One Book Changed my Travels and Life


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I found a travel book in the library, 'Europe Through the Back Door' by Rick Steves, which showed me how to travel through Europe on a budget. Despite my friends and their parents mocking the idea, my own parents, especially my dad who had traveled in Europe, understood its potential. Inspired, I set out to turn my two-week trip into a three-month journey, fundamentally changing my life.

And Rick Steves was showing me where to look for it. An entire world of affordable European travel just hiding out of view from the first-time traveler.


One day as I was looking in the travel section of my local library, I came across a book by some guy named Rick Steves. The title of the book was “Europe Through the Back Door” and it promised real practical tips on traveling through Europe on a budget. I checked it out and devoured its contents within the week. This book changed EVERYTHING.

Rick Steves wrote about spending weeks and summers in Europe on budgets even less than our 2 week budget. Cheap airfare, hostels, student discount cards, rail passes, eating where the locals do, backpacks, tourist discount passes, and much more. THe information I got from this book convinced me there was an entire world of affordable European travel just hiding out of view from the first-time traveller. And Rick Steves was showing me where to look for it.

I couldn’t wait to tell my friends what I’d found. I had visions of the four of us scrapping our current plans, and reimagining a summer long adventure with no limits. Instead they laughed at me. Their parents laughed at me. Everyone thought I was naive or crazy. “You can’t go to Europe for less than $3,500, and you can’t go longer than 2 weeks. It’s TOO EXPENSIVE. No one can travel like that. It’s impossible.”. Or they’d assume that traveling “cheap” meant traveling through the slums of Europe and like a homeless vagabond.

So I went off deflated that my friends did not share my new vision.

My own parents, however, were all in. My father is from Scotland and had traveled a bit around Europe when he was younger for work and knew first-hand how affordable it could be. Now I was convinced I could turn my 2-week vacation into a 3-month adventure with the money I had saved and Rick Steves’ book.

I didn’t know it then, but reading “Europe Through the Back Door” not only changed this first trip, but also the trajectory of my entire life.

Thank you Rick Steves.

Read the next part of this story


I stumbled upon Rick Steves' guide to budget travel in Europe, faced disbelief from peers, but with my parents' support, I planned to extend my short trip into a life-changing, extended adventure.

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