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Which Travel Writing Conference Is Right for Me?

Travel writers spend a lot of the time on the road. We are notorious for not having an office, and our colleagues (and bosses) are often people we correspond with primarily via the Internet. However, once in a while, it is advantageous for an aspiring travel writer to attend a networking event, also known as a travel writing conference.

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Whether you’re new to the travel writing game or an old pal looking to meet some of your old co-workers (and friends), going to a conference is essential to the job.

Here are several conferences that take place at least once a year:


TBEX Europe © Paul Brady

TBEX stands for “Travel Bloggers EXchange” – a community that allows travel writers, bloggers, editors as well as (mere) travelers to interact online at TravelBlogExchange.com. Then, there is the annual event, which started out as one conference per year in North America, and now has expanded to include a conference in Europe as well.

This year, the North American conference was held in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, from June 11-12, with more than 450 attendees! If you missed this year’s conference, another option is to attend TBEX Europe in Prague from Nov. 4-5, 2011.

Is TBEX right for me?

As the name states, TBEX is for bloggers. If you specialize in magazine writing, there might be other events better suited for your needs. If you are seeking to learn about social media and monetizing your blog, as well as using video to enhance or promote your travel writing, this might be the right event for you. Conference organizer, Kim Mance, is a prime example with her Galavanting TV and should not be missed as one of the key speakers.

Travel Classics

Again, the name tells all. Travel Classics is for those who prefer more of a classic route. That is, it will include magazines; meaning paper not only online writing.

Note that Travel Classics does not just accept anyone. It caters to experienced writers, and you must apply to secure your spot. What does this mean? Sending in several clips and writing samples. Just to make sure you are not heading along for the free press tours. Yes, you heard correctly: each conference includes a free pre- and post press tour, usually sponsored by the tourism board of the host country.

This year, Travel Classics was in Dublin from June 23-26, 2011. There will be another event in Vancouver from October 6-9, 2011 (it seems that Vancouver is getting popular with travel writers this year). Both events admit only a maximum of forty writers, along with about fifteen editors. Given the small size, writers can schedule one-on-one workshops with the editors.

Is Travel Classics right for me?

Well, before you start wondering whether it is right for you, you have to jump the hurdle of applying. If your application is accepted (meaning that you are an experienced travel writer), you can decide whether you want to go. If you are seeking to break in to National Geographic, it might be a good idea to head to Dublin; Keith Bellows, Editor in Chief, will be among the editors present.

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© D. Sharon Pruitt

Book Passage Travel, Food and Photography Conference

Don George, Global Travel Editor for Lonely Planet Publications, is the one who started the Book Passage travel writing conference 20 years ago. Held annually in San Francisco, the conference brings together both inexperienced and experienced writers. In fact, Don George often mentions that some of the faculty started out as former students way back in the day.

One favorite story of his is that one student started talking to an editor over lunch about his travels and before the conference had ended, signed a book contract about precisely those journeys.

While it is perhaps unlikely that you, too, will experience such luck, it is worth a shot. This year, the conference will be held in San Francisco from August 11-14, 2011. Speakers and editors include Tim Cahill, David Farley as well as Don George himself.

Is Book Passage right for me?

Especially if you are new to travel writing, this is a good place to start. Book Passage welcomes writers with a variety of experience levels and you can get your foot in the door here. To do so, consider signing up for one of the individual editing sessions beforehand. They cost extra, but those few minutes with David Farley or Tim Cahill might be well worth the money.

Travel Bloggers Unite

Like TBEX, TBU provides an online community where travel writers can network and exchange ideas.

They also run several conferences. The first was held in Manchester earlier this March, and the second will be in Innsbruck, Austria, from August 24-26, 2011.

For the Innsbruck event, you can view the delegate list of those already registered here. Speakers include Sebastian Heinzel (Tripwolf CEO), Keith Jenkins (@Velvet Escape & Global Bloggers Network), Janice Waugh (@SoloTraveler & Global Bloggers Network), Abigail King (@InsideTravel Lab), John O’Nolan (@John O’Nolan) and Debbie Hindle (MD of FourBGB).

Is TBU right for me?

Like TBEX, TBU caters primarily to bloggers. At the Innsbruck conference, every delegate receives a free city tour from a specialty trained guide. You can view more information on the tours here.


No matter which conference you choose, good luck networking and pitching. Stay tuned for more updates on how to make the best of your next travel writing conference!

  1. I like this post. I think a lot of TBEX attendees, including myself, had never attended a blogging conference before and didn’t know there were so many options. I probably should have done TBU or Book Passage first.

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