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Old 03-02-2012, 10:54 PM
35,108 posts, read 40,221,218 times
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Originally Posted by eiserneBerlin View Post
I'm a German who has been living in the U.S. for the past year and a half, and I've met so many people here who have never been outside of the U.S. I researched the topic a bit, and only about 30% of Americans actually hold a passport. Why are so many Americans not interested in overseas travel? Back in Europe, travel is a big part of the lifestyle and is a very high priority for most. I understand how vast and diverse the U.S. is and that there are a lot of cultural differences from region to region, but it still doesn't have the same effect on personal growth and cultural awareness that travel abroad has. Americans on average are no more or no less well off than the average European, so I don't think it is necessarily a money issue. In fact, quite a few Americans I met who don't travel own quite nice homes and expensive cars. Obviously the U.S. isn't as close to other countries as European countries are, but Aussies, Kiwis, and Canadians are even more isolated yet they tend to travel more.

A lot of Europeans perceive Americans to be culturally ignorant because of their lack of travel and feel that Americans have no interest in learning about anyone but themselves. After living here, I do think Americans in general are a bit more culturally ignorant than Europeans due to a lack of cultural immersion. By this, I don't mean to say that Americans are close-minded, but that they just don't know much about the outside world. I actually find Americans to be extremely open-minded towards foreigners in the U.S. and they tend to ask a lot of questions to learn more about others which is truly wonderful. To be honest, Americans are actually much less xenophobic towards visitors and immigrants than Europeans are. I've noticed this in all parts of the U.S. that I've visited, so clearly Americans do have an interest in learning about foreign cultures which makes it even harder to understand why travel is not a priority.

The Americans I've seen post on this forum tend to be well-traveled individuals, so I'd like hear your opinions on why you think many of your fellow countrymen tend to not be interested in overseas travel.

By the way, I'm not trying to be disrespectful towards Americans in any way. I really like Americans and in many ways they remind me of people back home in Germany. I also really enjoy life in the beautiful Bay Area and have really loved exploring your wonderful country so far.
Personally the only places I would want to go outside of the US are Germany (my Grandmother was born there), Ireland (husbands family is from there) and Scotland. Otherwise I have no interest to even go to Mexico or Canada. Shoot, I don't even want to go past Texas except to fly to Seattle again (I loved Seattle).
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Old 03-03-2012, 12:27 AM
Location: Florida
398 posts, read 621,692 times
Reputation: 261
Fact: The U.S. is bigger than all of Western Europe combined, you could even include most of Eastern Europe and it would still be bigger.
Fact: Western Europeans generally have more vacation days, about 3x as much on average. Australians have mandatory gap years and also more vacation days.
Fact: The EU to USD is favorable to European travelers by far.

Americans not wanting to travel is a misnomer. There are 310 Million people who live in the U.S., plenty of us travel.

We have 50 states... They might as well be 50 countries, how many have you been to? By the time I was 25 I had been to over 40 states and 25 countries outside the U.S. . I know plenty of my friends who have done similar.

Last edited by Lizz0rd; 03-03-2012 at 12:36 AM..
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Old 03-03-2012, 12:31 AM
Location: Keizer, OR
1,376 posts, read 2,514,510 times
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Originally Posted by Lamplight View Post
This is is it for me. I'd love to travel all over the world if someone would be willing to pay for it. I've never been out of the country in my entire life, because I've never had the money to do it. Not to mention the fact that, even if I ever could afford it, I've never had an employer who was okay with employs taking more than one week of vacation at a time.
I noticed you live in Bellingham. Canada is 30 minutes to the north, why not start there?
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Old 03-03-2012, 01:20 AM
3,806 posts, read 5,199,282 times
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1. Cost of travelling. If you're going to some place other than Canada, Mexico, or the Caribbean the plane ticket adds up quick.

