Americans don't travel

This topic was created by jd
[Mon 20 July, 14:52 Canberra Standard Time]

During my years on the road I have often wondered why so few
Americans, in relation to the country's size and wealth,
travel independently in the Third World.
This is not to slag them -- it's an exciting country to
visit and I have lots of American friends.
But I am sure that I meet as many Canadians -- from the same
part of the world, with one-tenth the population and a much
weaker dollar -- on the road as I do Americans. And it
doesn't seem to matter if it's Africa, South America or
Asia -- the ratio stays the same.
There is no question that Americans, like Iranians, are an
ethnocentric people. On top of that, from birth it is
drummed into them that they live in the best country in the
world and all other places pale in comparison. Is this why
Americans don't travel?
What do you think?

[There are 57 posts - the latest was added on Wed 22 July, 23:13]

  1. i think you got it Added by: .
    [Timestamp: Mon 20 July, 15:27 Canberra Standard Time]

    i'm american by atypical. my family is typical. when they
    do go traveling, it's all with a 'look how peculiar all
    this is! how old europe is! eccc! all those nasty
    rivalries there! who would want to live there! give me
    spacious america any time!---- now that is europe. i don't
    think anyone in my family would seriously consider going
    any other place, except for hong kong, which my sister went
    on a doctors convention. it was 'amazing' she said, 'how
    can they all live like that?' etc. everything is compared
    to america, and found lacking... my family are typical

  2. maybe Added by: truffledog
    [Timestamp: Mon 20 July, 16:32 Canberra Standard Time]

    they just don't get enough holidays :(

  3. I'm Not Sure Added by: James S.
    [Timestamp: Mon 20 July, 16:33 Canberra Standard Time]

    I used to have views similar to the ones above, but then I
    went to a small party just after I got back from Indonesia.
    A couple whom I'm friends with had taught in China and gone
    to other Asian countries. Another friend had lived in
    France, traveled awhile and stayed with relatives in India,
    and had just booked a flight to Tanzania. A girl married who
    spoke perfect Italian was there with her Italian husband.
    Another guy was planning his second trip to Vietnam. It was
    weird, and we all had a lot to talk about. I'm constantly
    running into people here now who have had, or want to have,
    similar experiences as myself.
    ---I also think jd's last statement is partially true but
    lacks nuance. It is true that we're often told that we have
    the best country in the world, but we're also taught to
    admire things European. One example was the English
    (literature) program at my high school. Out of 4 years, one
    was specifically devoted to American literature, and another
    was devoted to English literature (from England). I think a
    lot of Americans of all backgrounds admire European
    cultures. -- James

  4. I suck Added by: Average American
    [Timestamp: Mon 20 July, 16:33 Canberra Standard Time]

    simple, eh?

  5. True Added by: Wendy
    [Timestamp: Mon 20 July, 17:05 Canberra Standard Time]

    I think Americans are engrossed in the USA. When I talk in
    the chat rooms many Americans say they haven't been out of
    their state let alone know where NZ is (my home). I'm
    amazed at this.

  6. Vacation Dammit Added by: Paul
    [Timestamp: Mon 20 July, 18:16 Canberra Standard Time]

    Put away the brilliant theories. Americans get two weeks of vacation a year! The average Euro gets six! Average Aussie gets six, with a 17.5% bonus on top of pay during vacation! I think it's also quite obvious that if you grow up in Australia or New Zealand with only 18 million and 3.5 million people respectively; one is far more likely to travel. Save the insularity drivel. Give the American worker six weeks of vacation and we'll be focusing our karma in ashrams near Pune, going to raves in Uzbekistan, and running guns for the Sendero Luminoso in Peru along with the rest of you lucky bastards!

  7. Education? Added by: Alan
    [Timestamp: Mon 20 July, 18:55 Canberra Standard Time]

    Don't flame me for this! I don't want to slag off Americans but the experiences I've had when visiting the USA seem to indicate that a lot of Americans don't know (or don't really care) very much about what goes on outside of their own country. I was asked on my last visit to San Francisco by the hotel receptionists if we had roads in Scotland.
    "Yeah, you know... freeways."
    Several people I spoke to didn't know where Scotland was. I told one of them it was in Europe, but that didn't help much. She had *heard* of Europe, but didn't know exactly where it was.
    I know these are just isolated incidents, and that the vast majority of Americans aren't as dumb as these folks, but I must admit the overall level of knowledge about what's going on in the world seemed to be a lot less than I've found in European countries.
    p.s. Americans, please don't take offence, these are just my personal experiences.

  8. Monopoly on ignorance? Added by: jim
    [Timestamp: Mon 20 July, 20:09 Canberra Standard Time]

    I'll have to reply to Alan about this.
    You're right that there are quite a few Americans like that
    that exist, particularly in the smaller, rural cities in the
    central US. But you shouldn't judge the population of 270
    million based on these experiences.
    I'm not convinced that America has the monopoly on this sort
    of ignorance. I've lived in England for a few years and now
    I live in
    France and find some Europeans who are just as ignorant as
    Americans you describe. Travelling in rural France, called
    the 'France profonde', introduced me to people who couldn't
    properly identify Scotland, Wales, and Ireland on a map of
    the UK. Yet, it would be wrong to judge the French based on
    these instances, since this sort of person is not at all
    representative of the average French person. Most people
    don't see this side of France when they travel.
    On the other hand, many visitors to the US DO see this side
    of America. I think the fact that these ignorant Americans
    are so well known abroad is due to the fact that foreign
    visitors often take the coast-to-coast road trip and
    penetrate into the heartland of America, precisely where
    people with little exposure to the outside world live.
    Perhaps its because the gas is so cheap, the car is easy to
    rent, the used car is easy to buy, that German friends of
    mine, during their study abroad year, took a VW van and
    drove it cross country and up and down the east coast during
    a three month trip, visiting more states than most Americans
    have visited. My other European friends have done the same.
    Overall, no country has the monopoly on ignorance and I
    don't think evaluations of stupidity serve any purpose:
    every country produces stupidity. Perhaps is best to view
    countries based on truly distinguishing criteria, such as
    the best and most unique things they have to offer.

