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Travel connects people with people. It helps us fit more comfortably and compatibly into a shrinking world. And it inspires creative new solutions to persistent problems facing our nation. We can’t understand our world without experiencing it. Traveling as a Political Act helps us take that first step. There’s more to travel than good-value hotels, great art, and tasty cui Travel connects people with people. It helps us fit more comfortably and compatibly into a shrinking world. And it inspires creative new solutions to persistent problems facing our nation. We can’t understand our world without experiencing it. Traveling as a Political Act helps us take that first step. There’s more to travel than good-value hotels, great art, and tasty cuisine. Americans who “travel as a political act” can have the time of their lives and come home smarter?with a better understanding of the interconnectedness of today’s world and just how our nation fits in. In his new book, acclaimed travel writer Rick Steves explains how to travel more thoughtfully?to any destination. He shares a series of field reports from Europe, Central America, Asia, and the Middle East to show how his travels have shaped his politics and broadened his perspective. www.ricksteves.com


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Travel connects people with people. It helps us fit more comfortably and compatibly into a shrinking world. And it inspires creative new solutions to persistent problems facing our nation. We can’t understand our world without experiencing it. Traveling as a Political Act helps us take that first step. There’s more to travel than good-value hotels, great art, and tasty cui Travel connects people with people. It helps us fit more comfortably and compatibly into a shrinking world. And it inspires creative new solutions to persistent problems facing our nation. We can’t understand our world without experiencing it. Traveling as a Political Act helps us take that first step. There’s more to travel than good-value hotels, great art, and tasty cuisine. Americans who “travel as a political act” can have the time of their lives and come home smarter?with a better understanding of the interconnectedness of today’s world and just how our nation fits in. In his new book, acclaimed travel writer Rick Steves explains how to travel more thoughtfully?to any destination. He shares a series of field reports from Europe, Central America, Asia, and the Middle East to show how his travels have shaped his politics and broadened his perspective. www.ricksteves.com

30 review for Travel as a Political Act

  1. 4 out of 5

    Elisha Condie

    I used to think Rick Steves was just a doofy happy guy tootling around Europe hosting his PBS show. And I loved him. But he's actually much more than that. Don't let the doofy happy picture of him on the back cover fool you. Rick Steves writes this book as an appeal to people to travel with a good heart, as representatives of America. The first few chapters compare Europe and America and what policies work in Europe and he thinks could work here. I easily imagined my conservative friends being r I used to think Rick Steves was just a doofy happy guy tootling around Europe hosting his PBS show. And I loved him. But he's actually much more than that. Don't let the doofy happy picture of him on the back cover fool you. Rick Steves writes this book as an appeal to people to travel with a good heart, as representatives of America. The first few chapters compare Europe and America and what policies work in Europe and he thinks could work here. I easily imagined my conservative friends being really ticked off by all his liberal talk, but I thought he made good points. The guy sure loves Europe. There was a chapter on Iran, where he did a show just as an informational thing to get to know the people of the country. And it turns out they are kind and welcoming and his experience was a good one. He is careful to point out that Iran has its sinister side, but much of what America knows of the place has nothing to do with the real people who live there, all 70 million of them. I just thought he made several good points in this book. And I love that he's this committed citizen - he is involved in several causes and really believes in them. I like that about him. I like knowing that there is more to Rick Steves than just his 30 minutes on PBS.

  2. 4 out of 5

    da AL

    People-to-people -- yes! So much better than people-to-yahoo-news... A history major in addition to being ridiculously well-traveled, Steves shares the insights he's gathered. He does a great job at performing the audiobook, which includes photos via CD. Now it's time for us to get traveling too...

  3. 4 out of 5

    C

    I love this book and I want everyone to read it. I love so much about his perspective - it is the balance I look for between "right" and "left." He calls himself a progressive Christian, and he is the kind of Christian I love to love - his work, his words, and his friendly compassion speak volumes of someone who practices the tenants of his religion that are meant to be practiced: love, acceptance, and understanding. He is anti-fear culture and pro-accountability. He manages to convey patriotism I love this book and I want everyone to read it. I love so much about his perspective - it is the balance I look for between "right" and "left." He calls himself a progressive Christian, and he is the kind of Christian I love to love - his work, his words, and his friendly compassion speak volumes of someone who practices the tenants of his religion that are meant to be practiced: love, acceptance, and understanding. He is anti-fear culture and pro-accountability. He manages to convey patriotism and a deep love for his country without arrogance (one review accusing him of being an "Arrogant American" mystifies me... if that's arrogant, we'd all be doing pretty well to be the same), and his love of country is not colored by infatuation or blindness to its shortcomings. This is an overall quick read, lots of pics and a lot of information crammed in there. I loved that he's chosen to combat Fear Culture by showing before telling. He goes to "scary" places himself, to show us they're not scary. He sets an example of level-headedness. He gives us an open minded perspective of other cultures and beliefs to help us better relate to people in other countries as human beings, rather than nameless, faceless "others." I loved the chapter on Israel and Palestine. I've read about the area and a bit of the history and it always seemed hopelessly tangled. It is indeed hopelessly tangled, but he gives a good, simple-without-being-simplistic (or patronizing) summary. I thought he was a pretty decent guy beforehand, but having read this, I am now a huge fan of this man and his work.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Elaine Nelson

    I first starting watching Steves's show when I was in college, and though we often made fun of his extreme dorkiness, I've always appreciated his enthusiasm for travel and for other cultures. In this book, he writes about how his travels have given him new perspectives on the political and social challenges of our time. In particular, his way of traveling, which is to get away from the tours and tourist traps, and out into the everyday world. Each chapter focuses on a different topic, explored thr I first starting watching Steves's show when I was in college, and though we often made fun of his extreme dorkiness, I've always appreciated his enthusiasm for travel and for other cultures. In this book, he writes about how his travels have given him new perspectives on the political and social challenges of our time. In particular, his way of traveling, which is to get away from the tours and tourist traps, and out into the everyday world. Each chapter focuses on a different topic, explored through his experiences in a particular region. Mostly Europe, but there is a chapter on El Salvador and another on Iran. What I find is that he has a very optimistic but nuanced view of the world. It also becomes clear that there's a religious influence to his views, but IMHO it's the best kind of Christian: infused with love and charity. I found it fascinating and engaging; it made me think about my own views and to daydream about travel, which I suppose was the point. Bonus points for gorgeous full-color photography. It's rare to find a thoughtful (not natural science) non-fiction book that also has such great imagery!

