Journey to Tbex: #ExploreCanada Blogger Train
Twenty-eight of the world’s best travel bloggers, writers and photographers have plenty to post, shoot and tweet home about thanks to an epic familiarization trip led by the Canadian Tourism Commission (CTC). While familiarization trips are common in the travel industry, the CTC wanted to try something out-of-the-ordinary by inviting bloggers to Explore Canada in a way they won’t soon forget en route to TBEX 13 in Toronto.

So what exactly does epic look like? Think gastronomy, cityscapes, a never-ending skyline, arts & architecture, among plenty of other discoveries, and connect them by a train trip across the country.

The trip, made possible thanks to a partnership with VIA Rail, consisted of groups of bloggers starting at three different points within the country and converging in Toronto for the conference. Groups embarked by rail from Vancouver, Halifax and PEI + Newfoundland, all headed to TBEX in Toronto. Stops along the way included Vancouver, Jasper, Winnipeg, Halifax, Moncton and Montreal, with bloggers spending a few days in each city, exploring the area and soaking in the Canadian culture.

Journey to Tbex: #ExploreCanada Blogger Train

While the city stops offered bloggers a memorable taste of Canadian experiences, VIA Rail gave everyone a chance to breathe, experience the journey in a new way, and of course write and take more photos.

Panorama Magic from Maurice Li on Vimeo.

Lessons learned from on the track

While the experience was a great success, providing bloggers with unique inspiration and perspectives, each memorable journey also comes with some great lessons. Here’s what the CTC has to offer in the way of planning an epic journey:

While media trips can be memorable for many different reasons, adding VIA Rail to the TBEX Toronto journey connected the bloggers to the country in a special way. Imagine the results of having a train car as your office while posting a blog. Imagine the characters and stories that could present themselves. Imagine the scenery flash by outside your window. When looking to add a unique touch to a media trip, the CTC considers the potential of how you get where you’re going.

Staying connected was key for the bloggers (naturally). The CTC invested in MiFi cards for the journey, which was a very wise decision. While VIA Rail offers WiFi at stations and throughout certain corridors of the journey, having consistent access for this trip helped our bloggers, photographers, and writers do what they do so well. While the MiFis were a lifeline, the CTC recommends researching different wireless options (as different parts of the country are serviced by different providers).

The saying strength in numbers couldn’t be more true for familiarization trips. While the CTC led the familiarization trip, our partners provided them with experiences and stories they won’t soon forget. From VIA Rail to the provincial, city and destination hosts, their expert advice and hosting skills delivered itineraries and experiences that added to this special journey.

Journey to Tbex: #ExploreCanada Blogger Train

 

 The journey doesn’t end here

In the spirit of epic train journeys and great experiences, the CTC is offering readers the chance to win 2 roundtrip tickets for two on VIA Rail across Canada, plus a $2,000 travel credit for flights and accommodations prior to the trip (estimated value of $13,000)!

To enter, Re-Tweet the following on Twitter: “I RT’d for a chance to win 2 tix across Canada on @Via_Rail #ExploreCanada! Bit.ly/CanadaTrain #Tbex @ExploreCanada {CAD/US/UK:18+}”

A lucky random lucky winner will then be chosen. Full contest details here.

Photo credit:  Courtesy of Rishad Daroowala, used with permission