  9. In need of time. Added by: a different type of traveller
    [Timestamp: Mon 20 July, 20:12 Canberra Standard Time]

    There numerous reasons why Americans don’t travel
    independently to Third World countries. Time and expense
    being the main factors. Yes, Americans are conditioned to
    believe that the best is within their borders. The country
    is vast, geographically & culturally rich and accessible to
    most. No insult implied or intended, but to travel to third
    world countries entails what is commonly known as “cultural
    shock” or a reconditioning of personal standards which some
    Americans would rather avoid. Why go through substantial
    expenses to give up the comforts of home? In addition, to
    take months or a year off for travel is not exactly
    beneficial to your bio when returning to the labor market.
    It gives an indication of instability to the employers.
    More so if you left the job market to travel.
    This is not to say that Americans do not travel
    internationally, for they do. By the millions each year
    with Europe being the # 1 destination. There again, time
    and money fall into play. From experience, it cost almost
    twice as much to fly to South America, Asia & S. Pacific
    than it does to most countries in Europe and a deterring
    three times as much if not greater for travel to Africa. If
    you live outside of the NYC, MIA or LAX areas, you have to
    account for two days travel time in both directions. That’s
    four days out of the average two-week vacation. Europe on
    the other hand is a two-day RT flight itinerary from most
    U.S. cities. I can get to Paris or London for the same
    amount it cost to travel between LAX & NYC, usually less.
    Accommodations also play an important factor for the
    Americans who are able to travel both domestically & abroad.
    There are also the millions of us middle-class American
    international travelers who do travel independently.
    Usually 2 times a year. Most of my family members and
    friends shy away from the all-inclusive package tours.
    That’s not to say we do not take advantage of package deals
    that include air and hotel. These can be had at substantial
    discounts for 7-28 days itineraries and would be ridiculous
    to ignore. Once there, this group of travelers prefers to
    command their own travel experiences in a mode that is more
    suitable to their lifestyle. This does not mean we do not
    experience different cultures for the mere fact of
    travelling is exposure to these cultures and yes, we can
    and do meet the people.

  10. sad but true Added by: sage
    [Timestamp: Mon 20 July, 20:12 Canberra Standard Time]

    I have some theories why americans travel less to these
    1. One American "ideal", more than other countries, is
    wealth, and the show of wealth to acquire status through
    conspicuous consumption. Your typical american vacation is
    to a carribbean island, if the person is middle to upper
    class. Then they come home and mention how they did nothing
    but lie on a beach for a week and also gambled in the
    casinos at night... The emphasis isn't often on new
    experiences and learning about the world.
    2. Americans have a work ethic double the dose of most other
    countries ... often they feel obligated to work all the
    time, or they are letting down their employer and family
    (and priest and parents who raised them to be like that).
    Then, taking the long vacation that many Europeans and
    Aussies like to take is out of the question. Their INBOX at
    work will pile up to high, and they'll feel threatened
    and worried the whole time. Thus Americans need quick
    in-and-out vacations.
    3. Fear ... people always seem afraid when I mention my
    travels to nepal or costa rica -- they are envious at first
    but it comes down to fear of the people, the water, the
    wildlife, and not knowing the language, etc.
    4. Americans don't get as much foreign language training in
    school. Even those who take 2 or 3 years of Spanish in high
    school really can't speak it. Somehow after 3 years they
    often just know a handful of phrases.
    These are all generalizations. I'm american and there are
    plenty of americans who break this mould (or else would be
    the hell out of here!)

  11. well Added by: Andy
    [Timestamp: Mon 20 July, 20:15 Canberra Standard Time]

    As one great political theorist once said: "America likes
    to look around the world to see mirror images of itself".
    This explains the general attitude of most Americans and
    the American government and corporations.

  12. Aussies don't get 6 weeks Added by: Linds
    [Timestamp: Mon 20 July, 21:27 Canberra Standard Time]

    We only get 4 weeks. Americans don't travel, I believe
    because they aren't exposed to anything "foreign" as they
    grow up and therefore aren't real curious. 99.99% of
    mainstream movies are American, Music=American, TV
    programs=American, News on TV=American or how it effects
    America. Most American are intensely patriotic and are
    taught that there's is the best country so there's no need
    to be interested in any other country. There are 2 types of
    CNN 'cause when it was first launched, Americans found it
    uninteresting due to the international stuff. So now we get
    CNNI (international) which is different to the CNN in the US
    which is all domestic. Americans could take a year or 2 off
    and travel like Aust but it's not the done thing. Gotta get,
    achieve the American dream.....Job, family, house....etc
    Nothing wrong with that. Nothing wrong with Americans not
    traveling...We are all different ....