  5. 5 out of 5

    Kristal Cooper

    Rick Steves is no Samantha Brown… thank your chosen God! I’ve been a fan of his PBS series for 10+ years, appreciating his practical and useful information, as well as his intelligence and obvious enthusiasm for travel. His show and books helped me plan my own Travels in Europe and he never steered me wrong. Anyone who’s lucky enough to travel – particularly to a foreign country – will tell you that travel changes you. The chance to see different cultures functioning the same way we do, but enti Rick Steves is no Samantha Brown… thank your chosen God! I’ve been a fan of his PBS series for 10+ years, appreciating his practical and useful information, as well as his intelligence and obvious enthusiasm for travel. His show and books helped me plan my own Travels in Europe and he never steered me wrong. Anyone who’s lucky enough to travel – particularly to a foreign country – will tell you that travel changes you. The chance to see different cultures functioning the same way we do, but entirely differently, is invaluable in so many ways. In this book, Rick highlights some of the major issues/situations we can learn from out there. While reading, I was often reminded of a wine tasting. When you take a sip of his words, some may make you pucker but, more often, you’ll raise your eyebrows in surprise and then slowly nod your head. You’ll swish a concept around in your mouth and think about how it affects you… then you’ll probably go back and re-visit the same thought with another sip. The world is just a plane ride away, but if you don’t have a ticket, this book will certainly give you food (or drink) for thought until you can get one!

  6. 5 out of 5

    Andrew

    Between when I started reading this book and now as I write this review, it feels as though the world has been turned upside down. The results of the 2016 US presidential election have caused many of us to question what what we thought we knew about our own country. Rick Steves’ message of better global citizenship through meaningful travel is perhaps now more vital than ever. I confess that I read this line in his final chapter with a pang of guilt: “Most people have the resources to travel, but Between when I started reading this book and now as I write this review, it feels as though the world has been turned upside down. The results of the 2016 US presidential election have caused many of us to question what what we thought we knew about our own country. Rick Steves’ message of better global citizenship through meaningful travel is perhaps now more vital than ever. I confess that I read this line in his final chapter with a pang of guilt: “Most people have the resources to travel, but live within a social circle where 'travel' means Las Vegas and Walt Disney World." I’m sorry to say that for much of my life, the closest I came to traveling abroad was walking through World Showcase in EPCOT. And while I have fond memories of time spent with family on those trips, in hindsight I also see them as missed opportunities. Steves believes that “we travel to have enlightening experiences, to meet inspirational people, to be stimulated, to learn, to grow." When we don’t take the opportunity to see our world with our own eyes, we run the risk of seeing it through lenses that others create for us. "No society should fear another society simply because their leaders and media say they should." During his trip to Iran during the Ahmadinejad regime, he was struck by the disparity between the rhetoric he was being fed about Iranians and the actual people he met. ”Ask anyone who has lived in a country where they disagree with the leaders,” he says, “and attention-grabbing bombast does not necessarily reflect the feelings of the man or woman on the street." If this is a conceit we once had to grant a country in the “axis of evil”, there is a sad irony that we as Americans may now have to hope for the same when we travel abroad. This book is an opportunity to get to know the real Rick Steves behind the ever-present smile and squeaky-clean image he presents on TV. His character is so impossibly good-natured and disarming that most will give him the time of day on issues that are lightning rods for the likes of Michael Moore or Woody Harrelson. I honestly had no idea Steves was an outspoken member of NORML before reading this book, although I remember thinking he seemed surprisingly well informed when visiting a hash bar in Amsterdam. Travel as a Political Act is a beautifully produced book with full color photography throughout. Steves is a talented, engaging writer, and I’m grateful to know him a little better now as an actual person, not just a TV personality. Say what you will about his politics, but there are lessons he shares like this one I’d like to hope everyone can agree on: ”I’m convinced that people-to-people travel experiences can be a powerful force for peace."

  7. 4 out of 5

    Neil

    I love Rick Steves. Yes, he's nerdy, but his travel books are the model of what I think travel books should be. They're unabashedly excited about the locations that they cover, but not in a commercial way that overlooks the difficulties travelers can face. The advice is practical, maps are easy to use, and the opinions about the relative quality of various sightseeing experiences is almost always right on. This book, however, seems a little unnecessary to me. I'm in total agreement with Rick's vi I love Rick Steves. Yes, he's nerdy, but his travel books are the model of what I think travel books should be. They're unabashedly excited about the locations that they cover, but not in a commercial way that overlooks the difficulties travelers can face. The advice is practical, maps are easy to use, and the opinions about the relative quality of various sightseeing experiences is almost always right on. This book, however, seems a little unnecessary to me. I'm in total agreement with Rick's views about how travel is a growth experience, not a shopping trip. I believe, as he does, that travel promotes understanding. But I was completely aware that Steves felt this way about travel without reading a book that was explicitly about that belief. If this was fiction, I would say that the author was guilty of telling us, not showing us what he believed through the actions of characters. I guess what I'm trying to say is that I would have learned just as much about the political positions Steves takes by reading a straight travel account. There is some educational stuff here. I found the chapters about European attitudes toward taxation and drug laws especially interesting and could have read more about those topics.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Kevin

