Want to know how to travel in style, just like the pros? We check in with frequent fliers to find out how often they fly, their favorite destinations and what they never leave home without.
Name: Andy Steves
Occupation: Chief Backpacker at WSA Europe (Weekend Student Adventures); host of “Andy Steves Travel” podcast
Hometown: Edmonds, WA
Residence: Prague, Czech Republic
College: University of Notre Dame
College major: BFA Industrial Design, BA Italian Language & Literature
Facebook: Andy Steves
Pinterest: WSA Europe – Weekend Student Adventures
YouTube: WSA Europe
Short bio: Andy Steves has spent the better part of his adult life in Europe helping young Americans travel more intentionally and efficiently. After growing up traveling with his guidebook-writing father, Rick Steves, Andy had already led tours and updated guidebooks by the time he studied abroad in Rome in 2008. Equipped not only with the practical insights, but the desire to bridge cultural gaps, Andy found his calling in life to share this expertise with friends and fellow students while abroad. He turned this passion into a tour company, Weekend Student Adventures, and has toured thousands of young Americans around Europe, connecting them with local culture, people and experiences.
Andy’s first book, “Andy Steves’ Europe: City-Hopping on a Budget,” comprises all the tips and tried and trued itineraries developed for budget backpackers on the classic circuit through Europe.
How often do you fly? 40+ times/year.
How many countries have you been to? 42
How many continents have you been to? 4
Earliest travel memory: On a ferry in the Norwegian fjords, playing with my dad on the bed. He was swiping my legs out from under me so I would bounce on the bed and on one of these times, it knocked the wind out of me. Quite a vivid memory for a little one, and it happened to be on a ferry from Denmark into Norway I believe.
Favorite American city: Seattle. Can’t get enough of my hometown. Close runner-ups are Portland, San Francisco, Denver, and Boston.
Favorite international city: Stockholm.
Least favorite country: It’s really hard to lump any countries into a binary like or dislike judgment. I spent about half an hour in Uruguay and was chased by a scary, rabid and frothing-at-the-mouth pack of dogs. So until I have a chance to get back, Uruguay will have to sit at the bottom of my list.
I have no desire to go to: Dubai—While the newly-found opulence and affluence is impressive, I get much more out of culture and history than indoor ski parks in the desert and tricked out Range Rovers.
Friendliest people in the world: I was very impressed by the welcoming and friendly nature of the Colombians I interacted with on a recent trip here to the point where I was suspect of ulterior motives. Otherwise, you can’t go wrong in Ireland (well, you can, but the nice people vastly outnumber the sour ones)!
Country with the meanest immigration officers: USA, UK, Netherlands, and most other northern European countries—they either pay me no heed, or interrogate me.
Favorite World Heritage Site: I’m blown away every time by the Human Castellers in Barcelona. They were recently declared an Intangible Heritage of Humanity.
Favorite airline: I’ve got to give a shout out to Delta with whom I’ve had excellent luck flying standby on my long haul flights over the last several years. Otherwise, Norwegian Air is my go-to budget airline if they have options for the route I’m looking for.
Favorite aircraft type: 787 of course ☺
Aisle or window: Always window. I always think of myself as a dot on a map as I walk or travel through a city, and a low-city flyover will often give you amazing views of the layout of the city.
Favorite airport lounge: Not all that experienced with nice lounges unfortunately.
Favorite U.S. airport: Seattle, means I’m home!
Favorite international airport: Prague, means I’m almost to my European home!
Favorite hotel: Penthouse Privates in Budapest offer the perfect balance of social and private spaces. They’re just steps from some of the craziest nightlife in the world, and they offer their rooms at an affordable price.
Favorite cruise line: NA, spend most of my time on my feet
Favorite travel credit card: Standard Visa. Haven’t had the time to dig into rewards programs all that much.
Favorite island: I grew up sailing around the San Juan Islands, a grouping of islands in the Pacific Northwest near the border of Canada. They hold a special place in my heart. Besides that, Ilha Grande in Brazil off the coast of Rio de Janeiro is the happiest place on earth as far as I’m concerned.
Favorite beach: My mom’s house—while we’re not exactly on the beach, we’re one house back from the water and I love watching the sunset over the Puget Sound.
Favorite fancy restaurant: Gabriello’s—A superb seafood restaurant in Rome, Italy just steps from the Spanish Steps.
Favorite hole-in-the-wall: Thai Snackbar Bird is a Thai fast food joint in Amsterdam that churns out steaming piles of delicious and spicy pad Thai every night throughout the year, offering reasonable prices in the heart of one of the most expensive cities in the world.
Favorite bar: Szimpla in Budapest offers an experience like non other.
Favorite fruit: Apple.
Favorite food: Indian, Thai, Pho, authentic Italian pizza, and Mexican are all tied for first place in my book.
Least favorite food: Durian.
Drink of choice (in the air and on the ground): Whiskey ginger in the air, and a well-done Old Fashioned on the ground.
Favorite travel movie(s): Catch Me If You Can, the Bourne series are great movies filmed in beautiful locations.
Favorite travel show(s): Three Sheets, Anthony Bourdain, The Amazing Race, Rick Steves.
Right now I am reading: “Lean Startup,” Eric Reis.
Top 3 favorite travel newsletters/magazines/blogs: Johnny Jet (of course!), Matador & Restless Child Travel Blog.
Favorite travel website(s)—besides JohnnyJet.com, of course! Kayak.com, Matador.
5 things you bring on a plane: Computer, noise-canceling head phones, water, notepad, and pen.
What do you always seem to forget? Single socks.
What do you like least about travel? The TSA.
What do you want your loved one to buy you from an airport Duty Free store? Cuban cigars and Maker’s Mark bourbon.
Favorite travel app(s): WSA Europe, TripAdvisor, Yelp, kayak.com, Skyscanner, TripIt, xe.com, Skype.
Most embarrassing travel moment: I’ve never woken up naked on a park bench or anything like that. My most embarrassing moments usually come from difficulty in communication or miscommunication as a result of language barriers. One nice old lady was trying to help me speak to a Spanish-speaking Uber driver. Since I wasn’t fluent in Colombian Spanish, I had a hard time doing it myself. All I needed was her to tell him the address, but in the end she thought I was asking her to direct my driver to pick up my friend from the airport.
I’m embarrassed but I haven’t been to: Morocco.
Worst travel moment: I ate a bad pork sandwich at the Porta Portese market in Rome many years ago. Spent the next two days getting that out of my system.
What’s your dream destination? The Ice Hotel in Sweden.
Favorite travel charity: Orbis, the flying eye hospital.
Best travel tip: Get and bring wool if you’re traveling in the winter!!! Besides that, remember that anything and everything you forget, they have a version of it where you’re going. And if they don’t, live without it, like the people who live there.
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