‘Get a Grip’ and Travel, Rick Steves Urges RFDC Crowd
Rick Steves advocates worldwide travel to promote cultural understanding—and to have fun.
People used to say “bon voyage” when wishing you a good trip, says travel writer and teacher Rick Steves. But now they say “have a safe trip” or are too afraid to travel in the first place, and it drives him crazy. “Get a grip, America,” he told the luncheon crowd at the Restaurant Finance & Development Conference today.
“It’s never been safer to travel, never, than right now. Nor has it ever been more important to travel. We are riddled with fear. When someone tells me have a safe trip, I tell them, ‘you have a safe stay at home.’ Because where I’m going statistically is safer than where you’re staying,” he said, adding, “You’re in Las Vegas, this is a dangerous place.”
Steves is a delightful speaker, replete with tips about getting off the beaten path and finding “funky little restaurants” where you can eat for a great value and sample the local culture at the same time.
But he tried to put across a more urgent lesson as well in a time when fears of the “other” are being used for political purposes.
“We’ve got to realize that there are powerful forces in our society that would find it convenient if we were all afraid,” he said. “Fear is for people who don’t get out very much. The flip side of fear is understanding, and we gain understanding when we get out. Think of your most fearful friends. They’re the people with no passports.”
“America has completely lost its ability to assess risk,” he said.
Then he showed a slide at an Oktoberfest festival in Germany, where revelers walked the streets arm in arm and a circle of police officers stood guard every half block or so. “Your responsibility is to go over there and drink some beer, and not be afraid,” he said.
The Restaurant Finance & Development Conference continues through Wednesday at the Wynn hotel in Las Vegas.