    Rick Steeves, as pleasant as he seems on PBS, comes across in this book as outrageously liberal. It reads like an angry treatise from an aging hippie who is trying to get back at the Bush administration. Despite all of that, I really enjoyed reading this. His tips and expertise on travel issues are unsurpassed, and the perspectives he offers here are provocative and compelling. The disparity between American largesse and third-world lack is indeed absurd, and Steeves illustrates this very effecti Rick Steeves, as pleasant as he seems on PBS, comes across in this book as outrageously liberal. It reads like an angry treatise from an aging hippie who is trying to get back at the Bush administration. Despite all of that, I really enjoyed reading this. His tips and expertise on travel issues are unsurpassed, and the perspectives he offers here are provocative and compelling. The disparity between American largesse and third-world lack is indeed absurd, and Steeves illustrates this very effectively with images from El Salvador. Also, he is to be commended for his approach to Iran: engaging the friendly populace while making note of signs of hostility towards the West. Plus, now I know never to give the "thumbs up" gesture in Tehran. What needs to be mentioned also is the production quality of the book. Many points Steeves makes in the narrative, and most of the people he cites, are illustrated by photos, reliably placed on the relevant pages. Also, the pages themselves are of a strong, field guide-type quality which enhances the reading experience. A good book, and a very important book -even if (like me) you disagree with much of the author's politics. It's his work, and he backs up his ideas admirably.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Lisa

    I love Rick Steves and I thought his TV special on Iran was AWSOME, but I wasn't really blown away by this book. I felt like he was preaching to the converted. I'm already way sold on these open-minded, progressive ideas and am well aware of the ways and means of other countries. I think I was just the wrong audience. I thought I'd be learning a lot of stuff I didn't already know, but I think a lot of peopel will find that it's just a brush-up course on international politics and religious issue I love Rick Steves and I thought his TV special on Iran was AWSOME, but I wasn't really blown away by this book. I felt like he was preaching to the converted. I'm already way sold on these open-minded, progressive ideas and am well aware of the ways and means of other countries. I think I was just the wrong audience. I thought I'd be learning a lot of stuff I didn't already know, but I think a lot of peopel will find that it's just a brush-up course on international politics and religious issues, ect. But for those who would like to start learning about other countries politically in comparison to ours, it's a good book. Good pictures, but I wanted more of them. For example, Rick spent quite a few pages on the large, free, non-comformist community of Christiania in Denmark, but we got practically no pictures of the town. I wanted to see the main drag, the coffee shops, the homes, etc. I think I would have liked this book more if it was laid out slightly differently, with more pictures and captions. But I liked it, 3 stars.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Chantaine

    I attempted reading this book but had to stop after the second chapter. While he may have had good intentions and some interesting experiences to share, this guy is an absolute wanker! Sometimes it is possible to read a book for the information and ignore its overall voice, but his voice was particularly irritating one. Steves writes from the perspective of an arrogant American and, in my opinion, does little to change this view that the world has on the US. While he does attempt to compare Ameri I attempted reading this book but had to stop after the second chapter. While he may have had good intentions and some interesting experiences to share, this guy is an absolute wanker! Sometimes it is possible to read a book for the information and ignore its overall voice, but his voice was particularly irritating one. Steves writes from the perspective of an arrogant American and, in my opinion, does little to change this view that the world has on the US. While he does attempt to compare America's faults to the successes of European nations, the deeply embedded belief that the US is THE nation of all nations seeps through each and every page. As an open-minded Australian, I found this book cringe-worthy. There is little to learn from it, unless of course you are one of these 'dumb Americans' that Steves appears to have targeted.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Lindsey Sparks

    I loved this book. I didn't think it was possible to love Rick Steves more. I found myself nodding emphatically at numerous points. For me, travel isn't about relaxing or disconnecting. It's about learning and connecting more with the world. I read about the places I'm traveling too, spend most of my time on vacation learning in some way and try to do at least a few things like the locals do. So much of what I learn while traveling doesn't come from guidebooks or museums, but from people and soa I loved this book. I didn't think it was possible to love Rick Steves more. I found myself nodding emphatically at numerous points. For me, travel isn't about relaxing or disconnecting. It's about learning and connecting more with the world. I read about the places I'm traveling too, spend most of my time on vacation learning in some way and try to do at least a few things like the locals do. So much of what I learn while traveling doesn't come from guidebooks or museums, but from people and soaking in different ways of life. I like talking to people from other places. It's nice to remember the world doesn't revolve only around America and that people in other places are proud to be from there. It is nice to visit places that handle politics and life differently than we do. I wish we'd embrace the drug and prostitution regulations of the Netherlands. I wish our food companies would be more real like they are in Europe, esp with real Coke and whatever it is they do to make their ice cream. And bread. And their cultural norms of moderation. lol It's interesting to see things I disagree with yet enjoy in other places, like public transportation. It's also nice to be comfortable using it and not thinking it's scary like I grew up thinking! It was eye opening to arrive in Europe 7 years ago and have trouble using our outdated swipe credit card. They all had chip cards years before they became prominent in the US. Seeing the devastion of WWII in person makes it even more understandable why Europe doesn't rush into wars like we do and why they wanted the EU. Steves talks about how you are not in danger traveling to Europe and how it's silly to let terrorism stop your from traveling. You're much more likely to die in a car accident but you do t see most people avoiding cars. And being from OKC, I know terrorism can happen anywhere. Steves emphasizes meeting people while traveling and my husband and I manage to do that regularly even as a couple of introverts. One of the things I enjoyed in Brussels was visiting with the owners and waiters of the cafes and restaurants, who were often from the Middle East. They were some of the biggest Belgian soccer fans and the world cup was going on and it was so fu. to see them waving the Belgian flag and cheering together with the native Belgians, and us tourists. They were so friendly and interesting and certainly not people to be scared of like they are unfortunately often portrayed. I haven't really talked about the book much, but this felt like reading my own personal travel manifesto and it's hard to write about the book on it's own. This was so good I want to run and buy the new updated edition even though I just read this one because I couldn't resist it at a library book sale. I do want to point out that you do not need to agree with Steves' politics to enjoy this. The point is to learn and let that impact how you see the world, not to promote a specific political agenda.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Yoonmee

