Get to Know WSA's Travel Jedis
Aside from being ridiculously knowledgable and fun, our professional local guides share a passion for showing off their hometown and providing insider perspective to young travelers. Meet the power squad behind WSA.
Andy Steves: Chief Backpacker
Hailing from Seattle, but traveling every year of his life to Europe, Andy felt right at home when he got the chance to study abroad in Rome in 2008. When his friends started coming with him on every trip he organized, he realized there was an opportunity for fun, culturally-focused, budget travel for students abroad in Europe. He wrapped up his undergrad at Notre Dame and launched WSA immediately after in 2010. Since then he's built up a kick-ass team of travel jedis, of whom he's immensely proud to have pushing and developing the WSA mission further: to open students' eyes to the beautiful experiences and cities that Europe has to offer from a local's perspective.
- Hometown: Seattle, WA
- Alma Mater: University of Notre Dame
- Study Abroad: Rome, Spring 2008
- Favorite Gelato: Caffe & Pistacchio
- Hobbies: Cycling, Sailing & Extreme Sledding
- Favorite Travel Destination: Thailand, Rio de Janeiro, Stockholm
Arthur Bijholt: Amsterdam Local Guide
Hi there! I’m Arthur and I’ll be your guide through the amazing city of Amsterdam! Known all over the world for its friendly and lively atmosphere, visiting Amsterdam is an experience you will never forget and I love the itinerary that our Team has put together for you.
As a former history student, I’ll take you to all the best sights of one the best preserved historical cities in the world, whilst taking you trough all the ins and outs of Dutch culture. My 9 to 5 is running one of the best comedy clubs in the entertainment district of Leidseplein, where I’ll show you the “other” Amsterdam til deep in the night. As a proud native Dutchie, you’ll find me riding my bike all through town, if I’m not driving my boat through the canals.
It would be my pleasure to show you around the freest city in the world, afterwards you’ll be saying “I Amsterdam".
Dive into Amsterdam with Arthur.
- Hometown: Amsterdam
- Interests: Surfing, snowboarding, comedy, music
- Day Job: Runs local comedy club
Dawid Kadziolka: Krakow Local Guide
Hey! My name is Dawid, and I am excited to show you around one of the most beautiful European cities, Krakow!
I grew up in a small, beautiful mountain town called Limanowa, located just next to Krakow. I love mountains, hiking and nature. However, since I was a child, Krakow has always been a special place for me. I loved to walk and discover new things in town with my parents. For me, this is the place where I have the greatest memories! I decided to move into Krakow for high school because the historical significance of the city inspired me. Last year, I graduated with a Tourism and Leisure degree from the Krakowian University of Physical Education. While I was studying, I made time to visit many European cities, as well as participated in an exchange program to Great Britian. Through these experiences, I realized how lucky I was to be from Krakow and live in such a special city. I am proud of this heritage and excited to show you around my favorite places!
Krakow is an incredible city with incredible history, where even the night life is unique and something you will never forget. Come to see Krakow, and fall in love with this place with me!
- Hometown: Limanowa
- Alma Mater: University of Krakow
- Dream Travel Destination: Australia, New Zealand, Sicily
- Languages: Polish, English, Russian & Italian
- Hobbies: Hiking, Cycling, Traveling, Reading, Music & Trumpet
Bogi: Budapest Local Guide
I knew that I wanted to be a tour guide ever since 8th grade because I was inspired by my funny history teacher who was a guide herself. Actually, one of my favourite quotes is: "Travel often, getting lost will help you find yourself", and my job is to make sure you'll find whatever you're looking for in B-town! When abroad, I was lucky to have friends show me all the real cool, non-touristy stuff. I have found that so much more exciting, so have been doing the same in Budapest since 2007. I have accompanied groups on alternative walking tours, bike and bus tours as well as on the city's amphibious bus tours!
Check out Budapest Weekend with Bogi
- Hometown: Budapest
- Languages: Hungarian, English, German, Italian, Spanish
- Hobbies: Singing, music concerts, badminton, swimming, traveling, journaling
- Favorite Music: Boyz II Men & Mariah Carey
- Fun fact:I worked as a receptionist in Italy, an entertainer in Spain, a reporter in Egypt and hope there's still more to come!
Petr Zdenek: WSA Prague Guide
I’m Petr and i'm from Prague but I've adopted Reykjavic as my home town. I was born in the United States, and despite finishing high school there, I grew up mostly in the Czech Republic. Now I'm passionate about learning and sharing about Iceland!
- Hometown: Prague
- Living Abroad: New Zealand, Croatia, Germany
Rhianne Taylor: Rome & Italy Local Guide
My name is Rhianne and I will be your guide through Italy! Originally from England, I moved to Rome in 2011 because... well... it is the sexiest city in the world! With me you will have a very unique experience... Italy from a British perspective... and with a British accent!! I have experienced these cities as a tourist and as a student, so I understand exactly how you feel, and I aim to make this the best trip ever and help you make the most out of every second!
Some years ago I studied in Venice for 6 months, I worked in Florence for a summer, and now I live in Rome! So I am the perfect person to take you on an awesome adventure through Italy. I have a degree and masters in History of Art, and I am completely obsessed with Italian history, so not only will you have lots of fun, but you will also learn some amazing things!
When I'm not working for WSA, I'm huge groups of American high school students around Europe, or leading families on guided tours of Rome... and I love it!!! There is nothing more exciting than showing people how incredible my new adopted country is. So come and visit us in Italy, and I will make you fall in love with this country just like did!
