Rick Steves. Some people love him. Others say that he’s ruined Europe. I personally think he’s done much more good than harm, but I can understand some of the criticisms. The point of this post, however, is not a discussion of Rick Steves as a person or the business he has built, but how he became one of my primary sources of travel information.
Prior to my 2012 trip to Europe, I was scouring the internet, television and book stores for information to help plan the trip. Different websites, shows and books have different audiences, and over time I weeded out those that didn’t appeal to me or weren’t helpful to what I was planning on doing. Rick Steves travel material, however, distinguished itself from the others. His television show was informative and enjoyable to watch and his books were very thorough. Certainly there were other sources of information that I used, but Rick Steves did the best job of detailing the sorts of places I wanted to go to and things I wanted to see. His work thus strongly influenced my planning.
When the time finally came and I left for Europe, I took one of Rick Steves’ guidebooks, along with another one from Let’s Go, and several pages of notes I had gathered over the preceding months. Over the course of my three and a half month trip, Rick Steves material solidified its dominant position in my mind by being effectively never wrong. I think there was only one time where the information in his guidebook was off, but I believe it was a fairly trivial matter. As a person who values thoroughness and consistency, Rick Steves won me over by giving me exactly what I wanted. When I got back from my trip, I knew I would be consulting Rick Steves material again if I ever went back to Europe. With my next trip to Europe on the horizon, I am once again in research mode, gathering information and making plans. Rick Steves material is front and center of my readings, and I’ve purchased a few of his guidebooks for this particular trip. I don’t use Rick Steves for everything on my Europe travels, but he has my trust.