    I thought this book would get more into the nitty gritty as to how to travel as a political act, but instead it turned out to be a series of field reports from several different countries and areas discussing Rick Stevens' politics on several issues. I wanted to learn more about how I, as the average traveler, could get a chance to talk more to the locals, how to do it safely without getting either ripped off or mugged or worse, how to find locals with interesting stories, etc. but it wasn't lik I thought this book would get more into the nitty gritty as to how to travel as a political act, but instead it turned out to be a series of field reports from several different countries and areas discussing Rick Stevens' politics on several issues. I wanted to learn more about how I, as the average traveler, could get a chance to talk more to the locals, how to do it safely without getting either ripped off or mugged or worse, how to find locals with interesting stories, etc. but it wasn't like that at all. Stevens shares how he talked to a few locals, but as a travel guide with a tv show, radio show, website, and several books under his belt, he doesn't have to worry about who to talk to, he can find interesting people or already knows about them. Plus, who doesn't want to talk to someone in the hopes that they could end up on tv, radio, or featured in a book in order to promote tourism or aid in their country? I also disliked how his idea of travel was pretty touchy feely. He says, "Rather than accentuate the difference between 'us' and 'them,' I believe travel should bring us together." Well that's all nice and good (yay for warm fuzzies!) but can travel truly bring us together? Can a short jaunt to another country really and truly help us to understand another culture? True cultural exchange and understanding of another culture is hard work and takes a lot of time and effort. More time and effort than buying a plane ticket, flying somewhere "exotic," talking to a few locals, seeing the famous sites, walking around the neighborhoods, etc. I've been to Thailand, talked to locals, eaten the food, seen more temples than I can count, but I don't consider myself to really know or understand their culture at all. Do I understand how a Thai person thinks? How they conceive of the world? Of course not, and it would be ridiculous, incredibly naive, and, dare I say, vain of me to assume that just because I traveled there that I can truly understand. Yes, travel broadens our horizons, forces us into situations where we wouldn't normally take ourselves, and, yes, travel can be more than just a hedonistic pleasure cruise (not that I, like Stevens, have anything against hedonism and pleasure). Yes, travel can teach us new things about the world and possibly even challenge our own personal worldviews, but to believe that we can truly understand another culture or that we'll even get much of a inkling of what it's like for the people there just by walking through the slums of that country, well, that's a bit of a big pill to swallow. All that said, I gave this book two stars because I did enjoy reading many sections on the different countries and learning more about certain countries. Still, I felt misled by the title of the book and what was actually in the book.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Mark

    Travel as a political act (TAP I’ll call it), as proposed by Rick Steves, is not unlike the kind of travel that I pursue. He advocates people-to-people experiences, meeting locals. Travel to learn, broaden your perspectives and challenge your assumptions. The world as a classroom. “You can travel with your window rolled up or with your window rolled down” he says. In a sense this is the kind of travel I have enjoyed since I began my roaming as a High School exchange student in Panamá in 1984. Tr Travel as a political act (TAP I’ll call it), as proposed by Rick Steves, is not unlike the kind of travel that I pursue. He advocates people-to-people experiences, meeting locals. Travel to learn, broaden your perspectives and challenge your assumptions. The world as a classroom. “You can travel with your window rolled up or with your window rolled down” he says. In a sense this is the kind of travel I have enjoyed since I began my roaming as a High School exchange student in Panamá in 1984. Travel to me has been about real experiences, learning, challenging my perspectives and assumptions. This book reinforced ideas and behaviors that I already had, but I also learned a lot from it. TAP doesn’t end when you step off the return flight. It continues in conversations you have with people after your return, further reading, and even local activism based on interests that you now have. I have been wondering how I could become more involved in educating Americans about Arabic culture after my return from Syria last spring. Reading about Steves’ experiences I see that connecting with locals is easier than you think, even if you share no common language. I often shy away from interacting with locals if I have no language to communicate with. But I also have had experiences in places like Tibet showed me that I can do it too. And finally, TPA should challenge your pre-conceptions and stereotypes even in terms of where you choose to travel. I have always been averse to traveling in the American South or to China. I think this is based on stereotypes that I have that I need to get over. This book is probably the best of all of Rick Steves’ guidebooks. Even though it is not a guidebook in a strict sense—it is a book of reflections and essays on how Croatia & Bosnia are recovering from 10 years of civil war, how El Salvador is still haunted by 20 years of U.S.-sponsored terrorism and is now struggling economically with globalization, how travel to secular Islamic countries can change your mind about Islam, and how understanding Iran, the arch-enemy of the U.S., could possibly help us from going to war with them. It’s a book that all travellers should read.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Olivia

