Rishi Sankar: Ah Trini Travelogue

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How do you keep a travel blog running when you’re not travelling?

Posted by Rishiray on May 13, 2014

What happens when you’ve done an epic trip and you’re back?

Or you’ve finished your around the world trip, posted amazing stories and pictures and had great stuff to write about every day while you’re travelling. Then you get back “home”, get back into the routine of work, errands and generally moving back into the daily grind, and you can’t motivate yourself to write or put any new content to put into your blog. Well folks … welcome to blogger fatigue or blogger burnout. Most blogs start off as well meaning projects by their writers, but then invariably fall to the wayside through neglect, boredom or just a new hobby coming along the way.

I’ve been at this travel blogging thing for about 8 years.

8 years!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Over the last 8 years, I’ve seen my traffic spike from 10 people a month visiting it to about 8000-10,000+ visits a month. When I have fresh new content i.e. when I’m travelling to some exotic destination … my visitors also go up. So what happens when you don’t update anything for about 2 months … I’ve found that my traffic hasn’t done poorly … it’s dropped to about 7000 visits a month. This being said, it’s tough to keep yourself motivated when you’re back home without a new adventure on the horizon to stoke your travel blood and wanderlust.

On the road, it’s easy to feel like this … but being at home does make you feel like that too 🙂

This is my first post in about 50 days! It’s the longest I’ve gone without posting in the last 5 years … there’s some good reasons

  • Family visit to Trinidad
  • Working a lot more
  • Shift in responsibilities
  • Catching up with friends when I was back in the new year.

It’s easy to write a travel blog, if this is your morning view. You just want to write and share … this picture courtesy of awesomeness in Arenal, Costa Rica!

How do you keep a travel blog running when you’re not travelling? I went to a number of well known travel blogs to find some tips on keeping this blog running during this non travelling period and found a couple tips … but they didn’t all reasonate with me …

  1. Top Ten Lists:

    Since I have travelled to a lot of countries, I do have a wealth of experience from the road. I thought about putting up top 10 lists in all the countries I’ve visited. I’ve done this before when I was tired of writing … top 10 list are the “linkbait” or “fast food” of blogs. They’re easy to write, easy to read but generally never enough to actually be thorough informative. I could compile list of restaurants, picture blogs or just “stream of consciousness” posts … but I’ve just been too lazy. So screw that!!

  2. Blog Carnivals:

    I could invite other bloggers that I respect and admire to submit a link to their favourite posts. But who am I kidding … this is my blog, when you come here, you’re going to read my bullshit and no one elses. Having other bloggers write for you is an excellent way to build friends in the community and drive traffic up … did I mention that I’m lazy and I could care less for more friends. I can barely keep up with the friends that I do have.

  3. Guest Posts:

    I thought about inviting friends to write guest posts on my blog … I’ve extended the invitation to travelling friends for the last 5 years. Guess how many friends took me up on writing a post … hint … it’s rhymes with Hero or Nero or Gyro.  Note : The number actually rhymes with Won, Done or Hun … You get the idea … I’d love to have a different writer contribute to the blog … but then again, I just have to refer to bullet #2 above.

  4. Fantasy Posts:

    Have you seen these types of posts. Bloggers write about their dream vacations or dream destinations. This doesn’t work for me … because I’m a jealous asshole when it comes to travelling. When someone goes to a country that I haven’t been, I tend to get pretty obnoxious about it (and pretty petty about it too).
    I’ve used that travel jealousy to push me to go somewhere new … but I must be getting older now, since I have less and less travel jealousy.

  5. Being a tourist in my own town:

    When I’m in Toronto, I have almost no desire to leave the house. SERIOUSLY!!!
    I can traipse around the world, figure out complex destinations, flip over golf carts or tuk tuks but when I’m home, I find nothing exciting about it … even though I know I live in a world class city with world class food and events. Nothing is very exciting when it’s in your backyard … especially when you think you have all the time in the world to see the stuff in your own backyard. So while I want to be a tourist in my own town … I’m just lazy (see bullet #1)

    This guys was shot in Torres del Paine in Southern Chile. It’s awesome and shows why I won’t bother with doing this at home

    Even when I lived in Trinidad, I never did everything I could … hence why my “100 things to do in Trinidad” post has about 80 things.

  6. Photo Collections:

    I have a bazillion pictures online … Who doesn’t love pretty pictures? Who doesn’t love cute kids? Who doesn’t love a little link loving from their fellow travel bloggers? I have so many pictures, that I could post reams of them for months and still never really run out of pictures to post and blog content to create. This is one idea that should be so easy …
    EXCEPT
    I’m such a perfectionist with my photography that I only want to blog about my great pictures … as though all the crappy pictures don’t tell stories by themselves. Of course … how can you brag about all the places you’ve been, if you have completely shitty pictures? That’s just a thought … but no matter what any bloggers say to themselves … a travel blog is the height of vanity projects!

    Oh look at me … “I’m so awesome travelling all around” or “I know stuff cause I drank snake venom and vodka” or some other blah blah blah writing. I’m under no such pretense!!!

For those people who think you can write a travel blog without having travelled or travelling very little … I’m here to tell you stop. Would you want to listen to me give you tips on your jumpshot or would you listen to LeBron James?

Exactly!!! You want to write … then go out and travel. When you’re a little tired of travelling, then you can sit in your house, be a hermit for a while and complain about not writing!!

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Some days I hate travel but here’s why I still do it.

Posted by Rishiray on March 16, 2014

Outside the hotel here at 2am, it’s an all too familiar feeling; freezing cold, darkness. It’s these types of days, that I hate to travel.

Don’t get me wrong … hate is a very strong word and I know that I’ve been blessed beyond belief to be able to see what I’ve seen across the planet. Every time I jump on a plane, it’s a bit thrilling; a bit suicidal; and a bit empty … all at the same time, and it comes together once you’ve landed. You get off the plane, hop in that taxi, hit the hotel and rinsed off the scent of being part of the herd on that plane and you’re faced with a new combination of silence, danger and a bit of mental constipation.

… types of days, that I hate to travel

Travel is exhausting and disorienting. In Trinidad, we say that this combination of experiences gives you “Belly”; it’s that belief that you can rise above the challenges put in your way, regardless of the effort required to surmount those challenges. My mother would say that these types of experiences are “character building” … if so, then I definitely have a lot of “character”. I’m not going to pretend that the first time alone in Thailand, I didn’t want to flip over “tuk-tuks” when the drivers tried to rip me off or lead me in the wrong direction (Disclaimer : I did actually flip one on it’s side, when the guy lied to me and took me to the Black Buddha in Bangkok … don’t mess with a big brown Trini!)

The scene of the flipping!!!

The experience did teach me that if a man comes to your aid in Asia, he will always give you directions, whether he knows the way or not, in order to save face … how you react after that is purely on you.

I really shouldn’t be complaining about the weather at 2am being so cold, when I could be a guy in India, squatting on a milk crate crowding around the one air conditioner amongst 100 people. Or be huddling around a hot water pipe in Cambodia, while an wealthy expat is upstairs taking a hot shower.

