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.