Travelling without Rick Steves

I’m the travel researcher in our family. DP nods and smiles and lets me talk him into all kinds of crazy adventures that he would never undertake (get sucked into) on his own (including five trips to Paris, for example) but, when it comes down to it, I’m responsible for the planning. That’s actually quite a fair arrangement, now that I reflect upon it.

The first time we visited Paris, I approached my research as if I were writing a graduate dissertation. (I’m quite certain that I read more books about Paris and French culture than some graduate students.) We were living in Mexico at the time of the great Parisian Research Project (or is that Parisienne?) and I would turn to DP constantly and update him on my findings. “Did you know that it is impolite to enter a Paris store without saying Bonjour, Madame.” DP, of course, would nod and smile. (“Oui, mademoiselle. Oui, c’est vrai.”)

It was about that time that I discovered Rick Steves‘ travel guides. I don’t know Rick Steves personally but I feel like I do. (And so do all of the other “Rickers” we’ve encountered over breakfast at cool European B&Bs. We talk about Rick like he’s a friend.) And I love him, too. (Not like I love DP, perhaps, but the way a person might love a favourite uncle.) No matter where we travelled in Europe, over three years, Rick gave us sound advice about where to stay and what to eat and he even mapped out walking tours that were easy to follow and absolutely free. In Notre Dame, DP and I sat huddled together on a wooden pew while I read him a passage about the stained glass windows from Rick’s Paris guide. Without Rick, we would never have known that the cleanest washrooms in Paris are actually nestled just under Notre Dame. (Yes, it’s true… they ask you for a donation. I think it’s time that North American travellers got over paying a few cents to use public washrooms… but I digress.)

So here we are… about to leave for Singapore for five days. I have been reading two different guides: Time Out and the Lonely Planet City Guide. The Lonely Planet guide was loaned to me by a friend and, even though it is from 1996, it’s still superior to the Time Out guide. (We’re just not into clubs and wild nightlife. What can I say?)

So I find myself missing Rick. And I couldn’t help but wonder if he would ever write about Asia given that Europe has historically been his sweet little slice of the travel business pie. Then, a couple of days ago, Rick wrote a post entitled Europe vs India. He confirmed what I’d known to be true all along. Although Rick loves Asia, “Europe [is his] beat.”

So there it is. We’re off to Singapore without the help of Rick Steves. Does anyone want to recommend some great travel guides for Asia?

Better yet, what shall we do and see and eat while we’re in Singapore? We’d love to know what you loved!

3 comments

  1. Yes I love Rick too, although I've never seen his travel guides in a UK bookstore and I don't think he's that well known in the UK or Europe, though beloved by the US traveller.I listen too the radio shows and I love Rick's polished and well-informed interviewing style.Sadly not been to Asia, but you could try some Amateur Traveller podcasts to give you a flavour of these destinations.

  2. Yeah I found you again. It has been a while since I checked the other blog. Have a great trip. I know nothing about Asia so i have no advice. I sent some pictures for D on your yahoo account. I need to update my address book to the other email.

  3. @HeatherI used a Lonely Planet for Singapore and although it didn't live up to the magic of my love affair with the Rick Steves' guides, it was totally fine. I have subsequently bought the LP guide for Japan and India. I'll let you know how they are!@AprilYou'd know more about Asia if you came for a visit! Consider that an invitation/strong recommendation.

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