The miracle of Rick Steves


“I don’t understand how you can possibly take just a carry-on sized bag for two weeks in Europe.” my sister said to me on Monday.  “I just need too much stuff!”

“Too much stuff” is an understatement.  I’ve seen the luggage they use. The entire von Trapp family could have escaped Austria in it.  No mountain climbing; just smooth, 4-wheel, 360 degree swivel action all the way to Italy.

I told her to pack less clothes.  Wash things out in the sink.  Or the bidet.  She said she packs very few clothes.  But she admits her husband needs a new outfit every day along with matching shoes.  Seriously?

I’m a minimalist traveler and my packing hero is Rick Steves. My younger son told me never to trust anybody with two first names…

For those who don’t know, Rick Steves is a US travel guru/television host who has specialized in European travel for the past 35 years.  He has hundreds of guidebooks/DVD’s not only about individual European countries but many specific European cities.  Lots of American Baby Boomers are fans of Rick.

Or is it Steve?

But the true miracle that elevates him to near-travel god-like status is that he can go to Europe for an entire summer with only a back pack and a carry-on.  Let that sink in.  One back pack.  One tiny, fits-in-the-overhead-bin carry-on.  Mind blowing.

It’s like Jesus feeding the 5000 with one loaf of bread and one fish.  Rick/Steve miraculously just keeps on pulling out clothes for a whole summer from that little carry-on!

I’m a Rick Steves packing disciple.  I try to emulate him.  And I’m getting pretty darned good at it.

So for those of you who travel who might want to get on the bandwagon (NOT my sister) here are AGMA’s top 10 reasons for minimalist packing for an overseas trip:

10.  Speed.  You can get though customs faster because you don’t have to wait for your bags.  Okay, maybe only 5 minutes faster.  But it feels like a win.

9.  No worries about lost luggage.  When your carry-on is in the bin above your head, you know you’ll be able to change your nasty, been-wearing-them-for 36-hours-straight travel clothes that have almost welded themselves to your body as soon as you get to your hotel room.

8.  Accessibility.  When your carry-on is in the bin above your head, you know you’ll be able to change your nasty, been-wearing-them-for 36-hours-straight travel clothes that have almost welded themselves to your body in the airport bathroom as soon as you get off the plane.  Or in the airplane restroom.  Or at your seat.

7.  Saves money.  Totally limits souvenir buying!  There’s no room for that bulky Aran sweater or the three Belgian lace tablecloths or that impressive Australian didgeridoo. And buying another suitcase on your trip is cheating…  Although my MIL did that once. No surprise there.

6.  Simplifies wardrobe choices.  People honestly don’t care if you wear the same outfit in Paris that you wore in Rome that you wore in London. Or if you wear the same outfit twice in the same city.  Think about it.  Nobody.  Cares.

5.  Mingle with the locals.  Most cities and towns in the industrialized world have stores with the same stuff that you can buy at home.  You don’t have to pack for Armageddon. It’s fun to meet new people while you shop for your Imodium or Pepto-Bismol!

4.  Nimbleness.  It’s much easier and quicker to get on and off trains, busses, ferries, etc. Or to carry your bag up to your 4th floor hotel room because the 3 ft X 3 ft lift is broken.  It’s sad to see people struggling trying to get their three 70 pound bags up the steps onto a train or into their hotel.  And kind of funny in a twisted way.

3.  Avoid personal injury. See #4.

2.  Avoid pity/ridicule.  Especially the withering, smug, superior glances of AGMA and husband as they deftly and every so delicately whisk their light carry-ons onto the train or up the hotel stairs while you struggle with the von Trapp family luggage. See #4. Yeah – everybody is looking at you.  And feeling sorry for you.  Or snickering.

And the #1 reason for minimalist packing…

1.  It’s cool. You’re friends will be awed and amazed that you only took a carry-on and a backpack for two weeks in Croatia. They now think that YOU are the packing travel god.  Don’t tell them about Rick/Steve.

So that was all to say it’s time for this AGMA travel goddess to pack her minimalist bag and hit the road again.  Back to the land of Guinness and Leprechauns.  I’ve never actually seen a Leprechaun. Maybe I’ve never had enough Guinness…

I’ll really miss AGMA and writing and my WordPress family.  But I’ll be sure to lift up a pint in your honor!  Be back in mid-April.


