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My wife and I have been traveling internationally for over 30 years. Rick Steves has been our mentor. His original book was called something like "Europe Through The Backdoor". We have similar philosophies and his guidebooks are recommended for anyone just starting to travel. We are independent 'do it your selfers', and we like to buy guidebooks and use them extensively to help us build itineraries. We go with the idea that "when in Rome do as the Romans". This approach has led to some unique experiences that wouldn't be achievable without humility and willingness to take risks. Our kids often times think we are a little crazy (how is that for the shoe on the other foot?)...but life is too short to be risk averse. We almost always have found that humanity is generally well intending. It is a big wonderful world out there and we appreciate the help and support of fellow sojourners. For that reason, Trip Advisor has become a favorite resource when planning a trip. Happy travels.