After spending two crazy weeks backpacking through France, we were inspired to start a blog with the simple idea to share our adventures and travel tips. This idea quickly transformed into months of planning, until we finally launched Aloha Olonas on March 8th of this year. During our first month, we waded into the ocean of travel blogging and were hit by one huge wave of knowledge — The 2016 Women in Travel Summit.
Organized by Wanderful, the international community of women travelers, The Women in Travel Summit is a travel blogging conference geared exclusively towards women in the travel industry. I signed up for the 2016 Women in Travel Summit (WITS’16) knowing it would be the perfect chance to meet other travel bloggers, get our name out there, and attend fun and informative talks about blogging and travel. Little did I know that the summit would do so much more for me than I ever dreamed.
Last year, the attendees selected Irvine, CA as the location for the third annual Women in Travel Summit, bringing the conference to the West Coast. Lucky me, I only needed a train ride and an Uber to get from San Diego to Hotel Irvine, the host location of this year’s Summit.
The moment I walked in the lobby of Hotel Irvine, the DJ turned the Red Bar into a nightclub where attendees and other guests danced away. A quick elevator ride took me to a modern and vibrant hotel room filled with pops of warm colors and contemporary details like succulents and old-fashioned alarm clocks.
Immediately after checking in, I made my way over to Andrei’s Conscious Cuisine & Cocktails for the Opening Party. Walking in, I saw glittery eyebrows on one side of the room courtesy of Funky 4, a spanish guitarist from the Acoustic for a Change foundation on the other side, and in the middle beautifully costumed global dancers posed for photos.
Once I joined the throng of women travelers, I threw all my networking fears and social anxiety aside and jumped into the mix. I listened, asked questions, laughed, gave advice, and handed out my handmade business cards to a number of inspiring bloggers and brands.
Find Your Tribe
The next morning, I sat down with 350 other attendees and listened as Beth Santos, the founder of Wanderful, welcomed everyone to the third annual Women in Travel Summit. After plenty of cheers, Beth introduced the opening Keynote speaker, Evie Robbie of the Nomadness Tribe.The moment Evie approached the stage she bursted to life with a personality that let everyone know she was meant to travel, lead, and share her story. She told us to embrace our humble beginnings and our community.
The Nomadness Tribe has a strong horizontal community and I want to encourage Aloha Olonas readers to ask questions, reach out to one another, and share your own tips on our facebook page, instagram, and in the comments of this blog. Let’s grow as a community!
Delia Herrington, activist, feminist, and photojournalist behind Away She Goes, gave an excellent talk on Ethical Storytelling: Powerful and Responsible Travel Writing and Photography. She talked about the harm of misrepresentation of individuals and cultures in print and in photos. To prevent this in our work, we should examine our own biases and always have subjects sign a release before photographing them!
Backpacking with a Purpose
I attended Justine Abigail Yu’s talk on Backpacking with a Purpose: Paving the Way for Ethical Travel & Responsible Volunteering. Justine, a backpactivist for Operation Groundswell, promoted asking questions before joining volunteer organizations to find out if they match your own goals and morals.
I’ve always been interested in volunteer travel and have been toying around with the idea to teach abroad for a while now. If you’ve done either, let’s chat!
Krisitin Winet of Bon Tourist is the type of writer I want to be. She ran From Experiences to Stories: A Round-Table Workshop for Writers, which taught writers how to take their notes from press trips and turn them into 10 different stories by mining our memories with a three step writing prompt.
In the workshop, I came up with a personal story about how I discovered the confidence and independence within myself while studying abroad in Ireland. I cannot wait to develop this story further and share it here on the blog with all of you!
One thing I really learned at the 2016 Women in Travel Summit is that vlogging is on the rise. Both the Keynote speakers, Evie Robbie and Nadine of Hey Nadine, were vloggers and each of them encouraged us to give video a try. Lindsay McCormick gave a talk on The Technical Aspect of Travel Videos, which broke down the basics on how to dip your toes into vlogging.
Well, I’m inspired, especially by Nadine’s closing Keynote speech to not be afraid of what’s next and to use personality to connect to an audience. So watch out, we’ll be pulling out our iPhones, DSLR, and GoPro and filming the world on our next adventure!
All the talks I attended were incredibly helpful including Ruth Carter’s The Lawyer is In! Answers to your Questions about the Legalities of Blogging & Social Media, Alexandra Jiminez’s How to Be A 6-Figure Blogger, and my personal favorite How to Fund Your Travels Through High-Paid Travel Writing Gigs by Gabi Logan.
+ Tip: If you missed the 2016 Women in Travel Summit and want to watch all the talks I attended and more, you can find them here.
The Next WITS Awaits
I want to thank everyone at Wanderful, volunteers and staff, for putting together a great event for women travelers. Thanks to those in the travel industry for providing bloggers information and opportunities. Thanks to Destination Irvine and Hotel Irvine for hosting the event. And a huge shout out to all the wonderful travel blogging ladies I met over the amazing WITS’16 weekend! I hope to see you all at the 2017 Women in Travel Summit in Milwaukee or at another blogger conference in the future.
With the tools I acquired at the 2016 Women in Travel Summit I know that I can confidently swim out into the sea of travel blogging with confidence and the idea to never stop growing.