Traveling Europe with Rick Steves – 1986 Style

Filed in Gather Travel Essential by on April 10, 2012 0 Comments

I ran across a photo of me reading Rick Steve’s EUROPE THROUGH THE BACK DOOR before leaving on my big journey in 1986.


After graduation from college, I grabbed an L.L. Bean pack frame, an open ended ticket to Belgium (good for a year – I did manage to stay just short of 2 days on my plane ticket), my two month Eurail Pass and $800 and my best friend.


Really, I had no clue what I was doing. I’d been to Europe with family but had never headed out on my own. Plus, I was the tour guide for my friend!


Europe in 1986 was really different than now. The wall was not down yet. Everyone had their own currencies, meaning you lost money every time you crossed the border. We used Traveler’s Checks (I know, what are those, right?), no internet, no cell phones. We actually hand wrote letters and post cards and plugged coins into the strange pay phones with robotic speed so our mom’s didn’t think we’d been kidnapped.


I think the most important thing I learned from this book (actually an earlier version with the same cover) was about spending the night on the train. There were plenty of times I ran out of money (I think our budget was $30/day) and so Rick taught us to find a train going to a destination far enough away that we could sleep on the train over night. The idea was to get on a train that was starting from your city (so the train wouldn’t be full), dash on and find an empty seating compartment (you can’t find these any more). Read more…

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