I travel so I can burp in public … so I don’t feel the shame of doing it in San Fernando or Chaguanas, but rather to express my compliments to the chef in Hong Kong or Israel. I like doing as the Romans do … especially when it involves eating a pound of lemon and berry gelato in Rome at 9am or having dinner at 11pm in Buenos Aires, wandering Las Ramblas at 3am looking for another bar or having my skin rubbed off in a hammam in Morocco.

How about passing out in Maracas with red highlights from playing mas the previous day?

I don’t travel anymore for some sense of faux authenticity … I left that home in Trinidad with my folks. I can’t pretend anymore that searching for the best noodles/pasta/biryani at the crack of dawn or end of night will make me “local” or offer a “local tourist experience” … we’re always going to be tourists. The travel porn that surrounds us through TV and print media astounds me. When magazines trumpet the “best deal of the season” and I see pages of women in high heels on the sand, uncomfortable looking hats or terrible plaid shorts, each which probably cost more than the “deal” itself … I always wonder about the aspirational value of these trips.

I travel so I can see past this stuff …

Some days I hate travel but travelling for me is an opportunity to streamline and simplify my life … every time I feel that things are getting too complex, there’s nothing like running away for a day or 10 to help refocus and recalibrate that perspective. It’s a chance to simplify, a chance to toss a pair of jeans, a T-shirt and one pair of shoes and head out for one last joyride before tossing all that stuff in the garbage can.

Once it’s all done … everything is so much lighter, so that the cold, silent taxi ride to the airport and resulting flight home while having the same dread feeling in my head, also leaves my mind and soul packed to capacity. I’ll hate travel tomorrow instead …

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16 quick questions for a Trini Traveller…and more than 16 answers

Posted by Rishiray on March 4, 2014

It’s Carnival Tuesday 2014 in Trinidad. I have a dose of the Carnival tabanca …so here’s 16 questions for a Trini Traveller that I’ve gotten over the last couple months on my facebook page or via email.

  1. Where do I live?
    Toronto but I pretend to live in Trinidad or Prince Edward Island.
  2. First travel memory?
    Touching down in Trinidad for the first time. I still remember the plane ride and smell of Piarco Airport in 1981 as a child.
  3. On my iPod/iPad when I travel … ?
    I’m playing Infinity Blade 3 and listening to 2013 and 2014 soca
  4. Best travel tip for flying?
    Always wear slip on shoes and never wear tight jeans, especially on long flights!
  5. Favorite town for lunch?
    Lima, Peru in 2013. Hands down, the most concentrated center of awesome tasting, diverse, fresh and value priced food in the world.
  6. If I had a year off … ?
    I would travel from the top to the bottom of South America with the wife, honing my Spanish skills, while working remotely while couchsurfing all the way.
  7. Favorite town for breakfast?
    Antigua, Guatemala in 2012. You’ll always find something, cheap, great and fresh at any hour of the morning. Where else can you get an entire plate of great brekkie for 3$
  8. Best travel buddy?
    1. A glass of 21 yr old Highland Park in a business class seat en route to Hong Kong with my Bose QC-3 on.
    2. My wife comes in a close second because she likes to cuddle on the plane and talk.
  9. Best drink in the best bar?
  10. When I travel for more than 90 mins…
    I will always finish that week’s issue of the Economist. I would like to read more fiction, but I’m too lazy for it.
  11. When not writing for this blog …
    I’m usually asleep or reading for work
  12. My assignment, in 5 words
    Challenging, amazing and always confusing
  13. Best travel tip for making friends abroad …
    Always buy the maximum duty free allowance your favorite exceptional alcohol and always have a bottle of it in your backpack. When I can’t do it … I go a little ballistic
  14. Last holiday …
    Went to Antarctica … nuff said
  15. If I had to eat only one type of cuisine for the rest of my life …
    Hakka food … all the way. I love my Trini food, but Hakka is like Trinidadian styled Chinese food … just 100 times better.
  16. Next destination …
    No idea … flying to Prince Edward Island and Napa Valley for a wedding doesn’t count as destinations for me.

Posted in Monday Morning Consultant, Travel Wisdom | Tagged: , , | Leave a Comment »

10 Painfully Obvious Truths Everyone Forgets Too Soon

Posted by Rishiray on March 3, 2014

Hello Trini Travellers … I’ve not posted a lot since my Antarctica trip because I’ve been ridiculously busy catching my breath from the last year. When one takes time for anything, you gain a bit of perspective, no matter what is going in your life. Normally, I’d be posting about some travel adventure or a plan for adventure, but I’ve always lived by a few principles … the following article (“10 Painfully Obvious Truths Everyone Forgets Too Soon”) copied completely from the “Marc and Angel Hack Life” blog couldn’t have captured my way of thinking any better – they’re much better writers than I am.

As you sober up after the Carnival festivities in Trinidad this week, take some time to ponder the following:

1.  The average human life is relatively short.

We know deep down that life is short, and that death will happen to all of us eventually, and yet we are infinitely surprised when it happens to someone we know.  It’s like walking up a flight of stairs with a distracted mind, and misjudging the final step.  You expected there to be one more stair than there is, and so you find yourself off balance for a moment, before your mind shifts back to the present moment and how the world really is.

LIVE your life TODAY!  Don’t ignore death, but don’t be afraid of it either.  Be afraid of a life you never lived because you were too afraid to take action.  Death is not the greatest loss in life.  The greatest loss is what dies inside you while you’re still alive.  Be bold.  Be courageous.  Be scared to death, and then take the next step anyway.

2.  You will only ever live the life you create for yourself.

Your life is yours alone.  Others can try to persuade you, but they can’t decide for you.  They can walk with you, but not in your shoes.  So make sure the path you decide to walk aligns with your own intuition and desires, and don’t be scared to switch paths or pave a new one when it makes sense.

Remember, it’s always better to be at the bottom of the ladder you want to climb than the top of the one you don’t.  Be productive and patient.  And realize that patience is not about waiting, but the ability to keep a good attitude while working hard for what you believe in.  This is your life, and it is made up entirely of your choices.  May your actions speak louder than your words.  May your life preach louder than your lips.  May your success be your noise in the end.

And if life only teaches you one thing, let it be that taking a passionate leap is always worth it.  Even if you have no idea where you’re going to land, be brave enough to step up to the edge of the unknown, and listen to your heart.  

3.  Being busy does NOT mean being productive.

Busyness isn’t a virtue, nor is it something to respect.  Though we all have seasons of crazy schedules, very few of us have a legitimate need to be busy ALL the time.  We simply don’t know how to live within our means, prioritize properly, and say no when we should.

Being busy rarely equates to productivity these days.  Just take a quick look around.  Busy people outnumber productive people by a wide margin.  Busy people are rushing all over the place, and running late half of the time.  They’re heading to work, conferences, meetings, social engagements, etc.  They barely have enough free time for family get-togethers and they rarely get enough sleep.  Yet, emails are shooting out of their smart phones like machine gun bullets, and their day planners are jammed to the brim with obligations.  Their busy schedule gives them an elevated sense of importance.  But it’s all an illusion.  They’re like hamsters running on a wheel.

Though being busy can make us feel more alive than anything else for a moment, the sensation is not sustainable long term.  We will inevitably, whether tomorrow or on our deathbed, come to wish that we spent less time in the buzz of busyness and more time actually living a purposeful life.

