What's Rick Steves reading?

Rick Steves, who tells tourists they need to travel like temporary locals. photo from
Rick Steves, who tells tourists they need to travel like temporary locals. photo from
Published Nov. 5, 2014

Rick Steves

The PBS host, author of 50-plus travel guides and recipient of the European Union's 2013 Outstanding Friend of Europe Award, will make a stop Wednesday at Ferguson Hall at the David A. Straz Jr. Center for the Performing Arts in Tampa ( We caught up with Steves, who studied European history and business at the University of Washington, by phone recently and asked him about his appearance. "There is a challenge for me going from Seattle to Tampa, which is traveling from one corner of the country to the other,'' he said. "It has to do with packing the lessons I've learned over the years in a very practical, entertaining way, but I bring lots of slides and it's right up to date with four months of travel to Europe this year.''

What's on your nightstand?

My curse is that I have to read my own stuff over and over because I'm constantly updating my books. ... I really don't have novels on my nightstand right now. I've got information to help prepare me for a TV show on Europe and Easter and the celebration of the 500th anniversary of the Reformation. I've got information on how Europe celebrates Easter culturally and why it is important.

That being said, can you talk a bit about your process of information gathering?

For my TV shows, whenever I travel there, I'll take tours and I always interview people I meet — guides, local experts. I gather information from the people there. That's important.

When you were just starting your travels in Europe, was there an author that you liked to have in your backpack?

I remember I loved to read firsthand accounts of history. When I was in Russia, I read Khrushchev's memoirs. In Germany, I would read Albert Speer's Inside the Third Reich.

Is there a particular trend in 2014 that you see with Americans traveling in Europe?

The trend is that Americans have the shortest vacations in the rich world, so we travel too fast. I think it's important to travel to a place assuming you will return. It's also critical to have a smart and thoughtful itinerary.

Contact Piper Castillo at or (727) 445-4163. Follow @Florida_PBJC.