Since the TBEX travel blogger conferences were acquired last year, I’ve been focusing on other projects and once again writing. But after transcendental meditation sessions during a few months spent in Woodstock on a creative retreat, I had an epiphany: there is no community without commun(e). I came to realize that being a travel community just isn’t quite enough – we need to be so tightly knit, that we actually all live together when not on the road. Therefore, I’ve recently opened The Travel Commune in the Hudson Valley, just 90 minutes north of New York City.
There are all sorts of travel related activities at the commune – in addition to gardening and wood-splitting – such as group therapy sessions, which help us talk through our issues about mileage reward programs, paid links, press trips and who has been more places (and who saw them most authentically).
I do not charge any commune members rent, but anticipate they will of course refer to me as H.H. Travel Guru, as well as braid my hair each day, among a few other odds and ends (a selection of male residents have their own special wing).
Though kitchen duties are shared and assigned in a Google Hangout, the menu is overseen by Jodi Ettenberg of Legal Nomads.
Nomadic Matt and David Lee of GoBackpacking are at the helm of daily exercise routines, which include hikes around the property while wearing perfectly packed internal frame backpacks. Marriage counseling sessions are led by Dave and Deb, Canada’s Adventure Couple.In an effort to keep a true yin-yang balance, Wednesday afternoons feature a traditional high tea hosted by commune members who’ve joined from the ranks of traditional travel journalism. During this weekly gathering, they are able to share their feelings about the meritless blathering published by the blogging-only members. This is followed by a Wednesday evening dinner dedicated to the bloggers sharing their thoughts on why journalism is dead and storytelling needs no preparation, only a publish button. Though the same topics are rehashed each week, there are no plans to cancel the events, as the commune members never seem to come to a resolution, but find it important to endlessly express our viewpoints. Plus, the bottomless Colorado wine at dinner is sponsored by the kind folks at Visit Denver.
In an effort to make sure the commune is as ethical as possible, a member of the Federal Trade Commission stops in bi-weekly to check over our blogs and social media channels to be sure we’re in compliance with their latest guidelines. (Editor’s note: anyone tweeting a link to this article about The Travel Commune should include the hashtag #TravelAdvertisingLinkDisclosureStatement.)
As for non-commune community outreach, we’ve established the Travel Linkshare Processing Center, run by bloggers who’ve honed their linksharing skills to perfection with algorithms that determine which posts to share and when (no reading of the content necessary). This is in addition to the Authentic Travel & Broadening Your Horizons Emergency Task Force (ATBYHETF, for short), which is deployed worldwide via Facebook any time it is detected that someone needs to expand their worldview through travel.
In addition, Chris Christensen of Amateur Traveler broadcasts a weekly podcast during which he introduces a topic that Michael Hodson of GoSeeWrite and I debate for 14 minutes without interruption. This is followed by a weekly travel Q&A on twitter under the hashtag #TTCChat (The Travel Commune Chat), during which all commune members can tell non-commune travel bloggers about their favorite travel experiences.
Everything we do at the commune is chronicled on Instagram using only the Hudson, Valencia and Nashville filters, as they are the most travel-related in name.
As Gary Arndt of Everything Everywhere says, “When you’re not out exploring the world, The Travel Commune is the absolute best place to be, not because of the programs it runs, but because of the people you meet. I mean, I haven’t lived with so many hot chicks since my co-ed dorm in college.”
Visitors can take a non-guided tour of the commune between the hours of 11 a.m. and 5 p.m. on weekdays, during which the residents are alert, sober and glued to their laptops.
Hope to see you at the commune. Namaste.
[Flickr image via Anonymous9000]