A Rad­i­cal Guide to Mean­ing­ful Travel

Foreword Reviews - - Foresight Travel & Adventure -

Rick Steves, Avalon Travel (FE­BRU­ARY) Soft­cover $19.99 (304pp), 978-1-63121-763-0

Since the first trip he took with his par­ents as a boy of four­teen, travel writer and busi­ness­man Rick Steves has lived a third of his life over­seas, in­ter­act­ing with peo­ple whose world­views are vastly dif­fer­ent from his own. He makes a clear dis­tinc­tion be­tween he­do­nis­tic travel that re­in­forces an us-and-them at­ti­tude and travel that is eye open­ing, chal­leng­ing, and mind ex­pand­ing—the kind he’s been teach­ing peo­ple for the past forty years.

Steves, who has re­ceived warm wel­comes even from peo­ple in sup­pos­edly “en­emy” lands, goes be­hind the scenes in the for­mer Yu­goslavia, still deal­ing with the legacy of a cruel war; Europe, at­tempt­ing to unify dis­parate peo­ples and cul­tures while re­spect­ing their dif­fer­ences; the sur­pris­ing sec­u­lar Is­lamic cul­tures of Turkey and Morocco; Iran, where de­spite the bom­bast from lead­ers on both sides of the po­lit­i­cal di­vide, “most peo­ple gen­uinely like Amer­i­cans;” and through the Holy Land, where, on both sides of the walls, bul­let­proof glass, and rhetoric, he found gen­tle souls fac­ing big chal­lenges.

Get­ting to know peo­ple in for­eign lands and see­ing how Amer­ica looks from their per­spec­tive can have pro­found implications, and Steves writes that his “eth­no­cen­tric self-as­sur­ance” has taken a few good wal­lops. The kind of travel he ad­vo­cates can shake us out of our com­pla­cency and awaken us to the real scope of global chal­lenges, but it be­comes a po­lit­i­cal act only if we act once we re­turn home.

Steves’s ex­pe­ri­ences left him hum­bled, en­riched, and tuned in to a rapidly chang­ing world that, to sur­vive, must re­place hubris, bravado, and cul­tural blind­ness with knowl­edge, un­der­stand­ing, and ac­tivism on be­half of hu­man­ity’s com­mon good.

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