Guidebook author and travel TV host Rick Steves is America's most respected authority on European travel. Rick took his first trip to Europe in 1969, visiting piano factories with his father, a piano importer. As an 18-year-old, he realized, "I don't need my parents to travel!" Rick began traveling on his own, funding his trips by teaching piano lessons. In 1976, he started Europe Through the Back Door, a business which has grown from a one-man operation to a company with a staff of 80 full-time, well-travelled employees at his headquarters in Washington State. There he produces over 50 guidebooks on European travel, the most popular travel series in America on public television, a weekly hour-long national public radio show, a weekly column syndicated by the Chicago Tribune, and free travel information available through his travel center and website (www.ricksteves.com). Rick Steves' Europe Through the Back Door also runs a successful European tour program. In 2012, its best year ever, Rick's tour program took over 12,000 Americans on more than 450 bus tours around Europe, covering 30 different itineraries. Rick Steves lives and works in his hometown of Edmonds, Washington. His office window overlooks his old junior high school.