  13. They are too busy Added by: poty poty
    [Timestamp: Mon 20 July, 21:53 Canberra Standard Time]

    admiring their navels
    "we're often told that we have
    the best country in the world"
    come on!

  14. Added by: Jack the Knife
    [Timestamp: Mon 20 July, 22:18 Canberra Standard Time]

    You're born
    You have 5-6 good years before school starts
    Your father has two weeks vacation during the summer of
    which he can usually only take one week at a time
    During that week you can travel up to a whopping 90 miles
    from home to a beach or mountain resort, more on this
    This goes on until you are maybe 18.
    You start college, possibly away from home maybe not.
    You graduate college and get a job almost immediately to
    start paying off your student loan.
    You get two weeks vacation of which you can usually only
    take one week at a time and travel up to a whopping 90 miles
    from home to a beach or mountain resort, more on this
    You get married, have kids, have a few cars payments, and
    traveling out of the country is more of the brass ring on a
    carousel than a reality.

    The other side of the coin is WHO NEEDS EUROPE? WE GOT
    just kidding, once when I said, "If I'm going to blow a wad
    on a vacation I'd rather go to Enland than Disney World." my
    cousin answered very reassuringly and quite puzzled, "they
    have England in Disneyworld!"

    *What I was gonna say here is that you can visit a varied
    cross section of culture and scenery without having to leave
    the continental US, but I wouldn't mind givin' it a shot!

  15. My Theory Added by: Conrad
    [Timestamp: Mon 20 July, 22:30 Canberra Standard Time]

    I thinks Paul's comment on vacation is somewhat true, but Canadians get the same amount of vacation time as Americans so maybe there is something more to it. In Canada, there is a bit of a tradition for recent University Grads. to take a year off to see the world. Perhaps this trend has not developed in the USA. I have one theory with respect to SE Asia. A number of Americans I have met in SE Asia (eg: Laos) have said the same thing; "I was a bit apprehensive coming here because I didn't know how I would be treated due to the American history in SE Asia". So, could it be possible that "perceived animosity" towards Americans has detered some of them from travelling to certain parts of the world. Just a theory, but i would be interested if this has played a role in the destinations chosen by Americans.
    BTW, I think half of the USA was in Toronto this weekend, so they do travel.

  16. it's not Added by: Andy
    [Timestamp: Mon 20 July, 22:35 Canberra Standard Time]

    how much vacation you get; it's how willing you are to not
    even be involved in that work-eat-make ugly kids-grow old-
    boss tells you to fuck off-die bullshit...

    it's easy to travel when one refuses to be tied down for
    others' profit - ie working a fulltime permanent job for
    some company.

  17. feh! Added by: .
    [Timestamp: Mon 20 July, 22:47 Canberra Standard Time]

    there's too many germs in all those foreign countries,
    plus, everybody there is foreign, and they speak funny.

  18. we do NOt get 6 weeks holidays in Australia... Added by: sas
    [Timestamp: Mon 20 July, 22:52 Canberra Standard Time]

    although if you're a uni student you get a lot more.
    I have heard from a friend who just recently got back from
    america how, i guess, naive some americans are.
    No offence, but she said alot of americans are dumb.
    For crying out loud they asked her if we speak english in
    Now i'm calling that ignorant.
    Blame it on your news (lack of international news), blame it
    on your education, blame it on your family.
    The way i see it is this: if you know there's a whole other
    world out there and you're interested in learning about it
    then you will.
    I don't know why americans are told that america is the best
    country on earth. Thats the biggest lie i ever heard.
    And i'm not here proclaiming that my country is the best.
    Just that americans need to become a bit more 'wordly'...and
    open up to see that there are bigger and better things out
    bigger and better than "disneyworld", "cnn" and "ricky lake"

  19. Jane Doe Added by: Money
    [Timestamp: Mon 20 July, 23:02 Canberra Standard Time]

    A good majority of Americans simply don't have the money to
    afford to travel outside of the US. The average American
    makes enough money to own a car, pay taxes, rent or buy a
    house, and eventually pay for their kids to go to college.
    And alot of people are also busy paying back college loans.
    It is a nice idea to want to "refuse to be tied down" but
    that isn't very realistic. Most people want stability and a
    family, which means they need to have a steady income.
    The group of Americans that to travel more are college
    stuents -- most college students are encouraged to travel
    abroad for a year of half a year during their junior year.
    After college students, another large group is people who
    are retired. They have the time, and some of them have the
    Alot of Americans also stay within the US because there
    are so many places to visit and see without leaving the
    country. I've met alot of people who haven't even seen much
    of their own country - they simpy can't afford to travel.

  20. then again Added by: Andy
    [Timestamp: Mon 20 July, 23:27 Canberra Standard Time]

    Aussies see far too little of our own country and also
    arent forced to learn history since pre-1788, including
    aboriginals and immigration benefits to australia.
    i mean, how many of us have seen Kakadu, for eg?

    recently on my trip around australia i met ZERO aussie
    backpacker. thats right, ZERO, in hostels across 4
    states. thats why someone like pauline hanson can spin
    shit and get popularity, or howard is allowed to destroy
    kakadu national park - people simply dont know whats out
    there. anyone who's been to kakadu would doubtless agreee
    that it's the best cultural/natural park of australia, BY
    FAR. but it's being destroyed in no regard to the
    traditional aboriginal owners, to the environment, etc.

    and in london it's amazing how many loser aussies were
    there. i met more loser australians in london than i did
    in the last 10 years in australia. those people have not
    seen much of australia, have no seen much beyond london in
    england let alone europe, and have been holed up in london
    for 2 years thinking "Geee i'm in london, I must have a

