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Writer Rick Steves Talks About Travel

Rick Steves

Among travelers, Rick Steves is an icon. He has written guidebooks for countries all over Europe. His public TV programs have been watched by millions and his public radio program is carried by more 400 stations around the world, including our KSFC.

Steves will be on stage at Spokane’s Bing Crosby Theater tonight [Thursday] to talk about his book, “Travel as a Political Act.”

Rick Steves views travel as one of the essential elements of a well-lived life.

Rick Steves: “If everybody had to travel before they could vote, I know that’s a pipe dream, but if everyone had to travel and have a world perspective before they voted, I think America would have a different political situation and I think America would be stronger and I think America would be safer and I think America would contribute more to the stability and the wellbeing of this planet as the greatest economic power and force for freedom, potentially the greatest force for freedom on the planet. The value of travel has never been greater and that amps up my energy. I’ve been at this a long time, but I’m just ramping up right now because I see the beautiful value in traveling, getting out of your comfort zone, hanging out with people who see things differently and coming home with the most beautiful souvenir and that souvenir is a broader perspective. Then the exciting thing is to implement that as a citizen of this great nation and help our country be better.”

Doug: “You’ve got a great website. You’ve got podcasts there. You’ve got short videos and forums. I pull a question from one of the threads on your forum, regarding U.S. foreign policy and how that impacts tourists who now go abroad. Do you think people are being treated differently over the last couple of years because of the change in American policies in some of those places?”

Rick Steves: “The answer to the person on the forum, what’s the impact on travels, it’s nothing. We took 10,000 tours around Europe and I’ve been in careful touch with all of our Rick Steves guides, and none of them report ‘Ugly American’ problems. There’s all sorts of dislocation going on because of fear and because of immigration concerns and because of super nationalism and tribalism and angry people that don’t have the wherewithal to travel and are more frightened. There’s stuff going on in Britain with Brexit. There’s stuff going on in Poland and Hungary and Turkey, with the autocrats who have derailed or are working hard to derail those democracies. All over Europe, there’s a rising tide of angry of extremist, super nationalistic policies that are driven by fear of immigrants. This is just part of globalization. It’s the growing pains of an ever-smaller world and we’re having the same types of discussions in our society. I think it’s more important to travel than ever. We need to get to know our neighbors. We need to recognize that globalism is a big train; you’re going to have to get on it or get run over. That’s the perspective from south of our border and I think it applies to us as well. It all comes back to the mission of my teaching as a travel writer and as a person who cares about America not being ethnocentric. I’m a fan of getting to know the other 96% of humanity and I really believe the best thing for security for our country is to play ball with the rest of the world and have the mindset where we see the value of building bridges, rather than building walls and to recognize that different people have different takes on things. Just as much as we want other people to give us a little wiggle room because of our baggage, we should give other people a little wiggle room because of their baggage. We’re all in this together.”

Rick Steves’ new book is “Travel as a Political Act.” You can hear Rick Steves’ program “Travel with Rick Steves” Saturday mornings at 8 on KSFC, FM 91.9 in Spokane, 100.3 in Coeur d’Alene.