    I have two conflicting yet strong feelings about this book. One is that its message is great. I feel lucky that it just happens to be that one of my favorite and oldest hobbies aligns with my politics (though that probably isn't a coincidence since I grew up thinking travel was the end-all-be-all). This inspires me to go to more difficult places and talk to people more, which is something my social anxiety brain has a tough time with no matter where I am. The second strong feeling is related to h I have two conflicting yet strong feelings about this book. One is that its message is great. I feel lucky that it just happens to be that one of my favorite and oldest hobbies aligns with my politics (though that probably isn't a coincidence since I grew up thinking travel was the end-all-be-all). This inspires me to go to more difficult places and talk to people more, which is something my social anxiety brain has a tough time with no matter where I am. The second strong feeling is related to how he talks about women. Pretty much any time he mentions women, he says something about their looks. Here are some that come to mind: woman from El Salvador with her "uncommonly beautiful" daughter (this was when she was under 18, I think), it's prom in Croatia so there are a bunch of "sexy" people out in the streets (maybe prom means something other than high schoolers in Croatia), anything about women in Muslim countries with head coverings and their eyes and how it is to get a "look" from them. Based on everything else you read in this book, shit like this is both surprising and not surprising. It is simply engrained in the psyche of (cis-gendered heterosexual) men. He must not realize he's doing it as he talks about how popular media objectifies women - dude read your own book. Other than the women part, this is a great book and I'd recommend it to anyone who travels or even likes the idea of it. The objectifying women part will just be a little "Where's Waldo" game for you.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Julie

    Rick Steves is a well known travel writer, has his own TV show and writes an amazing selection of tour books of cities and countries in Europe. If you've watched his show, he comes across as very informed, funny, and to be honest, slightly goofy. This book shows a much more serious and thoughtful side to Rick Steves. If you travel internationally, you are well aware that travel changes you and your view of yourself, your society, and your overall worldview. And as you travel, you leave the world Rick Steves is a well known travel writer, has his own TV show and writes an amazing selection of tour books of cities and countries in Europe. If you've watched his show, he comes across as very informed, funny, and to be honest, slightly goofy. This book shows a much more serious and thoughtful side to Rick Steves. If you travel internationally, you are well aware that travel changes you and your view of yourself, your society, and your overall worldview. And as you travel, you leave the world an impression of yourself and your country - making travel more than just another vacation, but an action that changes you and the world - or a political act. In this thought provoking book, Steves describes some of the countries he has explored and discusses a wide variety of issues and policies pertaining to those countries. Travel in Amsterdam - perfect for a discussion about US policy regarding marijuana. Croatia and Bosnia - the terrible impact of a civil war. If you are looking for a travel book that gives you tips on how to maximize your buffet experience on a Mediterranean cruise, then this is not for you. But if you want a book that will push you to travel differently and open your eyes up to a different world, then give this a shot - it's a great read.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Jackie ϟ Bookseller

    A short review for this one: basically, I agreed with everything and I love Rick Steves. This is a must-read for anyone, especially Americans in the current political/cultural climate of the U.S.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Trena

    Amazing book. Compassionate, thought-provoking, and inspiring. Any book that makes you evaluate yourself and the world around you is worth reading.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Angela

    This book is amazing, and I would recommend it to every single person. A Must read is a bit of an understatement!

  19. 4 out of 5

    Pam Giarrizzo

    I love to travel, anywhere, any time. I also have a strong desire to make the world a better place. So when I read Rick Steves' Travel as a Political Act, which combines both of those passions, I felt as though I'd met a kindred spirit. Part travelogue, part call to action, this book encourages those of us who travel to look beyond the monuments and tourist attractions, and to learn about the people in the places we visit. Steves' opening chapter suggests several ways in which a person can travel I love to travel, anywhere, any time. I also have a strong desire to make the world a better place. So when I read Rick Steves' Travel as a Political Act, which combines both of those passions, I felt as though I'd met a kindred spirit. Part travelogue, part call to action, this book encourages those of us who travel to look beyond the monuments and tourist attractions, and to learn about the people in the places we visit. Steves' opening chapter suggests several ways in which a person can travel as a political act. Here are a few that particularly resonated with me. * Travel like a medieval jester: This means to come back and share what you've learned on your travels, even if people may not want to hear it. People in many countries have negative impressions of the U.S., for example, and any insight you've gained during your travels may be important for people in this country to understand. * Stow your preconceptions and be open to new experiences: You may have negative impressions of another country too, so it's important to set aside any preconceived ideas you may have and look at the country and its people with new eyes. You might be surprised by what you see. * Get beyond your comfort zone -- choose to be challenged: People say that travel is broadening, but that's only true if you're open to new experiences that might be difficult or even a little scary. Don't fool yourself into thinking you can't do something if you haven't even tried. Steves writes about these and other ways to travel as a political act in the context of his journeys to several different areas. * The former Yugoslavia, having been torn apart by war among the various ethnic groups that had been living in this artificially-created country since the end of World War I, is now home to the countries of Croatia, Bosnia-Herzegovina, and Montenegro. Learning about the history of those countries and the way in which they were dealing with the aftermath of the war, which ended only two decades ago, provided Steves with a deeper understanding of the area. * According to Steves, the formation of the European Union has strengthened the region as a whole, while still allowing individual countries within it to maintain their separate cultural identities. He compares the philosophies of many European countries with those of the United States on issues such as taxation, the role of government, work-life balance, immigration, and so-called moral issues, finding many instances in which the U.S. might benefit from at least considering the European approach. * Steves visited Central America three times, not as a tour guide, but as a traveler interested in understanding how factors like globalization and U.S. policies in the region affected our neighbors to the south. I found this chapter particularly poignant, especially considering that the recent influx of child refugees from Central America are a direct result of some of the very circumstances Steves learned about during his travels. * Steves' chapter about life in Denmark focuses on the high taxes paid by the Danish people as a trade-off for a very comfortable, highly-efficient lifestyle. While the cost of living there is high, things like basic health care and education are free, and people seem content. I love Steves' description of the Danish lifestyle as a social contract in which people give a little more than their share and take a little less than their share in order to ensure that their society works for everyone in it. * Islam is much in the news lately, mostly for reasons that frighten us. We've gone from knowing little or nothing about Islam to thinking that Al Qaeda, the Taliban, ISIS, and ISIL represent the thinking of Muslims the world over. In his chapter on Turkey and Morocco, Steves suggests visiting one or both of these secular countries, where the majority of the population is Muslim, but there is a separation between religion and the government. Seeing people of the Islamic faith as they go about their daily lives, working in their offices, factories, or shops, caring for their families, and peacefully practicing their religion might help to quell the fears of Westerners who wrongly associate all Muslims with terrorism. * In his chapter about drug policies in Europe, Steves focuses on the Netherlands' approach to marijuana and Switzerland's approach to heroin. The use of marijuana is barely considered a crime at all in the Netherlands, with people buying joints and small amounts of pot in highly-regulated coffeeshops. In Switzerland, heroin use is treated as an addiction and considered a public health issue, not a criminal matter. This contrasts sharply with the United States' War on Drugs, which has done nothing to stop the drug problem and has served instead to fill our prisons (and, as I just read last week in The New Jim Crow, to marginalize people of color within our communities). I was surprised to learn that Steves feels strongly enough about the issue of decriminalizing marijuana in the U.S. that he has served on the Board of Directors of NORML (the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws) for many years. * The last destination discussed in Travel as a Political Act is Iran, where Steves traveled in order to gain an understanding of a country that most people see as one of our biggest foes. He was there to learn about the people more than the politics, and he came away with the belief that most Iranians "want a good life and a safe homeland for their loved ones," just as most Americans do. Travel as a Political Act concludes with suggestions about how to use your new global perspective when you get home, such as advocating for those outside of the U.S. who are affected by our policies; sharing the lessons you've learned with your friends and others; getting involved in the issues that speak to you; and encouraging others to travel. If you travel, or even if you don't, I wholeheartedly recommend that you read this thought-provoking book.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Lesa

