Rick Steves: The “Perambulating, Mildly Mischievous Mister Rogers” of Guidebook Writers

Travel Blog  •  Jim Benning  •  07.06.04 | 9:20 PM ET

Sunday’s New York Times Magazine featured a colorful, upbeat profile of Rick Steves, the man “in the aviator-style eyeglasses” who is behind the Europe Through the Back Door travel empire. Writer Sara Corbett tailed Steves around Portugal as he updated one of his guidebooks, “blitzing” into hotels for undercover inspections, ensuring his tips and observations were still up to par. Corbett’s story covers a lot of ground, from Steves’ humble travel beginnings to “Ricknicks,” the legions of followers who spot him in Europe as he makes his rounds and dote over him as though they have met the Buddha. Corbett also delves into Steves’ politics. “He is anti-Bush and antiwar, and in this time of high patriotism, some have even accused him of being anti-American,” she writes. “For the most part, though, Steves is careful to be outspoken about only his conviction that travel, done his way, can transform the most narrow-minded American into a citizen of the world. ”