4.  Some kind of failure always occurs before success.

Most mistakes are unavoidable.  Learn to forgive yourself.  It’s not a problem to make them.  It’s only a problem if you never learn from them.

If you’re too afraid of failure, you can’t possibly do what needs to be done to be successful.  The solution to this problem is making friends with failure.  You want to know the difference between a master and a beginner?  The master has failed more times than the beginner has even tried.  Behind every great piece of art is a thousand failed attempts to make it, but these attempts are simply never shown to us.

Bottom line:  Just because it’s not happening now, doesn’t mean it never will.  Sometimes things have to go very wrong before they can be right.

5.  Thinking and doing are two very different things.

Success never comes to look for you while you wait around thinking about it.

You are what you do, not what you say you’ll do.  Knowledge is basically useless without action.  Good things don’t come to those who wait; they come to those who work on meaningful goals.  Ask yourself what’s really important and then have the courage to build your life around your answer.

And remember, if you wait until you feel 100% ready to begin, you’ll likely be waiting the rest of your life.

6.  You don’t have to wait for an apology to forgive.

Life gets much easier when you learn to accept all the apologies you never got.  The key is to be thankful for every experience – positive or negative.  It’s taking a step back and saying, “Thank you for the lesson.”  It’s realizing that grudges from the past are a perfect waste of today’s happiness, and that holding one is like letting unwanted company live rent free in your head.

Forgiveness is a promise – one you want to keep.  When you forgive someone you are making a promise not to hold the unchangeable past against your present self.  It has nothing to do with freeing a criminal of his or her crime, and everything to do with freeing yourself of the burden of being an eternal victim.

7.  Some people are simply the wrong match for you.

You will only ever be as great as the people you surround yourself with, so be brave enough to let go of those who keep bringing you down.  You shouldn’t force connections with people who constantly make you feel less than amazing.

If someone makes you feel uncomfortable and insecure every time you’re with them, for whatever reason, they’re probably not close friend material.  If they make you feel like you can’t be yourself, or if they make you “less than” in any way, don’t pursue a connection with them.  If you feel emotionally drained after hanging out with them or get a small hit of anxiety when you are reminded of them, listen to your intuition.  There are so many “right people” for you, who energize you and inspire you to be your best self.  It makes no sense to force it with people who are the wrong match for you.

8.  It’s not other people’s job to love you; it’s yours.

It’s important to be nice to others, but it’s even more important to be nice to yourself.  You really have to love yourself to get anything done in this world.  So make sure you don’t start seeing yourself through the eyes of those who don’t value you.  Know your worth, even if they don’t.

Today, let someone love you just the way you are – as flawed as you might be, as unattractive as you sometimes feel, and as incomplete as you think you are.  Yes, let someone love you despite all of this, and let that someone be YOU.

9.  What you own is not who YOU are.

Stuff really is just stuff, and it has absolutely no bearing on who you are as a person.  Most of us can make do with much less than we think we need.  That’s a valuable reminder, especially in a hugely consumer-driven culture that focuses more on material things than meaningful connections and experiences.

You have to create your own culture.  Don’t watch TV, don’t read every fashion magazine, and don’t consume too much of the evening news.  Find the strength to fill your time with meaningful experiences.  The space and time you are occupying at this very moment is LIFE, and if you’re worrying about Kim Kardashian or Lebron James or some other famous face, then you are disempowered.  You’re giving your life away to marketing and media trickery, which is created by big companies to ultimately motivate you to want to dress a certain way, look a certain way, and be a certain way.  This is tragic, this kind of thinking.  It’s all just Hollywood brainwashing.  What is real is YOU and your friends and your family, your loves, your highs, your hopes, your plans, your fears, etc.

Too often we’re told that we’re not important, we’re just peripheral to what is.  “Get a degree, get a job, get a car, get a house, and keep on getting.”  And it’s sad, because someday you’ll wake up and realize you’ve been tricked.  And all you’ll want then is to reclaim your mind by getting it out of the hands of the brainwashers who want to turn you into a drone that buys everything that isn’t needed to impress everyone that isn’t important.

10.  Everything changes, every second.

Embrace change and realize it happens for a reason.  It won’t always be obvious at first, but in the end it will be worth it.

What you have today may become what you had by tomorrow.  You never know.  Things change, often spontaneously.  People and circumstances come and go.  Life doesn’t stop for anybody.  It moves rapidly and rushes from calm to chaos in a matter of seconds, and happens like this to people every day.  It’s likely happening to someone nearby right now.

Sometimes the shortest split second in time changes the direction of our lives.  A seemingly innocuous decision rattles our whole world like a meteorite striking Earth.  Entire lives have been swiveled and flipped upside down, for better or worse, on the strength of an unpredictable event.  And these events are always happening.

However good or bad a situation is now, it will change.  That’s the one thing you can count on.  So when life is good, enjoy it.  Don’t go looking for something better every second.  Happiness never comes to those who don’t appreciate what they have while they have it.
[divider]When you have a chance … do go visit Marc and Angel Hack Life. They’re much better at writing this type of stuff than I am 🙂

Posted in Travel Wisdom | Tagged: | 1 Comment »

Tobago Travel Contest : Tobago’s Island Connoisseur

Posted by Rishiray on January 20, 2014

It’s the Summer Job of a Lifetime! A  Radical  Sabbatical!1-20-2014 5-03-29 PM

What?

Tourism Tobago is launching an exciting initiative – one Canadian will land the coveted position of the Tobago “Island Connoisseur” (Tobago’s Island Connoisseur)! The Island Connoisseur will share their experiences with Canadians via social media this summer. All expenses will be covered and the position pays a salary of $30,000 for the two-month stint. This could be a launching pad for an amazing career or a radical sabbatical for an accomplished professional – it’s the summer job of a lifetime!

Where?

The Island Connoisseur will spend 60 days in paradise experiencing Tobago’s people, music, food, resorts, and a dazzling array of activities ranging from snorkelling and turtle watching to mountain biking and off-road safaris.

Who?

The winner will be a “connoisseur” of life – an outgoing, adventurous social media whiz with a zest for life and learning while immersed in the amazing culture of Tobago.

When?

The winner will be on-site in paradise in July and August,  2014. The program kicks off on January 13th and details can be found at
60daysinparadise.com.

How?

Entrants will provide a short bio and a 30 second video explaining why they would be the ideal Tobago Island Connoisseur. A panel of travel industry experts will pick the top 10 applicants and then Canadians will vote to decide who will become the Island Connoisseur.
A media spend through Rogers Media of $100,000 in television exposure, as well as $35,000 in online ads. This is in addition to the PR launch activity and social media outreach.
Outreach will also be made to colleges and universities with programs such as travel and tourism, journalism, radio television arts, etc.

