TBEX ’10: Where Travel Blogging Meets Speed Dating

This weekend, Audrey and I will be shaking hands and kissing babies, schmoozing and pressing flesh at a meet-and-greet with the well-traveled. Those of you in the circle know it as TBEX. To those of you outside the world of travel blogging — yes, Virginia, there really is such a thing — it’s the Travel Blog Exchange conference.

As we dropped in on PREBEX, an ad hoc pre-conference cocktail hour, it occurred to us that the networking process is probably a lot like speed dating: get your story across in a short time while listening to and understanding the story of the person to whom you are speaking.

Problem is, we’ve never speed dated.

So in the spirit of cutting to the chase, here’s our Pocket Guide to Uncornered Market (@umarket on Twitter). It covers some of the off-the-bat questions. And for those interested in digging a little deeper, it includes a section on our travel ethic.

For those of you at TBEX ’10, please say hello and let us know a bit about yourself. For everyone else: if you’ve ever harbored burning questions about us, now is the time to ask.

The Basics, Off-the-Bat

Q: How do you stay so good-looking while traveling to so many grotty places?
A: An occasional shower.  Laundromats. Q-tips. $0.66 haircuts in Peru.

Q: Who are you?
A: We are an American husband-and-wife travel, blogging, writing and photography team on a journey around the world. Curiosity guides us, humanity is what touches us.

Trying to Stay Warm on Detaille Island - Antarctica
Dan & Audrey in Antarctica.

Q: How long have you been traveling?
A:  At the time of writing, 1,298 days — since December 2006 when we swapped our jobs in Prague, Czech Republic to travel around the world.  For the fuller — and more interesting — story, check out Wandering the Zeroes.

Q: How many countries have you been to?  
A: Quite a few. Probably north of 70, but we really haven’t bothered counting.  We propose a better quantitative proxy measure: median time in each country visited.  For us, it’s not so much about how many countries you’ve been to, but how and how well you’ve grokked them.

Q:  How do you stay sane and married after traveling all this time together?
A:  Easy: a healthy supply of tranquilizers. Just joking.

Q:  What is your style of travel?
Simple, budget, public transport, guest houses, street food, markets.  Having said that, we do enjoy posh from time to time and graciously accept gratis invitations to 5-star properties :)

Q:  What do you hope to do when you grow up?
A:  Change the world, change minds.  If that doesn’t work, we’re thinking street food vending in Varanasi.

Q:  What do you write about on your blog?
A:  Like a high-quality box of chocolates — you never know what you are going to get: a cros pollinator’s view of travel, socioeconomic perspectives, food, photography and microfinance.

Q:  Where are you going next?
A:  After two more weeks in the United States, we will return to Prague for a spell and steal off to an undisclosed location for a couple of months with the plan to visit East Africa in the fall.

Ethos:  Who We Are and How We Engage

The story is in the stories.

Practical: How to Travel Without Hugging the Bowl

Mesmerizing:  Bolivian Salt Flat (Salar de Uyuni) 360-Degree Panoramas

Human: Microfinance: Seeing is Believing

Personal Growth:  Living Deliberately

Idealistic: Travelers As Diplomats

Insightful:  Seeing the Unseen in Patagonia

Atypical: An Unusual Look at Potosi, Bolivia

Ravenous: Peruvian Food Isn’t Just Ceviche

Assimilators:  It’s one thing to do a million different things in your travels.  It’s another when you draw the common thread: The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Travelers

Adventurous:  How to Drag Audrey Down a Volcano

Culinary:  A Cooking Lesson at Spanish Language School

Vigorous: Battle at the Uzbekistan-Kazakhstan Border

Funny: 7 Ways to Trek Like a Supermodel or Oh Brothel Where Art Thou

Nuts: 1296 days on the road and carrying all this sh*t?  Bona fides on crazy street.


Whether you find yourself online or offline, we look forward to continuing the conversation. And if you’ve had success in speed dating, please feel free to share your secrets.

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  1. says

    We’re unfortunately not at TBEX because we’re in Korea (super fun, though) but I would have loved to meet y’all especially after reading this. I am so glad that y’all don’t count how many countries you’ve been to because we always get this question and then I have to count them on my fingers because I’ve forgotten the reference. BTW, fabulous Heinlein reference.

  2. says

    Kudos to you both for being such great “ambassadors” of the U.S. while you are traveling! I love reading each fresh article (or tasting each chocolate!), and I appreciate the insights that you have shared during your journey through so many fascinating places. I especially look forward to your upcoming travels through Africa.

    I never knew there was a conference for travel bloggers, although it doesn’t come as a surprise. (There seems to be a conference for every conceivable interest nowadays.) Have fun, and keep up the great work!

  3. says

    TBEX=speed dating. Good analogy. I joked while there that I finally knew how women felt when guys check out their breasts before moving to the face. Because that’s how it was when wearing those TBEX badges, people would start at the badge, determine who you were/your blog, then finally up to the face.

    Did we meet? I think so. So many people! Lots of fun.

    And for a quick anecdote, I have a good friend from Vancouver who met her husband at a tall-man speed dating event. So for all you single (and tall?) bloggers heading to Vancouver for TBEX11, there’s an idea…

  4. says

    @C&C: Congratulations. I believe “I’m getting married” counts as a valid excuse to skip TBEX.

    @Akila: We must meet one of these days — either somewhere on the road or perhaps at next year’s TBEX. The counting countries thing is easy, but it misses the point — or at least it’s not quite the complete story. Glad you grokked all that :)

    @Andi: Thanks. I think “the life” is great, but what we learn from “the life”….now that’s where it’s at.

    @NC: Being single is perfectly OK. Audrey and I both have a few fond memories of those days, too. But I have to tell you that when we hear about speed dating, we are thankful to have removed ourselves from the rotation.

    @Kathy: Thanks for your compliments and in particular for the “ambassador” props. Am glad you are enjoying the site. We’ll do our best to keep it up.

    @Carlo: Clever comparison between badges and boobs. I’m laughing at how apt it is. I overheard other comparisons between behaviors and body parts, but I will refrain from sharing them here so that you and others can imagine for yourselves.

    I believe you met Audrey. In any event, we’ll look forward to staying connected!

    I had absolutely no idea that speed-dating had splintered off into such specialties. For next time.

  5. says

    Sorry we didn’t get to meet at TBEX this year, but James and I just got in our from 10 months of RTW travel….we’re headed back to the road in a couple months so who knows if our paths will cross then.

    Enjoy the rest of your time home (and un-speed dating nights with the two of you!)


  6. says

    You already know how much I loved seeing you both, and sharing long conversation over slowly-consumed pita and other nibbles. It’s always a tremendous kick to talk to you guys and I hope we’ll cross paths again and again, and look forward to what that will look like. You were definitely one of my highlights, too! Conferences are tough for me, too, with the speed dating element (well-said!), and I’m glad to know it’s not a solitary affliction.

  7. says

    @jen: Perhaps you are out of the travel blog loop for a bit, but it sounds like you have a more important loop to attend to. Not certain we’ll be at TBEX ’11. It depends on how things play out for our upcoming trips to Africa and the Middle East. If we make it, we’ll definitely look forward to seeing you there.

    @Johanna: We know how it goes. It can be difficult to attend conferences when you are actually traveling. Ah, irony. We’ll look forward to whenever our paths cross.

    @eileen: It’s mutual. TBEX may not have had scheduled break-out groups, but we’re glad we had one of our own with you!

    Conferences are really difficult for me, too. I’m an introvert. So sustained socializing — no matter how terrific and enlightening — can also be draining.

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