Rick Steves on fearless travel

In the 1980s, travel expert Rick Steves was all about what he calls the "cheap tricks" -- packing light, traveling on a budget. In the '90s he highlighted Europe's cultural treasures.

Now he's all about teaching travel as a "political act." By that he means breaking down barriers with people of different cultures and building new connections.

"Fear is for people who don't get out very much," he told a rapt audience recently at Moldaw Residences, a senior community in Palo Alto.

"If you want la-la land, there is a place for you: Orlando." Otherwise, he said, get out and explore foreign destinations that welcome U.S. visitors. It's an exciting time in Eastern Europe, which is full of "pent-up entrepreneurial spirit," he said. Or consider Portugal or Greece. Head south to El Salvador. And he's particularly high on vacations in Egypt and Iran. To hear more, catch him Jan. 25-26 in Santa Clara (details to come) or check his blog, http://blog.ricksteves.com.

Do Broadway at a discount

New York City is bringing back "Broadway Week," a tourism promotion that offers two-for-one pricing on Broadway shows from Jan. 21 to Feb. 6. Tickets go on sale early Jan. 6 for "Pippin," "Waiting for Godot" and many more. So jump on the website (www.nycgo.com/broadwayweek) promptly for best availability.

-- Linda Zavoral