Look in the dictionary under Europe and you will surely see Rick Steves' name. Over the past 25 years, he's expertly guided us through across the Continent, United Kingdom, Ireland, and beyond, entreating us to become temporary locals and educating us on how to be smart independent travelers.
Rick Steves is the author of 30 European travel books, the host, producer and visionary behind nearly 100 travel shows for public television entitled Rick Steves' Europe, and the owner of Europe Through the Back Door, a company that leads 300 tours to Europe annually. He's also the perfect interview subject for "Window or Aisle?", our travel Q&A.
Window or aisle?
The last thing I ate from a minibar?
Cashews and orange juice.
I won't leave home without...
The best trip I've ever taken? And why?
I think three trips worked together to shape me as a traveler: Europe the first time on my own (as an 18 year old in 1973) - it expanded my back yard. India in 1978 and 1983 - it humbled me culturally. El Salvador/Nicaragua in 1989, 1991 and 2005 - it awakened me politically.
My dream trip?
Italy in the spring with no Fiats or Motorbikes anywhere and an ability to speak Italian.
The movie or book that inspired me to pack my bags?
Name of the Rose, Trinity, and Solzhenitzen's open letter to the Soviet Leaders.
My greatest travel pet peeve?
Beds with rubber covers under the sheets so I don't stain the mattress. They make me sweat. I rip them off and stow them under the bed.
How I deal with jetlag?
I put a fake departure date on my calendar two days before I really fly and get everything related to the trip done by that deadline in order to leave home well-rested. I work until I'm too sleepy on the flight (usually giving me two hours of sleep just before we land). I switch my wrist watch and mind to local time when the pilot announces what time it is where we're landing. Once in Europe, I stay active and productive on the day I land (jet lag hates bright light, fresh air and exercise). I plan on waking up wired the first morning at about 5am and suffer through the next day or two with a sleepy lull in late afternoon and then enjoy being 100 percent and immersed in Europe.
If I could travel with any living person...
Myself so I could accomplish twice as much research or get the job done and get home twice as fast.
I'll never go back to...
Hong Kong. It's a shoppers' Nirvana...but just not for me.
If I could be anywhere right now...
River rafting with good friends in Idaho.
For more on Rick Steves, visit his website (ricksteves.com). You'll also find information there on his latest and greatest products, such as his complete 2000-2005 seven DVD anthology, which includes 43 complete "Rick Steves Europe" TV shows, outtakes, and bonus interviews.