After having lived out of the USA for more than 45 years and having traveled in over 50 countries and lived in 4 different countries plus widely different places in the USA, I think I know a bit about travel but compared with the advice you can get from Rick Steves, I’m way behind him. Rick has dedicated about 100 days a year living in Europe for the last 20 years to researching and writing his 50 different guidebooks. While I was starting and directing language schools, Rick was building his travel business since 1976 where he now has 100 employees. What I most like about Rick Steves is his travel philosophy. Rick sees travel as a political activity and it certainly is on several levels. All of us who traveled when we were young found our lives changed forever. I was very fortunate to serve in the Peace Corps in its first years from 1962 to 64. I spent two of the best years of my life in Gabon and I can assure that those two years influenced my life and still today I feel the importance every day.
Travel is at the very least a mind opening experience and for some it’s not pleasant to see that things are not the same as back home. Some never get past the point of “I don’t like this”. The fortunate travelers are the people who relish in differences, who see there can be another way to do most everything and to express everything. Take Rick’s advice and read all you can about where you are going, look into what the food is like and the kinds of wine they drink and try to learn a few words in the language. A few words and a smile can go a long way to opening hearts and doors. I would suggest that even if you don’t but one of guide books you should at least see Ricks suggestions on all things travel. I suggest one of his articles to all my Douro Kayak clients and I could suggest all of them.