I'm sharing my travel experiences, candid opinions and what's on my mind. If you think it's inappropriate for a travel writer to stir up discussion on his blog with political observations and insights gained from traveling abroad, you may not want to read any further. — Rick

Mont Blanc: Long-Distance Hikes and Mountain Hospitality

I was just in the Alps with my TV crew, filming three new episodes of Rick Steves’ Europe. We spent a couple of days hiking (and filming) on the Tour du Mont Blanc trail, in the French Alps. It’s a whole parallel world there, away from the tourist crowds and intensity of the Alpine resorts, and really peaceful 

After just a taste of this classic long-distance hike, I am dreaming of coming back and doing the entire loop — and once again, I’m reminded that you can never run out of rewarding corners of Europe to explore. 

What’s your favorite long-distance hiking experience in Europe? 

All Alone…Enjoying the Grandeur of the Alps

These days in Europe — even at 10,000 feet above sea level — you’ll find tourist crowds. But a traveler can almost always find a way to be alone with the wonder of the moment…as illustrated in this clip, atop the Schilthorn in the Swiss Alps. Join me for a magic bit of peace and quiet on the scalp of my favorite Alp. 

Climate Change in the Alps: Snowmaking Machines

As a traveler, I see signs of climate change everywhere. Europe is grappling with unpredictable weather in lots of different ways — and in the Alps, that means artificial snow.

It’s summer here now, and this area is filled with hikers. But in the winter, this is ski country — and the local economy depends on ski tourism. All across the Alps, ski slopes are being plumbed for artificial snow. Take a look with me now at some of the reservoirs that supply water to this mountain’s snowmaking machines.

A round-trip flight to Europe emits roughly as much climate-changing carbon, per passenger, as six months of driving. I own a tour company, and we profit by taking about 30,000 people to Europe each year. Standard accounting practices allow our company to ignore the environmental cost of being in this business — but we believe it’s more honest and ethical to pay our share of that cost. So, at the expense of our profit, we’ve made a yearly commitment to invest $1 million in a portfolio of nonprofits that are making a big difference