Please visit 60daysinparadise for more information

Posted in Travel Wisdom, Trinidad | Tagged: , , , , , | 4 Comments »

Antarctica Cruise = 53/100 on my Hillman Wonders list

Posted by Rishiray on January 13, 2014

For many of you who follow this Trini’s blog, you’ll know that my first source of travel inspiration was the Hillman Wonders website. There wasn’t anything super special about the list … I even wrote an open letter to Howard Hillman about the low placement of Trinidad … still didn’t get a response. One would think that with no response from him, I would take him off my website as a source of travel inspiration. It doesn’t work that way … his list will always be the source of my main bucket list. If you’re a traveller, you need to have a bucket list.
I even keep a photo gallery of my Hillman Wonders list … not that I could forget where I’ve been. Actually, scratch that … there have been times where I’ve forgotten where I’ve been. It’s completely embarrassing. It’s like forgetting that whether you’ve been to the Pitch Lake or Devil’s Woodyard in Trinidad. If you’re wondering about my travel inspiration … here’s 11 reasons why I travel or my bucket list page.

… don’t wait till you’re dying to start living!

Here’s a couple of my favorite pics from that gallery.

#30 – Ballooning in Cappadocia, Turkey

#42 : The Canals of Venice, Italy

#58 Mezquita of Cordoba, Spain

#85 : Night view of the Djemma El Fna in Marrakech, Morocco

#82 Steps into the ocean at Santorini, Greece

As for Antarctica … here’s a couple videos from my hikes to keep you entertained … especially with my very poor cinematographical skills. Anyway my point is … you’ll never have anywhere to travel, if you don’t have your dream list … it’s Monday, go out and make one – don’t wait till you’re dying to start living!

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Posted in Antarctica, Travel Wisdom | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Ask a Trini : Why bother with a mileage run?

Posted by Rishiray on November 12, 2013

[box type=”info” align=”aligncenter” ]Stated simply, a mileage run is an airline trip taken solely to accrue more miles or points with a given airline. The destination is in this simplest definition is irrelevant, and often isn’t a destination at all, with the majority of mileage runners never leaving the secure area of the transiting airport(s). They will simply board a flight back to their origin and call it a day/trip.[/box]

Doing my latest mileage involved travelling across three continents and 25462 miles. Along the trip, I happened to met other mileage runners. The discussion ranged from optimal plane configuration, optimization of booking classes, comparisons of different mileage programs to why fried chicken at Jollibee in the Philippines should not come with ball of rice but rather with the “standard” basket of fries. Fairly arcane and boring discussions for everyone but a mileage runner … The average person would have no clue about the difference of an M vs F class fare on United vs C class on Lufthansa. More importantly, who cares about this stuff?

Did you know … the equatorial circumference of the Earth is 24,901.55 miles?

Seriously, from the average Joes perspective, flying around in this manner is typically the domain of rich, privileged people, who like the champagne and their “grey poupon” not some Trini kid from Chaguanas. I don’t like mileage running for the sake of getting more miles and being able to see another place or two. I like mileage running because its a challenge. It also represents something that was completely impossible and inaccessible to me growing up. This was the domain of the plantation class, the bourgeoisie and upper crust.
It’s funny to say it like that, but it’s absolutely true. People say slavery and serfdom ended years ago, they say that people don’t live like peasants anymore. Of course, I absolutely disagree with that – travelling lets you see that slavery, serfdom and indentured labour practices are still alive and kicking.

Which of these is worse?

  • Being put into classes of people, but with a clear definition and purpose, with the ability and freedom to move within and above social classes but not being equal
  • Being told that we’re all completely equal, and that we can do anything we like. Of course, this comes with the awareness that no one said identified what we should do or who should do it or when you can do it … But whatever you want to do, please do it.

While you’re thinking about those choices and realizing that neither is really that great a choice, contemplate doing something that no one you personally know has done before.

  • Have you done this thing?
  • If not, why? It could be anything … As long as no one you know has personally done it. It gets pretty tough to think of one thing to do …so how about doing 5 of these things … even tougher eh?

For me, mileage running was one of those “things” that no one I knew growing up did or thought was a possibility – the closest story of a Trinidadian traveller I could relate to was that of Harold and Kwailan La Borde in “Round the World in Humming Bird II”. It’s an absolutely inspirational story … and sadly one that many young Trinis have never read or even know about.  Being able to visit more than half of the countries in the world was another “impossibility” in my brain. Since we know that the equatorial circumference of the planet is less than 25,000 miles, it means that I basically flew around the planet. It took the LaBordes 4 years to do it, and now anyone can do it in a matter of hours.

How many people do you personally know, that can say that went around the world in a weekend?

In the end, why bother with a mileage run? For the challenge and with this mindset that I go on these exhausting, taxing and mentally draining mileage runs …

Challenge yourself!!!

No matter how small, just challenge yourself – that’s why I do it.

Posted in Ask a Trini, Travel Wisdom | Tagged: | 1 Comment »

22 Inspirational Travel Quotes and Photos for Trinidadians

Posted by Rishiray on September 14, 2013

I do a lot of travel reading … in fact, when I’m are not travelling, I’m usually dreaming of travel or looking for inspiration for the next travel adventure. I also read a lot of travel blogs and there are many quotes that have just left a smile on my face … I’ve found that the best travel quotes are the ones that rationalize my adventure or give reason for something I’ve done or pushes me to get that last dream place. Here’s 22 of my favorite quotes. Of course, feel free to share to any of your Trini travelling friend.

1. “All travel is circular. I had been jerked through Asia, making a parabola on one of the planet’s hemispheres. After all, the grand tour is just the inspired man’s way of heading home.” – Paul Theroux, The Great Railway Bazaar

Monks … Cambodia … now it all makes sense

2. “Jet lag is for amateurs.”Dick Clark

People who complain about one or two flights make me laugh … try 5 in 24 hrs … now we’re talking!

3.  “You don’t choose the day you enter the world and you don’t choose the day you leave. It’s what you do in between that makes all the difference.” – Anita Septimus

4. “No one realises how beautiful it is to travel until he comes home and rests his head on his old, familiar pillow.” — Lin Yutang

[box type=”success” align=”alignleft” ] 5. “A ship in harbor is safe, but that is not what ships are built for.” – John A. Shedd[/box]

 

 

6. “We live in a wonderful world that is full of beauty, charm and adventure. There is no end to the adventures we can have if only we seek them with our eyes open.” – Jawaharal Nehru

7.  “To travel is to discover that everyone is wrong about other countries.”
– Aldous Huxley

[box type=”info” ]8. “Writing and travel broaden your ass if not your mind and I like to write standing up.” – Ernest Hemingway[/box]

9. “To awaken quite alone in a strange town is one of the pleasantest sensations in the world.” – Freya Stark

10.  “Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness.” Mark Twain

11. “Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the things you did do. So throw off the bowlines, sail away from the safe harbour and catch the Trade Winds in your sails.” Mark Twain

[box type=”info” align=”alignleft” ]11. “Not all those who wander are lost.” J.R.R. Tolkien[/box]

 

12. “Remember happiness is a way of travel not a destination.” Roy Goodman

13. “I haven’t been everywhere but it’s on my list.” Susan Sontag
[mappress mapid=”44″]

14. “They say no land remains to be discovered, no continent is left unexplored. But the whole world is out there, waiting, just waiting for me. I want to do things— I want to walk the rain-soaked streets of London, and drink mint tea in Casablanca. I want to wander the wastelands of the Gobi desert and see a yak. I think my life’s ambition is to see a yak. I want to bargain for trinkets in an Arab market in some distant, dusty land. There’s so much. But, most of all, I want to do things that will mean something.” – Lisa Ann Sandell

15. “To my mind, the greatest reward and luxury of travel is to be able to experience everyday things as if for the first time, to be in a position in which almost nothing is so familiar it is taken for granted.” – Bill Bryson

Lunch inside a cave … with a musician on his own … hmmm, I’ll take that!