  21. Your wrong Jane Doe Added by: Linds
    [Timestamp: Tue 21 July, 0:18 Canberra Standard Time]

    Sorry Jane but you don't know how lucky you are. I live in
    China and work with people from all around the world. My
    company has the policy of paying everybody their home salary
    ,taking out there normal tax. I can say with all honesty
    that Americans earn twice as much as us poor Aussies, 50%
    more then Canadians and Brits and 20% more then
    Singaporeans and HK (but their exchange rate kills
    them)...... After working for 10 years for the same company
    my take home after tax pay converted to US dollars is = to
    what a new US employee would earn, but I'd be happy to
    starve for 6 mths to buy that plane ticket to somewhere in
    the world. It all a matter of what's important. Can't talk
    for the other Aussies but for me travel is ((((REALLY))))
    important. Another reason why your lucky is the cost of
    airline tickets in the US is very cheap compared to other
    countries. eg The cheapest ticket from SYD to Lon or NY
    costs more then the average Aust 1 months salary, in the US
    the cheapest ticket is prob the cost of 1 weeks salary. I'm
    lucky at the moment 'case my Co actually pays for me to
    travel.....Yay way to go!

  22. Shut-ins Added by: Happy Crapper
    [Timestamp: Tue 21 July, 0:25 Canberra Standard Time]

    What percentage of Americans hold passports? I'd bet that it
    is fairly low.

  23. Why travel abroad ... Added by: Jake
    [Timestamp: Tue 21 July, 1:16 Canberra Standard Time]

    when the USA is full of stuff to see? I have never been out
    of the country and do not anticipate doing so until 15 years
    from now when I have seen everything here. Saves money and
    the hassle of dealing with a foreign language.

  24. Travelling wastes money. Added by: Lisa D
    [Timestamp: Tue 21 July, 1:19 Canberra Standard Time]

    Many in the USA prefer to focus on climbing the ladder
    to the big bucks senior positions as fast as poosible,
    then spend their money on a good stable career to spend
    their money on a nice house, a vacation beach house, and a
    nice car. Why lose out on my position and place on the
    ladder by screwing around travelling for a year or so??

  25. vacation and money Added by: ho-dee-do
    [Timestamp: Tue 21 July, 1:26 Canberra Standard Time]

    I think you can rule out vacation and money as reasons. As
    has been said above, we Canadians get no more vacation than
    Americans and they're significantly wealthier than us (lower
    taxes, an exchange rate that pummels us, lower unemployment
    etc.) I think insularity is the biggest factor. The USA is
    also such a damn big country and there's so much to see in
    it that there's less of an incentive to leave. How many
    Europeans never leave Europe? Either way, it's their loss.
    The World's a pretty damn interesting place and if all they
    want to do is lounge on a Caribbean beach or go to
    Disneyland, let them. After all, if they travelled as much
    as Aussies do, the world would be overrun with them
    (considering there's 20 times as many yanks as Aussies and
    10 times as many as Canadians).
    FYI Happy Crapper(from the US State Department web site)
    U.S. Passports Issued Per Calendar Year (1974-1994)
    I don't know how long a US passport is valid but knowing
    that, it's a straightforward effort to figure out the number
    of current valid passports and hence a percentage.

  26. Minor Points Added by: Gern Blanzden
    [Timestamp: Tue 21 July, 1:27 Canberra Standard Time]

    There's the ditty about how the USA is not part
    of the "We used to have an empire" gang. Thus, the
    "use London as a work/travel base" plan can not be used
    by US citizens.

    Then there's the vacation time thing.

    Then there's the money for displacement thing.

    Then there's the vast expanses of beauty to be explored
    at home thing (this is where the majority of "adventurous"
    types in the USA end up).

    Of course, it's much more fun to explain it all away by
    anecdotal tales of stupid, insular Americans [sic].
    You guys are like, experts! Fuckin' anthropologists!
    Do you like, get paid for your clever views into
    the mysteries of culture in the USA?

    Note: Sarcasm may be found within some lines of this post.

  27. Sarcasm Added by: Hyuk, hyuk
    [Timestamp: Tue 21 July, 1:30 Canberra Standard Time]

    Gern, you mean in the second paragraph from the bottom,

  28. Passport percentage Added by: Happy Crapper
    [Timestamp: Tue 21 July, 2:42 Canberra Standard Time]

    So, Americans that hold passports...assuming that most are adults and get a ten-year passport (kids get five years), um, that means that, uh...Truffledog, you're the statistics guy, help me here... I'm guessing less than 5%.

  29. Added by: Jack the Knife
    [Timestamp: Tue 21 July, 2:58 Canberra Standard Time]

    Hey Ho dee Ho Interesting numbers.
    I think they correspond to the international welcome of
    Americans abroad.
    I don't know this for a fact but notice how the number peaks
    in 1978 then drops off a bit. The Iranian Hostage Crisis in
    Tehran had fewer Americans tarveling overseas. They drop
    again to a low in 1992, the Gulf War years.
    I happen to know a guy who owned a property in Jersey. He
    upped his rent, almost double and people were gladly
    shelling out for a vacation as opposed to traveling abroad.

    Nisk at Nite has been rerunning I Love Lucy. Last night's
    episode, Lucy and company were in London and Ricky told Lucy
    not to press for an initation to a country estate, since
    Americans were viewed as loud and pushy. This was 1960.
    Funny how things never change.