44 thoughts on “The miracle of Rick Steves

    • I was hoping to take a carry-on sized bag to Ireland but I have too much stuff to take over to the family I’m visiting. It wouldn’t leave room for any of my stuff! Gotta go with the next size up. 😦

      Your husband and my BIL must be from the same mold! My challenge is trying to get my husband to do the opposite and bring more than one shirt and one pair of pants on a trip. He take minimalist packing to a whole new level! Not so great when things start getting a bit ripe (which happens quickly when you are wearing the same thing all the time.) Eewwww…

      Liked by 1 person

  1. Reblogged this on galesmind and commented:
    I find it amazing that people do this. We have a cousin that can go for weeks to Italy with one of those overnight bags on wheels. I am better than I was. Down to just two pairs of shoes now. There was one time I only took one. After walking around all day in them you really don’t want to wear them the second day and it is bad for your feet. So I tried to buy a pair of size 10 women’s shoes in Italy. It was like I asked for a Yeti. They don’t exist or they are bizarre. Don’t ask about the looks of disdain from the shoe clerks. Never again. I am aslo a shop aholic. Sorry I am. So there it is and as much as I admire people with their tiny bags it ain’t happening with this girl.

    Liked by 1 person

    • There is a peace in knowing thyself… If you’re a shopper, you’re a shopper, and you go out and buy that extra suitcase to bring your stuff home! Or do you bring one of those little extra ones that you unzip and it makes a full bag? Those are pretty cool.

      Shoes are always a conundrum for me! I agree with you – gotta have more than 1 pair! I usually take a pair of running shoes, black walking shoes, brown walking shoes and sometimes black flats that are skinny and easy to pack. I know – boring….

      Liked by 1 person

      • I have gotten better and I have an expandable suitcase. It is possible to have stuff shipped from where you go too. I can’t wear flats and need supportive shoes. I take a pair of Sneaker clogs to go on the plane and wear around and another really good pair of walking shoes. I don’t pack fancy shoes any more at all. Thank goodness people dress more casually now. A nice pair of dark pants can take you pretty much any where.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Amen to that! I just sent a FB message to the friend I’m visiting to see if I need to bring – perish the thought – a skirt or dress. Since it’s the middle of the night there, I have to wait until tomorrow for the answer… Otherwise it’s jeans, black pants and khaki travel pants (that you wash out in the sink and they dry like in 15 minutes!)

        Actually, those expandable suitcases are pretty impressive! I’ve seen ones that I swear almost double in size!

        The flats ONLY get worn when I get “dressed up” in the black pants and walking short distances. My falling arches don’t like them!

        Liked by 1 person

      • I sometimes pack one of those crushable black skirts if I absolutely have to. Cruises used to be a nightmare with all the dressing up. Now one long black skirt and I am done. They are far more casual today as well. It is great but I do miss some of the dressing up and classy cruises.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Have fun! I am totally with you for the minimalist packing! I learned from my mom. How NOT to pack that is. Well…for the most part. I did learn how to fold dress pants and dress shirts for minimal wrinkles. I also learned that the laundromat is your friend 😀 A must have for the reader who is a minimalist packer…an ereader! And for the music lover the mp3/iPod! Hundreds of books/music at your finger tips and together they take less room than War and Peace! See you next month. With lots of pics?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Maybe a few picts… I hate to be one of those types who foist their trip pictures on an unsuspecting public. BUT I am going to have a new travel companion to help me spice up my pictures. It could be really cute or really stupid. If it turns out cute, I’ll post a few! I don’t have my own notebook/ereader, but I do borrow my husband’s if he’s not going to be using it. And I’m going to bring my iPod but it has the sorriest collection of music on it (my fault!) No time to update it this trip but definitely the next trip! Thanks for your good wishes! 🙂


  3. I love Rick Steves but I agree – he is a street magician. I don’t know how he does it!! I commend your for trying and although I would love to strive to reap the benefits of packing less – it is just so hard to do!!!!! Best of luck of your travels! 🙂 Great Post!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Smoke and mirrors… But he’s a guy. I don’t think most guys are big packers (exceptions – my BIL and reallifemarti’s husband!) If I’d let him, my husband would go away for a week and only bring his toiletries, 1 extra t-shirt, 1 extra pair of boxers and 1 extra pair of socks! Eewwww….

