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Travel blogger conferences are one of the best ways to quickly level up your content creation skills and network with other creators and brands, which is essential to succeeding in this industry.
After the announcement of TravelCon ending, many bloggers are wondering where to go next.
I’ve attended multiple travel conferences and trade shows over the last four years, so I wanted to share my experiences and the best travel blogging conferences to help you succeed.
Why Attend Blogging Conferences?
The truth is, being a content creator can be isolating. I didn’t network with many other creators during my first year as a travel blogger, and as a result, I didn’t get very far.
When I started taking blogging courses and attended my first conference (TravelCon in 2019), things began to turn around for me.
The sessions at blogging conferences are on the topics you need to succeed in the industry. You’ll hear firsthand from the top creators about SEO, affiliate marketing, YouTube, TikTok, Instagram, working with brands, and so much more.
But for me, the best part of attending conferences was the connections I made with other creators. Before TravelCon, I didn’t have a blogging community. And in this industry, community is everything.
I met the most incredible group of women at TravelCon in 2019, and we decided to stay in touch and form an accountability group that would meet monthly to stay on track with our blogging goals. Those monthly calls turned into weekly calls during the pandemic, and we grew closer as friends.
I moved to Barbados because of Nicola and then to Puerto Vallarta because of Courtney, which is where I started my niche website Take Me To Puerto Vallarta. She is also the reason I got my part-time job with Tripscout.
Most opportunities I’ve gotten have been because of people recommending me, and travel blogger conferences are a quick way to meet other people in the industry.
Plus, conferences have a ton of sponsors, including some of the top travel brands and tourism boards.
You’ll have the chance to make 1-on-1 meetings with these brands to see if there is potential for a partnership. While cold pitching can work, having a warm lead is much more effective.
Top Content Creator Conferences
Traverse is a European-based event that describes itself as the ‘the anti-conference that’s more like a festival than a conference’.
I went for the first time in November 2021 in Mallorca, Spain just before moving to Tenerife, and it’s one of the most fun conferences I’ve ever attended.
Although the actual conference is only two days, the host destination puts on several mid-week events leading up to the event included with your ticket.
In Mallorca, they had scuba diving, hot air balloon rides, hikes, wine tasting, olive-making workshops, and more.
They also host events almost every night of the week, which in Spain meant a lot of free tapas and wine.
Honestly, even without the networking and talks, the ticket is a fantastic value just for a fun week (especially if you get the early bird ticket price).
But on top of all the fun, you’ll also learn valuable skills at the sessions. In Mallorca, I mainly attended the talks about YouTube/video editing and found them very useful, as this is an area I am just starting in.
The cool thing about Traverse is that because it’s a smaller conference (I don’t think there were more than 200 attendees in Mallorca), you get the chance to mingle with almost everyone, including the speakers, who were all very down-to-earth.
They didn’t have much of a media room for sponsors that I’ve seen at other conferences, but I did meet a few PR and brand representatives.
As the event is hosted in Europe, most attendees are European, but I met a lot of new fun creators here!
Upcoming Traverse Events:
KeyFrame in Malta, April 13th-16th. A four-day video conference created to “boost attendees’ knowledge and skills in filming, editing, and running their own video production business.” I’ve got a ticket for this year!
The last Traverse 22 was in Brno, Czech Republic in September 2022. They haven’t yet announced the location of the next Traverse.
They also host regular meetups in London and paid opportunities for content creators, so be sure to subscribe to their e-mail list to stay in the loop.
Women In Travel Summit (WITS)
WITS is an excellent conference for female travel bloggers, influencers, and entrepreneurs to collaborate, network with brands, and build a community.
It was created by Wanderful, an amazing woman’s travel community. They started in 2014 and host a North American and European conference each year.
I attended WITS in Riga, Latvia, in November 2019, which was a wonderful experience. It was my second conference after TravelCon, and well I didn’t find the quality/quantity of the sessions as high; I loved the community aspect of it.
Everyone there was so supportive, and I made incredible friends on that trip who are still helping me get opportunities today. Plus, Riga was such a fun host destination!
WITS also has a lot of sponsors and a media room, so you’ll have a chance to make appointments and network 1-on-1 with Destination Marketing Organizations (DMOs) and travel brands.
Like Traverse, the value of WITS is excellent. They had unique tours and events in Riga leading up to the conference, parties and happy hours, meals and coffee breaks, and a fully hosted familiarization (FAM) trip before the conference that you can apply for.