16. “Our happiest moments as tourists always seem to come when we stumble upon one thing while in pursuit of something else.” — Lawrence Block

17. “Only by going alone in silence, without baggage, can one truly get into the heart of the wilderness. All other travel is mere dust and hotels and baggage and chatter.” – John Muir

18. “The first condition of understanding a foreign country is to smell it.” – Rudyard Kipling

19.  “I have found out that there ain’t no surer way to find out whether you like people or hate them than to travel with them.” – Mark Twain

20.  “The World is a book, and those who do not travel read only a page.” – Saint Augustine

21. “When you travel, remember that a foreign country is not designed to make you comfortable. It is designed to make its own people comfortable.” – Clifton Fadiman

I sometimes forget that I’m not supposed to be comfortable when I travel … it’s the reason I jumped on a plane

Yep … sleeping anywhere with a pillow is a luxury .. don’t forget that!

Being surrounded by kids … ummm more challenging than eating horse/dog/cat/snake/shark meat

22. “One of the great things about travel is that you find out how many good, kind people there are.”― Edith Wharton

Posted in Ask a Trini, Travel Wisdom | Tagged: , | 2 Comments »

Travel when you’re young. If you don’t, you’ll regret it.

Posted by Rishiray on August 9, 2013

One of my readers, Shivanna Samlal sent me the following link … “10 Trips You NEED To Take In Your 20s” and asked my thoughts …
httpvh://www.youtube.com/watch?v=faHPucqig2U

If you weren’t paying attention to the words, here are the bullet points

  1. Go on a road trip across the country with your friends.
  2. Use a Eurail pass to see Europe … preferably on your own.
  3. Go on a cheesy spring break trip (in your 20’s)
  4. Lose yourself in South-East Asia, preferably with new friends, who you meet on the road.
  5. You should go to Burning Man or Bonnaroo.
  6. Go to the Himalayas and embrace your inner Beastie Boy.
  7. Go on a camping trip in the middle of “nowhere”
  8. Spend a week on the beach with someone you love.
  9. Take a last minute trip to see a friend … you can use a train, car or fly.
  10. Spend a week in Paris with a friend who you secretly likes you back.

As a Trinidadian living abroad, I can easily understand that there aren’t many Trini 20-somethings that would be able to even attack half this list. By the end of my 20’s I was done with basically 8 items on this list, but it was because I made travel a priority … I didn’t buy a flashy car or spend on expensive things/clothes. I just had my own priorities. Many have criticized this list as being ridiculous, geared towards white kids with parents who have money to burn and giving the message that doing this stuff later in life isn’t as valuable.

You only live once, but if you do it right, once is enough … Mae West

I can say without a doubt, that I wouldn’t have had it any other way. For instance, my trip to Paris was deliciously bitter sweet, because I met an ex-girlfriend there. I was sad and excited by the end of my stay, but it was unforgettable because everything was up in the air. It was also my first time in Paris … and there is something magical amidst the derison, scorn and contempt that you’ll face while you’re there. Doing this in your 30’s just wouldn’t be the same, as would be taking a ridiculous spring break trip. In your 20’s, getting completely plastered, doing insane stunts, making out with random women and other sorts of debauchery is almost socially accepted … try doing this in your 30’s and absolving your personal guilt or rationalizing this to your 30-something year old friends. I can feel the “eye rolls” and “headshaking” already.

It’s not the years in your life that count. It’s the life in your years … Abraham Lincoln

I personally don’t care about the criticisms of such a video. We all have very different circumstances in our lives. For some of us, success is defined as getting clean water and a place to sleep. My heart will always go out to those people, but in the end, we’re living in vastly different realities, and drawing a comparison is unjust and unfair.

If I’d followed all the rules, I’d never have gotten anywhere … Marilyn Monroe

For a large percentage of us … the opportunity is there, but we choose to sit at home, live in fear, listening to other people’s opinions rather than forming our own or having other people’s experience fed to us. The video above is aspirational  … wasting the chance, when you have the opportunity, seems to be a sin to me. I don’t think that the vast majority of 20-somethings would wander off … but I know many 20 somethings who have gotten jobs, bought houses, gotten married or had children. Those are all harder than wandering off and having some adventure … so why not attempt the list above when you’re 20? You have your whole life to get a job, house, married or kids.

Action expresses priorities … Mahatma Gandhi

You can only be an ass in your 20’s and get away with it … but you can be a boss at any age … ask my dad!

Take time to be the biggest ass you can be … you won’t regret it!

Posted in Travel Wisdom | Tagged: , , | Leave a Comment »

How I Afford to Travel as a Trinidadian?

Posted by Rishiray on June 28, 2013

As a Trinidadian, the one question I get asked a lot is “How do you afford to travel so much?”. I generally try to redirect or reframe the question into … “How did you manage to structure your mind to enable a life of travel?”.

So here is what I didn’t have …

  • Rich parents who gave me tons of cash. I have great, amazing folks … they’re just not rich in the North American context
  • The ability to save lots by living home. I left Trinidad for Montreal … I had to work and pay rent and bills when I was 18.
  • “Champagne tastes with beer money”
  • A lottery win.
  • A keen ability to save. I’m absolutely terrible at managing money … like F’N TERRIBLE.

Here’s what I did have

  • A great set of friends and family that didn’t stop me from travelling.
  • Encouragement to find my path
  • No fear. You never know something is bad until you try it.
  • No shame. I’m never afraid to express my desire for what I want.
  • The ability to figure how methods of generating money. I do have a constant drive to find new ways of making money.
  • Great sources of inspiration along the way.

Now what does all this have to do with affording travel? In the end, it’s all about perspective. Affordability of anything all depends on simple math. If you are good with very simple things, then you can afford all simple things. If you like drinking $600 bottles of 30 yr old Highland Park, then you’ll need to find a lot more money for your tastes.

I never knew that I wanted to travel the world … but I knew I wanted to see different things and broaden my cultural, culinary and intellectual horizons – I just didn’t know how. Sometimes you have to meet people who open your eyes … in my case, I met a guy named Jadhu … a really great guy who basically shared his experiences of consulting and travelling. I didn’t really know mixing the two was possible until I met him. I didn’t have consultant friends or knew anyone who had consulting friends – so it wasn’t super apparent to me.