  30. some thoughts Added by: Laura G.
    [Timestamp: Tue 21 July, 3:12 Canberra Standard Time]

    i'm from the u.s., what's more from the midwest, and i have
    to agree and disagree with the above.

    DEFINITELY reasons:
    1) barely any vacation--2 weeks for the first 5 years or so
    of employment. after this, lots of people have families,
    and vacations are used to visit granny & gramps rather than
    taking on laos or whatever. even if you don't have kids,
    the u.s. is a very mobile country, and chances are that you
    don't live near your family, and vacation time is used for
    sister's wedding, etc.

    2) work ethic! not only are we trained to work like
    hamsters on a wheel; many employers see a travel year on the
    resume as self-indulgent. hey, remember this country was
    started by hard working puritan types.
    and labor here is not a strong force anymore. we don't have
    the impression that if we deviate from the path, there is a
    safety net, or there'll be another job, like you might in a
    more socialist country. so americans don't tend to take a
    long vacation between jobs--we're always looking for the
    next job. and university is expensive here! one has debts
    to pay after graduating! it's not exactly fair to compare
    the traveling post-grad aussies to stationary post-grad
    americans, since australians don't end up with $50,000 debt
    at the end.

    3) the outside world is, admittedly, only vaguely present
    in the daily life. we get the odd british comedy on public
    t.v., or a popular french movie, but not much international
    news, unless it's directly related to the u.s.
    here in the midwest, with the exception of chicago, one
    barely hears a foreign language spoken or meets someone from
    another country. we're insulated.

    4) there's more to see and do in the u.s. than one can do in
    2 weeks/year for a lifetime. it truly is full of natural
    beauty, and great cities, and weird roadside attractions.
    and domestic flights are cheap.

    5) i agree that many people prefer to spend their money on
    tangibles--it's a crazy consumer culture! keeping up with
    the joneses and all that...

    6) we've got a pretty non-intellectual spirit here, and the
    general feeling for vacations is "you've worked hard for 50
    weeks, now relax hard". there's not the generally-held
    feeling that you should be enriching your worldview on your
    limited time off.


    1) sorry, i grew up in the heartland, and don't ever
    remember being taught that the u.s.a. is the "best country
    in the world" or anything so jingoistic as that! that rings
    pretty false to me.

    2) fear: doesn't sound right either. the americans who are
    going to be scared of nepal are going to be scared of
    miami. i don't think there's a general fear of the outside
    world, though maybe a disinclination to roughing it. (see

  31. too content Added by: dutch
    [Timestamp: Tue 21 July, 3:51 Canberra Standard Time]

    even as an american i find my countrymen/women to narrow
    visioned to even know there is a third world outside of cnn.
    but the usa is a big place with alot to see...most folks in
    the us for stay close to home either for time or
    money....with so much diversity in spots to check out the
    most common response i have found when asked why not travel
    abroad is "what for?"........i rarely meet any fellow
    americans on the road...too bad they are missing what we (tt
    crawlers)already know what for!

  32. interesting Added by: Quarsan
    [Timestamp: Tue 21 July, 4:40 Canberra Standard Time]

    A few minor points......
    1, A friend of mine tried to hire a car in Florida, they
    asked for ID. He offered his UK passport. Not acceptable.
    Why? He was told that so few US have passports it wasn't
    put on the id form.
    2, US is isolated geographically, so it costs more to
    travel. Also cheap flights dont exist as much as in UK.
    3, It is a big place, so one could spend a lifetime in US
    and travel a lot.
    4, Those US who travel, possibly find it more mind blowing
    than others. Please note the use of the word possibly!

  33. 10 years Added by: ho-dee-do
    [Timestamp: Tue 21 July, 5:06 Canberra Standard Time]

    Assuming that most passports issued are for 10 years, then
    there were about 41.5 million US passports at the end of
    1995. The population then was just over 260 million. The
    percentage with passports was 16%. Higher than I expected
    actually. For a good source of data on every country in the
    world, check out the CIA world factbook at

  34. a pleasant chance Added by: Danish Boy
    [Timestamp: Tue 21 July, 5:13 Canberra Standard Time]

    JANE most be proud of you all
    30 posts a still not flame war!!!
    I once ask an American why there was so
    few Americans in Asia. He said that
    Americans travel to Europe
    Europeans travel to Asia
    Asians travel to America
    It's sounds nice but
    but Europeans ( and Australians + NZ) seems to be

  35. 2 Weeks Added by: Rebs
    [Timestamp: Tue 21 July, 5:35 Canberra Standard Time]

    I just started a new job where I get Two weeks vacation the
    first three years and Three after that. I also get 6
    personal days a year which can be used in combination with
    my vacation basically giving me another week.

    My company also allows us to work a 5-day week/4-day week so
    I get every other Friday off (the day off is made up by
    working longer days). Luckily, my boss allows us to work
    these off fridays and save some up to supplement vacation.
    However, at most we can only do this with three or four
    days. It would be nice if you could do all 26 days a year
    like that (an additional 5 weeks).

    Anyway, it is true that many use vacation to visit family.
    I usually end up using a day or two at
    Thanksgiving/Christmas in combination with the regular
    holiday to fly home to Alabama to visit.

    And the USA is a large place. My personal goals are two
    take a USA vacation one year and an International Vacation
    the next. I do this for several reasons. Traveling in the
    USA is cheaper, easier to plan, less stress (yes there is
    stress in travelling internationally), and just the fact
    there is still so much I want to see in my own country.