In 2019, I was selected for a trip to Liepāja, a quaint port city on Latvia’s west coast. The trip was one of the more organized FAMs I’ve been on, and the group of girls I went with was wonderful.
If you are new to working with DMOs, these FAM trips are a perfect way to start and make connections that can lead to future opportunities.
Upcoming WITS conferences:
North America: San Juan, Puerto Rico, May 19-21, 2023. If I hadn’t gone to Puerto Rico for NATJA last year, I’d be tempted to attend this.
The last WITS Europe was in Gdansk, Poland in October 2022. The next European conference hasn’t been announced yet.
Wanderfest is a travel festival organized by Wanderful that will be held in New Orleans March 2023!
It’s an outdoor festival for people who love to travel. While it’s not an official conference, there will be many creators and brands there, so this could be a great place to network. I’ll be attending my first one this year and am so excited!
Travel Blog Exchange Conference (TBEX)
TBEX is one of the oldest travel blogging conferences around. It started in 2009 and today brings hundreds of travel content creators together to network and build partnerships with travel brands, PR firms, and DMOs.
They host several conferences a year in North America, Europe, and Asia. The most recent TBEX even took place in Phuket, Thailand, which I attended!
At the conference, you’ll hear from speakers covering everything travel blog-related, including social media, influencer marketing, SEO, affiliate marketing, how to improve your writing, and more. In addition, there are tours, events, and pre/post trips.
The first time I tried to attend TBEX was the one in Catania, Italy when the world fell apart, and I got lockdown in Italy.
It was terrible timing because the week leading up to the conference was when COVID was becoming a major concern in Italy.
Due to that, the conference got canceled just a few days before. But since many of us were already in Europe or on the way, they told us to come anyway and that the tourism board would still host events for us.
Unfortunately, the day I arrived in Catania, they told us the country was going into lockdown, and we had to leave ASAP. Not fun.
Obviously, COVID was an unprecedented event, but how everything was handled was a complete mess, including the communication before the conference was canceled and the aftermath of people trying to get their money back.
I still met some cool people (nothing like a disaster to bond people together), but it was a really stressful few days.
I decided to keep my ticket credit for a future TBEX conference, which I used for Thailand.
After Italy, I didn’t have high expectations for the conference, but I was completely blown away. It was an incredible week and many attendees said it was the best TBEX they’ve ever attended.
The ticket included two pre-conference days of tours around Phuket. On the first day, I went on a catamaran sunset trip to a beautiful secluded beach, and on the second day, I joined GoPro Thailand for another beach and water sports day filming content.
The conference was two days of talks and three nights of parties hosted by the Thailand tourism board, which were all in unique venues, including a water park, aquarium, and 5-star hotel. They were so much fun!
After the conference, I joined a 2-day FAM trip (you had to apply and be selected) to Krabi. From the quality of the hotels to the food, activities, and company, it was an unforgettable two days.
Of course, much of the success can be attributed to Thailand being an incredible host destination, but it was also a great group of attendees. I made so many new connections!
I was generally very impressed with this conference and will definitely be attending future TBEX events.
Upcoming TBEX events:
- Europe: Kalamata, Greece May 8th-11th, 2023,
- North America: Eau Claire, Wisconsin July 17-20th, 2023
Propel Travel Blogger Conference
Propel by Captivate Media is an intimate conference (20ish) for intermediate bloggers looking to bring their blog to the next level. It’s a fully hosted conference that you have to apply for and be selected to attend.
I applied at the end of 2019 for the conference in Vorarlberg, Austria, and was accepted, but it only happened in September 2021 due to COVID. All my costs were covered to attend, including plane tickets and a two-day FAM trip afterward.
I’d rank Propel as the top conference I’ve attended in terms of what I learned. Because only intermediate bloggers go, the talks are more advanced and focused on bringing you to the next level. While at most conferences, the sessions are aimed at beginners, which isn’t that helpful when you’ve been blogging for a while.
The small group size is nice because you get to know everyone pretty well, including the speakers.
Terry and Sarah, who run the conference, are lovely people, and you can really feel the passion they put into making this an incredible event.
Austria was a fantastic host destination. We stayed in a beautiful hotel in the quaint village of Mellau, dining on delicious Austrian cuisine (aka cheese and wine heaven) and enjoying the breathtaking mountain scenery.
I also loved the FAM trip to Montafon, Austria after the conference. We had so much fun hiking through the mountains, and once again, I was put with an amazing group of women. It was actually because of a girl I bonded with on that trip that I ended up on my solo trip to Africa in Egypt!
