LISTEN: Rick Steves wants you to travel outside your comfort zone
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Edmonds based travel guru Rick Steves has built a 30+ year career on European travel. He’s produced more than 50 guide books and hosts a public TV and radio show about traveling in Europe. But when he vacations, he goes all around the world, often to less traveled locations.
Steves encourages all Americans to do the same in the new, third edition of his book “Travel as a Political Act: How to Leave Your Baggage Behind.”
“I wanted to update it for what the world is like after President Trump and after refugees and terrorism and climate change and Brexit; all these concerns that are filling our headlines. Sharing the lessons I learned from travels in places like Cuba and Iran and Palestine and Russia and the Netherlands and Ireland.”
He thinks it’s important for people to travel outside of their comfort zone.
“Gain an empathy for the other 96% of humanity and you come home with what I think is the most beautiful souvenir, and that’s a broader perspective. It’s more important than ever right now that the United States gets itself in a mindset where we’re more inclined to build bridges and less inclined to build walls. I think that’s important from a national security point of view. The most dangerous thing we can do is stay home and hide under the bed and build walls. I love to go to places where we’re not supposed to go. I want to stress I’ve never gone any place I thought was risky or dangerous. A lot of Americans, we’re confusing fear and risk. Fear is an emotional thing and, okay, you can be afraid, it’s emotional. That’s what terrorists are trying to do is they’re trying to make us afraid. Risk is a statistical thing. Every month a thousand people are killed in our streets in homicides, with guns. Does that maker America dangerous? Well, no it doesn’t. I still go shopping, I still go downtown. But there is a risk. People use to say ‘Bon voyage’ and now people say ‘Have a safe trip.’ I don’t know where this came from, but when somebody tells me to have a safe trip, I’m inclined to say, ‘Have a safe stay at home.’ Where I’m going, statistically, is safer than where you’re staying. In fact, if you knew the statistics, and you loved your children, you would take them to Europe tomorrow because you’re living in a very dangerous part of the world here in the USA.”
I told Steves that I grew up with an Israeli dad, and took several trips there starting as a child. So when I think of Israel, I think of the food, the people, floating on the Dead Sea. But lots of people only think of it as a war zone, a dangerous place.
“It saddens me that so many people go to the Holy Land, trying to walk in the footsteps of Jesus, and they don’t go to the West Bank because they think it’s dangerous. Much of the bible stories they loved for so many years actually happened in the West bank. When I went to the Holy Land I spent equal time in Israel and Palestine. I heard both narratives. It gives you a much better appreciation for different people’s baggage and perspective and fears and respect for how complicated the issue really is. When we travel there we need to strive to get both narratives.”
Rick Steves is the latest guest on my podcast Your Last Meal. A long time advocate of legalizing marijuana, Rick shares his favorite stoner snack, his favorite country in the world to eat in and lots more.