I met the first one in 2006; the second in 2010.
I love them both, but for different reasons and I can’t get enough of either of them. I’m not sure if they personally know each other or not, but I’m fairly sure they’ve heard of one another. They live fairly close to one another; one in the Seattle area and one in Portland. They each have influenced me in countless ways and I talk about them frequently to my friends and family. They have shown me how to be brave and have given me a community of like-minded thinkers. Although I’ve often taken them to bed with me, I’ve never met either of them in person. I don’t quite remember how Rick and I were introduced, but I met Chris online.
Quite surprised, in 2006 I won a free trip to Paris and London (more on this later). I found Rick and he taught me the basics of international travel through his book Europe Through the Back Door. This was my first trip to Europe and Rick’s sound advice curtailed so many of my fears and allowed me to believe in myself that I could actually get around in Europe with no knowledge of another language. With Rick’s help, I fell so helplessly in love with those two cities that the following year I packed up my (then) teenage daughter and we went back to Europe for three weeks exploring France, Italy and Austria. I planned the entire trip on my own setting up, in advance, everything from hotels and inns, to train and vaporetto travel. I also purchased museum tickets and maps in advance and learned about the time zone changes. I learned how to read military time and how to understand currency. I actually felt confident when I got off the plane at Charles de Gaulle and had to find my way to the 7eme, or 7th arrondissement, where the Grand Hotel Leveque was located, a hotel that Rick had suggested. Since then, Rick’s many books and DVD’s have become my close friends. I subscribe to his newsletter and I “like” him on facebook. I so highly regard him that I got goosebumps when I walked into his retail store in Edmonds last spring.
Since my first trip to Europe in 2006, I’ve been back three more times. This, mind you, is on a teacher’s salary. I’m certainly not wealthy by any stretch of the imagination, but with Chris’ help and sage advice, I’ve learned how to gain airline miles through travel hacking, as he calls it. In the summer of 2011, I spent 5 weeks overseas, flying back and forth between England and Turkey, and I didn’t have to pay for my airline costs at all. Chris is a writer, an encourager and a motivator. He lavishly extends all his knowledge to his online community and even finds time to write me personal emails when I have a question about something. Chris writes on how to change the world by achieving significant, personal goals while helping others out at the same time. This, of course, fits my goal of teaching art in an international school perfectly. The material available on his website is vast, ranging from published books, personal manifestos, email updates and articles on an array of subjects. In July 2012 he is hosting his second World Domination Summit in Portland. His followers, or “small army” as he calls us, snatched up all one thousand online tickets in something like 15 minutes! Insane!
And I am one of the lucky ticket holders.
I invite you to meet these two inspirational men. They have helped me maneuver through all there is to know about traveling internationally. I will be publishing personal summaries of my experiences and knowledge on this blog, but I know what I know because of these two generous men.
Who are your travel mentors? Do they blog or write books? We all want to know! Please comment.
Rick Steves is the man! 🙂
Only you know how much I love him.