Notes on the Travel Bloggers Meetup 2015
It was only when we were asked to take our seats at the makeshift stage at Calavera that I began asking what I had gotten myself into. That was when it occurred to me: Yikes, I actually have to speak. The one thing I was grateful for was that I wasn’t alone.
I was in very good company at the fourth Travel Bloggers Meetup. With me were long-running travellers Raw of Ramble and Wander, Zarah of Jardness.com and Menk of Routexplorers, each of them bringing their wealth of experience to the talk.
Instead of turning the event into something formal, organisers Sedunia Travel ran it as a Q&A session, where those present could ask travel-related questions of the four of us. The theme for the day was ‘Six Degrees of Travel’.
Zarah spoke on how Indonesia is likely to remain her favourite country to travel to because of the hundreds of mountains and volcanoes there for her to climb. I’ve only known Zarah for three, four years at the most but she’s rediscovered herself and emerged as a tough mountain climber who simply has to climb *something* every few weeks. Good for her.
When someone asked how to connect with locals with limited time available, Zarah drew on her experiences as a couchsurfer. Couchsurfing, she said, allows her to meet locals from all walks of life, but more importantly, locals who are eager to meet travellers. “I’ve met many kind, generous people who have taken me into their homes and shown me their country this way.”
I’ve known Raw for about four years too. He’s a highly resourceful travel partner who isn’t one to show off and doesn’t say very much, but when he does you can be sure he makes a lot of sense. Answering a question on how to save on travel costs, Raw said he enjoys searching for cheap flights and different route options to cut costs, including multi-city routes. “So this is where I do a bit of self-promotion- visit my Facebook page, which is where I post updates on cheap flight deals,” he said to laughs from the audience.
Menk is the newest member of my circle of travel friends. The first time I met him was at the pre-event meeting with Sedunia a week before the meetup. Menk shines in his use of travel videos on Instagram, where he features his six-month overland journey from Kuala Lumpur to Leicester, England. I know next to nothing about videos so I find his storytelling techniques refreshing.
In the end, we didn’t have to worry about what to say because the questions came hard and fast from the audience.
In fact, the questions- which among others, touched on whether we preferred to connect with locals or fellow travellers, how long one needed to stay in a place to truly connect with it, the country most special to us- came one after the other.
One question was what advice I would give to solo female travellers. I don’t identify specifically as a solo traveller but more and more women have taken to the road by themselves, making the question highly relevant.
I replied that women travelling alone for the first time should make sure they do three things- firstly, arrive at their destination before sundown; secondly, book the first night’s stay and thirdly, know how exactly to get to their accommodation from their port of arrival, whether by a pre-arranged airport transfer, taxi or shuttle.
As far as possible, a first-time solo female traveller shouldn’t arrive in a new city or country after dark without a place to stay and therefore, uncertain of where to go next. That’s happened to me before but it was after many years of travelling alone, so I wouldn’t recommend that first-timers arrive in those circumstances especially if they haven’t travelled very much, even with a group.
The event ended about an hour after it began. Many stayed behind to chat, take photos and exchange cards, and by the end of the day both the speakers and audience made new friends and contacts.
Sedunia Travel deserves mention for being one of the very few Malaysian travel companies that engages with travel bloggers on a regular basis. I remember attending the first ever Travel Bloggers Meetup in 2012 after returning from extended travels not knowing very many people, so I’m happy to have been a part of this fourth meetup. Big thanks to Sedunia Travel for hosting us and to Calavera for providing a great venue.
*Photos are courtesy of Sedunia Travel.
© 2015, Anis. All rights reserved.