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What's your opinion of Rick Steves?

Nick

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Tags: Rick Steves, travel celebrity
  • Added on: February 21st, 2001
You may of heard of Rick Steves, author of 'Europe through the back door'. Does the information he gives apply to backpack type travellers and if so what are some of the useful things he suggests?

Sean

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  • Added on: March 12th, 2001
Rick Steves visited Eugene recently and here is what ant and Nick wrote about it, since y'all are talking about it:

Rick Steves article

Ant

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  • Added on: March 15th, 2001
I've not gotten to really read his books yet, but like Sean said, Nick and I were there when he came through Eugene. I think he made some great points, and by and large, I think what he was trying to do with the middle-aged and senior citizen audience was to get them to try to think and travel more independently.

In my book, he's pretty cool. I can't fault him for anything; travel is my life, and the guys' lives, and it's Rick Steves' life as well - after all, this is someone who researches his books by spending a third of the year 'on-site'. I respect that - and I think it's also a reflection of his own passion, and that usually translates as something you can trust

Cheers,

Anthony St. Clair
Writer & Editor / Traveler / Cook / Brewer
http://www.antsaint.com
twitter / antsaint

Miamc

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  • Added on: May 7th, 2001
I think Rick Steves is the Mr. Rogers of the geriatric travel set.

However, you guys have raised good, positive points about his work. I haven't read his books, but I have watched several of his TV shows, which suggests that I must have found some relevant content in 'em to keep coming back.

My gut reaction is that Rick's not talking to me, but to my mother. But I think my mother (were she still with us) would find his tone annoyingly pedantic. His obsession with carrying that one small duffle bag and demonstrating how to pack it really gets on my nerves. I'm constantly waiting for him to show us how to wash our underwear with hotel soap and hang it on a travel clothesline that we've cleverly stowed in our dopp kits. But he'd leave out that fact that if you're moving on the next day then you really need to blot your laundry dry with the single tissue-thin bath towel that your inexpensive hotel has provided, then you have to use the same towel for your body or risk the ire of the domineering matron by asking for another.

But I digress. Clearly there's an audience for Rick's work, and if he convinces the older traveler to skip the packaged tour and go it on their own, then more power to him. Just because I need a more edgy commentary doesn't mean he's not right for some.

Mia

Wherever you go, there you are.

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No one trip is "the trip of a lifetime" -- they all are.

Ant

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  • Added on: May 16th, 2001
I do like some of what STeves' says, but at the same time, his market is definitely the middle-aged and older crowd, but that is also part of what I like about him.

CAn he come across as pedantic? Sure - but then again, the things he says are nothing new to anyone who's done some independent traveling. For a lot of his market, though, to them 'travel' is something done with lots of luggage, at the classic 'this is tuesday so this must be belgium' pace - and for them what he says (packing light, talking to the locals, avoiding tourist places, etc) is probably on the verge of revolutionary.

I think I like Steves not for what he says as it relates to me, because like you Miamc, a lot of it doesn't - he kinda preaches to the choir there, you know? - but when he can take the middle-aged and senior crowd, and enlarge their perspectives a little when it comes to travel. I just have to respect it - and I think it helps not just those people, but the rest of us too, because there's just a few more, more independently-minded travelers out there

Cheers,

Anthony St. Clair
Writer & Editor / Traveler / Cook / Brewer
http://www.antsaint.com
twitter / antsaint

modgirl

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  • Added on: August 30th, 2001
Interesting Mia... I'll be honest. I'm completely unfamiliar with Rick Steves. My parents and in-laws both travel a great deal. My parents are actually fairly young (early 60s) but both have terrible knees and joints and can't walk very far. My parents usually choose very expensive package tours so they can have door-to-door transportation. They also like the expensive meals that go with the tours and always use porters for their luggage. I was actually going to travel with my mom to Scandanavia for a trip this year, but we both decided that our styles are just so different that it probably wouldn't be a great idea. With all due respect to my mom, I'd be bored stiff with all the "catering" that happens, and there's no way she could use public transportation and do the things I'd like to do.

My in-laws are much healthier but they actually like the "group" atmosphere. They took a tour recently of six weeks in outback Australia and then a month in China. Personally, I think they like to think of themselves as "adventurous" but I think they'd be scared to totally go on their own.

