EuroCheapo’s Birthday: Seven candles and 50 more
Please excuse the self-congratulatory and very personal manner of today’s post. Next week, we’ll be back to budget travel advice. However, tomorrow, June 14, is EuroCheapo’s seventh birthday.
The site launched on June 14, 2001 from my apartment in Berlin, where I spent the year living and traveling on the cheap. The first half of the year was largely spent visiting hotels for our first five city guides (London, Paris, Amsterdam, Rome, and Florence). In Berlin, I spent most days typing out those first reviews in a cubicle in Berlin’s Staatsbibliothek near Potsdammerplatz. On June 14th, the site went live with EuroCheapo Paris. (Read more about the “back story” in a piece posted last year on Budget Travel’s website.)
As always on our birthday, we need to thank the editors, writers (hotel reviewers, city guide writers, and bloggers), interns, programmers, PR reps, and everyone else who has helped the site grow and flourish. We’d also like to thank our readers, many of whom write to us when they like something, don’t like something, or have an idea about how to make the site better.
But this year, we’d like to thank one more person instrumental in launching EuroCheapo: our grandmother. (I say “our,” by the way, as I now run EuroCheapo with my brother Pete, who is in charge of marketing and business development, and Meredith, his wife, who is our senior editor.)
Fifty years ago yesterday, on June 12, 1958, Eileen and Harold Detlefsen published the first edition of the “RFD News,” a free bi-weekly newspaper mailed to 6,000 rural families in northern Ohio. The paper was a family business, and our mother and aunts grew up writing their own columns (“Teen Talk,” “Julie’s Jokes,” etc.) and pitching in everywhere else. Our grandmother hunted down and wrote the stories, took and developed the photos, and did layout. Our grandfather sold the advertisements and did a final edit. Every two weeks, they drove the paper’s “flats” to a nearby offset printer, which, at the time, was cutting-edge technology.
Until they sold the paper 16 years later, the group put out Ohio’s finest family-produced publication. Today, the RFD News has a circulation of 70,000 and covers 20 counties.
I wasn’t lucky enough to get to hang out in the old RFD office downtown, as they sold it the year I hit the scene, but gram kept the newspaper spirit alive. She gave me my first electric typewriter when I was nine, and helped with layout on the newspaper I published for four years during elementary school (the “Funster,” circulation: 22). A few years later, she was one of the first people in Bellevue, Ohio with an email address, beating me by two years.
Today, she continues to be actively involved in EuroCheapo, writing her “Travel Gram” column. She also marvels at the legacy of that newspaper in the family. Of her six grandchildren, there is one journalism professor, one editor, one start-up entrepreneur, one graphic designer, and two who are crazy enough to run a budget travel website.
So thank you, gram. Fifty years ago, you and grandpa made a great decision when you took the family in a different direction and decided to do your own thing. We wouldn’t be producing EuroCheapo if you hadn’t.
(And yes, gram, please email me any typos you find in this piece…)