Rick Steves, a world renowned travel writer, has decided to stick a little closer to home this month. He is in the middle of a trip across the United States, which he calls Rick’s Road Trip USA: 2013 tour. After Steves’ visit to Roanoke College, he wrote about it on his Huffington Post blog.
Roanoke College was his fourth stop on this route last week. His March 12 lecture at Roanoke’s Olin Theater, “A Call to Travel,” was so popular that Steves gave two talks; one at 4 p.m. and another at 7:30 p.m.
The basis of the lecture was his new book “Travel as a Political Act.” During the talk, Steves described travel as having a much greater purpose than just relaxation.
“I believe that for many Americans, traveling means eating five meals a day on a cruise ship and trying to snorkel when they get into port,” Steves said.
He encouraged the audience to travel more thoughtfully. Throughout the lecture he emphasized the importance of learning about other cultures through travel.
“Fear is for people who don’t get out much,” Steves said. “The flip-side of fear is understanding, and you gain understanding through travel.”
With his books, Steve wants to help his readers dispel initial fears that they may have about traveling.
He mentioned that part of his job as a travel writer is to bring home “magic moments” to share with his readers. He admits that those magic moments may not initially seem positive, but he is able to turn them into something beneficial for his audience.
“When I get ripped off, I celebrate,” Steves said. “I’ll just come home and put it in my book and let others know that trick. I want my readers to be able to learn from my mistakes.”
During the talk, Steves challenged the audience to think about how they view the world. He brought up the ways that other countries do things that some Americans may not understand, including drug policies, taxes and values.
“He had a pragmatic approach to travel,” said William Greer, Roanoke’s director of development, who attended Steves’ lecture. “You could see his biases, but he also really wanted it to be an educational experience. He was challenging us to step outside the box and gain experiences through travel.”
There are many misconceptions and misunderstanding in the world between people of different cultures, Steves said. Those who travel are able to dispel those falsehoods.
“I initially decided to attend the Rick Steve’s talk because of my love of travel and my desire to hear him discuss his traveling experiences,” said Emily Leimbach, a junior at Roanoke College. “He far exceeded my expectations. I left feeling inspired to travel with a larger purpose: to truly learn and experience other cultures in order to better educate others.”
Throughout the talk, Steves recounted tales of his travels to illustrate many of his points. He showed pictures on a screen behind him of smiling girls covering their hair in Iran, old Gaelic men in Ireland, and a Sri Lankan family huddled together to pose for a camera.
Steves impressed upon the audience that when you come back from an adventure focused on the culture, you receive much more than pictures or a extra pounds from vacation over-eating.
“Taking a broader perspective home is the best souvenir possible,” Steves said.
-By Kayla Fuller ’14
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