2. Cost of staying. This is to some extent cultural. In the US if you go somewhere you either stay with family/friends or at a hotel. Hotel costs outside the US can add up quick. There are some hostels in the US, but almost no one has heard about them. Similarly renting someone's apartment for several days is not something most Americans know about.

3. Time of travel. If you take a long plane trip when you already have a short number of days for vacation it is really hard to justify travelling since you're turning around as soon as you get where you are going.

4. Lack of need. The US offers a wide variety of climates and environments so it is possible for Americans to do a great many things without leaving the US. Now obviously if you want to go to Paris you have to go to Paris, but if you just want to go to a big city there are many in the US. If you want to climb the Alps you have to go to the Alps, but if you just want to climb a mountain you can do that in the US. Most countres in the world don't offer such a wide array of activities within their borders.
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Old 03-03-2012, 01:25 AM
Location: US Empire, Pac NW
5,008 posts, read 10,791,732 times
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I tend to agree with the OP that most Americans simply don't have a strong interest to travel. Don't know why. Partially perhaps it is due to them thinking "Why should I spend all that money in a cramped airplane to visit some place with a strange foreign language to see some old stuff and eat weird food?"

I also think that perhaps since we do have a such diverse population, if people wanted Chinese or Japanese or European or other cultural exposure, a trip cross-country is all that's needed. Nevermind that it's an Americanized version of it, it's the perception that they'll get a sampling of that culture is what matters to them.

Money I agree isn't as big an issue. Time is. Americans work more hours per capita than Japanese. Last I saw, the average work week was something like 55 hours. That's insane.

Finally, I think the language barriers are seen by many as a hindrance to travel. They don't want to learn another language. Or if they don't mind, they're afraid they'll butcher it and instead of asking where the bathroom is they'll ask to defecate on their mother.

I agree that more Americans should travel, but we're overworked, too shy, and have a perception that it isn't worth the cost if we can get a local sampling of it (seen in an extreme way, the world comes to US, not US go to THEM).
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Old 03-03-2012, 01:35 AM
Location: Armsanta Sorad
5,660 posts, read 6,852,248 times
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Because Americans work a lot of hours weekly and don't have enough time to travel overseas for a month. And most of the jobs they're working are minimum wage.

Americans live to work, basically.
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Old 03-03-2012, 02:09 AM
Location: Sweden
23,755 posts, read 65,863,357 times
Reputation: 18329
Originally Posted by animatedmartian View Post
Personally, I don't want to deal with customs and having to explain why my lotion is not for some bomb making material.
You can buy lotion in Europe.
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Old 03-03-2012, 08:59 AM
Location: Center City
6,852 posts, read 7,799,244 times
Reputation: 9469
Money is not the factor that limits many Americans travel preferences. It's the choice of how Americans spend their money. I worked for a European-based company for over 25 years and have traveled in nearly 40 countries world-wide to date. In my experience, I've come to observe that Europeans tend to place more value on travel and social outings and Americans place more value on home and possessions. The result is that most Europeans live modestly compared with Americans - smallish apartments, one small car per household, no home theaters, small gardens, etc. This leaves money for travel. Many Americans, on the another hand, want to own fully-furnished McMansions on large plots, a large car or SUV for each adult in the household, and a wide-screen TV in every room. As a result, many Americans not only don't travel to Europe, they don't wander too far even in their own country.
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Old 03-03-2012, 09:39 AM
Location: Springfield, Ohio
12,199 posts, read 10,414,132 times
Reputation: 11213
^This is very true. Most Americans would rather have "stuff" than experiences. They' prefer to save up for the next smartphone or flat-screen TV (and pay the bills which come with it), than an international vacation.
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Old 03-03-2012, 09:45 AM
Location: Bellingham, WA
9,745 posts, read 14,181,297 times
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Originally Posted by portlanderinOC View Post
I noticed you live in Bellingham. Canada is 30 minutes to the north, why not start there?
I will as soon as I get my passport. But on a tight budget, even spending $100 on a day trip is hard to justify.
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