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      Philadelphia Speaker Series

      Around the World in an Hour with Rick Steves

      Rick Steves

      Rick Steves

      Rick Steves, an acclaimed European traveler, producer and writer, visits Widener.

      Faculty and staff filled the Webb Room on Monday, Feb. 26 to listen to smart travel ideas from Rick Steves, the popular author, television host and European traveler. The campus presentation coincided with Steves’ appearance in the Philadelphia Speaker Series held at the Kimmel Center in Philadelphia.

      For over two decades, Steves has advocated smart, affordable travel and produced countless European travel shows and guide books encouraging Americans to become "temporary locals.” Four months out of the year, Steves resides in Europe conducting research for his guides aimed at helping American travelers connect much more intimately and authentically with Europe and Europeans.

      Steves kicked off his eye-opening and witty presentation with the origins of his love of European travel. His first trip to Europe was in 1969 as a 14-year-old visiting piano factories with his father, a piano teacher and importer. Even as a young man, Steves remembers that trip as the moment he realized that “Europe was the wading pool to the rest of the world.”

      Rick Steves

      Steves at Widener

      Rick Steves speaks on campus with Widener faculty, staff and students before heading that night to the Kimmel Center.

      By the age of 18, Steves began to travel throughout Europe alone to learn from his own experiences and absorb all of the history, culture and traditions that Europe has to offer.

      During his presentation at the Kimmel Center, Steves shared basic fundamentals on how to be a savvy traveler. First, get off of the beaten path. Make the effort to travel outside of your comfort zone and explore places not listed on mainstream travel promotions.

      Second, compliment your time off the beaten path with the famous tourist attractions.

      “Be a tourist and enjoy it,” Steves said. “But, compliment that by traveling two miles south the next day to a tiny village.” Approaching travel this way will make for a balanced trip and allow you to experience the best of both worlds.

      Third, take the initiative to know the context of the sites or locations on your itinerary. Whether you visit the ancient Pont de Gard aqueduct in Southern France or the Trevi Fountain in Rome, knowing the history and relevance of the sites will enrich your experience.

      Steves closed the presentation with a task for the audience: get to know the unknown. In today’s world of the 24-hour news cycle and constant coverage of international affairs, Americans are hesitant and often afraid to travel. Steves dispelled that fear and encouraged the crowd to be smart and curious travelers. “The flip side of fear is understanding, and we gain understanding when we travel,” Steves said.

      Steves believes that by traveling to parts of the world unlike our own and seeing the world through a different lens, we can not only relinquish that fear but also gain meaningful experiences.

      Regardless of your destination, Steves reminded the audiences that the best souvenir is a broader perspective.

      The next Philadelphia Speaker Series is scheduled for Monday, March 26 and will feature former Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives Newt Gingrich.


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