Again, what does this have to do with affording travel? Everything! Once you have the right perspective, you can travel anywhere … some places you might have to wait longer to visit, but you will eventually get there. So once you have the right perspective, here are the considerations you need to be aware of …

  1. You need cash … don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.
    We don’t live in a Star Trek universe, where everyone works for the good of humanity. You need cash to travel. Anyone who tell you differently is a fool and not your friend. How much cash, is the question. I’ve worked since I was a teenager, and that a very nice way to making money!- If you think you have no skills …. then you’re a fool too.
    – If you’re a girl and you have a big rack, you automatically have bartending, waitressing and lifeguarding skills. Didn’t you know?
    – If you’re a guy and can speak, you automatically have dishwashing, waitering, janitorial and construction skills. Didn’t know that either eh?
    – If you can speak English, you can teach English. True story!
    – Here’s what I did for 4 years in university to make money

      • Busboy
      • Bouncer
      • Bartender
      • Hot Dog maker
      • Library shelfer
      • Counter clerk
      • Telemarketer
      • Credit Card sales guy
      • Student Council
      • Getting experimented on for money
      • Wrote lecture notes
    • Work isn’t glamorous, doesn’t mean your travel doesn’t have to be.
  2. You don’t need to save every penny
    You just need to ensure that you follow this equation …
    Constant Travel = f(Money coming in > Money going out). If you want to travel long term you have to be prepared to do that hard graft to get you started and be sensible enough to embrace ways to save as you go.
  3. Be aware of all accommodation options
    You can travel long term or short term. If you’re short on funds, then settling in a place for a few months (or more) and earning some money will help you a lot. You can always stay in hostels, surf couches or stay with friends and friends-of-friends.
  4. Be a points junkie
    By knowing how to use and abuse airlines, you can make your money go a lot further. I am an avid points collector, credit card user and hotel program optimizer. There are so many companies competing for your eyeballs and your time. Want to know how much of a points junkie I am? I am currently staying at the Crowne Plaza in Moncton during the week. I have to stay in a hotel for my job … doesn’t mean I can’t try and rack up as many of those points for tons of free hotel nights on my trips. I spent two hours researching promotion codes for the hotel … every free night I rack up is worth between 125$ and $500 depending on the hotel. Is 2 hours of your time worth 500$? So the moral of the story … research everything and ask for everything.
    points
  5. Plan … plan … research and plan some more. Then wait!
    Everything with travel has to do with timing and planning. Booking your flights and accomodation in advance will save you tons of money. Using your research to find coupons, deals and freebies will also save you tons. I always travel in the off season for a destination. If I find cheap tickets, I just book them right away. I always attack a deal!
  6. You don’t need to cut out all treats.
    I love drinking scotch. I wasn’t going to cut out scotch to travel … hence I figured out how to make cash, drink scotch and travel at the same time. I eat out all the time and like tons of gadgets … again see point #2This is the mindset, I’ve used to travel long-term.  There’s been no luck involved but just common sense and a single minded focus to see as many places as I could. Everyone has a different method, but I’m always willing to listen to other people’s ideas .. so comment below and let me know how you can afford to travel.

Posted in Consulting Lifestyle, Travel Wisdom | Tagged: , | 5 Comments »

How to start a new IT consulting project …

Posted by Rishiray on June 24, 2013

I got a great email last week, where the Trinidadian author basically asked to me explain how I can bounce from client to client in my line of work and be continually successful. This was a timely one, as I start a new project at a new client this week in Moncton, New Brunswick. I have an orientation checklist that I go through before I start working with any client. This isn’t some surefire way to be successful, but as a travelling IT consultant, I thought I would offer some tips … this post has very little to do with a fantastic destination, awesome food or high octane activity, but it does have everything to do with how I get on the path to the destination, food or adventure.

  1. I get to know the core business of the client.
    This should be a standard practice. If you can’t articulate what your client does in 5 sentences, you can’t help your client.

    • I keep up with any change in client information by setting up a Google Alerts to feed me the latest online information (collected primarily from news sites and blogs)
    • I get to also know this information for my client and its top 3 competitors.
    • By staying current on this information, I’m able to relate and converse intelligently with the client. Most people are too pre-occupied with day to day operational work, to do this regularly
  2. I always try to know basic financials, demographic and legislative information regarding the client
    I work in the HR technology space, hence I have to know “everything” about HR processes, HR technology, HR strategy and future developments in HR.  Sounds easy eh? Here are some quick winning facts to know

    • Always know your client’s headcount, whether they’re unionized or not, HR state or provincial legislation
    • I always know the client’s technical HR landscape – whether they’re an Oracle, SAP or custom software shop
    • I’m always able to explain how HR creates value by using basic Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) and ask the client to relate those KPIs
  3. Know the client’s executive team
    You never want to be that consultant having a casual conversation with an employee in the lobby or elevator, only to realize a week later that it was the VP of HR, Benefits or Compensation. Executive information is available on every company website. I read and memorize this, not only will it prevent F%@% ups, it also helps me understand and manage client relationships.
  4. I always know my team’s status and information
    My phone will always have the contact information for all people on my team. On every project I’ve ever been on, there have been at least 2 times where a client meeting is about to start and someone can’t be found and no one has immediate laptop access. This is when having all those numbers programmed into your phone comes in very handy. I program the following my BB10 for all involved parties, from analysts to partners

    • Cellphone number
    • Email address
  5. I never recreate the wheel
    I always pay very close attention to the work that’s been done before. I hate redoing work that has been done before. My clients appreciate me not wasting their time and money redoing work. I also always review the research, project proposal and sales documents that led to the project.
  6. I always take the social lead
    Although I have resources who can handle the responsibility of planning team events (such as dinners, team-bonding activities, etc), I always keep this responsibility – particularly in unfamiliar cities – of the fun/popular things to do. It helps me learn the city, gives me material to write about and allows me to get to know everyone on my team. I always plan fantastic events and I think though the planning … a poorly planned team dinner at the city steakhouse won’t kill your anyone or your performance rating and it’s not my fault that the food wasn’t amazing, but if the wrong people were invited, reservations and emails weren’t sent and taxis are late … you can be sure that people will notice. Working the social lead can be great or can be terrible.

    I always know the answers to the following questions :

    • Where are the best places to eat?
    • Where is the nearest dry cleaner and tailor?
    • Where is the nearest grocery or department store?
    • How long does it take to get to the airport, train station in traffic?
  7. Clients know their business better than me … I listen.
    Often times, clients know the solution to their problems, they just need some company along with them in going down an unfamiliar road. That being said, different projects for the same client may have different decision makers. I always know the key decision maker and key influencers and I memorize their names like my life depended on it. The client often knows the right answer for them better than I know the right answer for them. This is a philosophy that holds true for most people you will meet in your life.

Posted in Consulting Lifestyle, Monday Morning Consultant, Travel Wisdom | Tagged: | 1 Comment »

Tourism + TDC = A study in social media failure!

Posted by Rishiray on June 11, 2013

After my experience at TBEX ’13, I took away four things

  1. Using Twitter to increase your travel brand is MANDATORY. It’s not possible to succeed in Social Media without Twitter feeds
  2. Tourism boards, hotel chains and credit loyalty programs have absolutely come around and see the value of travel bloggers – the ROI is substantive, especially if you’re looking to change or target specific demographics.
  3. Trinidadian tourism and TDC are set up for failure because of the lack of recognition of social media’s impact on tourism.
  4. TDC social media efforts are basically non-existent (I would love to see if there is actually any … since Google wasn’t my friend in that search)

It’s sad when you go to the world’s largest travel blogger conference in Toronto – with exposure to bloggers from all parts of the world … and there’s nothing from Trinidad. We have an embassy here in Toronto and 1000’s of Trinidadians living here … hell, I would say that we have about 100,000 Trinis or Trini descendants just in Toronto alone. When tourism organizations from Israel, Jordan, Belgium or Denmark can send someone to Toronto – why couldn’t someone from TDC pick up the phone, call the T&T embassy in Toronto and work something out?
sponsors
It’s completely ridiculous when you read about repatriation tourism efforts and the tripe that you see on the government tourism website. I laughed when I read the following from the press release – they sent Stephen Cadiz and some flunkies (High Commissioner to London, the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Tourism, the Secretary for Transportation and Tourism in Tobago and a number of Stakeholders) to Germany for the International Tourism Bourse … the listed benefits are

  • To stimulate an awareness of Trinidad and Tobago as a prime Caribbean tourist destination.
  • To participate in a forum that provides the ideal opportunity for networking with the travel trade and decision makers in the international tourism industry.
  • To maximize the opportunity for international press coverage.
  • To achieve an increase in European stay over visitors to Trinidad and Tobago.

