TED Talk by Rick Steves: Why Travel Is Well Worth the Money
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Short Version (226 words)
Guidebook author and travel TV host Rick Steves is America's most respected authority on European travel. Rick took his first trip to Europe in 1969, visiting piano factories with his father, a piano importer. As an 18-year-old, Rick began traveling on his own, funding his trips by teaching piano lessons. In 1976, he started his business, Rick Steves' Europe, which has grown from a one-man operation to a company with a staff of 100 full-time, well-travelled employees at its headquarters in Edmonds, Washington, near Seattle. There he produces a best-selling guidebook series on European travel, America's most popular travel series on public television, a weekly hour-long national public radio show, a weekly syndicated column, and free travel information available through his travel center and ricksteves.com. Rick Steves' Europe also runs a successful European tour program organizing small-group tours that take more than 30,000 travelers to Europe annually. His mission: to empower Americans to have European trips that are fun, affordable, and culturally broadening. When not on the road, Rick is active in his church and with advocacy groups focused on economic and social justice, drug policy reform, and ending hunger. Rick Steves lives and works in his hometown of Edmonds, Washington. His office window overlooks his old junior high school.
Email Rick at firstname.lastname@example.org, or write to him c/o 130 4th Ave N, Edmonds, WA 98020.
Long version (642 words)
Rick Steves advocates smart, affordable, perspective-broadening travel. As host and writer of the popular public television series Rick Steves' Europe, and author of a best-selling guidebook series on European travel, he encourages Americans to travel as "temporary locals." His mission: to empower Americans to have European trips that are fun, affordable, and culturally broadening.
Over the past 20 years, Rick has hosted more than 100 travel shows for public television, and numerous pledge specials (raising millions of dollars for local stations). His Rick Steves' Europe TV series is carried by over 300 stations, reaching 95 percent of US markets. Rick has also created three award-winning specials for public television: European Christmas, the ground-breaking Iran: Yesterday and Today, and most recently European Festivals. Rick writes and co-produces his television programs through his media company.
Rick Steves also hosts a weekly public radio program, Travel with Rick Steves. With a broader approach to travel everywhere, in each hour-long program Rick interviews guest travel experts, followed by listener call-ins. Travel with Rick Steves airs across the country on more than 400 radio stations and as a popular podcast. Rick has also created a mobile app, Rick Steves Audio Europe, which organizes his vast library of self-guided audio walking tours and radio interviews into geographic playlists covering Europe's top sights, travel tips, and cultural insights.
Rick self-published the first edition of his travel skills book, Europe Through the Back Door (now updated annually), in 1980. He has also written more than 80 European travel guidebooks and phrase books. For several years, Rick Steves Italy has been the bestselling international guidebook sold in the US. In 2009, Rick tackled a new genre of travel writing with Travel as a Political Act, reflecting on how a life of travel has broadened his own perspectives, and how travel can be a significant force for peace and understanding in the world. Rick's books are published by Avalon Travel, a member of the Hachette Book Group.
In addition to his guidebooks, TV, and radio work, Rick is a syndicated newspaper columnist with the Tribune Media Services. He appears frequently on television, radio, and online as the leading authority on European travel. He is also an active blogger and on social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.
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 Rick Steves' Europe (RSE), a business that has grown from a one-man operation to a company with a well-traveled staff of over 100 full-time employees. RSE offers free travel information through its Travel Center, website (www.ricksteves.com), and travel newsletters. RSE also runs a successful European tour program organizing small-group tours that take more than 30,000 travelers to Europe annually.
Rick is outspoken on the need for Americans to fit better into our planet by broadening our perspectives through travel. He is also committed to his own neighborhood. He's an active member of the Lutheran church and with advocacy groups focused on economic and social justice, drug policy reform, and ending hunger. He's a board member of NORML (the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws). And Rick gave his local YWCA a 24-unit apartment building to provide transitional housing for homeless mothers and their children.
Rick Steves spends about a third of every year in Europe, researching guidebooks, filming TV shows, and making new discoveries for travelers. To recharge, Rick plays piano, relaxes at his family cabin in the Cascade mountains, and spends time with his son Andy and daughter Jackie. He lives and works in his hometown of Edmonds, Washington, where his office window overlooks his old junior high school.
