Courtesy of Rick Steves’ Europe
- Rick Steves is a longtime writer of travel guidebooks and the host of the series “Rick Steves’ Europe.”
- He told Business Insider 10 of his best pieces of travel advice to help you save money, time, and stress while you’re on vacation.
- Over the years his tips have helped thousands of travelers.
- Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.
No one wants to be stressed out when they’re on vacation. But between budgeting your trip, staying on top of a tight itinerary, and trying to make the most of your experience when you finally arrive, it can often be hard for travelers to be fully invested.
If anyone knows how to deal with those feelings, it’s Rick Steves. The longtime travel writer and host of “Rick Steves’ Europe” has more than 40 years of experience under his belt, and his company has led 30,000 travelers on elaborate European vacations.
There are simple things you can do to make the most out of your trip, Steves told Business Insider, from packing as light as possible to eating family-style meals to maximize the variety dishes you can try.
While some of his advice might put travelers out of their comfort zones, he said it’s worth it if it helps you see the world differently and celebrate other cultures.
“A lot of people don’t know the joy of travel until they do it,” Steves told us.
Here are 10 of Steves’ best pieces of travel advice for those looking to save money, time, and stress on their next vacation.
Bring an up-to-date guidebook
Adam Berry/Getty Images
It’s always smart to pack a guidebook to give you recommendations for local activities, hotels, food, and nightlife. But you’d better make sure your guidebook is up to date.
“I am amazed by the many otherwise smart people who base the trip of a lifetime on a borrowed copy of a three-year-old guidebook,” Steves told Business Insider. “The money they save in the bookstore is wasted the first day of their trip, searching for buses that no longer run and restaurants that have long since closed. Guidebooks are $25 tools for $4,000 experiences.”
You may think it’s impossible to pack light. After all, you’re going to Europe for two weeks, and you’ll need plenty of changes of clothes. But there’s a difference between items you’ll need and items you’ll want.
“You’ll never meet a traveler who, after five trips, brags, ‘Every year, I pack heavier,'” Steves said. “You can’t travel heavy, happy, and cheap. Pick two.”
Steves said his company has taken tens of thousands of people of all ages and styles on tours through Europe, and they allow them to bring only one carry-on bag. That’s it.
“For many, this is a radical concept,” he said. “But they manage, and they’re glad they did.”
He added that after you enjoy that “sweet mobility and freedom,” you’ll never go any other way.
Choose overnight stays that will enrich your trip
Flickr Creative Commons/Mikael F
When you’re traveling, you may initially feel more comfortable staying at a hotel chain that you’re familiar with back home. Steves’ advice? It’s better to branch out and try a local accommodation.
“No matter where you go — whether a bustling city like Paris or a midsize destination like Siena — the neighborhood and hotel you choose help shape your experience,” he said. Plus, you might save money.
“In many cases, the less you spend the more you experience,” he said. “You can get transplanted American niceties, but you’re going to pay American prices, plus shipping, for them. And that’s not why you travel to the rest of the world beyond our borders.”