This is like Rupert Griffith making waves when Trinidad and Tobago was officially recognized with awards for the “World Best Tourism Destination 2012” and “Favourite Cultural Destination 2012” by the ECTT. That award by the “ECTT” made such a huge difference … I can see it now … all those people coming to Trinidad to sample our food without ratings, swim in our inaccessible and undeveloped beaches, wallow in pools of sweat made by staying in traffic or using our super fast transportation system at night after drinking at Smoky and Bunty.

If the TDC and the government wanted to excel and spread the word, they would take all that money that’s been spent and spend a little on one or two full time experienced social media consultants. The ROI would be easy to prove when running Klout scores, Google Page Ranks, Facebook reach scores and Twitter penetration rates within identified target demographics. When large multinationals corporations and much larger tourist boards can recognize the value offered through social media and travel bloggers – why doesn’t the TDC use this?

We are destined to fail at our tourism efforts because the stakeholders, decision makers and governmental associations have no understanding of the new media landscape. They are dinosaurs at the helm and like the dinosaurs … well you know what happened to the dinosaurs …

Posted in Ask a Trini, Travel Wisdom | Tagged: , , , , , | 1 Comment »

TBEX ’13 : What worked and didn’t work? #TBEX

Posted by Rishiray on June 3, 2013

It’s official … TBEX ’13 is finally at a close. I’m glad that I was in Toronto for the last couple days and not at a client’s site in some other city, since I would have missed out on an incredible learning and networking opportunity. After getting home last night and thinking through all my notes and looking at feedback received on my previous post : 7 lessons learned from tbex 13 – I thought I would close the loop and list out what I thought worked and didn’t work at TBEX ’13 in Toronto. By figuring out what worked, I’ll list out my pros and cons of attending a future TBEX like the one in Dublin.

What didn’t work well

  • Travel Blogger Speed dating:
    I found this to be an exercise in futility. After some conversations with other bloggers, the consensus was one of a “Your mileage may vary” perspective. The effectiveness of this exercise had nothing to do with your preparation or how great your pitch was, but rather timing, what you looked like and other extraneous factors.

    • I spoke to 10 different tables and the worst of the bunch were two luxury tables : Four Seasons and Langham Hospitality/Eaton Hotels. They seemed completely unclear as to why they were actually there or what their mission was. If I could articulate what I was about, my demographic/focus and some personality in 8 minutes, why couldn’t they replicate this.
    • Public relations people aren’t all the same. Many are very engaging but I found that many of them, just weren’t professional or could convey their brands.
    • I heard a story about the PR reps from Maui … making statements like “You’ve made the first cut!” … like WTF? It’s goddamn Maui … it’s an island and you’re a PR rep selling your brand, but you’re not exclusive, else you wouldn’t care to sell your brand. So the reps from Maui can go F$$% themselves.
  • Evening Event Networking
    I’m very social and once I know one or two people, I can go out and expand that network. I saw many people who were out of place and trying to make contact. It would have helped to have a 30 minute ice breaker at the evening networking socials. Sponsoring a party with 100’s of people from out of town will ensure some cliques or people who know each other, but there will be a lot of people like me, who didn’t know anyone. If you didn’t attend the Wednesday or Thursday evening social events, then it would have been exponentially tougher to meet people.

What did work well

  • Great PR People makes a win for everyone:
    When you have PR people who are articulate and passionate, it’s a win for everyone. For instance I met up with Guy and Natalie from Parks Canada – meeting them and learning what they do to support travel bloggers, completely made coming to TBEX worth it. When I layer in the contact with Janine from Central Newfoundland Adventure and Pam from Visit Nova Scotia, I was very glad I made time to visit and chat with them.
  • Informative Sessions
    There were many very good speakers and lectures. The vast majority of speakers were succinct and articulate in their presentations. The feedback was great on many of them, and the keynote speeches were quite inspiring for many in the crowd.
  • Event Organization
    The entire series of events and programs were very well run. Everything seemed to be flowing well and I didn’t hear of any major mishaps or “fails”. The Toronto Convention center is a vast venue, but the location was central and allowed attendees with easy access to side events and/or their hotels.
  • ROI Value for your time and ticket price
    I bought a “Super Early Bird” ticket ($55 USD) from another travel blogger. My ROI on that ticket included

    • Discovery Canada pass from Parks Canada (136$CDN value … which made the financial price of my ticket worth it right there)
    • At least 4 tourism board supported trips to Atlantic Canada this year. I didn’t get to meet the New Brunswick rep, but I’m going to find the media contact for sure.
    • Discount on my Antarctica adventure later this year
    • Conclusion : Completely worth the attendance fee and the time.

What I’m going to do immediately

  • Learn THE Twitter
    When you work in corporate, you try to minimize anything that creates a stream of consciousness communication. Your digital reputation is as important to your career as your resume. I’ve avoided twitter for years, because I didn’t truly see the value. That changed this weekend – I think it will be my primary vehicle to correspond with the travel community. It’s immediate and is an easy dispersal communications vehicle.
  • Continue to optimize my old posts
    SEO is a big thing. It’s a buzz word, but ensuring that your content can be found, is just as important as writing quality content.
  • Continue pushing my Facebook page
    https://www.facebook.com/AhTriniTravelogue. I’ve gotten tremendous engagement from my facebook presence, now I have to tie twitter into this.
  • Create an “Advertise with me” page
    Although I’ve resisted overt banners and advertising for years, if I want to work with companies and create those experience, they at least have to know that I’m open to being pitched and reviewing their products. I know … DUH!!!!

Posted in Ask a Trini, Monday Morning Consultant, Travel Wisdom | Tagged: , , , , | 11 Comments »

7 lessons learned from TBEX 13 … so far

Posted by Rishiray on June 2, 2013

It’s been 4 days of activities, food, drinking and networking at TBEX ’13. It’s been inspiring to say the least – even though there has been a lot of hot air spewed by many a travel blogger this weekend (You can’t help but overhear a lot of side conversations and just roll your eyes). A couple bloggers even took over a Q&A session to basically promote themselves … #dotheythinkpeoplearestupid … they know who they are … I’ll mention no names though. All that being said, it’s still inspiring to go. You don’t feel like a freak, when everyone else around you knows about Google Analytics, traffic stats, followers and takes pictures of everything they see and eat. Here’s 7 lessons learned from TBEX 13 … so far.