    Rick Steves' Travel as a Political Act is a little dated since it came out in 2009. I'm sure he would have much more to say about globalization, immigration, and isolation if he were writing this book in 2019. But, his thesis that travel should bring people together is even more important today. That's the most important message of a book that says, "We travel to have enlightening experiences, to meet inspirational people, to be stimulated, to learn, and to grow." Steves insists that he holds Am Rick Steves' Travel as a Political Act is a little dated since it came out in 2009. I'm sure he would have much more to say about globalization, immigration, and isolation if he were writing this book in 2019. But, his thesis that travel should bring people together is even more important today. That's the most important message of a book that says, "We travel to have enlightening experiences, to meet inspirational people, to be stimulated, to learn, and to grow." Steves insists that he holds America to a high standard, and expects it to do better. He sees that as participating as a citizen, of this country, and, of the world. He covers several countries in the course of the book, Yugoslavia after the war; El Salvador with its poverty and government controlled by American interests and American money. He looks at Denmark as an example of a country that taxes itself to provide a high level of health and educational services to the people. He takes readers to Turkey and Morocco to examine the countries under secular Islam rather that controlled by religious groups. He discussed Iran as it was in 2008, in a lengthy chapter. For me, one of the most interesting chapters was his examination of Europe under the European Union. While Steves' viewpoint was positive as he talked about unification, it was sobering to read it now after Brexit and immigration issues. It's easy to look back now and say the hopes were so high and so optimistic, but economic issues and fears have played havoc with that optimism. In some ways, considering the state of the world and this country in particular, Travel as a Political Act is a depressing book. There are times it made me wistful for the past of ten years ago. I'm sure, though, that the author who hoped this book would challenge travelers to take the opportunity to learn and connect with people, would still say the same thing. It may be a bigger challenge right now. But, Steves insists we can start changing the world in our own little corner of it, and the more we travel, the more we'll want to change it for ourselves and others. Despite the copyright date, Travel as a Political Act still has an important message.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Emily Polson

    "...travel can be a powerful force for peace. Travel promotes understanding at the expense of fear." The first chapter ("How to Travel as a Political Act") affirmed many ideas I already had about traveling. When done intentionally and thoughtfully, travel expands one's understanding, encourages global citizenship, and fosters empathy for people abroad and back home. It would be a great essay to assign students who are preparing for a semester abroad, as it explains how to enter such a situation w "...travel can be a powerful force for peace. Travel promotes understanding at the expense of fear." The first chapter ("How to Travel as a Political Act") affirmed many ideas I already had about traveling. When done intentionally and thoughtfully, travel expands one's understanding, encourages global citizenship, and fosters empathy for people abroad and back home. It would be a great essay to assign students who are preparing for a semester abroad, as it explains how to enter such a situation with a humble, open mind. The final essay ("Homecoming") details how travel changes us upon our return home, because "the ultimate souvenir is a broader outlook." These are ideas I wrestled with both times I moved abroad and later attempted to readjust to life back home. The aforementioned values are re-affirmed throughout Travel as a Political Act, but they are also expanded with layers and layers of examples--historical, anecdotal, and experiential. I learned a lot from this book about the specific cultures and places Rick discusses. The whole book reads like a series of carefully-researched magazine features. He took topics I thought I understood pretty well already (e.g. drug use in the Netherlands) and explicated them further, drawing helpful parallels to our shared home country in a way that expanded my understanding. Better yet, he took topics upon which I was completely ignorant (e.g. the political and economic state of El Salvador) and enlightened me from a local's point of view. Each place he discussed in this book, he met with local people and sought to understand their perspective, even (and perhaps especially) when they held America in an unfavorable light. Throughout these essays, he acknowledges and checks his own biases as a prosperous white Protestant American. I learned so much. I wish I had encountered this book sooner. I know what I'm getting all of my traveling friends on our next gift-giving occasion...

