We started our digital nomad adventure kind of… adventurous. Nothing was certain, nothing was booked, and we decided to go with the flow. Our only possessions: 2 backpacks, 2 medium suitcases, and 1 dog. Our plans for 2016 looked something like this:
1. Spend the first half of 2016 in South East Asia
2. The Netherlands in July and December for Celine’s checkups
3. TBEX Stockholm
Travel Blog Exchange, aka TBEX, is world’s largest gathering of travel bloggers, content creators, and travel industry professionals. In 2016, TBEX Europe was being held in Stockholm, Sweden. I had never been to Sweden, nor had I ever attended a TBEX before.
At 197$ per ticket, it is not exactly cheap, especially considering you also have to pay for your flights and accommodation. On the other hand, you get a 2-day filled to the brim program and loads of free food and drinks in return.
PRE-PARTY AT HAYMARKET
“Pack your 1920s’ feathers, flapper dress or your black tie and join us for a night to remember where we celebrate in style”.
Sure, I did read about the dress code, but didn’t expect all these travel bloggers to be carrying around suits and dresses. I mean, I travel with 4 t-shirts and 1 vest. Half my suitcase is filled with camera equipment, drawing supplies and dog food. Got no space for no flapper dress.
Emir and I showed up at Haymarket in our jeans and sneakers, when I realized that almost everybody did bring their flappers and beads and feathers and cascading ruffles. Say what? I instantly turned around and rushed my way to the exit, feeling ashamed for being so severely underdressed. Emir grabbed my arm and firmly dragged me back inside.
I’m glad he did, because it turned out to be a super fun night. Nobody cared about my dig-no outfit and after a while, I started ‘owning’ my pink sneakers and H&M Basic shirt. We met a bunch of travel bloggers as well as fun people from the travel industry.
Extra special was to meet people that I’ve been talking to for months on social media. The food was amazing and consequently I went for a second and a third plate stuffed with Swedish goodness. Don’t blame me, blame the chef. The unofficial afterparty was at Soap Bar where we mixed, mingled and shared our travel stories until the wee hours.
TBEX is a two-day conference with breakout sessions, workshops, and speed networking opportunities.
I was most looking forward to the breakout sessions, and Emir and I made a smart planning so that we always attended a different breakout session. This literally doubled the knowledge we acquired. I saw more people do this. Even when you attend TBEX solo, find someone and share your notes afterward.
LEARNED THE MOST:
1. “How to optimize video across online platforms” by the Vagabrothers
2. “Building a community on Youtube” by Michael Collins/ LeslieGraham
MOST INSPIRING TALK: Closing keynote “Transitions as Opportunities” by Lola Akinmade Akerman
FUNNIEST ASPECT OF A TALK: “Name that Influential Swedish Band”
The speed networking sessions were interesting and even though we didn’t have a scheduled appointment with some of the companies, we still got a hold of them during the lunchbreaks.
The breaks were also a great opportunity to meet new like-minded people.
AFTER PARTY AT THE ABBA MUSEUM
The ABBA museum was a highlight of my four days in Stockholm. This interactive exhibition features both ABBA and also houses the Swedish Music Hall of Fame.
You can even sing along in one of the vocal boots!
It was really interesting to see all the props, clothes and old fan mail.
My favorite part of the whole museum was the colorful entry and stairs. Happy colors!
It was my first time in Stockholm, and I instantly fell in love with the city. Stockholm is the most populous city in the Nordic countries and also the capital of Sweden.
The lively city consists of a network of 14 islands, all connected by bridges. Exciting attractions, museums and vibrant restaurants and clubs are spread throughout the city. Most of the highlights are walking distance, but Stockholm also has a very good public transportation network.
FAVORITE DISTRICT: Södermalm
WHERE WE STAYED
Nordic Light Hotel is located steps away from Stockholm’s Central Station. In fact, it is so close, that we initially walked past the hotel in our late-night search.
We were welcomed with a beautiful fruit basket which we finished in no time. After hours of traveling and skipping dinner, that was exactly what we needed.
The Scandinavian vibes are really present in both the light, arts as well as furniture. Our ‘Mood Room’ was bright and serene with the color white being predominant. Above our bed there was a really cool light system where we could change the color scheme of the room depending on our mood.
The best part about our stay at the Nordic Light hotel was without a doubt the breakfast. This four-star hotel really went above and beyond, they serve a breakfast that is comparable to that of a five star hotel.
Most foods and ingredients are organic. Juices are fresh. The American pancakes are to die for. I ate too much.
It was an exhausting four days, but so worth it! I would definitely attend a TBEX conference again in the future. I learned a lot from the on-point breakout sessions and made new (travel) friends.
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Note: Nordic Light Hotel kindly offered me a complimentary stay, but as always all opinions are my own.