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Old 07-02-2012, 07:18 AM
 
Location: Jacksonville/Afghanistan
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I travel alone. I prefer it. That means I can do anything I want to do.
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Old 07-02-2012, 09:26 PM
 
47,573 posts, read 60,673,444 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Trimac20 View Post
That makes sense tvdexter. It did surprise me how in many European nations many adult children did not move out of their parent's home until well into their 20s or even later. Not having the pay rent, mortgage, a large debt, often not owning a costly automobile (if so a more economical one) means they have more disposable income to spend on cultural experiences. I also DO think their governments generally encourage cultural exchange, and even facilitate travel overseas. If not the government, there are many companies, associations geared towards student, working holiday.etc travelling. 'Gap years' are pretty common in many of these countries. I remember talking to an 18 year old British girl who was going around the world by herself. This is by no means uncommon. I would think an American who did this would be seen as especially adventurous. She was really into adventure, getting into the local culture.etc and seemed genuinely interested about exploring and learning about the world.

Also, of course, is the fact that fewer Americans leave the country than in other nations. It's more a 'world unto itself' than other nations. The American way of life does not encourage somebody to seek happiness outside of their small, regimented existence, of living in the suburbs, having 2 kids, two big cars, having a 'successful career'.
There is a lot of that "world unto itself" thinking -- I would guess most Europeans are a lot more used leaving their country and traveling to other countries. In the USA, that would be more like traveling to other states. Americans have two long ocean coasts, every kind of climate and terrain, deserts, forests, plains, hills, many natural wonders without having to deal with passports and expensive trips.

However - crime rates in the USA are higher too - so especially women may not want to travel alone. At least not where it's very obvious that they are all alone.
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Old 07-05-2012, 11:10 PM
 
Location: A circle of Hell so insidious, infernal and odious, Dante dared not map it
623 posts, read 1,047,836 times
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In general, I would say no. But I think it's because of numerous factors, some of which have already been discussed. When I was 18... err, before I was 18 I wanted to move out of my parents' house and couldn't wait until I could establish independence. I think a lot of people here feel that way, and consequently that means travel becomes a low priority. On that note, culturally speaking, financial independence is highly stressed in the United States. Also, regarding work you absolutely have to remember that we have vacation time quite uncharacteristic of most Western societies, in that we get far less of it than our counterparts. I know people who have left for vacations right after work, or the very next day, returning the day before (or sometimes even the morning of) their first day back. They just want to maximize their vacation time. Because of our remoteness, international flights will consume a lot of time when there really isn't that much time to spare. The US also has a lot of variety in natural environments, cultures and cities, which keeps most people at home. Furthermore, it's relatively cheap to travel within the United States.

I think those are some deterrents to international travel. As for groups traveling, I think a lot has to do with comfort. There is a popular belief that all other nationalities despise Americans, and I think people take comfort in the "safety in numbers" plan. I also think groups can try to help each other with language/culture barriers. Of course, I think it can also be a bonding experience amongst friends/family. I've traveled to multiple cities domestically with different friends (one-on-one) and we were attached at the hip for days, but they were great bonding experiences.

That being said, I'm in the age bracket you specified, and I much prefer to travel alone. I like to move at a pretty grueling pace, see what I want to see, eat where I want to eat, and all around enjoy my own company when I travel, so I always prefer to travel alone.
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Old 07-05-2012, 11:27 PM
 
Location: Up above the world so high!
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Americans don't do "gap year".

In addition, we don't encourage our young people to travel alone - safety in numbers and all that
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Old 07-07-2012, 04:15 PM
 
Location: Duluth, Minnesota, USA
7,653 posts, read 15,349,406 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by phxgreenfire View Post
In general, I would say no. But I think it's because of numerous factors, some of which have already been discussed. When I was 18... err, before I was 18 I wanted to move out of my parents' house and couldn't wait until I could establish independence. I think a lot of people here feel that way, and consequently that means travel becomes a low priority. On that note, culturally speaking, financial independence is highly stressed in the United States. Also, regarding work you absolutely have to remember that we have vacation time quite uncharacteristic of most Western societies, in that we get far less of it than our counterparts. I know people who have left for vacations right after work, or the very next day, returning the day before (or sometimes even the morning of) their first day back. They just want to maximize their vacation time. Because of our remoteness, international flights will consume a lot of time when there really isn't that much time to spare. The US also has a lot of variety in natural environments, cultures and cities, which keeps most people at home. Furthermore, it's relatively cheap to travel within the United States.