On the other hand, I may go for a three-hour general orientation tour of a city, but that's it! The last tour package I went on was in high school on my first trip to Europe. I can't complain because just the "newness" of Europe was wonderful, but I did resent having my time planned for me.

modgirl

Ant

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  • Added on: December 31st, 2001
I've often wondered if maybe there is a particular audience that really finds Steves useful, say, maybe the 40s and up crowd? Does Steves, his books, way of travel, etc., appeal to the younger traveler? Or is he universal in appeal?
Cheers,

Anthony St. Clair
Writer & Editor / Traveler / Cook / Brewer
http://www.antsaint.com
twitter / antsaint

h_man

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  • Added on: April 17th, 2003
I was traveling in Europe awhile ago and staying at a hostel in Interlaken. Everyone was going over there guide books seeing where to go next when some Aussie's laughed at me because I had Rick Steve's guide and not Lonely Planet. He was serious, since I got the guide free for ordering my Eurail pass on his website I found it funny. I also never realized how stupid the traveling culture could be when other "travelers" with guidebooks actually pass judgement on people by what guidebook they are reading. It's stupid and as a matter of fact Rick Steve's guides are better then 90% of the other guidesbooks on the market. You don't have to like the man but his books are helpful.

H
http://www.traveloutward.com
H
[url]http://www.traveloutward.com[/url]

khumbu

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  • Added on: April 20th, 2003
That's funny h_man, because I used to get amusement from the hordes of adventurous backpackers with their faces buried in Lonely Planet.

As for Rick Steves, he seems to mix the standard guidebook stuff with a lot of gems that could only come from quizzing the locals. He's clearly not one to stuff his brain completely to the brim with LP gibberish.

Ant

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  • Added on: April 25th, 2003
Being as Steves is in Europe much more regularly too, I've usually heard that his stuff has good, fairly current info. LP... yes, valuable - but due to their popularity too many travelers get into that guidebook herd mentality: "if it ain't in LP, it ain't on my list!" And not always perfect (not that anyone is); one of our RTW travelers said she renamed hers 'The Lying Planet'.

But to actually be so elitist as to snob off someone because they were carrying a different guide? That's every bit as pretentious as fobbing off someone because you don't like their shoes or their brand of backpack. Every publisher's going to give some different info; if anything, I'm hearing Let's Go touted much more than LP, and Steves still does some accurate, respectable work.

Have backpack, will scribble,
Anthony

4 months, 1 continent, a loopy Yank writer and a lot of trains. Oh my.

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Cheers,

Anthony St. Clair
Writer & Editor / Traveler / Cook / Brewer
http://www.antsaint.com
twitter / antsaint

eeyartee

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  • Added on: June 5th, 2003
I used to hate Rick Steves, mainly for the same reasons why people here think little of him too. I watch his tips on travel on PBS and constantly say, "Yes Rick, please tell me something I DON'T know."

Perhaps it's a generational thing, yes. "I think Rick Steves is the Mr. Rogers of the geriatric travel set." I agree.

However, perhaps it's his publishers fault for swaying him to this travelers-for-dummies market. I actually read something Rick Steves wrote before his whole "Back Door" life, in some travel narrative compilation book. It was about his travels during his younger days, and he can really be a funny guy. Too bad he's known now for something completely different.
e.

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static

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  • Added on: October 30th, 2005
My personal opinion of Rick Steves just went way up.

From today's San Francisco Chronicle

Smokin' Steves: Travel writer and public television star Rick Steves is in the Bay Area this weekend with a special tip: Lay off marijuana smokers.

Steves, whose European guides have made him a near-household name in the Bay Area, is also a board member of NORML, the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws. He'll be making an address in that role at this weekend's Wonders of Cannabis Festival in Golden Gate Park.

"Society has to make a choice to tolerate other lifestyles or build more prisons,'' Steves told us in a phone interview from his Seattle office.

Citing what he called the "European perspective," Steves said decriminalizing weed doesn't necessarily mean that use goes up.

"I'm not going to tell you that people should smoke pot or that I smoke pot in America," Steves said, "but I will tell you that I think our drug policies are laughable."

As for Steves himself?

"I smoked when I went to Nepal in the '70s -- everyone did," Steves said. "It was very casual. And you know what they say ... when in Rome.

"I don't hide it from my kids," Steves added. "I even had the president of NORML over for dinner so my kids could meet him. It's good to be honest about it, be credible and honest because there's a real serious problem with hard drugs out there."

As for why he's taking such a high-profile position on pot?

"I know a lot of people who smoke, but who would rather hide in the closet and be ashamed than speak out and say these laws are stupid,'' Steves said. "I mean, 8 million people have smoked -- some of them must have inhaled."

Link to news story


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