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Rick Steves Talks about How and Why to Travel

December 22, 2010

"Imagine you loved books and one day the librarian mentioned that there was an upstairs."  So says renowned travel writer Rick Steves, whose travel guidebooks are among the most used in the nation. His guide to Italy is one of the bestselling travel books in America. 

In his new book Travel as a Political Act, Steves turns aside from writing conventional location tips, instead helping travelers to consider the why and the how of their travels. He lays out how travelers can go above and beyond just finding the best hotels and the most spectacular attractions. Travel is about place, but also about people.

Steves was 14 years old when he first traveled overseas with his parents. The journey transformed him. "Right there, my 14-year-old egocentric worldview took a huge hit," he says. From then on, Rick has tried to learn as much as possible from various cultures around the globe, and it is this push toward an open mind and new experiences that he tries to encourage through his guidebooks.

I should state at this point that I think Rick might be my brother, my rather older brother. I took my first trip abroad when I was young too, 15 years old, but my parents stayed at home. They sent me to live for the summer with a relative of a friend's friend, I think, in a small town north of Mexico City. Like Rick's, my trip changed me forever. I saw a broader world than the one I had known, a different way of doing things, a different way of living. 

If you want your travels to produce more lifelong memories than photos for an album, you might want to get a copy of the book Travel as a Political Act or a copy of the 2009 season of his PBS show which includes Rick's brief lecture on the topic. Maybe, you'll discover that Rick is a kindred spirit with you too. 60 Minutes did a recent interview with Rick which you can read online or watch on Facebook if you're friends with him there. I am.

Brian M.
Boardwalk Branch

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