- Hometown: Birmingham, England
- University: History of Art - University of Warwick, UK
- Hobbies: Photography, Drawing, Singing, Traveling, Being a history nerd!
- Travel Bucket List: The USA!!!!!!!
Sabela Torres: Edinburgh Local Guide
Hello there! I'm Sabela, your local guide for Edinburgh. After growing up and studying in Madrid, I worked on TV and radio in Hungary before going back to school in Buenos Aires, where I did film script writing.
I never thought I'd become a tour guide. It came to me by chance, meeting people here and there that asked me to show groups around Budapest (where I lived for three years) and Madrid. It suddenly became a job that not only allowed me to share with people the stories that I love, but I also managed to move to Scotland where I've been living for the past three years. Therefore, resolving two life ambitions, being a storyteller and living in Scotland's beautiful capital, Edinburgh :)
Edinburgh is stunning, and has some of the best stories of any city I've ever been to. If you come visit us, I'll show you the old and new towns, the castle and palace, and the hidden corners of dark fairy tales that have inspired ideas for A Christmas Carol, Peter Pan, Game of thrones and Harry Potter. "
- Hometown: Madrid
- Studied: Media, Communication and Performing Arts
Carsen Silverblatt: Barcelona Tour Guide
Hola! I’m Carsen and I’ll be your guide through the beautiful city of Barcelona. Originally a New Yorker, I moved to Amsterdam for university and have been living in Europe ever since. I spent many of my weekends exploring other cities and soon landed in Barcelona. I was immediately drawn to the city’s chill vibe and creative atmosphere. When I came across an awesome internship opportunity here a few years later, I didn’t have to think twice. 6 months quickly turned into 4 years and here I am!
For most of my time here I have been working as a tour guide and getting to share my love for the city with visitors from all over the world. For me, Barcelona is the perfect city because it really has something for everyone with its amazing history, art, cuisine, nightlife, and of course, sunny beaches. Come visit Barcelona and by the end I’m sure you will come to the same conclusion!
- Hometown: New York
- Studied abroad in: Amsterdam
- When not traveling, I: Work in documentary film
Alex Kaiser: Paris Tour Guide
Born and raised in Paris, I grew up on the left bank and spent much of my teenage years in the Latin Quarter. Later I studied law, Nordic languages and translation, both in Paris and in Scandinavia.
In 2013, I found my calling by starting to work as a tour guide to reconcile my passion for talking endlessly about Paris and my need to constantly uncover the hidden secrets of the City of Lights. Ask me about the latest techno event or where to find the best falafel in Paris; you won't regret it.
When I'm not working, or dancing in the capital's hottest clubs, you will find me in the gardens of the Swedish Institute enjoying a coffee and a cinnamon bun or practicing my yodeling ;-)
Come join us, I guarantee we will have a metric ton of fun!
- Lived In: Paris, Bonn, Uppsala, Turku
- University: Université Paris-Sorbonne
- Hobbies: Cooking, Singing, Reading, eating French pastries
- Travel Bucket List: Canada, Norway, Iceland, Denmark, Japan, Cambodia
Lucie Smitkova: Prague Tour Guide
If you are looking for the best destination for your weekend adventure, look no further. Prague is THE city for you. Not only that it's leading the list of the most beautiful cities in the world, but it, most importantly, offers everything you need for a perfect trip!
Astonishingly beautiful, full of ancient and recent history, full of architectural wonders, Prague really is the place where dreams come true. Plus, it is the only place on Earth where beer is cheaper than water!
And who do you want to experience the city with? With me, Lucie, born and raised Praguer, who knows all the interesting nooks and crannies, all the cool and uncool places to hang out and of course, all the historical fun facts! Which girl did Mozart date and why do we throw people out of the windows? Find out!
I had to travel the world to finally understand that my home is only here, right in the heart of Europe. And I will be happy to share it with you!"
WSA Core Team
Karissa Meyers: Chief Operating Officer
After graduating college I had several jobs in corporate America and found myself counting the seconds until my next European adventure. After taking 4 trips to Europe in 18 months I decided it was time to make some life changes. While in Amsterdam, I stumbled upon an amazing tour being given by an absolutely hilarious guide (our WSA guide Arthur) and he told me about the company and what they did.
When I studied aboad I was completely broke and had no idea how to travel affordably so the concept of a company that could help even the most novice traveler experience a city like a local sounded amazing.
Since starting I haven't looked back! My favorite part of the job is joining WSA tours whenever I can because each of our guides do such a great job of making newcomers fall in love with their city.
- University: University of Wisconsin- Madison
- Hobbies: Traveling, Photography and Cooking
- Favorite Countries: Italy, Bulgaria, France, and Ireland
- Travel Bucket List: Istanbul
The most fun, exciting, educational, and craziest weekend I had during my semester abroad. You definitely get the maximum bang for your buck with WSA. WSA provided me with an unbelieveable weekend in Budapest. After hearing from my friends about their amazing experiences on WSA trips, I had to see what all the hype was about. I chose to take part in a WSA weekend in Budapest, and I loved every minute of it. The guide, Bogi, was the best! WSA is the perfect blend of an educational/tourist expereince while also allowing for sites off the beaten path as well as kickass nightlife. You won't regret a trip with WSA.Cooper Cohen, University of Notre Dame ~ University of Notre Dame, London, Spring 2015
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Pick a city and go! All new budget guidebook from Andy Steves, Founder and Chief Backpacker of WSA.