      Thanks for the kind words about the post and your wonderful travel wishes!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. My suitcase went missing on a trip to Portugal a few years back, turns out you can buy EVERYTHING that you can buy in the UK in Portugal too…who knew? I’m now a light(er) traveler. Have a great trip, can’t wait to hear about it! 🙂


    • And I bet I could get most of the stuff I use here in the US in Portugal as well! It’s pretty amazing… 😉 So did you’re bag ever show up or did it go to the travelers luggage purgatory?

      Thanks for taking time to comment and the travel wishes! If I was a betting woman, I would bet on an Ireland post or two in AGMA style! 🙂


  5. I enjoy watching Steeves’ travel shows. From one of his shows we ended up going to the Czech Republic. Yes, I did blog about the place.

    I continue to be amazed how much some people pack for a 2 wk. vacation. Believe me, cycle touring, has forced me over a long time, to whittle down my clothing needs and essentials to absolute minimum. Otherwise I have to cycle up the hills with extra clothing, shoes, curling iron (I used to. No longer.). I can fit what I need for a 4 wk. vacation in Europe ….in 1 carry-on suitcase plus a small backpack (which also serves as a purse.)

    Yes true, one whips through customs faster. I do tend to buy less souveniers as a result of this efficiency. But the older you get, the less interest I have in big/heavy souveniers. I do like a tiny trinket that expresses local history/culture to hang onto my Christmas tree. It’s a tree of travel and homemade art from nieces and nephews.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I get why you wouldn’t want to take a lot of stuff cycle touring! Those uphills could be murder… I am usually a small trinket person myself, but I found myself doing more shopping on this trip than usual. Lots of cool baby clothes for my little grandson and clothes for me as well. I was at the end of my trip and I was sick to death of what I brought. Plus, it was quite warm in Dublin and I needed some lighter clothes. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it… 🙂


  6. As a result of this overseas travel minimalism lifestyle, my partner and I have dined in lovely three star restaurants in our (clean) cycling clothing or walking shorts. Unless I am attending a wedding, I don’t (emphasis) pack dress nor dress shoes at all. So my partner and I are always intrigued to see couples our age and older, who are tourists and dressed more formally at a restaurant: seriously folks, that’s OLD style. To heck with looking expensive.

    As tourists, we don’t want to look expensive. Already we stick out since we are an interracial couple.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Pretty much the restaurants I can afford don’t require fancy dress! But I do bring a pair of black slacks that I can wear just in case… I also wear them just touring around so it’s not like they don’t get used if I don’t go someplace nicer (which I usually can’t afford!) They are so comfy – like pajama bottoms so it’s a win-win!


  7. That’s some sound advice about packing. Having a big bag I’ve found just means the more crap you’re eventually going to fill it with. Start small, stay small.

    Hard to argue with Rick/Steve on that, but I actually posted recently on one of my disagreements with his last book: the idea that traveling is a way to improve your country. Drop by bosmosis.wordpress if you have the time and/or inclination. Cheers, and happy blogging.

    Liked by 1 person

    • It’s interesting that I don’t follow my own advice for short trips, especially if I’m driving. I load up everything but the kitchen sink then! It’s a total pain to unpack when I get home.

      Stopped by and commented. Enjoyed your post. Rick/Steve tries…

      Thanks for visiting AGMA and commenting!


  8. Very funny and very true. I also love Rick Steves and pack lightly. I want to be sure I can carry my own luggage as far as I may ever need to, and up however many stairs I may have to climb. I have not read your blog before today, but I will be following you now. Thanks.

    Liked by 1 person

    • How nice of you to stop by and take the time to comment! AND for deciding to follow AGMA! I know how very precious people’s time is in this uber-fast paced world, so it’s always an incredible compliment to get a new follower!

      And I love that you’re a pack light Rick Steves (or Steve Ricks) fan as well. For long trips where you’re going to be busing it or training it, light is right!

      Thanks again for hanging out with AGMA!

      Liked by 1 person

Talk to me...

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s