    I have also only just now reached a point in my life where I
    can afford to travel Internationally. Student loans,
    housing, car, etc. etc. etc. have eaten up all my disposable
    income up to now.

    I agree that some Americans are ignorant of the world. But
    I would say no more than any other nation. And besides, the
    way most of the people act do you really want a
    more Americans running around? :)

    I work in the IT business and we have many consultants
    working at my firm who are from India, England, OZ, etc.
    Several have been in the USA for years. And I find that
    many of them have rarely left the city that they work in.
    What is the purpose of travelling overseas for a job in you
    don't take advantage of seeing the sites while you are
    there? I have many friends whose jobs require that they
    travel across the USA and the world. Many times they have
    free days (weekends) in the place that they going. And I
    find out that they spend the time at the hotel pool!

    I think it frankly comes down to mindsets. I would assume
    many of us on the board have the mindset of
    seeing/doing/going. However, there is a large percentage of
    the world that are interested in these things at all. They
    look at us as the "strange" ones.

    I have a cousin who everytime I talk with him he ask when am
    I going to move back home. He is perfectly content to never
    leave the state (and even the city) that he lives in.

  36. Many reasons Americans don't travel Added by: Rebekah
    [Timestamp: Tue 21 July, 5:46 Canberra Standard Time]

    1) Americans do travel.
    2) Two weeks vaction as others have pointed out.
    3) Enormous school loans (mine are more than 30,000 USD and
    that's below average)
    4) Americans do a lot of domestic traveling. My family is
    one example. We lived in Oregon. For weekends we went to
    the coast, and for vacations we went to Washington,
    California, D.C., Montana, etc (Also Canada and Mexico). We
    were poor, so all this travel was difficult to do. We drove
    around and camped.
    5) When I was in Europe for the first time, I realized how
    easy it is for Europeans to travel to nearby foreign
    countries. And once you've done this a little bit, it's
    easier to consider venturing further.
    6) In the states, we almost all of us have to own a home, a
    couple cars, and TVs. Some of the problem is materialism.
    In order to travel, you have to give up some of the other
    material goods that others are accumulating.

  37. blame it on the PROPAGANDA Added by: floater
    [Timestamp: Tue 21 July, 7:08 Canberra Standard Time]

    Sad to say it… but I kind of agree with Alan (post #7).
    Although I don’t think it has as much to do with education
    as it does with media. Media in the united states has
    always pushed the idea that the country is superior to
    all. Just look at the film industry. How many movies do
    we (US citizens) see where “America saves the world” (i.e.,
    Armageddon, Independence Day [both of which sucked, in my
    opinion, but where hugely successful]). Coincidentally,
    the US’s largest export is entertainment (propaganda at its
    best). The idea is forced upon us from when we are old
    enough to turn on the television.
    Anyway, I forgot what my point was. But I am an American
    of immigrant parents and am often ashamed of the ignorance
    displayed by my fellows. Not to say that I dislike this
    country or its people. I have friends from all walks of
    life from many different backgrounds ranging from the fresh
    off the boat to the full-blooded American from New
    Hampshire. Travelers should understand that the world is
    made up of all types and that is why we travel. And those
    of us willing to make the effort often discover that there
    is good in all. Not all Americans are doltish, not all
    Africans are lazy, and not all Scots are red nosed from
    I love this world.

  38. more data Added by: Colin
    [Timestamp: Tue 21 July, 7:40 Canberra Standard Time]

    There are many young US people who get to see the world via
    the US military. Then there is the peace corps and lots
    of missionaries.
    There are about 3.5million US private citizens living
    outside the US plus lots of military many of whom have
    "army brats" who are growing up overseas.
    Americans made 92 million "overseas" trips in 1996. 13
    million were to Mexico, the most popular destination, and 3
    million to Canada. No passport is needed for these
    countries. Also within the US, Canada and Mexico are the
    tropics (Hawaii, Virgins,Yucatan), Arctic, deserts and just
    about any sort of terrain you might want, several cultures
    and languages.
    All this travelling is a pretty new phenomenon anyway.
    Forty years ago most Europeans had not travelled much
    further than the next town or the closest sea-side and
    Australians could only dream of ever going overseas.

  39. Hey Sas Added by: Rebekah
    [Timestamp: Tue 21 July, 9:22 Canberra Standard Time]

    You say that there was an American who didn't know that
    Aussies speak English. Well, come on now. Americans would
    also laugh at that person. When I was in France last year,
    I met a family who truly was shocked that I had never ridden
    a horse or worn cowboy boots. They thought we all did.
    When I was in Spain, I met two men who thought I must be
    extremely weathly because I come from the U.S. In truth,
    these men made more money than the average American. There
    are many stereotypes out there.

  40. Just The Facts Ma'am... Added by: Wilster
    [Timestamp: Tue 21 July, 9:26 Canberra Standard Time]

    Annual US Commerce Department figures for the following
    nations are most popular with US vactioners:

    1) Mexico, visited by 19.6 million, 43%
    2) Canada, visited by 12.9 million, 29%
    3) U.K., visited by 2.9 million, 6.5%
    4) France, visited by 1.9 million, 4.3%
    5) Germany, visited by 1.6 million, 3.6%
    6) Bahamas, visited by 1.5 million, 3.4%
    7) Italy, visited by 1.4 million, 3.1%
    8) Jamaica, visited by 1 million, 2.3%
    9) Japan, 871,000, 2%
    10)Netherlands, 772,000, 1.7%

    That's over 44 million Americans traveling outside their own
    boarders. Maybe those making the posting(s) above just
    haven't travelled to those areas or countries that Americans
    are inclined to travel, eh? Or it can be that Americans
    tend to blend into the area(s) being visited and you all
    just notice them abroad.

