Earlier this week I made a trip to Edmonds, WA to go to the Rick Steves travel store. I wanted to ask a few questions about our upcoming trip and look at some guidebooks.
You probably know who Rick Steves is – he is a travel guy with a show on PBS He likes to go inexpensively but still has a great time and sees and does everything he wants. His store has so much good info and is so helpful I would definitely recommend stopping by for a look. He sells everything from sewing kits to guidebooks to luggage to tours and everything in between. He even has a library of a good selection of travel guides and maps you can look at.
I don’t usually use guidebooks because it’s just not something that I do. I don’t want to do in-depth research as a rule. I just want to be surprised – that makes the adventure an adventure. That is until now. I think any travel you do in your own country you can do fine on your own, but with all of the differences in culture foreign travel it is good to do some research on. His books are very good at helping with foreign travel and have opened my eyes to new ideas and possibilities.
I bought two books from his store. The Best of Europe is obviously a “best of” sights, transportation and food that he likes. It’s a traditional guidebook but in his unique friendly style. Europe Through the Back Door is about trip planning and preparation and I recommend it highly. I must say, I wish I would have bought this book months ago as there are some great tips and tricks for travel that I knew and some I didn’t. Rick likes budget travel but not to the point of being too cheap. He has had some interesting experiences.
His style of travel closely resembles how I like to go on an adventure. I don’t need four-star accommodations or Michelin-starred food (nice to spoil yourself every now and then though!). He likes the spontaneity of travel – I like that part quite a bit as well. Some of the really touristy things I avoid because a lot of the time it’s just not something that is interesting to me. I’m more of an off-the-beaten-path traveler. Some touristy things you just have to do though. If anything is interesting enough to me I will pay to do and see. I generally won’t forgo doing something just because it costs money unless it is something I am either not interested in at all or not interested ENOUGH in seeing/doing for the cost.
He suggests buying a guidebook (one of his for obvious reasons) and tearing out and taking only the pages you need. The Best of Europe covers many Western Europe countries but we are not going to all of them. The problem is, it is hard to pay $30 for a book just to tear it up. I got part way into doing that but it is just not normal for me to tear a book up. I will get it done though since the books are quite tyhick and have some weight to them. With trying to save backpack weight every little ounce counts. There’s no need to carry more than what is needed and the tight weight restrictions are strict. You have to look at it like you are backpacking in the forest for two weeks. It is the very same thing except for camping gear.
I’ll be looking at some Lonely Planet books since I have heard good things about them as well. I actually just picked an LP London guide at the library book sale a few minutes ago so I can check out their style and tips.
Now it’s just counting down the time before we go…