So there we were standing face to face with Rick Steves, the leading authority on European travel. He has a cult-like following by those who have watched his shows experienced his services, read his books and taken his tours. I became aware of him when I noticed the countless number of Steves’ books sitting on one of our client’s bookshelves in their home.
Then, a couple of months ago my wife was flipping through the channels and was captivated by, “Rick Steves’ Europe,” as she imagined herself sipping a café in the heart of Paris. At the end of the show there was the opportunity to meet him in Atlanta. I can’t help but wonder, how many other people saw the same show and automatically came up with a list of reasons not to meet him in person: It costs too much. It’s the middle of the week. I’ll have to sell my wife on the idea. She’ll have to find a sitter for the kids, which is additional cost. Plus there may be something better that comes up two months from now. And the list can continue on.
I think of all the reasons I should do something. I tend to envision the possibility of potential opportunity and jump at it. I pulled out my laptop and bought two VIP reception and event tickets: $200. Sitter: $65. Atlanta rush-hour traffic: 2 hours. Getting home late on a mid-week evening: 11 P.M. The experience: PRICELESS.
Most people focus on the cost of doing something. But others with wide-eyed curiosity make investments, which results in priceless experiences that enrich their life. For these people there is no cost.
And the bonus for all of you who are still reading this message there is a bonus. You get to learn some of the tips and ideas Rick shared during our 4-hour evening with him that most of which you cannot find in his travel books.
But first, his story is significant because story matters and it says so much about what matters most to us in life. He was 14 years old when his parents “dragged” him to Europe while his father met suppliers of his piano import business. He hated it at first. Then he was inspired when he saw the countless numbers of young people jumping on buses and trains with a simple travel pass and hardly any luggage. He saw that the world was their playground. This resonated with me as I’ve found that most often the secret to your life-long passion comes out of an experience that occurred somewhere between the ages of 7 and 15 just as it did for Rick.
Here is our Top Ten Best from our time with Steves:
Travel is about experiences…and experiences are about relationships. So when you’re driving through a town, and you see a cheese festival going on, don’t just keep driving. Get out of your car, eat some cheese and talk with the people enjoying their culture and festival.
Most tourists are drawn in by “shiny little objects” going only to the sites recommended by big tour companies that ultimately get paid to bring their people to that destination or shop. To really experience a country you get off the main road to dine with the locals and then head to medieval ruins in order to understand context.
If you have never traveled outside of North America, the best place to start with the least amount of culture shock is England. Steves suggests gradually working your way south and east from there toward France, then to Italy and on into Greece. Turkey is the best way to “spice up your European travels,” Steves said with enthusiasm.
Most buses that meet cruise ships are paid for by local merchants making it a good deal for the cruise line but tourists are unknowingly lured to the shops of local merchants where tour guides get a cut of all the purchases.
Gone are the days of Traveler’s checks and exchanging currency. The European bank ATM machines work well with minimal fees. Visa and MasterCard are still the primary cards accepted across all of Europe.
Don’t let your smartphone go on roam…you could spend a $1000 in a day while it downloads location information, content of a map or a viewing of a short YouTube video. Use it to download a local map for the day where there is a free Wi-Fi connection. But buy a phone when you arrive and update it in each country with a free SIM card, pre-purchasing minutes $20 at a time. Keep and then swap SIM cards country to country.
Typical group tours are overcrowded with fifty people on a fifty-seat bus (Rick Steves’ tours put about 25 people on a 50 seat bus). Most tour guides also get kickbacks for taking you shopping. These tours can be very inexpensive, but be aware of what is going on.
Contrary to mainstream media, Europeans like Americans and enjoy it when you bring something from the states to share with them.
Be relational with the locals because they love talking to Americans and informing you about their country. And rent bikes to tour around since most cities are becoming very bike friendly.
Make an appointment online to tour main sites like the Eifel tower. By doing this you have a pass that gets you to the front of the line saving you precious travel time.
The Coliseum in Rome is known for its long lines but it’s not for getting into the Coliseum – it is just to buy tickets. Just down the street is a booth for a less popular site that also sells Coliseum tickets – with no line.
I think I just provided a dozen tips for you to use on your next European vacation. Did you catch all of them?
And this really points to the reality that we tend to think too narrowly about the information we read that doesn’t relate specifically to what we’re looking for, doubting there is anything to learn from leaders who work outside our own industry. For instance, some will think this information has no value because they are not headed to Europe this summer on vacation. However, there are several tips that will potentially help you regardless of where you travel. At the very least the tips can inspire thinking in new ways.
I would be doing everyone a disservice if I did not make you aware, if you are not already, of our latest special report. If you’ve already read the draft of the report, you might think of someone who could benefit from the information just as I have thought of all of you in sharing what we learned from Rick Steves.
Ready for release is the latest edition of our special report, The 7 Regrets Wealth Creates and How To Avoid Them. It provides groundbreaking insights on the challenges of wealth. We put it together to help successful couples think through their wealth situation and ultimately move them forward in their wealth preparations by motivating them to get their situation assessed. An objective third-party assessment is an important first step toward removing regrets, and ensuring a bigger impact with wealth and in life.
Call or email to request a complimentary print edition of the latest edition of our special report, The 7 Regrets Wealth Creates and How To Avoid Them, 678-278-9632. Or, go to our website, www.boomfishwealthgroup.com to download our special report.
For more travel tips and ways to make your next vacation a more valuable experience, go to www.ricksteves.com