"The World is a book, and those who do not travel read only a page." -Saint Augustine
I currently work to take my company, Andy Steves' Weekend Student Adventures, to the top of the European student travel industry. Through cultural insights, efficient sightseeing and unforgettable weekend trips, we're already making waves in the international education community. Since our official founding in 2010, we've taken over 1,500 students on tours to the top desitnations in Europe. Here's where I'm coming from:
I’ve grown up the son of travel guru, Rick Steves. My mother, sister and myself went to visit him every summer of my life until I was 18. We would meet up with Dad halfway through his hundred or so days in Europe each year wherever he was on the Continent. I remember visiting everything from small Bavarian towns in the foothills of the Alps to bustling capital cities and everything in between. Like any youngster, I didn't always love traveling with my family, having to go into museums and eat fancy food when all I wanted was a hamburger and fries.
In 2005, I went on my first independent European adventure with my best buddy from high school, and it opened up a whole new continent to me. We flew into Amsterdam and did a grand tour of Europe through Paris, Madrid, Barcelona, the French Riviera including Nice and Monaco, over to the Cinque Terre, caught the Tour de France in the French Alps, made our way into the Swiss Alps, took two night trains in a row down to Palermo for a few days, and ended back up to Florence and Rome.
The next summer, I spent two weeks in a language school and worked for the next seven weeks as an assistant tour guide for my father’s company doing three “family friendly” tours that went from Rome to Paris through the Alps. I've been uploading my blog from this trip here. The next summer, I met up with my cousin in Seville as he was finishing a study abroad program for a few days, than made it to Rome to start another couple tours. I also did a Scandinavian and “Paris/Normandy family friendly" tour.
Not being able to stay away from the European continent for long, I went back over in January of 2008 to start a semester abroad in Rome where I quickly noticed a need for student travel ideas. I first spent a week in Prague, and then throughout the semester, hit Venice for Carnevale, a ski trip weekend in Switzerland, the Amalfi coast, Dublin for St. Patty’s day, Sicily for spring break, the Cinque Terre, Milan and a small hill town in Tuscany.
After the semester was over, I flew to Athens with 5 other friends where we chartered a 40 ft sailboat for a week and toured the Aegean. I spent a week in Istanbul and one more in the Swiss Alps where I hiked and mountain biked all day every day. If you want to read more about each, check out my blog.
I graduated from the University of Notre Dame May 15th, 2010 as a double major in Industrial Design and Italian Language and Literature. I was a member of the "colorful, kilted" Irish Guard that marches with the band on gameday Saturdays and an avid racer for the "Cyclin'" Irish, the Notre Dame cycling team. The collegiate season just lasts throughout the spring. In the summer of 2009, I completed an internship at Sparkman & Stephens, an internationally revered yacht design firm on 5th Avenue in NYC.
The WSA Concept
The WSA concept has been in continual development since I returned from my semester abroad in the Spring of 2008 in Rome, Italy. After traveling 13 of my 17 weekends abroad and organizing a number of trips for myself and friends, I started AndySteves.com, a free resource for the college student abroad. I designed over 20 recommended weekend itineraries to the top locations across Europe. Shortly after, I began giving travel workshops at schools like Notre Dame, Saint Mary's College in Indiana, the University of Michigan and Brigham Young University.
I eventually vetted the feasibility of starting a weekend tour business in Europe through Notre Dame's annual business plan competition in the spring of 2009 and 2010. After making it to the semi-finals in 2009, I recruited a small team to take the concept to the top in April of 2010 and won first place out of over 100 entries!