My first experience with WITS was in Milwaukee, Wisconsin in 2017. I had played around with travel blogging a couple of times (while backpacking in Europe in 2004, while living in Seoul, South Korea in 2010-2011, and briefly again after moving back to Kentucky from Turkey in 2012). I launched inquisitivewanderlust.com in the summer of 2015, and I’ll admit that posting has been rather sparse over the past four years. In the spring of 2017, I was starting to think about taking things to the next level, so I decided to attend WITS and their pre-conference Blogger 101 Day. I learned so much! I met amazing women who love to travel as much as I do! And, then, I got home to Lexington, and did very little with the information I had received. In short, grad school got in the way. My grad school experience is (mercifully) winding to an end, and I’m interested in trying to take this blog to the next level. So, I’ve decided to attend WITS again. Realizing I leave in only two short weeks has resulted in some blogging inspiration.
Why I Think WITS Is a Valuable Experience:
In short, because I learned so much! I really didn’t know what I was doing, or why, when I attended my first WITS. I’m a woman. I love to travel. I kind of liked the idea of making travel blogging a regular thing in my life. Milwaukee sounded like a fun city to explore (spoiler alert: it’s AMAZING!). But, I came away with so, so many good ideas. I met so many other female travel bloggers who were happy to share their experiences and advice. And, yes, I had a really fun time exploring Milwaukee with my fellow attendees, and representatives from Visit Milwaukee.
That said, I think having a clear goal in mind is a must. I didn’t come up with goals ahead of WITS17, and I sometimes felt like I was floundering a bit. And, despite all the great ideas and advice I received over the course of WITS, I came home, filed my notes, and didn’t really do anything with them. This year, I’m focused on learning more about building a travel blog so that I can turn that knowledge into actionable goals post-WITS. I’m hoping this will serve as a springboard for exciting new developments here at Inquisitive Wanderlust.
Another great thing about WITS is the pre- and post-conference tours. In Milwaukee, these were set up by the great folks at Visit Milwaukee. I was able to tour local craft breweries, wander in awe around the Milwaukee Art Museum, explore Discovery World, and the take in the sights, smells, and tastes on offer at the Milwaukee Public Market. These tours were a great way to see and learn more about all the city has to offer.
Things to Bring:
- Business cards! I almost didn’t do this; wasn’t even quite sure what to put on them. But, I’m so glad I ordered some before leaving for Milwaukee. I traded business cards with nearly everyone I met at WITS. It was a great way to make sure I had the correct info to connect with people on social media, and for follow-up emails.
- Photography equipment of choice. Remember those tours I mentioned? Yeah… Photo opportunities abound at WITS. Be sure you’re prepared.
- Materials for note-taking. I’m old school. I prefer paper and pen for taking notes. I’ll also have my laptop and/or iPad with me for computing needs. Bring whatever works for you.
- A plan for self-care. I’m a friendly introvert. I love meeting new people, but I have to mentally prepare for the kinds of social interactions to be had at WITS. I also have to schedule down time to recharge. For example, I like to have quiet time to myself in the mornings, to enjoy a cup of coffee and fully prepare for the day ahead. I also like a couple of hours of quiet before bed. Be sure to assess your self-care needs ahead of time and have a plan in place.
- An idea of things you want to try to see/do/eat beyond scheduled events. The WITS team and their local partners did a great job introducing us to the city of Milwaukee. However, their plans couldn’t possibly cover everything. I came to town with plans to find a few things that weren’t otherwise on the agenda. These included seeing the Ladybugs on the Milwaukee Building and taking time to wander on foot around downtown. I made time for both. This year, finding a good lobster roll is at the top of the list!
Stay tuned for a recap of this year’s WITS in Portland!