Last June, Cristina and I toured Europe. Her sister and brother-in-law spent a day with us in London. They also spent a week with us in Europe visiting their family. The rest of the trip Cristina and I were alone. We planned everything. I’m not even sure why travel agents exist anymore. When we had enough money, we paid for what we wanted to do. The only thing we didn’t pay for in cash was hotel rooms. Our trip was as smooth as a month-long trip can be. And for that, we have to thank Rick Steves.
My mom bought us Europe Through the Back Door as a present. We studied it as if it was the Bible. It’s not a travel guide. It’s a how to travel guide. That gypsy that tried taking my money at the train station in Paris, we knew what she was up to. We found out fanny packs are even dumber than they look and bought money belts. We knew what to pack. With the Paris Museum Pass, we skipped the lines at the Louvre and Versailles. We avoided jet lag. We saved money by changing settings on our cell phones. We didn’t always do what he said because there were stuff we wanted to do differently. However, every time we took his advice it was always dead on.
We also bought the Best of Europe 2010. Unlike most other guides we looked at, this travel guide-book was extremely opinionated to say the least. He tells you what was a waste of time and what to see. Again, we didn’t always take his advice – for example, we went to Innsbruck – but when we did our trip was better for it.
We had nearly a perfect trip; one that I hope we both will write about more often. Because we planned so well, we rarely had fights. Most of our fights came as a result of being exhausted. I don’t feel that we ever landed in any tourist traps. Again, there are other travel guides out there. Some are great; some aren’t. Rick Steves’ books fall in the first category.