  22. 5 out of 5

    Erik

    Northwest native son, who also happens to be the man behind the Europe Through the Backdoor series of books and PBS show, has been flirting with more politically-minded writing and thoughts in recent years – mainly on his Saturday NPR show. And finally, here in his 2009 book, he weaves together his liberal-leaning sentiments. While those of to the right of the political spectrum will no doubt find Steves to be an irritant at times, what with his progressive stance on drugs, his ability to look t Northwest native son, who also happens to be the man behind the Europe Through the Backdoor series of books and PBS show, has been flirting with more politically-minded writing and thoughts in recent years – mainly on his Saturday NPR show. And finally, here in his 2009 book, he weaves together his liberal-leaning sentiments. While those of to the right of the political spectrum will no doubt find Steves to be an irritant at times, what with his progressive stance on drugs, his ability to look through much of the media-negotiated news filters and pro-governmental policies (whether of the United States, Iran, or otherwise) to find the common essence and shared values that make all of here on planet Earth part of the great human race. Not only does Steves challenge the justification that elites use to consolidate and perpetuate their power – examples of which anybody from any political stripe here in the United States can readily agree (the current Iranian government, for example) – but his underlying enthusiasm for tourism with a human bent is nearly contagious. That is, foreign travel can change the world. Not just for Americans learning from others abroad, but vice versa as well. Travel helps to break down stereotypes and irrational fears that are often force-fed to us by those Chicken Littles in the media and political and religious hierarchies. Personally, I travel to learn more about this world – and to have a lot of fun in the process. And if a by-product of that is to help dispel some of the grossly-exaggerated myths about the ugly American, so be it. (Even though I’m sure I’m ugly enough in my worst moments when I haven’t had my coffee. Or at the end of a very long and tiring day.)

  23. 5 out of 5

    Erin

    This book is brilliant. Everyone who travels should read it. Anyone who doesn't travel should read it. It really breaks down what you can learn from travel and how it impacts us, not only as individuals, but as a culture and a society. I'm a fan of Rick Steves and have heard him speak in person about these issues. I'm really glad that he expanded them into a book, where they make an even more forceful and effective argument, and included some wonderful travel adventures of his own to go along wi This book is brilliant. Everyone who travels should read it. Anyone who doesn't travel should read it. It really breaks down what you can learn from travel and how it impacts us, not only as individuals, but as a culture and a society. I'm a fan of Rick Steves and have heard him speak in person about these issues. I'm really glad that he expanded them into a book, where they make an even more forceful and effective argument, and included some wonderful travel adventures of his own to go along with them. With me, he's preaching to the choir. I'm the kind of traveler that would never, ever go to a destination and then not leave my resort. Or take a cruise and simply go shopping in port, not taking the time to learn anything about the culture and history of the place I'm visiting. I feel that these things are vitally important to my growth as a human being and my understanding of the world around me. So, this kind of discussion is right up my alley. I've heard many people say that they think the most compelling chapters are the ones on Iran and drugs. However, I was really intrigued by the parts about Central America and Denmark. I wrote about this book in a travel community here on GoodReads and someone actually said that she thinks Steves has no business talking about politics. That really made me shake my head in wonder. Don't all American citizens have the responsibility to talk about politics? Shouldn't we all be encouraging each other to be the best citizens that we can be? I think so. Rick Steves thinks so. And he thinks something as simple as taking a vacation can help us be better citizens.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Beth

    I really loved this book. Rick Steves has such a great way of writing - it's very conversational, yet matter-of-fact, and he weaves his own real life experiences in with facts to make the reader really think and have some of those "ahhhh, I see" or "Wow, that's true" moments. Another thing I loved about this book is that I learned many new and interesting things about some foreign countries that I didn't know before (and in my book, that's one of the best things about both reading and traveling! I really loved this book. Rick Steves has such a great way of writing - it's very conversational, yet matter-of-fact, and he weaves his own real life experiences in with facts to make the reader really think and have some of those "ahhhh, I see" or "Wow, that's true" moments. Another thing I loved about this book is that I learned many new and interesting things about some foreign countries that I didn't know before (and in my book, that's one of the best things about both reading and traveling!). Some of my favorite quotes from this book: "We travelers are both America's ambassadors to the world ... and the world's ambassadors to America." "Ideally, travel broadens our perspectives personally, culturally, and politically. Suddenly, the palette with which we paint the story of our lives has more colors." "As you travel, opportunities to enjoy history are everywhere. Work on cultivating a general grasp of the sweep of history, and you'll be able to infuse your sightseeing with more meaning." "...flying home from each trip reminds me how thankful I am to live in America, why I believe the rich blessings we enjoy as Americans come with certain stewardship responsibilities, and how we can enrich our lives by employing our new perspectives more constructively back at home."

  25. 4 out of 5

    Alicia

    Whether you know of Rick Steves by way of your parents who watch his PBS show, or on your own accord through his guidebooks, the point is that you know him to be a guy who knows travel. I personally watch episodes of his show on Hulu, own a couple of his guidebooks, and follow along with his travels on Instagram (his throwback photos from the 70s are my favorite). Recently, I watched one of his lectures in which he discussed how his extensive travel experience has led him to be more open-minded p Whether you know of Rick Steves by way of your parents who watch his PBS show, or on your own accord through his guidebooks, the point is that you know him to be a guy who knows travel. I personally watch episodes of his show on Hulu, own a couple of his guidebooks, and follow along with his travels on Instagram (his throwback photos from the 70s are my favorite). Recently, I watched one of his lectures in which he discussed how his extensive travel experience has led him to be more open-minded politically. He feels that if only more people/Americans would travel outside of their comfort zone of luxury cruises and English-speaking beach resorts, they would come home with a much broader worldview. Perhaps they may even care more about the politics of how our country is run. That same day, I ordered this book. I devoured every story, every anecdote, and every idea he had written. It’s opened my eyes to the ways other countries attempt to solve the same problems that we have, and taught me that many of them do it better. Honestly, I believe that every American should travel in order to experience life outside of our bubble, and if traveling is not a possibility for them, they should at least read this book. Who should read it: Every American, especially those who’ve never left their home state; people who love the hell out of this scene from episode one of The Newsroom.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Melissa

