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

Video: Wintertime Travel Dreaming

Oh, baby…it’s cold outside! Days like this are the perfect time to start dreaming about your next trip. We research, write, and lovingly update Rick Steves guidebooks for destinations across Europe. These give you everything you need to know to be your own guide and have an efficient, economical, and vivid experience. Today, I’m thinking about Ireland — how about you?

BTW, these guidebooks originated back in the 1980s as handbooks for our European tours that weren’t available for purchase. I’d have them out in my classes, hoping people would page through them during the break, like what they saw, and take one of my tours. Time and time again, people would thumb through the handbooks, like what they saw…and take the book! I didn’t blame the petty criminals. In fact, it occurred to me that these little manuals were driving decent people to theft, and they should be available for sale. So, I took the hint and set about to putting everything I knew about leading our tours into these books, in hopes that people who wanted to could buy the book and do my tours on their own. The guidebooks were a hit, and America’s leading series of European travel guidebooks was born.

Today, we have over 50 titles covering destinations across Europe. They typically outsell their competition…and in many cases, they outsell all the competition combined. Yes, I guess I am bragging a bit. I’m proud of the work my staff and I do, powered by a passion for helping Americans enjoy the best possible European trips. And I love the thought that we scratch your travel itch in many ways: You can take our tours, grab a guidebook and be your own guide, or even settle into your couch and enjoy us on TV. However you do it…happy travels!

Video: Pamplona’s Running of the Bulls

Heading to Spain this summer? If you time your trip right, you’ll witness one of Europe’s most exuberant festivals and craziest spectacles: Pamplona’s Running of the Bulls. For nine days each July, throngs of visitors descend on the city for the adrenaline-filled event. Revelers enjoy carousing, music, parades, fireworks, and lots of sangria. My TV crew and I were there for two days with front-row seats for the stampeding action. I was really impressed at how the people of Pamplona have it organized: party, party, party, bulls run, clean up, sleep, party, party, party…repeat daily for nine days.

If you’re thinking of taking in this one-of-a-kind festival, get started on planning with my Rick Steves Spain 2018 guidebook.

Video: Behind the Scenes of “Travel as a Political Act”

My book Travel as a Political Act is now out in its third edition — in print and as an audiobook.

When my publisher said we needed to reprint the book, I said, “Trump, Erdogan, refugees, nativism, fascism, fake news, and Brexit. Not until we rework it for all the changes impacting travel these days.” The third edition is 290 pages of travel thrills and insights that I like to think would win the endorsement of Mark Twain (“Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness”), Thomas Jefferson (“Travel makes a person wiser, but less happy”), and Muhammad (“Don’t tell me how educated you are, tell me how much you’ve traveled”).

This clip shows about one minute of the 22 hours I spent in what felt like a padded cell, reading the book out loud. In the end, the finished audiobook is about ten hours, and I am thrilled with the final product.

(BTW, I’m donating all the royalties from the sale of the book and audiobook to Bread for the World, a nonprofit advocacy organization dedicated to ending hunger.)