Sharing a Cinque Terre hotel room with my son, it was quiet except for the high-energy tap tap taps on our dueling laptop keyboards. While tourists were busy on the nearby trails and beaches, a fun thought struck me: Here in this room, it was Steves and son…grinding firsthand Riviera experiences into our digital worlds — shuttling that writing to our respective staffs to then amplify to our traveling public.
Many dads dream of the “father & son” thing. My dad imported pianos from Germany and dreamed of the day I would join him — and his piano shop becoming “Steves & Son.”
I’m very aware of the pressure of this when meeting the newest generation of longtime family businesses in Europe — whether aristocratic mansions, venerable family-run piano factories, beloved restaurants, or hotels. And, while I am a sucker for “sixth generation” wineries, I also know (firsthand) that the pressure to “keep the family business in the family” can be challenging.
And so, while helping raise my son Andy, I was careful not to share my enthusiasm for him to follow in my footsteps in a way that might pressure him. We dragged Andy to Europe for 18 years in a row until he was in college. I never realized he was paying attention. But now I see he certainly was.
(As a parenting tip, I’d say it’s important to remember this: Your kids do pay attention — even when it seems they are shutting something out. My kids quote me 15 or 18 years after I’ve said something that I just assumed had glanced off the anti-parenting-wisdom defenses their scowls indicated were in the raised and locked positions. I love that. And I wish I realized how worthwhile some of that sometimes-frustrated parenting was, way back then.)
2-year-old Andy and me in the Swiss Alps, 1989.
Several years ago, Andy started his own European travel business — inspired by the love of travel and love of teaching travel that (I like to think) he picked up on all those forced family vacations. Andy recently turned 30, and his company is going strong.
When I’m speaking at a bookstore that stocks Andy’s first guidebook (Andy Steves’ Europe: City-Hopping on a Budget), I always bring a copy to the podium and give it a big in-person plug (and it always sells out). When I’m in Europe doing my guidebook research and I cross paths with Andy leading one of his Weekend Student Adventures tours, I love to become his impromptu assistant guide. (He’s an amazing guide with 20 foreign-study Americans in tow experiencing Europe’s greatest cities.)
Andy’s latest is his impressive new podcast. He’s producing fascinating weekly conversations with the many travel insiders he knows and works with literally all over the world. For a chance to eavesdrop on a high-powered and fun huddle between millennial travelers on a range of timely topics (from the best tapas in Barcelona, to “flashpacking” tips, to making a career out of a life on the road), check out the Andy Steves Travel Podcast.
Andy’s more independent than your typical “father & son” next-gen businessman; his business is his own, with no formal association with Rick Steves’ Europe. But, of course, I’m really proud of the work he’s doing to share his love of travel with his growing public in his own way. Check him out!