Who uses Rick Steves?

Old Apr 21st, 2008, 04:16 PM
Join Date: Jan 2003
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One of the first books I pick up from the library when I am visiting a country for the 1st time is often a Rick Steves book. I do like his quirky humor and thinks he gives a good overview for beginning research.

For a Louvre first visitor, short on time, his 2 hour Louvre guide was very helpful. In Naples when my husband wasn't thrilled with exploring on our own, we used Rick Steves Naples walk and were comfortable wandering the streets as recommended in his Rome and Naples book.

I do purchase his pocket size language phrase book and dictionary when I am unfamiliar with the language of a country I am visiting.

I am fortunate to have a large selections of travel books at my local library and Rick Steves is among the books I use for my research.

DeborahAnn is offline  
Old Apr 21st, 2008, 04:30 PM
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I bought his rollon carryon bags for our upcoming trip to Europe. They were lightweight and reasonably priced. I also watched some of his shows and have some of his books. Yes, he is nerdy,but I like the places he picks to see. It has given me some ideas for when I go. I also read other guide books as well and this as always is my best source... the online fodors!
girlonthego is offline  
Old Apr 21st, 2008, 05:01 PM
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I frequently quote the best advice I ever got from a Rick Steves' book: don't hesitate to buy as many guidebooks as you want. Why would you spend thousands of dollars on a trip and balk at spending $25 for a guidebook?

I've used that to give me permission to buy every guidebook that strikes my fancy

el344 is offline  
Old Apr 21st, 2008, 05:03 PM
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Long live the anti-Steeves!

I actually take a peek in hos books to find places to steer clear of.
Aramis is offline  
Old Apr 21st, 2008, 05:18 PM
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One thing I like most about RS is what some may dislike - that he's opinionated about what to see and that his books focus on only a limited number of sights. I find guidebooks that list every sight (especially if there are no stars/triangles to highlight the highlights) to be daunting and not particularly helpful. I like it that Rick has already narrowed it down for me so that the options aren't overwhelming. As others have said, I use his books as a starting point - and then look elsewhere (other guidebooks/online) to augment what I learn from Rick. My recent trips have been to Latin America and Asia... and I really missed it that Rick didn't have books to help me do the planning. (Fortunately, Fodorites filled in!)
althom1122 is offline  
Old Apr 21st, 2008, 05:37 PM
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I consulted many books before we left for trips to Italy and France but RS were the ones we took with us for a few reasons:

I like the museum tours. I have a lot of art history background and I don't need a travel guide for that. But I do like that his books walk me around the galleries so I know what's where.

I like the fact that they're cheaply printed on cheap paper. That means I don't have to feel guilty tearing out whole sections which I carry around while I need them and then I toss them when we're through with that section.

Because they're cheaply printed and non-glossy, they're light in weight. I've picked up some gorgeous travel guides in the bookstores and put them right back down again. They're on beautiful glossy paper with fabulous photographs but they weigh about ten pounds each. No way I'm carrying those around with me!
goddesstogo is offline  
Old Apr 21st, 2008, 06:01 PM
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I agree with many of the posters who advise using a variety of guidebooks. We usually consult Rick Steves for getting around the major attractions, and I'd agree with the previous poster that he does a good walk-through of some galleries. His guide to Versailles was quite helpful a few years ago. I have no problem with his politics; I think I agree more often than not. Is he a bit goofy? Maybe, but no problems with that. Sometimes he will provide more information about an area than the other guidebooks. He had much more useful information about Paestum (which we loved) than the other guidebooks on the Amalfi Coast that I read.

As for his shortcomings, we certainly do not use him for serious restaurant reviews. I suppose my wife and I are both foodie types to a degree, and Rick doesn't ever get to most of the out of the way restaurants we try to find. I think he's also allergic to anything with a Michelin star, and we try to seek those out once in a while. His restaurant "splurges," which sometimes aren't even given much attention (I don't think he sees spending too much on food or dining experiences as worthwhile), tend to be the more established fixtures in an area rather than some of the newer establishments. We haven't used him much for hotels either. I'm more likely to rely on this forum or other information on the internet for information about dining and hotels.

