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Andy Steves talks travel

Ann-Marie Woods | Friday, November 20, 2009

After many years of travel experience in Europe, senior Andy Steves is using his knowledge to help other college students navigate their way around Europe while studying abroad. 

As a part of International Education Week, a nation-wide initiative, Steves provided students with international travel tips Thursday night in Montgomery Auditorium in LaFortune Student Center.

Inspired by his travel guru father, Rick Steves, and his own experiences abroad as a student, Steves saw the need for student-friendly travel sites and guides to help college students form ideal itineraries in order to make the most out of their sightseeing abroad. 

“When I was abroad, I realized there’s really nothing out there for the college student abroad,” Steves said. 

After returning from Notre Dame’s Rome program in the spring of 2008, Steves decided to create andysteves.com, a “for students, by students” collaborative resource for weekend student adventures, which includes blog entries, sample itineraries, travel tips and photos to help the college traveler. 

“Our mission is to provide a well-rounded picture of a particular destination,” Steves said on his travel Web site. “Your time is valuable and I think you should know if you’ll like a place before you book your tickets and commit to it.”

In addition to his experiences while studying abroad, Steves has traveled with his family each of the 22 years of his life, meeting his dad on location during the summer months and more recently working as a tour guide throughout Europe.

“Traveling with my dad was always an interesting experience,” Steves said. “Everything was always theatrical for him and he would push the boundaries as far as he could.”

While drawing on his own travel experiences, Steves also incorporates fellow students’ insights about European destinations to help create collaborative itineraries that highlight the best of each featured city. 

“I haven’t been to all the places I have itineraries for, but lots of friends have helped contribute,” Steves said. “The response has been great and I have compiled different opinions.”

Because money is often one of the main concerns for college students studying abroad, Steves’ itineraries give suggestions for efficient and affordable ways to travel Europe on a small budget.

“One of the great things about traveling on a lower budget is that you have incredible freedom,” Steves said. “Some of the best traveling experiences out there are the ones you can’t plan.”

While the itineraries provided on his Web site offer suggestions for successful, inexpensive weekends or weeklong trips, Steves encouraged students to be open to new cultural experiences, leaving behind American preconceptions about new places.

“Cultural interchange is so priceless, you have to give it a shot,” Steves said. “Once you show them the respect of trying to learn something about them, you have an instant friend.” 

Steves also emphasized the importance of exploring places outside the guidebooks in order to better understand the city and its residents. 

“Go down a side alley and try to find the unique, local spots — the mom and pop shops,” Steves said. “You’ll have a better experience.”

More travel tips can be found on Steves’ Web site at www.andysteves.com