Rick Steves advocates smart independent travel. As host, writer and producer of the popular public television series Rick Steves’ Europe, a national public radio weekly hour, and best-selling author of 30 European travel books, he encourages Americans to delve deep into Europe and become “temporary locals.” His viewers, listeners, and readers not only discover major cities, but also cozy villages away from tourist-trampled routes. He helps American travelers connect much more intimately and authentically with Europe — and Europeans — for a fraction of what mainstream tourists pay.
Since 9/11 Rick, through his lectures, guidebooks, public radio and television series, has calmed the American public by cutting through the emotional headlines and dealing with both the risk (small) and value (greater than ever) of international travel.
Rick Steves is considered the nation’s leading authority on independent European travel.
Because Rick has combined his outspokenness on the increased importance of travel in a post 9/11 world with his long-established and always-growing body of travel writing and teaching, Rick has been busier than ever. He was featured on CBS’s 60 Minutes and in The New York Times Magazine. He’s a regular columnist for the opinion page of USA Today and gives talks to groups across the USA. As keynote speaker for the Society of American Travel Writers in 2005, he brought 600 jaded travel writers to their feet calling them to be the modern day equivalent of the medieval jester (they were expected to bring home the truth–and they wouldn’t be killed).
Over the past 15 years, Rick has hosted more than 100 travel shows for public television. He has become one of public television’s top pledge drive hosts. His 2005 special Rick Steves’ European Christmas, was a huge hit, raising millions of dollars for stations across the U.S.
Rick recently launched a weekly public radio program, Travel with Rick Steves (archive of programs at www.ricksteves.com/radio). Focusing on world travel, each hour-long program has a guest travel expert for interviews, followed by call-ins with questions and comments.
Rick’s travel skills book, Europe Through the Back Door (published annually since 1980) is America’s classic how-to book for smart European travel. His 12 country guidebooks and nine city guides cover all of Europe. His series of phrase books now outsells Berlitz while his Europe 101: History and Art for Travelers brings meaning to the sightseeing of millions of traveling Americans. His Italy guidebook is the bestselling international guidebook in the U.S. Rick’s books are published by Avalon Travel Publishing. Rick took his first trip to Europe in 1969, visiting piano factories with his father, a piano importer. By the time he reached 18, Rick jokes, “I realized I didn’t need my parents to travel!” He began traveling on his own, funding his trips by teaching piano lessons. In 1976, he started a business called Europe Through the Back Door (ETBD), which has since grown from a one-man operation to a company with a well-traveled staff of 70 full-time employees. ETBD offers free travel information through its travel center, European Railpass Guide, and travel newsletters. ETBD also runs a European tour program with 400 departures — attracting about 9,000 travelers — annually.
Spending a third of his adult life living out of a carry-on-sized rucksack in Europe has shaped Rick’s politics. A long time advocate for homeless issues (he’s a key member of Bread for the World and his personal savings are tied up in a 24-unit apartment he provides to his local YWCA to house homeless single mothers), he is also a board member of NORML (working to decriminalize marijuana), and the host for Lutheran teaching videos (hosting and co-writing videos on Luther, Paul, mission work in Papua New Guinea, and more) which all 11,000 Evangelical Lutheran Church in
America (ELCA) churches keep in their libraries.
Rick lives and works in his hometown of Edmonds, Washington. His office window overlooks his old junior high school. He lives with his wife Anne, and two children, Andy and Jackie.
Groups Rick has spoken to report he’s big draw, low maintenance, and generous with his time–happily staying around until the last question is answered and the last book is autographed.