There's more to Rick Steves than the go-to guy for advice on traveling Europe on a budget.
The National Public Television and radio personality is a quiet humanitarian, a devout Lutheran and leans toward a more liberal philosophy when it comes to his political views, such as being pro-choice and decriminalizing marijuana for responsible adults.
The Washington native also is a firm believer that everyone should do their part in being good citizens of the environment.
But mostly Steves, 56, is a travelin' man on a mission to help Americans discover Europe in a most untouristy way.
He doesn't just hit the hot spots. He is known for taking the roads less traveled to find those quaint towns you won't find in any brochure.
"Fear is for people who don't get out much," Steves told the Herald in a recent interview. "In truth, Europeans find it amusing how afraid Americans are of traveling in their countries, when in truth it's safer to travel in Europe than it is in the U.S."
But Steves doesn't sweat the insecurities of Americans about the possible perils of travel.
"Fear can be paralyzing, but 12 million Americans travel to Europe each year, and that says something," he said. "I have a niece who's an artist living happily on the streets of Brazil, which can be a dangerous place. Danger is everywhere, but that doesn't mean we should fear traveling the planet."
Steves fell in love with travel in Europe as a boy growing up in Edmonds, north of Seattle. His parents owned a piano store, and he accompanied them to Germany many times to buy pianos, he said.
He stumbled into celebrity via travel by way of a side job giving tours in Seattle while attending the University of Washington.
Though Europe is the main focus of his NPR and PBS programs, he has branched out to Asia.
He has written dozens of travel books, including Asia through the Back Door, and writes a blog on his website ricksteves.com that is packed with travel tidbits and spiced with his sense of humor.
His advice ranges from as simple as the best place in the world is to eat a Belgian waffle to how travel brings Americans closer to understanding different cultures on their own soil.
His vagabond nature has yet to take him to South America, Africa or the South Pacific, Steves said, but he doesn't rule them out. He just hasn't gotten there yet.
Steves will talk about traveling in Europe when he visits the Tri-Cities on Saturday. He will speak at 7 p.m. at the Red Lion Hotel, 1101 N. Columbia Center Blvd., Kennewick.
The lecture is $25. Or pay $45 to attend the lecture and a reception with Steves before the event. For tickets, go to ticketswest.com or call 800-325-7328.