Rick Steves Comes to Villanova


Courtesy of Ryan Brandenberg Photography

Rick Steves speaking at an event at Villanova.

Cate McCusker, Senior Editor

On Wednesday, March 1, The World Affairs Council of Philadelphia hosted the one and only Rick Steves in the Connelly Center for a conversation on travel.


Steves is a writer and TV personality, best known for his popular public television series Rick Steves Europe, where he travels around Europe to offer travelers tips and tricks for lodgings, transportations and places to visit on their own journeys.


Rick Steves’ Europe, founded in 1976, brings 30,000 travelers to Europe annually with his small group tour program. Steves explained that his goal is to “inspire Americans to venture beyond Orlando” and see the world.


“The world’s a beautiful place,” he said. “Let’s get to know it.”


Steves spoke of how important travel is, not only to just to see the world, but also how it affects us politically.


“Travel is a really important force for peace,” he said. “People who travel want to build bridges…the people who don’t want to build walls.”


He explained how it is important for people to get out of their comfort zones and to be in areas where they can’t live their normal life. Steves described himself as a cultural chameleon, because when he is in a different area with different people, he tries to live like them. He eats chocolate in Belgium, drinks tea in England and sips whiskey in Scotland.


“Don’t demand what you’re used to, try what other people are enjoying,” he said. “Give yourself a chance to appreciate things on their terms.”


Steves encouraged Americans to have a broader view of the world and to understand that, even if we do something a certain way, it doesn’t mean it is the norm or the best way to do it, such as eating with your fingers or going to the bathroom without sitting down.


“I think it’s important to travel and celebrate diversity without being so darn afraid of things,” he said. “It’s not about right or wrong, just don’t think we are the norm.”


Another topic Steves emphasized was the importance of climate change. He explained how it is affecting some of the greatest destinations, referencing the major flooding in Venice, and that it is a global responsibility to combat climate change.


“As a family of nations, we need to get serious about climate change,” he said.


After Steves’ speech, audience members were able to ask him about his favorite tips and tricks. He explained that his favorite place is Cinque Terre on the coast of Italy, and he encouraged everyone to journal while they traveled, so they can remember what they did and how they felt in that moment.


Like Steves always says, until next time, keep on traveling.