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Shooting at Germany's Wartburg Castle
Hiking in Italy's Cinque Terre
Following in Luther's footsteps in Wittenberg’s Market Square
Revisiting the back door at Tintagel Castle, Cornwall, England
Taping his radio show, Travel with Rick Steves
Relaxing (chillaxing) in the Swiss Alps
Taking a break from filming in central Turkey
Cruising Stockholm's archipelago
Speaking at the Edmonds Center for the Arts
Teaching a Travel Skills class at the Edmonds Center for the Arts
Shooting in Zagreb, Croatia
Basking in the Norwegian sun above the Sognefjord
Hanging out with schoolgirls in Iran
Taking in the Mezquita in Córdoba, Spain
Speaking at the Commonwealth Club in Palo Alto, California (vertical)
Photo by William F. Adams
Speaking at the Chicago Travel Show (vertical)
Photo by Mark Neyens
If you'd like to interview Rick Steves, please email firstname.lastname@example.org. Here are some possible story angles:
Ugly American Sentiment Abroad
Recently, much has been written about Americans being chastised or targeted in Europe because of the United States' foreign policy. Rick believes that although most Europeans take issue with US foreign policy, they feel differently about the American people. The following information, excerpted from Europe Through the Back Door, demonstrates how Americans can keep these "ugly" stereotypes just that.
Many Americans are nervous about traveling now more than ever. And while the concern is natural, you're safer going to Europe than getting behind the wheel of your car.
Rick Steves offers a tremendous amount of free travel information through his bi-annual travel newsletter, European travel classes, and his 3,000+ page website. The different components of Rick's business — his tours, travel store, television and radio productions, and guidebooks — feed off each other to create overall brand awareness. Furthermore, his business (Rick Steves' Europe, Inc.) has grown from a one-man operation to a thriving 100-employee office, and it sells more tours to Europe than ever before. Rick is the author of over 60 guidebooks, and his guidebook to Italy is the bestselling guidebook to any foreign destination in the United States.
Rick Supports Public Radio and Television
Rick raises millions of dollars annually for public radio and television. At a time when public radio and television stations are struggling financially, Rick enthusiastically raises money for public broadcasting.
Rick's Travel Philosophy
Travel is freedom...one of the last great sources of legal adventure. Travel is intensified living, with maximum thrills per minute. It's recess, and we need it. Experiencing the real Europe requires catching it by surprise. Check out Rick's travel philosophy.
Rick's Social Activism
Rick believes that travel is more a vital force for peace than ever. He believes the most effective way individual Americans can contribute to our "Homeland Security" is to travel a lot, learn about the world, come home, and help the United States fit better into this ever-smaller planet. He also believes that America's current stand on world trade and the environment is in the world minority, and that the world's well-being depends on travel so we can understand other countries' policies on these issues. Learn more about Rick's social activism.
In the News
Rick and His Business
Rick Steves: The Traveler's Aid
CBS followed Rick while he researched his guidebook series in 2005
A profile of Rick conducting guidebook research in Europe
Rick Steves has the inside track to Europe
Rick Steves' travel empire is moving as fast as a Europe-bound 747
Updating a Rick Steves Guidebook (4-minute video clip)
Rick gives us a peek at what it takes to update his guidebooks.
Outspoken Travel Guru Rooted in Edmonds
Travel as a Political Act
Rick’s plan for a better world: more travel
Rick provides 10 great places to challenge American assumptions
Rick gets uncomfortable in “Travel As A Political Act”
#BTReads: Rick Steves's 'Travel as a Political Act'
Rick Steves: One of the most thoughtful travel writers today
Write Like Rick Steves: Travel Writer Extraordinaire
Rick writes an op-ed about how travel helps gain global perspective
Rick comments on recent elections in Iran
Travel guru Rick Steves says travel with an open mind and think globally
G is for Geopolitical: Rick Steves Revealed
Interview with Rick Steves: 'Travel as a Political Act'
The World According to Rick Steves
Faithful Travel with Rick Steves (10-minute TV interview)
Learn why Rick is dedicated to thoughtful travel
Rick talks about how Europe perceives the United States
Rick writes an op-ed about what he sees as the real threat to U.S. security
Rick writes an op-ed about global warming
Outspoken Travel Guru Rooted in Edmonds
Rick writes an op-ed about what he sees as the real threat to U.S. security
Drug Policy Reform
Mr. Steves goes to Washington – to talk drug policy
Rick briefs members of Congress on marijuana law reform
Rick Steves offers a European take on America’s drug war
Rick sums up his drug policy views in this 8-min video
Fresh ideas on a tired crusade
Rick’s op-ed on “Europe: Curing, Not Punishing Addicts”
Listen to Rick’s speech on drug policy
Rick Steves’ writes on “We need to get smart about marijuana”
Rick's LA Times op-ed listed as one of the "Top 10 Reasons for Optimism"
Travel guru stands firm on war and weed
Rick's Products & Travel Advice
Rick's guidebooks endorsed
Rick writes an op-ed about why a weaker dollar can actually give you a richer travel experience
Rick Steves, Through the Front Door