    A great book to travel through Europe, Central America, and the Middle East without leaving your couch. Steves takes you through some less than "safe" touristy places to reveal how travel can change a person's political and social beliefs - mainly by meeting people and talking about some perceptions one has about the place/people. Steves doesn't point fingers; he takes on the idea of travel as a political act by using himself as a guinea pig, in travels outside of those he does for his travel an A great book to travel through Europe, Central America, and the Middle East without leaving your couch. Steves takes you through some less than "safe" touristy places to reveal how travel can change a person's political and social beliefs - mainly by meeting people and talking about some perceptions one has about the place/people. Steves doesn't point fingers; he takes on the idea of travel as a political act by using himself as a guinea pig, in travels outside of those he does for his travel and tours business. Some of what is written here has shown up in two of Rick Steves' travel specials for PBS, but there is more behind the scenes of taping those shows in the book. The one thing about this book I didn't like was that he never wrote about East or South Asia or Latin America. He is an admitted Europhile, so a lot of time reading the book was set in Europe (I wonder what he thinks of the UK formally triggering Article 50 today). All in all, I really loved his voice and his writing about the personal travel experience being a political act. I want to read more from him in the future.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Stephanie Shih

    This is a hugely informational book filled with great anecdotes and observations. I really admire Rick Steve's philosophy on travel as a way to build understanding between nations. "The ultimate souvenir is a broader outlook. But travel becomes a political act only if you do something with your broadened perspective once you return home." This book was a great history lesson for me (primarily on Europe), as well as a fascinating discourse on contentious issues like drug policy on hard and soft dr This is a hugely informational book filled with great anecdotes and observations. I really admire Rick Steve's philosophy on travel as a way to build understanding between nations. "The ultimate souvenir is a broader outlook. But travel becomes a political act only if you do something with your broadened perspective once you return home." This book was a great history lesson for me (primarily on Europe), as well as a fascinating discourse on contentious issues like drug policy on hard and soft drugs in Europe vs. the US. I found myself either wowed by a historical fact I had just learned for the first time (did they really not teach these things in history class or was I just a terrible student??) or nodding in agreement with Rick's outlook on travel and subsequent call to action to share stories, break prejudices, and promote global peace and understanding. This book is packed to the brim with insight and is a must-read for the thoughtful global traveler. If you desire to to come away from your trips with more than just a few Instagram pics, then this book is for you.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Charlene

    Wanted to read this book after hearing Rick Steves talk about it at a library conference. He's writing about expanding your horizons & understanding with trips, with getting outside one's comfort zone. His tour company generally handles Europe tours but the book includes chapters on his travels in El Salvador, Iran and Israel/Palestine. Iran chapter perhaps the most interesting. The chapter on Turkey, covering a country he has been visiting for decades, was perhaps the most disheartening in term Wanted to read this book after hearing Rick Steves talk about it at a library conference. He's writing about expanding your horizons & understanding with trips, with getting outside one's comfort zone. His tour company generally handles Europe tours but the book includes chapters on his travels in El Salvador, Iran and Israel/Palestine. Iran chapter perhaps the most interesting. The chapter on Turkey, covering a country he has been visiting for decades, was perhaps the most disheartening in terms of the world being less open and accessible, at least for Americans. He's good about seeing both sides of issues; admires many things about Europe but see faults there, too, and feels that travel can show Americans what we do well and where we can learn from other cultures. Well written; a quick read.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Laura

    I had the opportunity to hear Rick Steves give an address about travel as a political act at our state library conference. I loved the talk and immediately grabbed both the eBook and the audiobook to learn more. (Rick reads the audiobook.) I learned that Rick is so much more than Europe Through the Back Door. He's an activist and philanthropist and truly sees travel as a way to help bridge the divide between cultures. While I am not interested in traveling to some of the countries Rick discusses I had the opportunity to hear Rick Steves give an address about travel as a political act at our state library conference. I loved the talk and immediately grabbed both the eBook and the audiobook to learn more. (Rick reads the audiobook.) I learned that Rick is so much more than Europe Through the Back Door. He's an activist and philanthropist and truly sees travel as a way to help bridge the divide between cultures. While I am not interested in traveling to some of the countries Rick discusses, I truly enjoyed the opportunity to glean some insights from his trips to El Salvador and Iran and Iraq. I love his thoughts about coming home and putting into practice some of the best of what we learn from how other countries tackle problems. This delightful travelogue will bring you information and inspiration from around the globe.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Julie Brock

    3.5 stars Overall, this was interesting and I do love Rick. This could have been just as effective as a shorter book - it got a bit redundant and definitely preachy. His take-home messages (push beyond one's comfort zone in travel choices and consider the global impact of one's actions) are valid, but he is stating his own priorities in advocacy work as if they are self-evident truths with foregone conclusions - really, they are up for debate. Again, though, I love his adventurousness and approac 3.5 stars Overall, this was interesting and I do love Rick. This could have been just as effective as a shorter book - it got a bit redundant and definitely preachy. His take-home messages (push beyond one's comfort zone in travel choices and consider the global impact of one's actions) are valid, but he is stating his own priorities in advocacy work as if they are self-evident truths with foregone conclusions - really, they are up for debate. Again, though, I love his adventurousness and approach to learning while traveling, and his guidebooks to specific destinations are fantastic.

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