The next Propel Conference is in the Cayman Islands, which applications are now closed for. Definitely subscribe to their e-mail list for the announcement of the next one! It was a game-changer for me.
TravelCon was the first conference I ever attended as a blogger and one that probably had the most significant impact on my life.
I’d have put it on the top of the list, but sadly, they just had the last one. It was started by Nomadic Matt, one of the world’s top travel bloggers who describes it as “the place to learn the business of travel media.”
I attended TravelCon in Boston in 2019 and was blown away by the quality of the speakers and amount of talks.
They covered every topic, from starting your blog as a complete beginner to high-level advanced link building and e-mail marketing techniques. As a newbie blogger, I learned so many valuable skills.
They also had photography and writing workshops, which at the time were included in the pass.
But for me, the best part of attending TravelCon was the connections I made. It’s where I made my first travel blogging friends that changed my life.
After a two-year pandemic hiatus, I recently went back to TravelCon in Memphis, which was a completely different but equally wonderful experience.
I’ve grown so much as a blogger in the last three years, and it was cool to reflect on that and see how far I’d come. I was terrified of the media room in 2019, but this year I was booking meetings in advance with brands to discuss partnerships.
The conference in Memphis was significantly scaled-down compared to Boston, but we are still living in post-pandemic travel times, and things have changed. Sadly, Matt let us know that TravelCon is no longer part of his business at the closing speech.
Whether another conference replaces it remains to be seen, but TravelCon will be dearly missed!
North American Travel Journalist Association (NATJA)
NATJA is one of the oldest organizations for travel journalists; established in 1991. They also host a conference every year which members and non-members can attend (members get a discount).
Since I primarily lean on the content creation/influencer side rather than freelance writing, I wasn’t sure how much I’d get out of this conference but was pleasantly surprised.
Unlike most other travel conferences where you have to buy your hotel separately, NATJA offers the opportunity to buy it as a package.
For $699 (the ticket itself is $499 if you are a member), I got three nights at the Sheraton in San Juan, which is good value considering the hotel normally costs $250+ a night.
Your ticket also includes transfer to/from the hotel, all meals during the conference days, afternoon tours, and a pre or post-trip (you have to apply and be selected).
Puerto Rico is an expensive destination, so $699 for an almost entirely covered fun week was excellent value. Then of course, there’s networking with other journalists, bloggers, and DMOs which is always invaluable.
Although $699 may seem steep compared to the price of $299 for TravelCon, it’s really not when you consider what’s included. I had to pay $200 a night for a ghetto Sheraton in Memphis, plus almost all my meals. So I actually ended up spending way more than $699 that week.
There aren’t a lot of sessions, but the few I did attend had some valuable insights, particularly about pitching editors. If you are a blogger who also freelance writes, it’s worth attending this conference.
I also found this conference extremely well-run. They had sessions in the morning and then hosted tours in the afternoon, which I thought was a nice mix, as a full day of sessions can be pretty exhausting.
All meals are covered during the conference, plus a fun opening party, a closing dinner, and two-afternoon tours. I visited the Bacardi factory and took a walking/eating tour around old San Juan, which were both super fun.
I also got to go on a two-day hosted FAM trip to the Central Region of Puerto Rico, where we went zip-lining, explored caves, enjoyed a farm-to-table lunch in a Finca, and learned to make cheese.
They also have a dedicated morning for speed networking with the DMOs. Unlike other travel conferences I’ve been to, it was almost entirely North American Tourism Boards rather than a mix of DMOs and travel brands. Although the conference is aimed at journalists, I found that the DMOs were receptive to talking with me for the most part.
I was surprised by how many other bloggers were at the conference (maybe 20%); I met some awesome people. It’s an older crowd, but everyone was extremely kind and welcoming to me.
The next NATJA conference will be in Fairbanks, Alaska, in May 2023. I’ve always wanted to visit Alaska, so I’ll most likely be there!
Travel Trade Shows
Aside from conferences, travel trade shows and fairs are a great way to form connections in the travel industry.
You may not learn a lot about blogging, but you can get insights into the travel industry, meet representatives from destinations, and likely meet up with other bloggers, journalists, and content creators.
World Travel Market (WTM)
WTM brings together travel professionals worldwide for strong networking opportunities, expert insights from the world’s best minds, and more. It’s free to attend; you just have to apply before as media. However, the event is hosted in London, which can be an expensive destination to visit.
