I recently received an envelope filled with 255 euros and an inspirational letter from a Rick Steves traveler who lost his wife to breast cancer — and wanted me to have their piggy bank for future trips. This is a vivid example of the many heartwarming notes we receive from the wonderful people we get to travel with through our work, and I thought you might enjoy reading it. (To keep it anonymous, I’m using pseudonyms.)
So, you might be thinking, “Why in the world am I holding this letter and an envelope filled with euros?”
Well…as a family, my wife Nancy, our daughter Aggie, and I enjoyed wondrous ventures on 6 Rick Steves tours between 2005 – 2010! We had a fun tradition of tucking a few euros aside with the promise that they would lead to our next tour! Over those years, we had some relatives who always laughed at our budgeting wisdom of splurging on so many trips while our daughter was still in school. They thought us crazy! They always said, “Save it for retirement, and for your daughter’s college fund.”
It all worked out just fine. You make priorities, and you see them through. We loved our Europe adventures together, and we got our daughter through 8 years of college and grad school, as well.
In late 2018, Nancy died after a battle with breast cancer. If we had waited for retirement…these priceless experiences shared and family time together would NEVER have happened! While I still have the travel lust and watch your shows religiously, without my travel partner, Nancy, and with the years going by, we don’t have plans to return to Europe. But we really like the idea of somehow seeing these leftover euros in our future trip kitty return and be enjoyed. So, we are happy to send them to you.
I am confident you will be returning to Europe in 2021, and the thought that we bought you a drink in a Paris cafe, or a Greek taverna, or a floodlit square in Rome really gives me a smile! This is just a small gift for the great memories and images with Nancy that I’ll enjoy for the rest of my days. Yes, I know I could have simply exchanged the euros through my bank… and why send the cash through the mail…but what fun is that? Thanks for the memories Rick, enjoy this little gift, and happy travels to you.
I’m so inspired by this touching gift from Nancy’s family. And here’s how I’ll put that envelope of 255 euros to good use: When in Switzerland, one of my favorite things to do is to visit the youth hostel in Gimmelwald, my favorite alpine village, and buy all the backpackers a beer. When I return to Gimmelwald in 2021 (God willing!), I will buy beer for every one of those young travelers until those 255 euros is gone. And with each round, we’ll drink to Nancy and her family, knowing she is smiling down on us from an even more wonderful high-altitude perch.