    And let's not get into this idea that Americans aren't
    "traveling" 'cause they aren't leaving North American. Get
    real!!!!!!! There's 44-fucking-million individuals leaving
    their border to go somewhere else. And that doesn't even
    take into account the other many countries that Americans
    visit each year and the Americans living and serving abroad
    as outlined earlier. That's twice the entire population of
    Canada or Australia!

    I tend to travel to the far corners of the earth and the
    Americans that I have met in Tibet, India, Cuba, Vietnam,
    etc. are some of the most thoughtful, considerate,
    interesting, enthusiastic, etc. travelers I've met. Much
    more so than much of the Euro-trash I've met abroad. When
    you meet the freak traveler abroad, I'm inclined to think or
    say, "Whatever you're into dude, have a good trip there
    captain." But no, the Euros and others have to make
    outlandish and preposterous assumptions and generalizations
    'cause they've met a bad apple or two.

    Almost 20% of the US population is leaving the US for
    vacation and heaps stay in the States. An American and his
    or her country are like a good marriage; why "test the
    waters" with someone else when you know you've got the best
    at home?

    Jesus Fucking Christ, just because every single American
    isn't leaving the country doesn't mean that the spirit and
    enthusiasm of travel isn't there when traveling in this
    country. Incidently, the corporate thought is that if a
    company can get along without you for two weeks, then they
    really don't need you.

    Americans cherish their precious couple weeks off every year
    and if any of you knew what this country has to offer in the
    way of travel related things to do, you would probably want
    to fucking move here permanently. If I lived where most the
    posters on this site live, I would want to get the fuck out
    for a spell too. The more and more I travel abroad, the
    more I realize what I've got at home. So yeah, if Jim Bob
    from Alabama doesn't want to travel abroad and utilize all
    the trappings and sights in the US, then more power to him.
    He's probably got a little more insight into things than I

    Americans don't travel? Hardly, nothing could be further
    from the truth. Just check the facts.

  41. america is strange Added by: a
    [Timestamp: Tue 21 July, 9:26 Canberra Standard Time]

    #12 mentioned that aussies and kiwis takes a year or two off which is completely possible for Americans. Unfortunately Americans are not handed a work permit (b/c of that little war in the 1700's) to the UK. Try supporting yourself for 1 year abroad dircetly after graduating from starving college student.
    I'm an American who has been to 10 foreign countries and only 12 US states. Unless you've travelled the country i don't think you can conceive of how fucking huge it is.
    I think travel is perceived as shriking one's responsibilities. I returned from europe 5 weeks ago and in 6 weeks i'm leaving again for 6 months. The general reaction from friends and family has been, "Shouldn't you be working, starting grad. school, getting married?" Travel is considered a frivolous pursuit, how sad.

  42. Hey, Floater Added by: Jul
    [Timestamp: Tue 21 July, 11:15 Canberra Standard Time]

    Why shouldn't Americans be the ones to save the day in
    every movie? Americans are bankrolling the films for
    American actors and American audiences. Damn right we win
    every time. As for the huge overseas consumption of
    American entertainment, I think the Hollywood hit squads
    stopped forcing culturally superior Euro's and Asians to
    watch our films a long time ago. Free will and an amazing
    desire to be entertained produces overseas box office
    receipts that usually pale in comparison to US figures.
    Bombay makes films for Indians, Italy for Italians,
    blah, blah...why is America expected to do any differently?

  43. Its Hard Too Write About Other Cultures Added by: James S.
    [Timestamp: Tue 21 July, 12:52 Canberra Standard Time]

    Suppose the screenwriter of Independence Day wanted to be
    internationally oriented and had the South Korean military
    save the world? He probably would've done what Tom Clancy
    did in his novel about Korea (Op-Center) -- do lots of
    research and still make tons of mistakes about the culture.
    I think a tried and true maxim anywhere is "write about what
    you know". However much they might travel, American writers
    know best about the place they've grown up in. We'd have
    movies even more ridiculous than Independence Day if
    American writers started having other nations save the
    world. -- James

  44. USA AOK Added by: SYDNEY
    [Timestamp: Tue 21 July, 14:23 Canberra Standard Time]

    I Like Americans
    people like bashing them, god knows why... if anyone out
    there can honestly look at there own country and say it is
    the perfect utopia then i would love to hear from you...
    can i get a visa to go there???

  45. With all the problems in our home countries Added by: Christy
    [Timestamp: Tue 21 July, 21:59 Canberra Standard Time]

    Travel IS frivolous.

  46. Jul Added by: Floater
    [Timestamp: Wed 22 July, 0:57 Canberra Standard Time]

    Is it in fact free will or extensive marketing campaigns
    that produce box office success? Not making a statement,
    just asking the question. We as Americans need things
    “sold” to us. How many times have you seen the best parts
    of a movie in the TV commercials. How many times have the
    advertisers said that such a critic hails the film as
    “exhilarating...”? Where what they in fact said is
    “exhilarating effects backed my the weakest performances
    and a ghastly storyline”. (Always be wary about that
    “...”). I just can’t fathom why such bad US moves rack in
    more money (often double) in overseas video cassettes sales
    than in US box office receipts. There must be a driving
    force. Ohh… chezzy assed special effects. Who the hell
    needs a story line these days when we can make a whole
    movie about a fucking talking parrot.

