Traverse 16: Saturday Workshops

This is the second of five posts on my Traverse 16 experience: 

  • Post five is attending with compromised health


1. ARRIVAL

 

Up extra early, I make my way to Cardiff City Football stadium. Catching a magnificent view of Cardiff Bay en route. As I arrive a guy enters with a bike. He is @LivingTaff and runs an interesting local project. A security man appears and directs me to the third floor.

As I enter the Ricoh Suite I am given a schedule. I have a pro bar query and am directed to @wanderluceblog, the third Traverse 16 organiser. It is a good time to ask about the pre arranged rest room*. Lucy says she will locate it. 

My brain is not fully in gear but I chat to a few of last nights bloggers, plus @seannasworld and Laura: Birdgehls. There is a convivial atmosphere and various sponsors are located around the room: Expedia, Ice Lolly, Cathay PacificI Love New YorkSurprise Trips, Visit Wales, Visit Cardiff, Forest of Dean & Wye Valley Tourism.

Lucy returns and shows me to a small hospitality room. It has a long padded seat which is perfect for lying down*. 

2. WELCOME

At 10am a welcome talk is held on the floor above. Fortunately there is a lift*, having sprained my foot it is essential. Although it was already necessary for me to use due to fibromyalgia.  I sit in the front and chat to the lady next to me. It turns out she is introducing the conference. @torijtweets gives an inspiring talk, although quite an emotional one for me. 

She is the the first Welsh woman to reach Everest. My illness began prior to a trip planned to trek Nepal’s Himalayas. I used to walk mountains but have been unable since becoming unwell. Only managing a drive along the road to Brecon (A470), to see Pen y Fan five times in 20 years. It is my aim to reach the top of Snowdon on the train soon. Tori sends me an encouraging tweet:

 

On the way out I bump in to The Bimblers (Rob and Bridget). I am pleased to finally connect and we share a few words in the lift. Interestingly they have a different approach to the workshops to me. They say, quite rightly, plans often change and so they will go with the flow. I decided which workshops I will attend beforehand*. Our differences in approach highlights doing anything with a disability or health condition requires both planning and flexibility!

3. MORNING WORKSHOPS

a. Session One

  

We head off to our first sessions. I am going to Understanding The Value of You, The Blogger by Tika Larasati of Skyscanner. It seems to cover the importance of analytics but with bloggers at the heart. I have Google analytics on my previous creative blog and am aware how helpful it is to see what posts do well and readers locations. I hope Tika’s workshop will expand my knowledge for Sensitive Travel.

 

Tika is a well travelled woman who has worked globally for a number of brands. She has a vast knowledge of data and analytics and emphasises their necessity to measure reach and engagement. She also discusses blogger’s media kits. All essential information for the future.

In the refreshment break we have flapjacks, tea and more Welsh cakes. I bump into Barefoot Backpacker who is also a participant in #CultureTrav (a Twitter chat for those who enjoy culture and travel). A few of us, including Barefoot Backpacker and @learningescapes, connected online before Traverse 16. His lack of socks gives him away. He has been exploring the South Wales valleys which I find interesting as many wouldn’t think to go here. 

b. Session Two 

Next up is Kim Leuenburger‘s How To Improve Your Photography workshop. Kim is a photographer who mainly uses Instagram (Kim.ou). She has worked with various brands. Her specific project Traveling Cars Adventures is stunning.

Photography is an area I am interested in but have always been relaxed about. Mainly because I haven’t had energy to make it a more formal practice. I have an account on Instagram but am yet to use it. Kim talks about the technical aspects of taking photos, stressing the use of dividing the frame into threes. She also mentions about the overall colour flow of photos on an Instagram account. 

4. LUNCHTIME 

 

As lunch time approaches I am starting to flag. There has been so much to take in. I realise I have yet to visit the various stands. There are a number of competitions to enter throughout the day. I decided beforehand to focus on the I Love New York competition as it is a place I would like to visit. I have found some New York photos during the talks but still have a couple to find. There are lunchtime focus groups happening but I forgo. Rest is more important.

Gluten Free?

Back in the Ricoh Suite I see a long queue for food. I have no energy to join it. I quickly glance around only to see sandwiches. I have requested a gluten free option for today so look for a GF (Gluten Free) label. There is nothing. I ask the waiters who apologetically tell me no special diets were ordered. However, they have made something up last minute in case. 

A waiter returns with a gluten free ham roll and some salad. It looks less appetising than the food laid out for everyone else. But I am too tired to care and at least it is nutritional. I am glad to have the private room as by now I need to rest. I lie down, facing our iconic bluebirds stadium. Which is a rare occurrence!