As with much information, triangulation from several sources will get you the best plan.
Midnightsun is offline  
Old Apr 21st, 2008, 06:06 PM
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Rick Steves is to travel writing what Tyra Banks is to serious jounralism.

Someome thought they were being nice to me and gave us his Spain book.

He only puts in the towns he knows, even if the next town has a great to see. For example the book Santilla del Mar but excludes Santander, which is a well known and beaitful beach town near by.

He is often cited as knowing art. In his Spain book, he calls Velasquez, the photojounralist of the Spanish Court. Now photojournalism is an often dangerous and always necessary profession, but Velasquez is in the top ten of influential Western painters. This characterization is lazy and uneducated.

He has been going to years and nothing seems to have taken.
Aduchamp1 is offline  
Old Apr 21st, 2008, 06:07 PM
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I use RS, Fodors, Frommers, etc. etc. Really like the RS "spluges" and appreciate his politics. Of course, I live in Seattle, and I guess there's a reason we like minded people love living here.
artlover is offline  
Old Apr 21st, 2008, 06:24 PM
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We used Steves effectively maybe 12 years ago for a small town - British Isles trips and found he had some good B&B and pub food reccs there.

As primarily cultural and food-oriented tourists in Europe though, I find him annoying to useless. His minimalist view to cultural touring (how to see Rome in 24 hours, really now) and his lack of any real interest in food makes him hard to take seriously. I guess if a tourist wants something boiled down and totally formulaic and doesnt like or want to do the planning work it might work. He can have some good ideas in some areas too. However, Id much rather spend my months researching, pleasantly anticipating and planning ahead of the trip, finding the right guides for each area, making lists, buying and studying maps , researching the web etc. and hitting the ground with more info and a sense of where I am going. I also dont like the idea of landing and winding up in a crowd of americans with the same idea. Its a big world out there - all his guide does is give you a proven American-tested sample-slice.
jjkbrook is offline  
Old Apr 21st, 2008, 06:32 PM
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I, like many others, use a variety of sources when planning a trip. But, I have also stayed at places recommended by Rick Steves and have been thoroughly pleased with the places. He gives a lot of useful information and we had no problems last summer while traveling using his book as a guide. I tend to agree his restaurant choices aren't very special, but they are not bad either. We met him while in Rothenburg ob der Tauber and he was very pleasant to talk to and he signed my book and took a picture with me.
kkukura is offline  
Old Apr 21st, 2008, 07:56 PM
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Obviously loads of people use Rick Steves or he'd never have built the travel empire he built.

I never have been and never will be one of them.
StCirq is offline  
Old Apr 21st, 2008, 09:05 PM
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We relied on RS hugely when we first began traveling in Europe years ago. I'd always wanted to go, but DH wasn't big on it. Watching the Rick Steves' show(as well as the influence of a good friend who visits Italy 2-3 times a year) is what got DH interested in going. And once he went, he was hooked (Yeah!!)

RS was very influential in getting us to pack light--not something I'd ever done before, but it's really the only way to go. And his practical tips were really priceless for us first-timers who didn't even know about Fodor's boards or anything else.

I used his books and the Internet to do all the planning for that first trip. Now I use the Internet almost exclusively, but we learned a lot from Rick Steves'. We have stayed in some of his B&B recommendations and they weren't bad, but nothing special. As foodies, we don't even bother to read his restaurant section.

If you do want to use his hotel recommendations, check his website for when his tours are going to your destination. If you will be there at the same time, chances are you'll have difficulty booking your first choice. One trip we found (on the Internet) a really awesome hotel on Lake Como. While we were there, the owner said RS had been there recently, was putting the hotel in his book and on his TV show. The place is really booked up pretty solidly now. Gee, we thought we'd found our own "back door"!

DH does have the RS suitcase and, though small (too small for me), it has been THE only one we have been able to use for multiple long trips without breaking. DH loves it. We also like his day bag and I even use his clothesline at home!