  1. Networking and working a new room is brutally intimidating
    As a consultant, I’m paid to walk into a new client, credentialize myself and lead from the front. As a consulting manager, I’m paid to walk into the client’s office and coach them on best practices within the marketplace. This is an excellent mindset for the business world. So what happens when you’re in a room where you’re NOT the expert and more importantly, no one knows who the hell you are?
    Networking in a cold room is one of the psychologically intimidating actions that most people will attempt- it’s socially terrifying to walk into a crowded, warm room, where appears to be highly engaged in conversation and seems to know everyone – except for you. I am not a stranger to this feeling and in fact – while I appear to be the social butterfly, working a crowd is among my least favorite items in the world … along with dairy. I didn’t know anyone TBEX ’13, in fact my first conversation was with Lauren and Kenin of the Constant Rambler. It was good to see another Trini face … and that helped get me into a conversation and I moved around from there.
    Lesson : See new people and faces as a challenge not an obstacle. They’re contacts and friends you haven’t made as yet. If they don’t like you or think you’re weird, you didn’t lose anything by saying “Hi!” – and they lost out on knowing you.
  2. The answer to every question you don’t ask …. is NO!
    This is a consulting and sales axiom, yet people are afraid to ask questions, as though there is some financial, social or emotional cost to asking questions.  I came into TBEX ’13 with two clear goals in mind

    • Meet 40 travel bloggers
    • Get a part sponsorship for my trip to Antarctica.
    • Discover, create and build a relationship with Canadian travel organizations

    I thought meeting 40 travel bloggers would be the most difficult task on my list – since I’m not the warmest, most fuzzy person around. In fact, I’m a bit of a grouch. My first night at the G Adventures event ended up with 3 people. My second night at the Travel Massive event at Irish Embassy went much better and got that count up to 24 and by the third night at the Tourism Toronto event at Roy Thomson Hall, I had reached my target.
    My second target of sponsorship was successfully enroute with a 90 second elevator pitch at the Irish Embassy event and my third goal was done by networking and pitching at the TBEX marketplace before the speed dating event – which leads me to point #3
    Lesson: Have clear, precise, reasonable and actionable goals for your time at TBEX. Having a plan in your mind about getting to those goals will help tremendously. You’ll be happier and if you’re smart about things, you’ll achieve them.

  3. Travel Blogger speed dating is a complete and utter waste of time
    In it’s current iteration, it’s a complete crock of shit. It creates unnecessary stress on people who aren’t used to pitching on the spot. It creates a completely false sense of urgency and provides little or no value added communication. My better half mentioned that it’s only good in a scenario leading to second stage interviews, for example: At international teacher job fairs, which I agree with. If organizers evolve it, where speed dating on the first day leads to longer time on the second day … then fine. As of right now, I would advise any travel blogger who is new to TBEX – to completely avoid speed dating. You’ve spent countless hours and written tons of content – why should you have to distill this into 3 minutes of shilling. F$!$ that …
    Lesson : Don’t stress about getting your agenda filled with people wanting to meet you. They don’t know you, and there could be a lot of external circumstances that prevented them from contacting you.

  4. Pitching is a skill and an art. Practice with a friend.
    Selling yourself and your brand is hard. We’re taught that self promotion is no promotion … in the islands, the cliche is “self praise is no praise”. I call bullshit! There is a fine line between thoughtful self promotion and shameless self aggrandizement. If you don’t know the difference, then definitely don’t expect to learn the difference at TBEX … there will be a lot of shamelessness on display. Companies want to work with you but if you can’t answer the following three questions appropriately, then there might be some work to do …

    • What can I do for you?
    • What can you do for me?
    • What can we do together?

    Lesson : Do practice your elevator speech – if you can’t articulate what you’re about in 90 seconds, then another person won’t get you, in 5, 10 or 30 minutes, and more importantly, they’ll get bored and move along mentally.

  5. You don’t need a 1000 friends in real life, you also don’t need 1000 travel blogger friends at TBEX
    My social and networking goal was to meet 40 travel bloggers in person, which I did. That being said you’ll never have time to chat with everyone equally. Get to know one or two or three people well during your time. Everything will come naturally from there. I was very lucky to meet up with Melissa, Kate and Erik … and it was nice to have a base of people to roam around TBEX with.
    Lesson : Quantity is nice, but you’ll need quality over time. Just like real life!

  6. PR people need stats, but PR people are looking for personality too … they’ll personality over stats
    Consultants all talk in terms of ROI and Value Proposition. It’s quite easy for me to talk to PR people … I’m in sales. That being said, I don’t have gigantic numbers and nor do you need to. I do have a niche and focus though. Everyone starts small, so don’t worry if you only have 1000 page views a month, still come and pitch and try.
    Lesson : Personality and relationships will always get you a start, but do have some stats, however small to back up your words.

  7. Travel Bloggers definitely enjoy themselves … but
    After years in consulting, the only people I know who are amazing after drinking till 5am in the morning 5 nights in a row and still can present a 40 slide deck on Benefits Administration or Oracle OLAP cubes are consultants. BOOM!
    I’ve seen many faces struggling into the conference looked brutally hungover at noon.  I wondered how they would be able to sell themselves. Obviously, I love having a good time too, but to be taken seriously, one has to look the part … never mind how terribly fat I look 😛 Damn Guy Theriault’s twitter.

    Lesson: Do as you please, but unless you’ve had years of drinking, flying and working within a 18 hour span for a couple years, then get some sleep or don’t party as hard, if you want to be taken seriously.

Posted in Ask a Trini, Monday Morning Consultant, Travel Wisdom | Tagged: | 5 Comments »

9 thoughts from my first TBEX ’13 social event …

Posted by Rishiray on May 30, 2013

Last night was a quick and dirty drop in at the TBEX Preparty at Tryst NightClub. I was quickly reminded of why these types of social situations make me awkward – it’s not liming, it’s not true networking and everyone seems to know someone else.

  1. Walking up to people who’s blogs you’ve read but never commented on, is difficult.
  2. Not having a travel website business card can make you feel lame. Those business cards are like a blogger’s resume. Weird!
  3. Eating your tacos and avoiding a conversation about your tacos can make people think you’re rude.
  4. The stories you will hear from other travel bloggers can be amazing and inspiring. If you ever need fuel or inspiration to travel more, just talk to a travel blogger for 5 mins – you’ll be stoked!
  5. Nothing better to give you a dose of reality about your blog than reading writers who are better than you and who pour their soul into it.
  6. Having a travel blogger party in a nightclub venue can only work, if the organizers are socially aware of the music. People are there to talk and network – not hookup.
  7. Networking in a corporate setup is way easier than networking at a travel blogger party – but maybe it’s because I don’t know the rules and I don’t know the important people.
  8. My hatred of Twitter is not good when networking with travel bloggers … I said hi and immediately people asked for my twitter handle. It made me wakeup this morning and redo my twitter introduction – I tried to be funny, factual and something else … lemme know if it works
    twitter
  9. Tonight is another event : http://twtvite.com/TravelMassiveTBEX13 – to see if I can get some traveller business cards to hand out by 8pm tonight – I doubt this is going to happen though! Ah the sweet optimism of the morning!
  10. I have to get with the times and work at Twitter!!

Posted in Ask a Trini, Monday Morning Consultant, Travel Wisdom | Tagged: , | 1 Comment »