Rick Steves has some words for your ass

Posted by on May 4, 2012 in Blog, Featured | 10 comments

|Pictured: Segovia, Spain|


This is really a reminder to those travellers who live by this doctrine already, and words of straight, down to earth inspiration for future travellers. I don’t have to agree with the specifics discussed here, or even some of his overall travel ‘tactics’. But it’s insightful (especially from an American’s perspective), and in my limited experience I find it largely agreeable.

Few people can speak this eloquently and genuinely communicate something that we travellers all come to know. So give Rick a minute and let him put you in the mood to do Europe… the right way. |GO|

Travel is freedom… one of the last great sources of legal adventure. Travel is intensified living, with maximum thrills per minute. It’s recess, and we need it. Experiencing the real Europe requires catching it by surprise, going casual… Through the Back Door.

Affording travel is a matter of priorities. (Make do with the old sofa.) You can travel simply, safely, and comfortably anywhere in Europe for $100 a day plus transportation costs. In many ways, spending more money only builds a thicker wall between you and what you came to see. Europe is a cultural carnival, and time after time, you’ll find that its best acts are free and the best seats are the cheap ones.

A tight budget forces you to travel close to the ground, meeting and communicating with the people. Never sacrifice sleep, nutrition, safety, or cleanliness in the name of budget. Simply enjoy the local-style alternatives to expensive hotels and restaurants.

Extroverts have more fun. If your trip is low on magic moments, kick yourself and make things happen. If you don’t enjoy a place, maybe you don’t know enough about it. Seek the truth. Recognize tourist traps. Give a culture the benefit of your open mind. See things as different but not better or worse. Any culture has much to share.

Of course, travel, like the world, is a series of hills and valleys. Be fanatically positive and militantly optimistic. If something’s not to your liking, change your liking. Travel is addicting. It can make you a happier American, as well as a citizen of the world. Our Earth is home to nearly 6 billion equally important people. It’s humbling to travel and find that people don’t envy Americans. Europeans like us, but with all due respect, they wouldn’t trade passports.

Globetrotting destroys ethnocentricity. It helps you understand and appreciate different cultures. Travel changes people. It broadens perspectives and teaches new ways to measure quality of life. Many travelers toss aside their hometown blinders. Their prized souvenirs are the strands of different cultures they decide to knit into their own character. The world is a cultural yarn shop. Back Door Travelers are weaving the ultimate tapestry.

Join in!

Visit Rick Steves’ Website

Rick Steves The Back Door Philosophy



  1. We used Rick Steves when we went to France/Italy in 2010! Excellent guide/source for general information for traveling. It’s important to go off-book and live a little but he has a great book to act as a “safety blanket” resource.

    • Definitely! I’ve tried out tons of books…. Hard to say what is ‘best’ but I used Rick Steves’ book on my most recent trip just for the logisitics… he’s very good with little details. But for sights etc… you have to allow for some good ole wandering :) In fact, i cut out about 60 percent of his book and rebound out with just the logistical details i needed. It came out pretty cool….

      In any case, he’s got some great words to live, er, travel by….

    • Woot, I will creatinly put this to good use!

  2. Trying to follow a blog via social networks is unpleasant. Not sure how to just sign up for your standard blog posts so I’m commenting again to make it happen!

    • You can actually subscribe to receive email updates via the subscribe feature at the bottom of my site…. Or you can add my RSS feed to whatever rss reader you might happen to use :)

      • Hey, that’s a clever way of tihnikng about it.

      • I’ve read Europe Through the Backdoor and five of Rick’s guidebooks (including Best of Europe, Best of Eastern Europe, and seevarl country and city guides), and I still learned something new. Rick Steves is my homeboy, I never could’ve done my 95-day 50-city tour without him. Reply

  3. Haven’t seen this. Rick Steves was our go-to for our first backpacking trip through Europe 6 years ago. Loved his sketchings.

  4. Thank you Rick. I am a Tourism senior at Arizona State University. I have been follnwiog you here and there from almost 7 years ago. Great memories and great info! I want to tell you your lectures and series have been very heklpful. I am conducting my oun escorted tour this summer of Italy, Sicily and Greece with ASU students. Thank again for sharing your experience Reply

  5. Great post, really enjoyed it!
    — Monroe