Beer anyone? I stand outside the pub and watch the scene swirl as glasses are filled and the band jams. Photos by Bridget O’Neill and Joshywashington unless otherwise noted.

Travel, stoke, beer! Matador and Hostelling International throw an event for travelers and storytellers – Joshywashington reports from the gathering.

WHEN THE FIRST two attendees of the ‘Living Better Stories’ travel storytelling workshop walked in an hour and six minutes early and sat down on the couch, ready to rock, I knew it was going to be a good evening.

The Rapp — an old saloon that’s the oldest standing structure in Santa Monica — is the perfect setting for an intimate gathering to talk about anything, especially travel, seeing as it was under the stewardship of Hostelling International, the ubiquitous standard for communal travel lodgings. The crux of my talk was focused on how travel can literally transform the ‘genre’ of your life and how to recognize and interact with the elements of story that are inherent to effective travel writing, photography, and video.

I did what I do best and jabbered on about my life as a traveler, my theories and strategies for online content creation, and anything else that came to mind — it was fun. We had a great turnout, and the HI staff were awesome — special thanks to Shane Cullen and Luke Rosencrans for getting us squared away and making the event run smoothly and to my Matador colleague Scott Sporleder for holding it down at the sign-in table. And to my wife Bridget O’Neill for taking some great pictures!

We had a great turnout for our inaugural Matador / HI event – one woman drove six hours to attend!

I was stoked to see each and every travel enthusiast and Matador fan that showed up for our workshop — one woman drove 6 hours to attend. The evening would not have been as successful and fun if everyone hadn’t braved the Friday evening traffic to gather.

I’m always stoked to meet Matadorians offline and get into the nitty-gritty of travel content creation, and I was happily surprised at the level of insight and interest that everyone in the room brought to the group.

I’ve produced a ton of online content, but nothing beats meeting face to face to exchange experience and ideas. That was my biggest takeaway of the evening, that a community offline — willing to shake hands, break bread, and exchange ideas — is crucial to Matador as a fulcrum for travel culture and for me as an ‘online’ travel professional.

Josh and a guest talk travel before the event begins. Meeting face to face with readers, Matador fans, and fellow travelers makes our online community that much more meaningful.

After all, travel does not and will never happen ‘online’ — we can relate, expound, connect, and express online, but it’s not until after the laptop closes and we shift our focus to what’s right in front of us that travel can really occur.

After the workshop we noshed on burgers and had a few beers in the hostel courtyard (a gorgeous open-air space) and congregated for the pub crawl. Our feet slapped the pavement as we sauntered into the sultry pulp that is LA air — first stop Renee’s with its red swarms of Christmas lights and stiff drinks. Next stop…Brittania Pub. After that….who knows?

If you missed this Matador Network / Hostelling International event do not fret! There’s a travel storytelling workshop and Matador meetup coming to a city near you.

Next stop — New York City! Stay tuned for details and announcements.