About Andy Steves
A note from our Chief Backpacker
I love being at the helm of Europe's best student and budget tour company. We've come a long way since 2010, and thanks to an awesome team of travel enthusiasts and passionate local guides, we're taking WSA 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 we launched, we've enjoyed hosting over 4,500 backpackers on our trips to the top destinations in Europe. -- Andy
“Andy Steves connects with today’s students who are abroad, showing them that it’s possible to have a meaningful, but fun-packed weekend in Europe’s major cities. His advice to be open to new experiences, to go out of your way to connect with locals, is reminiscent of the advice boomers have heard from his father for years. Andy’s trips at WSA resonates with today’s students who want to maximize their short but intense weekend trips.”
- Mary Dando, Director International Studies, CU Boulder
"I’ve grown up as 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."
INDEPENDENT TRAVEL & STUDY ABROAD
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. Starting in Amsterdam, we did a grand tour through Paris, Madrid, Barcelona, the French Riviera, the Cinque Terre and the Swiss Alps. We even caught the Tour de France in the French Alps and took two night trains in a row to Palermo before concluding in 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 for “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 in 2008 to start my semester abroad in Rome, where I quickly noticed a real need for student travel ideas. I first spent a week in Prague, and then throughout the semester, hit Venice for Carnevale, a ski trip in Switzerland, the Amalfi coast, Dublin for St. Paddy’s day, Sicily for spring break, the Cinque Terre, Milan and a small hill town in Tuscany.
Once the semester ended, myself and five friends chartered a 40 ft sailboat from Athens and toured the Aegean, before I spent a week in Istanbul and one more in the Swiss Alps. You can find more on these adventures in my blog.
BIRTH OF WSA
The WSA concept began development as soon as I returned from my semester abroad in Rome, Italy during the Spring of 2008. After traveling 13 of my 17 weekends abroad and organizing a number of trips for myself and friends, I designed over 20 recommended weekend itineraries to top destinations across Europe. I began giving travel workshops at universities including Notre Dame, Saint Mary's College, University of Michigan and Brigham Young University.
I 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!
WSA continues to grow and lead the industry with the accessability and popularity of study abroad. Our team of expert travelers and local guides devlop engaging, unforgettable trips for students with our weekend trips and DIY Detours. Our travel workshops have expanded rapidly, and today the WAS Team presents at over 40 universites and abroad campuses every semester.
I definitely have WSA to thank for my exceptional experience in Amsterdam. One would think 4 days isn't enough to tour a city but WSA facilitated an optimum weekend full of sightseeing and fun. Amsterdam may have a notorious reputation for its lax drug and sex culture but there’s so much more to the city. Luckily, our tour guide, Arthur, native to the Netherlands, steered us away from the tourist traps and showed us around his beloved city, highlighting all of its gems. I'd definitely like to try other WSA trips in the future. It's hassle free traveling with an awesome itinerary - nice that the tour guides are flexible with the schedule and willing to cater the itinerary to the group's interest! Highly recommend WSA to any student with only a weekend to see a city.Lauren Wallender, Elon University ~ Fall 2014
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Pick a city and go! All new budget guidebook from Andy Steves, Founder and Chief Backpacker of WSA.