Rick Steves' Guidebooks: A must have for any European Trip

United States Travel Blog

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Looking through the travel book section at Barnes and Noble can be a daunting task. Don’t be fooled by books with color pictures and glossy pages; because the best travel guides have a less glamorous appearance. Rick Steves’ guidebooks for Europe, although with black and white pages, contain invaluable and unique information not found in other guides.

Rick Steves gives tips for traveling on a budget, because according to his traveling philosophy, “spending more money only builds a bigger wall between you and what you came to see.” Steves describes Europe as a “cultural carnival” in which “you’ll find that the best acts are free and the best seats are the cheap ones.”

Rick Steves hosts a weekly radio show and a travel show on public television. On his website, he sells tours that his team leads throughout Europe and carries his own line of travel supplies. Steves has written over 30 books, including read before you go books, country guidebooks, city-region guidebooks, and phrasebooks.

His books follow three stages of traveling, what Steves terms as “Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs for the thinking traveler.” His handbook on travel skills, Europe Through the Back Door, teaches the basics for the inexperienced traveler, such as how to budget and plan an itinerary.

Travelers in the second stage are ready to learn about art, history, and culture with Steves’ book Europe 101: History and Art for the Traveler.

The third stage of traveling broadens a traveler’s world view. His new book, Traveling as a Political Act, to be published in May, 2009 talks about “people to people diplomacy,” which refers to strengthening America’s image abroad through American travelers interacting with foreigners.

Steves has spent the past 30 summers in Europe averaging around 130 days per year. He scours the ins and outs of the most fascinating cities in Europe. Although he does cover the landmarks, Steves searches for favorite places among the locals and tends to shy away from tourist traps.

Traveling is not just about seeing the Eiffel Tower or Big Ben, but actually learning about another culture and way of life. Steves has interacted with the locals in the cities featured in his books and give tips on how to experience different cultures and traditions.

Steves’ guidebooks are based on his personal experience and are frequently updated. They do not contain information that could just as easily be found on Wikipedia, like most books in the travel section. If traveling to Europe, the best way to do it is through the back door with a Rick Steves guidebook.
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