As for his language books, we took the RS one to Italy. Our Florentine friends picked it up and browsed through it, laughing hysterically at it. They recommended we not use certain wording. We haven't used it since.

Don't get me started on his politics. I just take a deep breath and ignore them. He's darn near anti-American.

Lady is offline  
Old Apr 21st, 2008, 09:05 PM
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I too am not a fan of Rick Steves, but I have to give him credit for at least attempting to pronounce foreign languages correctly--something eschewed, apparently, by both Maxa and Brown.
Underhill is offline  
Old Apr 21st, 2008, 09:41 PM
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I like him, he is funny, and aren't we all a tad old to be using the term " nerdy" I mean as my teenagers would say " thats so high school" ( meaning immature) .

I have read some of his books, very easy to read, but of course they are not complete, he does in fact ignore many places. At least he doesn't even pretend to know everywhere, and openly says ( at least in his Paris book) that he will concentrate on three main areas.

I use and read as many travel guides as I can get my hands on, and I go on this and at least 4 other travel forums fairly regularily.

I use tripadvisor.com to find and book hotels, used it 4 times and have been happy with what I've ended up with each time.
I won't use a Rick hotel simply because I don't want to be surrounded by other Rickites , but rather prefer a mix of tourists from other countries.

I think he is funny and I like that he is honest and open in his opinions,and as a Canadian I am not offended by his politics at all, but I can see why some may not like some of the things he says.

He came to my hometown and gave a lecture once, it sold out, and he talked for 1 1/2 hours and I wasn't bored for a second, the audience really enjoyed him , and he definately made indepentdent travel to Europe sound like something anyone could do, which was nice as he never pushed his tours at all. I don't even think he mentioned them at all?
He also stayed and chatted with everyone after who wanted a word with him, I ws so impressed with his niceness. I guess thats what some people mean by "nerdy" ??
Well I like nerds I guess, they are generally a better class of person then snobs .
bozama is offline  
Old Apr 21st, 2008, 10:23 PM
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I "discovered" Rick back in 1984, when his operation was positively tiny. At that time, the only book he had was Europe Through the Back Door. When I lived in Seattle, I met him on more than one occasion, and found him, as others have said, a pleasant, enthusiastic man. I think the best thing he does is convince nervous first-timers that they can actually do Europe on their own. His advice on sights, etc. works well for first-timers who are doing the "tasting menu" variety of European trip.

I don't use him any more if only because I don't like running into hordes of people all carrying his book. But I also now travel in-depth to particular regions and spend more time in smaller, out of the way places that he doesn't cover.
RoadCrazy is offline  
Old Apr 21st, 2008, 11:23 PM
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To answer the question in the post heading, I suspect that Rick Steves is mainly used by North Americans. Certainly he is basically unknown in Australia, with only a couple of books available in travel stores, and no presence on TV.
adeben is offline  
Old Apr 22nd, 2008, 12:40 AM
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I don't use his books because I cant stand the way people that do use them seem obsessed with Rick and walk around Europe, book in hand saying out loud "RICK SAID TO DO THIS/DON'T DO THIS/EAT THIS/LOOK AT THIS"
coffee is offline  
Old Apr 22nd, 2008, 01:14 AM
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coffee,most people on this site who say they have used his books have also said they read and use other guide books also.

I do find it amusing how some people really feel it is nessesary to distance themselves from any association with him, like it makes them " uncool tourists" instead of " cool travellers" ..it takes alot more then reading or not reading a certain guide book to define ones "coolness" .. LOL

Lighten up,, if anyone here has found THE perfect travel guide please let us all know!
bozama is offline  
Old Apr 22nd, 2008, 02:28 AM
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While I don't think I'll use his books (though i might check out one during my lunch break), I remember watching his program years ago, when I was in grade school. They definitely got me interested in Europe, and just seeing some of the places that I would love to go to, it was very nice. And being so young, it doesn't matter if the host was nerdy or whatever.

For my first trip, I think I read one of almost every company that makes a guide for the place! I've bought two so far, and that'll be it. Besides, DC doesn't seem too hard now...
caladrius is offline  

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