In 1980 I self-published my first book, “Europe Through the Back Door.” It was easy: write out the lectures from the travel class I taught at the University of Washington’s Experimental College, sweet-talk my girlfriend into typing it and my roommate into sketching the photos, drive the 180-page manuscript to the local printer with $2000, and two weeks later pick up 2,000 copies of that first edition.
I’ve updated the book with about a hundred days of travel experience each year since. And this year, we’re celebrating the 40th anniversary of ETBD. It’s the flagship of over fifty Rick Steves guidebooks and an 800-page handbook — what I like to call “the Kama Sutra of European travel thrills.”
The book has more than quadrupled in size, as it’s evolved as much as everything else in the last four decades. This is the book you read before your trip to learn from my experience rather than your own to enjoy maximum travel fun per mile, minute, and dollar. My best travel tip for anyone dreaming of the trip of a lifetime? Don’t go to Europe without reading “Europe Through the Back Door” first!