Rick Steves talks European travel, new season of ‘Monday Night Travel’
When most Americans think of travel to Europe, they think of Rick Steves.
In September, the European travel expert returns with another season of his fun virtual show Monday Night Travel. He launched the show in 2020 during the COVID-19 pandemic when travel to Europe was halted.
The virtual broadcast via Zoom gives travelers a chance to hear Rick talk about his past travel experiences as viewers watch an episode of his hit public TV show. Rick adds his commentary over a glass of wine and answers viewers’ questions live.
There are two showings on Mondays, one at 5:30 p.m. Pacific / 8:30 p.m. Eastern and another at 7:00 p.m. Pacific / 10:00 p.m. Eastern. Events are completely free, last approximately 75 minutes, and are typically attended by over 3,000 households.
We spoke with Rick to find out more about his upcoming show schedule, his thoughts on traveling to Europe in 2021 and what bookings for his 2022 tours look like.
TravelPulse (TP): What can viewers expect with the return of “Monday Night Travel” this fall?
Rick Steves (RS): It’s a pleasure to invite thousands of fellow travelers to my living room every Monday – and the party will continue on September 13, when tour guide Federico Garcia Barroso joins the party for a lively virtual journey through the ‘Spain. And on September 20, my friend and co-author Gene Openshaw and I will take you back to 1978 for a journey on the “Hippie Trail” with us, from Istanbul to Kathmandu. More than 8 million people recently liked my Facebook series about this journey, so I expect this MNT to be a particularly big party.
TP: Which destinations will be in the spotlight at the virtual show this fall?
RS: Take along with me as I visit my favorite places in Spain, the Netherlands, Turkey, Bulgaria and England – and come on the trip of a lifetime on the 1978 Hippie Trail, visit the best underground wonders of Europe, explore cemeteries and crypts, and blitz through Europe’s five smallest countries. Note: You can find full descriptions and register for September shows here at www.ricksteves.com/mnt.
TP: What should travelers expect to visit Europe in 2021?
RS: Now more than ever, it’s a good idea to understand the entry requirements and reconfirm details as you plan and travel. Be patient, expect the unexpected, stay flexible, and commit to following all local COVID-19 guidelines (masking, social distancing, etc.). Travelers can find more detailed guidance here: www.ricksteves.com/tours/coronavirus-faq.
TP: Your number one tip for newbies visiting Europe?
RS: Pack light, pack light, pack light! Think about it: have you ever met someone who, after five trips, brags, “Every year I pack more”? At my company, we’ve taken tens of thousands of people of all ages and styles on tour across Europe with just one piece of hand luggage. For many, this is a radical concept – but they succeed, and they are delighted. After enjoying this smooth mobility and freedom, you will never go any other way.
TP: The reopening of Europe is still quite recent, but what do you think of the prospects for touring Europe this fall/winter and until 2022?
RS: At Rick Steves’ Europe we are very conservative in our planning and will only run tours if we are confident that we can do so safely, efficiently and in the experiential way that is so integral to Rick Steves’ style of touring . Our 2022 tours are nearly full and I expect to bring 30,000 travelers to Europe next year.
TP: What advice would you give to travel advisors selling European vacations right now?
RS: Be prepared to be flexible and generous with your customers. In the first few months of 2020, we’ve received deposits from around 24,000 travelers – and we’ve fully refunded them all, with no strings attached. It’s not just good ethics; It’s a good thing. I’m here for the long haul and want travelers to know that we’re a company they can rely on.