Sunday, March 8, 2015

Rick Steves and Samantha Brown

"If you stumble into a cheese festival, eat some cheese." - Rick Steves

I attended my first Travel Adventure show in Washington, D.C., where I sat for a few hours and listened as travel legend Rick Steves of Rick Steves Europe and Samantha Brown of the Travel Channel offered insight and advice about traveling today.  After a long winter, I came away inspired, wanting to get busy planning my next trip. 

Rick Steves autograph
Here are a few notes outlining travel advice from Rick Steves:

1.  Get off the beaten path!  Many places do not have a promotion budget; therefore no one really knows where they are, they are not advertised.  They lack "American" style hotels, but offer an authentic travel experience for the traveler willing to get off the beaten path.  They are usually not tourist traps.  Look for the things that are not promoted, free things.

2.  Be up early and/or stay out late!  This offers the best local experience in high tourist areas because tourists are generally bused in/out and taken to a hotel outside the main tourist area after around 4:00 p.m.  Similarly, cruise ships only dock for several hours of the day.  Better to be out before and after the large crowds.

3.  Commit to learning and using public transportation in the area you're visiting to save a lot of money.

4.  Pack light.

Samantha Brown of the Travel Channel talked about how travel has changed due to the internet, and about how we sometimes over use it to plan our trips, or over use it when looking for restaurants or attractions, giving too much weight to five paragraph restaurant reviews on social media.  Guilty!

A few travel apps she said she uses often:
1.  Pocket Earth Pro (Maps)
2.  Flight Aware 
3.  Google Translate
4. Airfare Watchdog
5.  Twitter

She also made a pitch for using travel agents, who can act as an advocate for travelers, or plan for those who aren't interested in a do-it-yourself plan for their next vacation.

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