Rick Steves has been Helping Americans Experience Europe since 1976

You know what’s super fun? We can start to think about travelling again! The world is reopening and restrictions are lifting while vaccines are spreading further.

Given this amazing turn of events, we thought it would be a great time to look at one of the original tour and travel experts in our modern day – Rick Steves.

If you’ve ever taken a trip around Europe, chances are you’ve purchased one of Rick Steves’ guidebooks to help you plan your trip.

It Began While He Was in College

Widely considered America’s leading authority on European travel, Steves taught his first travel class at his college campus in the mid 1970s. You see, he began keeping journals of his travels as a teenager as his family visited Europe to tour piano factories (they owned a piano store), then again as they visited relatives in Norway, and again when he went on a trip of his own at 18.

As a student, he not only taught travel classes through the University of Washington, but worked as a tour guide in the summer. It was during this time that he wrote his first edition of the wildly popular Europe Through the Back Door, a general guide on how to travel Europe. Hilariously, Steves included the note “Anyone caught reprinting any material herein for any purpose whatsoever will be thanked profusely” instead of the traditional copyright notice.

He turned that self-published book into a storefront business, organizing travel classes and consulting, creating a few tour groups per year, and updating his books as he traveled.

One thing that always stuck with Steves was not the success of his business, but the beauty of travel – “This planet must be home to billions of equally lovable children of God.”

His Focus is on Trips

In the 40 years since his career began, Steves has always had a healthy view of his success – by the trips impacted, not the dollars earned.

He is dedicated to providing all Americans with access to travel information and has made many resources available for free on his website and in his database of short, teachable clips.

Not only does his Rick Steves’ Europe travel business take about 30,000 people to Europe annually, but he has hosted Rick Steves’ Europe on PBS off and on since 2000.

What we find absolutely refreshing about Steves is that his view isn’t on big lavish trips, but rather taking that trip that will be an absolutely life changing experience. While Steves is absolutely American, he wants you to leave America.

In a New York Times profile on him in 2019, Steves pointed out that the tiniest exposure to the outside world can change your entire life. Travel “wallops your ethnocentricity” and “carbonates your experience” and “rearranges your cultural furniture.”

Traveling in a COVID World

How can we get back to travel with the world still a bit in chaos? It’s not going to be as easy as it once was, as many countries are requiring proof of vaccination and negative COVID tests to enter their borders. However, in a recent podcast with Crosscut, Steves talks about how he himself plans to ease into post-pandemic globetrotting and what he expects to find. If you’re thinking of traveling soon, we definitely think it’s worth a listen!

You know what else is awesome? Steves has been traveling since 1976 and despite being 66 he’s still spending 4 months of most years in Europe looking for the best new things, leading tours, and updating his guidebooks. That’s thriving!