Perhaps my luck in the travel world started from birth. I grew up a few hours from Edmonds, just north of Seattle, the home of Rick Steves’ Europe Through the Back Door where hundreds of travellers and like-minded individuals work tirelessly to constantly update and improve guidebooks for those who want to enjoy Europe on a budget.
My travel planning began in preparation for my first big trip. In January 2008, I began attending the free travel classes offered every Saturday by Rick Steves’ staff.
Usually it’s an hour long country- or region-specific class in the local cinema, often followed by a smaller language class, but a few times a year, they have travel days. A whole day full of classes! For free! They have two classes going on all day – one in the theatre like normal and the other in the performing arts centre.
The year and half before my trip, I spent nearly every Saturday in Edmonds attending these free travel lectures. Somewhere in one of the smaller classes, I got to know one of the Rick Steves staff members and we later met up for coffee. We chatted about my trip, planning, visas, accommodation and money.
The information in the lectures was great, but geared toward people going to Europe for a week or two.
I was planning a year-long trip (it turned into nearly two years) and it was comforting to talk with someone experienced with long-term travelling.
We kept in touch before my trip and she read a bit of my blog from my first trip. Then, I was too busy travelling and she was busy working and we were out of contact for a few years.
In Spring 2012, I received an email from her.
They were not only updating but completely revamping the new Rick Steves’ Europe Through the Back Door book for the 2013 edition.
A section on CouchSurfing was included for the first time and she wanted me to look over it.
Since I had travelled for nearly three years at that point, mainly using CouchSurfing, I was an accidental expert.
Half a year later and the book is out!
Rick Steves’ Europe Through the Back Door 2013 is a general Europe travel book. Part of the book is location-specific (focussing on the most popular tourist destinations), but most of it is a general how-to for travelling in Europe. Besides the basics of planning your time, it tell you how to buy train tickets and read road signs and gives advice on how to pick restaurants, how to pack and even what to pack in (cobblestones + wheeled luggage = trouble).
Of course, you’ll get the section I contributed to – the section on CouchSurfing.
Happy reading and happy travels!