5. COMPETITIONS

 

I give myself a short space of time to visit some stands before the afternoon sessions start. I desperately try to remember who is running what competition (brainfog*). There are alot of props at the Expedia stand. I ask about accessible travel options and am told specific requests can be dealt with over the phone. I choose a dolphin prop as swimming with wild dolphins is a dream of mine. Unfortunately I misinterpret uploading the competition photo ‘by the end of the day’, thinking they mean this evening. I miss the deadline (brainfog again!*).

I also visit Ice Lolly, dropping off my card to enter their competition and Surprise Trips, which is a fun idea. However, after a chat feel I am not quite ready yet to hand over specific health requirements when booking accommodation and trips. A surprise destination sounds stimulating in theory but at the moment it would be stressful in my situation*. 

 

I quickly make it to Cathay Pacific‘s stand but realise a trip to Yangon is out. I am unable to visit places which would require vaccinations. But I pick up a fortune cookie which says … 

 

So that’s encouraging!

I do not seem to do too well participating in the competitions, but think I may be in with a chance with the I Love New York competition. I purposely make the effort to locate all the photos (which is hard work with fatigue as well) and upload them. Only to discover I need to name all the areas aswell. I have no idea as I have never been to USA. 

We were told about many of the competitions in the few days lead up to the Traverse 16 and specific instructions were too much for me to take in* at this late stage.

I bump in to @garypresents at the I Love New York stand and he reminds me of audio and visual blogging options. I often make use of audio for writing and absorbing information as electro-sensitivity limits screen time.

6. AFTERNOON WORKSHOPS

a. Session Three 

 

Time for the afternoon talks. I have booked Monica Stott – The Travel Hack‘s Making The Leap Into Full Time Blogging. After bumping in to Barefoot Backpacker again I manage to locate a seat at the front*. The room is filling up fast so I am glad to find one. Monica’s talk is excellent. She thoroughly outlines all stages of turning your blog in to an enterprise, from her personal experience. I catch a Welsh lilt as she shares her strategies. Again they are invaluable techniques for the future.

Fortunately the next session is in the same room so I stay put. During the break I talk to @mummytravels. I ask about her blog and interestingly, many of the techniques she uses for travelling with her child are similar to those for travelling with chronic illness: stick to a routine, early nights, pacing activity (not cramming too much in). 

b. Session Four

 

Our final talk is Travel Fimmaking with Greg Brand from Travizeo. It takes the form of a Q & A session. Greg is full of energy and gives comprehensive and informative answers, practically and artistically, to the questions. Film/video is a medium I am yet to get to grips with. But can relate as Greg expains effective storytelling is the key to creating quality films. I specifically enjoy his section about sound (having used GarageBand to write songs). I also pick up a lot of practical tips on portable video gear for iphone for future. 

Session notes blogged by others:

A Life Of More – Traverse 16 Session Notes

The Travel Tester – Traverse Cardiff Notes

Faraway Lucy – Traverse 16: What I learnt …

7. CLOSING PANEL & TWEET BAR 

 

Before we leave there is a closing panel upstairs. Again, I just about make a front seat*. The panel consists of Terry (Live Share Travel), Brenna Holeman (Expedia / Blogger), Tika Larasati (Skyscanner) and is facilitated by Alastair McKenzie (Travel Lists / Travel Dudes). An interesting hour follows with discussion on monetising blogs, the travel blogging industry’s direction and in particular the way content is shared: vlogs v blogs.

 

 

The day ends with a tweet bar where we all order a drink via tweet. It even reaches Melbourne! Unfortunately they don’t have a soft drink hashtag but I ask for one anyway. I eventually find some water downstairs.

A few more welshcakes, goodbyes and Dragon Taxi arrives. I am in two minds whether to attend the after party as I am exhausted*, but I figure an hour may be possible.

8. AFTER PARTY

After a homemade soup, change of clothes and a rest, I arrive at Revolution on Castle Street. I am not a massive clubbing fan, but I enjoy socialising. No dancing with a sprain though.

Traverse have hired a private bar upstairs, Nightjar. Expedia are running a matching country and dish competition, which helps people mix. I spend the majority of the night talking to people with paper plates. No one else’s country matches my dish: Liptova (spicy cheese). Both @mrheyes and @biggsy321 independently look up Liptova and return with Slovenia or Slovakia as the country I need to find.

I remain matchless but enjoy talking with a variety of people about their blogs including @lookwithneweyes@cooperdawson1@sarahblinco, @wanderluceblog@travmonkey, @tmaynard20 @mummytravels, @lucydodsworth@dilliebooks @tinboxtraveller as I try to find my matching country.

Again I have an early night as we still have Sunday experiences yet!

* See Post 5 (once written) about attending with compromised health.

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