This is a story about crisscrossing North America, speaking to audiences in Vancouver, Miami and Denver, recharging in a defunct hippie commune outside of Seattle, preparing to speak to 1,000 people in Portland, and apologizing for withholding a few pages of our story from you over the last couple of weeks.
Have you ever followed a story – maybe on the web, on the radio, on television, wherever – and all of a sudden the story line seems to trail off, maybe even go silent? The protagonist is there one minute, gone the next. And you’re thinking to yourself, “Sh*t, that was just getting good.”
Sound familiar? We pressed the pause button on some things here on the blog and unwittingly left you behind.
So what have we been up to? Speaking, mainly – speaking at conferences and events, drawing meaning from our travels, sharing them with audiences in various contexts, and tying together multiple themes.
In the midst of all this, we've enjoyed heckling each other on stage. We've left crowds laughing, sometimes crying, often inspired. And while we've shared some lessons, we’ve learned a few of our own along the way.
Whirlwind: A Recap of Last Few Weeks
Vancouver: The Future of Tourism (FoT)
This event sponsored by our partner G Adventures gathered more than 500 people in one of Vancouver’s biggest theaters to discuss sustainable tourism.
The audience was one of the larger ones we’ve spoken to. Jitters? Sure. I drank a gallon of water before going on stage, didn’t time my final bathroom break well, then felt a burning desire to dance while I spoke.
Despite my inner squirm, the evening went very well.
When you care about the message and that message aligns with your story, nothing can stop you. Not even your bladder.
According to the U.N. World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), more than one billion people are expected to cross borders for the purpose of tourism in 2012. A force for good? A force for harm? It all depends on the decisions we make.
To this end, we spoke about the confluence of travel, technology and human connections. We shared stories from Bangladesh to Iran to Tanzania to Nicaragua demonstrating how technology can enable travelers to make informed decisions in line with their values so that tourism dollars can find their way to benefit local communities and people.
Our final message: Not only can travel change your life, but it can also change the lives of the people you meet.
What do you think?
The following week, we switched gears, donned our business hats, dressed like grown-ups (getting out of the adventure clothes and spiffing it up was oddly refreshing) for EyeforTravel in Miami, a travel industry conference focused on online marketing strategies.
Even though we spoke on separate panels, I still found a way to heckle Audrey by urging my crowd to roar with applause so as to disrupt her talk taking place next door.
In this life, in this business, marital rivalry dies hard.
I spoke about how story can be used as a differentiator for brands and how to employ storytelling techniques in online content and social media. Audrey spoke on the use of social media sharing pre-, during, and post- trip for both exposure and conversion.
Sounding like double-speak? Let me tell it straight: tell good stories and generate quality content, and regardless of the context, you’ll set yourself apart.
The topic that seemed to draw the most interest, however, was our nomadism. “What do you mean you don’t have a home?”
A common theme, a common question we continue to work on. Read to the end for the latest developments.
Colorado: TBEX Keystone
Last weekend, we spoke at TBEX, a travel blogging conference now in it’s fourth year. The knockout venue from 7,000 to over 11,000 feet: Keystone, Colorado. At almost 800 people including bloggers and travel industry folks, this conference demonstrates that travel blogging continues its march to maturation.
We spoke on a panel – in our oxygen deprived state – on how to leverage one's skills, blog and brand into new, off-blog business opportunities. While there is no cookie-cutter approach to building a business and making a living from blogging in this vein, we underscored three tricks here: use a planning process, leverage all your skills, including the ones you had before your blog, and most importantly, look to what’s NOT being done.
Easier said than done, we understand.
Like any conference, the best part is putting faces to names, going beyond the avatar, to meeting the actual human beings we continue to interact with every day online.
Bainbridge Island, Seattle: Recharge
Mexico, Egypt, Japan and multiple speaking engagements – all on different topics — in rapid fire. Terrific exercises and terrific experiences. But at some point, the constant movement catches up.
Needed: time and space to recharge.
So we did what all people do when they feel the need to recharge. We retreated to a defunct hippie commune on an island in Seattle's Puget Sound. We holed up in a yurt on Bainbridge Island, took stock of where we’ve been over the last couple of weeks, and ruminated on where we’re headed.
Then we were invited to speak again.
What’s coming up?
We’re in Seattle for a few days before heading south to Portland for the World Domination Summit (WDS) in early July. For those of you unfamiliar with the event, don’t let the boldness of the name put you off. The conference brings together digital entrepreneurship with a more general theme of carving out a remarkable life in a conventional world.
To a crowd of 1,000, we’ll speak about how and why we embarked on our journey. We'll address the challenges and opportunities of staying married while traveling and running a business together, and the motivations, aspirations and machinations that seem to hold it all together.
Of course, we'll serve up a few stories to make those points while reflecting on what we’ve learned about ourselves, each other, and our world as we've made our way.
All this in thirty minutes. Clearly, we’ve got our work cut out for us.
From there we will return to Berlin, Germany. A familiar ring, you say? It remains one of our favorite cities, a place to return to that feels like home. We'll finally finish the redesign of the site, catch up with stories and photo essays from Japan, Egypt, and Mexico, and work on some new trips and projects for the fall and winter.
The Importance of Stillness, The Importance of Story
The opportunities before us over the last few weeks have been edifying, affirmative and quite possibly transformative. But the constant activity and movement has left little time for reflection, little time to continue threading the stories that underpin our blog and our connection with you.
So we pick up the pen again.
Thanks always for your patience. Good things are happening. We look forward to continuing to share our journey with you.