Rick Steves is to European travel as Sir Edmund Hillary is to mountaineering—a legend of his craft.

Having spent 120 days each year in Europe since 1973, he is perhaps best known for his PBS television series “Rick Steves' Europe” and his travel guidebook series “Europe Through the Back Door.”

Whether you're studying abroad for an entire quarter or just planning a spring break hop across the pond, Steves shared a number of travel tips with a group of Western students on Oct. 24 that are sure top enhance your trip. For those that missed the event, The AS Review has you covered, with words of wisdom straight from the mouth of the European travel guru himself.

Cheap lodging
“American travelers know about youth hostels, but that's just one of many kinds of alternative accommodations for people who don't have a lot of money. There are mountaineer's huts that are dotted one day's hike apart all across the Alps. For the cost of a bed, usually 20 bucks, you can stay in those huts. There are people that hike all the way from Paris to Santiago de Compostela [in Spain] and have been doing it for 1,000 years. Every night they stay in a little refuge. You share the place with a bunch of pilgrims and it's only costing you, in a lot of cases, whatever you can afford.”

Dining for fewer dollars
“If you're going to travel cheaply in Europe, you're going to have to dance around the high taxes. There's a very expensive tax on alcohol…it'll cost you a fortune to drink in some countries. Restaurants are highly taxed; restaurants that serve alcohol are even more highly taxed. Groceries are less taxed. Bread is subsidized. They had a revolution once when bread got too expensive and they learned their lesson, you see. Find places that don't have the biggest neon signs that brag ‘we speak English and accept Visa cards.' Realize, ‘what do these guys have to pay for rent to be on the main street?' Go four blocks away and you'll find a humble little restaurant that's filled with local people and doesn't cater to tourists.”

Take advantage of public transportation
“Public transportation is dirt cheap. Coming into an airport, it will cost you 80 bucks to take a taxi. You can always get downtown for 10 bucks—you've got to use the public transit. In Europe there is an ethic—people don't need to own a car. People don't need to be rich to get around. People have government-subsidized public transportation. An example of that is if you were in Scotland and you wanted to go somewhere where there is not enough people to warrant having a bus route, then legally they will let you catch a ride with a postman. As travelers, we can take advantage of that too.”

Dig for deals
Remember how business works: advertising is done by someone who wants to make money. Nobody advertises in order not to make money. If something is free, nobody talks about it. If you want free stuff, you won't find it advertised. You've got to reach for it. You've got to get alternative sources of information in order to take advantage of it.”

Go to places that aren't promoted
“Get off the beaten path—choose to go places that don't have tourist promotion budgets. The number one source of revenue for a lot of those countries is tourism—they care about their tourists, so places that have something tourists like are going to promote it. Recognize that you are the target of advertising over there. You are a walking dollar sign. Thus if you can name the Greek island, it's got tourists and it's expensive. If you're just looking for Greek culture, go to an island you can't name—it'll be half the price and double the cultural experience.”

Prepare yourself culturally
Even if you're not into the pretty, beautiful stuff, art is the closest thing to a time traveling experience you're going to have in your travels. If you want to know what it was like to be in Florence during the Medici period or the Renaissance, look into the eyes of David and imagine what it was like for Europe to be pulled out of the Dark Ages. The birth of Humanism wasn't an antichristian thing. It was just an understanding that the best way to glorify God was not to bow down in church all day long, but to recognize the talents God gave you...So study some art history before you go.”

Recognize the problems of crowds
“There are two types of European travelers—those who wait in lines, and those who don't wait in lines. If you're waiting in lines, frankly you're screwing up. Your time is too valuable. I was just at St. Peter's in Rome, the biggest church in Christendom, and it takes two hours to get into the church; there's such a long line to get through security. I came back at 6 o'clock that night—it's open until 7—and I could walk right into the church. I saved two hours by coming three hours later. And then I'm in the church and I'm all alone—just a few worshippers.”

Know what you're looking at
“Be realistic about what Europe is. Europe is not at a well with a jug on its head. It's not a lady in a dirndl or a guy in lederhosen yodeling. That's like coming to the U.S. and looking for square dancing and wanting to drink sarsaparilla and eat beef jerky. A lot of Americans want that—they want the beef jerky and sarsaparilla of Europe—and Europeans will give it to them, but it's certainly not the truth. It's a clichá© onstage for stupid tour groups. What you can do is recognize that Europe is into globalization.”

Be there
“There are lots of reasons to be homesick when you're traveling but it's important psychologically to be there. You've got to con yourself into thinking you're a temporary local. If you go to church at home, you can go to church in Europe. If you enjoy the markets at home, you can enjoy the markets in Europe. You can go to the greatest church in Christendom, St. Peter's in Rome, and take a picture of Michelangelo's Pieta, like most peoples' experience. Or, you can go to mass and have communion right there in the high alter. You've got to let yourself get swept away in the culture and the wonder of these different places.”

Wear a money belt
“You may think you're savvy and streetwise but you're just a big, naá¯ve, rich, American kid in Europe—the thieves think of you as that and you're going to be targeted. Expect to lose your purse or wallet, but have everything that matters in your money belt. Youth hostels are great places but they're full of thieves. They're not going to steal your underwear, they're going to steal your wallet. And if you know that beggars are thieves and you're wearing a money belt, having a gypsy's hand slip slowly into your pocket is just one more interesting cultural experience. It happens to me quite routinely. Several times per year, a stranger's hand slips slowly into my pocket and I just leave it there. I'm not vulnerable. I've got nothing they want.”

Europe is a safe place to travel
“The biggest problem with terrorism is that your parents are going to worry about you. Remind them of the statistics: 12 million Americans go to Europe every year. None are hurt by terrorists. If an American is beheaded in Madrid tomorrow by a Jihadist, it doesn't change the reality that it is safe to travel in Europe. Statistically, it is much safer for you in Europe than in Bellingham. There is no question about it.”