  47. question Added by: TrickyDick
    [Timestamp: Wed 22 July, 6:01 Canberra Standard Time]

    Not to be difficult, but I'd like to gently deflect the
    thread away from the cultural complexities of film and ask
    a question: Why is it that people travel in the first
    place, and what does this say about them? I believe that
    inclination to travel is in no way related to how
    intelligent or culturally sensitive people are.
    People no doubt travel for many reasons. Excitement,
    curiosity, arrogance, boredom... My point is that while
    people like to point fingers at 'dumb yanks' or 'eurotrash',
    all travellers really are quite similar. Budget travel
    itself breeds homogeneity, just as luxury tourism does.
    Hostels all around the globe have the same types of people
    in them. The backgrounds are all that change.
    Backpackers from all places (US and AUS, NZ, and EUR) enjoy
    thinking that they are learning about the places they visit,
    and perhaps they are, but they are slowly making them all
    the same. One has to wonder why there is such a frantic rush
    to see the next undiscovered place, where the culture is
    exotic, and the pot is cheap, and the wildlife aren't
    I would agree that, as a rule, Americans travel less than
    other nationalities (bickering as to salary, taxes, size of
    country, and other reasons aside). But just because there
    are heaps of Aussies, for example, in SE Asia doesn't mean
    that, therefore, the nation of Australia is peopled entirely
    with adventurous, wise, and sensitive individuals. In some
    sense, travel IS frivolous, and perhaps everybody should
    examine what they hope to gain and learn from going
    somewhere new.

  48. Most psychologists will tell you that. Added by: Deanna
    [Timestamp: Wed 22 July, 6:53 Canberra Standard Time]

    Most but not all people who travel abnormally (more than 3
    or 4 weeks per year or so) are escapists who have personal
    problems that they try to run from. Problem relationships,
    or simple inability to get along with others.

  49. travel abnormally?? Added by: ho-dee-do
    [Timestamp: Wed 22 July, 7:48 Canberra Standard Time]

    Oh shit, I have ATS (abnormal travel syndrome). Can anyone
    recommend a good psychiatrist?
    Deanna, how many people plod through their daily lives bored
    to shit with their jobs, towns etc. Of course many people
    love their situations and all the best to them. I'd rather
    be abnormal then dream about doing things that never come to
    be. Nobody lies on their death bed saying "I sure wish I'd
    worked a little harder at my job or watched a few more
    episodes of MacGyver or been to Disneyland one more time".
    I make no apologies for wanting to see the world and I think
    all the supposed pathologies that have been associated with
    such a desire (in above posts) are BS.

  50. career Added by: aaron
    [Timestamp: Wed 22 July, 9:17 Canberra Standard Time]

    They are too fucking career oriented. It is also drummed
    into their heads that if they are not successful than in
    the job market than their life is a failure, and unless
    they travel and get away from it all they don't realize
    what bullshit that is!

  51. leaving Added by: aaron
    [Timestamp: Wed 22 July, 9:27 Canberra Standard Time]

    When i leave i don't know what i'm hoping to find, and when
    i leave i don't know what i'm leaving behind!

  52. Crap.... Added by: Jimini
    [Timestamp: Wed 22 July, 15:20 Canberra Standard Time]

    All the crap you guys are talking about only getting 2 weeks
    off a year and not being able to afford to travel is
    irrelevant. I don't know anyone from Australia who takes off
    over their summer holidays for a quick visit to Europe.
    Aussies go to Uni, work for a couple of years, then dump the
    job and head overseas. Or take a break in the middle of Uni,
    work for a couple of months, and head overseas for a couple
    of months before going back to school. Shit, I have Uni
    bills to pay back too, but why pay for it now, when you have
    70 years left to do it. It's not going to go away. There is
    no reason why the perecentage of American travellers is less
    than that of Aussies, other the the self absorbtion factor.
    Why would they want to leave America when everything that is
    any good is right there? They forget that Europe is part of
    their history too. Most Aussie travel Australia when they
    retire. When life has slowed down, and they go out and buy a
    campervan and see the sights.

  53. Jimmi Added by: Andy
    [Timestamp: Wed 22 July, 15:45 Canberra Standard Time]

    too right. ive been saying all along that it has NOTHING
    to do with how much vacation you got. anyone who truly
    wants to travel(and i mean truly) would make that a
    priority and not work or marriage or whatever. therefore
    they can defer school, do it by changing a job and using
    the between-jobs time, or simply quit(as i knowplenty of
    people have done), or put off marriage, or deliberately
    getting themselves into work just so one can still travel
    while doing parttime work, and not be tied down to fulltime
    serious career type employment.

    how many times have all of us heard the cliche "JUST GO!!!"
    when it comes to travelling!?!?

  54. I am in total agreement with... Added by: sas
    [Timestamp: Wed 22 July, 23:13 Canberra Standard Time]

    jimmini and Andy!
    Too bloody right mate!
    I am 6 months off a 4yr degree and i have put this off
    (after dropping a subject) to work for half of a year so i
    can then head off overseas....
    i mean, why the hell not?
    Work is not the be all and end all.
    As someone once told me
    You either
    "live to work or work to live".
    which do you choose???

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