blog again plenty before I leave…
Have a good week…
PS anyone keen to buy 2 Rihanna tickets for Jhb Sunday 13th October at face value of R330 each (seated tickets, stadium gate G, block 523, row D seats 15 & 16) – just realised we’re going to miss this…