I attended WTM in November 2021 and had mixed feelings about my experience, mainly due to my lack of preparation. Unlike other travel blogging conferences, which are aimed at content creators, WTM is for the entire travel industry.
Hundreds of tourism boards from around the world will be there, but you need to book meetings in advance and come prepared. Learn from my mistakes, and don’t expect to walk up to a booth and find the right person to talk with. Everyone is very busy here, and I found it very overwhelming.
I also felt that the DMOs I did talk to were more interested in those with a European audience, and since mine is primarily North America, this often just led to them telling me they would connect me with their counterpart.
There are parties all over the city in the evening, but they aren’t open to everyone, so you will need to find PR connections to be put on the list.
The next WTM will be in London in November 2023.
Travel Media International Media Marketplace
I have not attended before, but I know a lot of bloggers who go to this event and said they made terrific connections. Apparently, it’s a full day of speed networking with brands, so it sounds exhausting but ideal for networking.
Registration does not cost anything, but you have to be prescreened and approved to go.
Upcoming IMM events:
- IMM North America 25-26 January 2023 in New York
- IMM Australia 23-24 February 2023 in Sydney
- IMM Germany 7 March 2023 in Berlin
- IMM UK 13-14 March 2023 in London
- IMM France on 15 March 2023 in Paris
IPW is a travel trade fair that aims to showcase travel destinations and products in the United States to consumers from over 70 countries around the world.
You can apply as a travel journalist or content creator to come, where you’ll have the opportunity to network with brands and colleagues.
I haven’t attended IPW before but talked to many people at NATJA about it. And apparently, they go all out with the events.
The next IPW is in San Antonio, Texas on May 20th-24th, 2023.
ITB Berlin is the world’s largest tourism trade fair that ‘brings together tourism professionals and key players from the global travel industry.’
I haven’t attended yet as it has been canceled the last three years due to COVID, but I know many bloggers who previously went and said they made good connections.
The next ITB Berlin will be on March 8th, 2023.
Adventure Travel Trade Association (ATTA)
I haven’t attended one yet, but it’s high on my list. If you are in the adventure travel niche, this is a good one to look into.
Note: This is by no means a complete list of travel trade shows and fairs; there are hundreds more that happen all over the world and are more specific to regions like ATMEX in Mexico and TMAC in Canada.
The ones I’ve listed are just the events I’ve heard multiple bloggers talk about attending and those most on my radar.
Digital Nomad Festivals
While digital nomad festivals are not specifically aimed at travel bloggers, I want to give a mention because l was surprised how beneficial I found my first one.
I was invited as media to Bansko Nomad Fest in Bansko, Bulgaria, a small mountain town.
I hadn’t even heard about Bansko before the event but thought it would be a fun way to kick off my summer in Europe, which it was.
The talks covered a wide variety of topics, but many were applicable to me as a content creator, such as monetizing YouTube and hiring a virtual assistant (I actually found mine because of this talk).
There were a decent number of other creators there as well as some brands like SafetyWing.
Plus, it was just a really fun week celebrating the location-independent lifestyle with 500+ other nomads. Bansko is an awesome town if you love the outdoors and one of the cheapest digital nomad destinations to live in.
Bansko Nomad Fest will be held from June 25th-July 3rd in 2023.
Tips for Attending a Blogger Conference
If you’re a newbie blogger, I recommend going to a conference like WITS, Traverse, or TBEX, where it’s more about learning the skills and finding community. There are brands there, but I wouldn’t worry too much about pitching yourself.
Just focus on gaining the skills you need to succeed in this industry and making connections. Once you build an audience, then you can start meeting with brands and going to travel trade shows.
Perfect your elevator pitch. When you’re meeting someone for the first time, you have 30 seconds to explain what your brand is about to catch their attention.
Research the speakers beforehand and come prepared with questions for the talks you plan to attend. Then, if you see them afterward, you can thank them for the talk, and they’ll likely remember you!
Bring along business cards to hand out to anyone you meet. This year, I went with a digital business card (if you want to get one, use code LORAPOPE for 20% off).
If you’re planning to talk to brands and DMOs, bring a 1-2 page media kit. If you aren’t sure what a media kit is or how to pitch brands, I can’t recommend this course enough.
Get the business card of anyone you meet, and don’t forget to follow up with them after the conference.
Most importantly, relax and have fun! Overall, everyone in the travel community is very kind and supportive. Over half of my best friends today are from people I’ve met at conferences, which is one of the main reasons I continue to attend them.
Do you know any travel conferences and trade shows not on this list? Comment below so I can add them!