I think those are some deterrents to international travel. As for groups traveling, I think a lot has to do with comfort. There is a popular belief that all other nationalities despise Americans, and I think people take comfort in the "safety in numbers" plan. I also think groups can try to help each other with language/culture barriers. Of course, I think it can also be a bonding experience amongst friends/family. I've traveled to multiple cities domestically with different friends (one-on-one) and we were attached at the hip for days, but they were great bonding experiences.

That being said, I'm in the age bracket you specified, and I much prefer to travel alone. I like to move at a pretty grueling pace, see what I want to see, eat where I want to eat, and all around enjoy my own company when I travel, so I always prefer to travel alone.
I would agree with your assessment. It is true that the popular belief is that "everybody hates Americans", a perception which I think is largely the result of protests around the globe against the war in Iraq. I haven't found this to be true at all on my trips abroad; the American government might get a lot of criticism (not so much now, though, with Obama) but Americans themselves unwelcome? Nope. If anything, I've been complimented on my country several times; some kids in Barcelona told me they want to go to the U.S. because it is beautiful, another couple on a train in Andalucia asked for recommendations on where to visit in the U.S., in Costa Rica a homestay cousin (who is now in Panama) wanted to see if I could help him get a visa, in Morocco when they found out I was American the kids would go "New York" in their best Jay-Z impression and I encountered a young man in the market in Marrakesh who was leaving on a flight to see his uncle in Dallas the next day and asked me if "America is cold, right?", in Mexico I was told by a former illegal immigrant, who was an uncle of the person whose house I was staying at, of the unexpected kindness of Americans.

Traveling in groups is also strongly stressed in the U.S., for fear of violence, theft, etc. which is more easily perpetrated against a solo traveler. For example, when we went to Washington, D.C. (an eighth-grade optional trip which about half the class went on) we were firmly told to walk around the different attractions in groups of three or more. Same with our various end-of-the-year trips to Valleyfair (a local amusement park), and our Spanish class trip to Costa Rica. Students caught venturing alone were firmly reprimanded.

For many or most Americans over 18 years old, a vacation isn't a vacation when it is not fueled by alcohol, and given the behavior that many intoxicated people exhibit, perhaps it isn't the worst idea to travel alone.

In addition, a reason other than safety is often given equal weight, and that is that solo travellers are bound to be lonely. Being all alone in a country with language and customs that you don't understand is a nightmare for many Americans, especially American women. And just having others to do things with is seen as necessary for fun by many Americans (again, especially women but a lot of males as well).
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Old 07-07-2012, 08:24 PM
 
Location: A circle of Hell so insidious, infernal and odious, Dante dared not map it
623 posts, read 1,047,836 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tvdxer View Post
I would agree with your assessment. It is true that the popular belief is that "everybody hates Americans", a perception which I think is largely the result of protests around the globe against the war in Iraq. I haven't found this to be true at all on my trips abroad; the American government might get a lot of criticism (not so much now, though, with Obama) but Americans themselves unwelcome? Nope. If anything, I've been complimented on my country several times; some kids in Barcelona told me they want to go to the U.S. because it is beautiful, another couple on a train in Andalucia asked for recommendations on where to visit in the U.S., in Costa Rica a homestay cousin (who is now in Panama) wanted to see if I could help him get a visa, in Morocco when they found out I was American the kids would go "New York" in their best Jay-Z impression and I encountered a young man in the market in Marrakesh who was leaving on a flight to see his uncle in Dallas the next day and asked me if "America is cold, right?", in Mexico I was told by a former illegal immigrant, who was an uncle of the person whose house I was staying at, of the unexpected kindness of Americans.

Traveling in groups is also strongly stressed in the U.S., for fear of violence, theft, etc. which is more easily perpetrated against a solo traveler. For example, when we went to Washington, D.C. (an eighth-grade optional trip which about half the class went on) we were firmly told to walk around the different attractions in groups of three or more. Same with our various end-of-the-year trips to Valleyfair (a local amusement park), and our Spanish class trip to Costa Rica. Students caught venturing alone were firmly reprimanded.

For many or most Americans over 18 years old, a vacation isn't a vacation when it is not fueled by alcohol, and given the behavior that many intoxicated people exhibit, perhaps it isn't the worst idea to travel alone.

In addition, a reason other than safety is often given equal weight, and that is that solo travellers are bound to be lonely. Being all alone in a country with language and customs that you don't understand is a nightmare for many Americans, especially American women. And just having others to do things with is seen as necessary for fun by many Americans (again, especially women but a lot of males as well).
Honestly, in general I haven't seen much rancor toward the American people when I've gone abroad. It's mostly directed at our government and "representatives" of it. In other words, when I was in Korea there wasn't a lot of spite toward Americans in general, but US soldiers stationed there would catch more flak.

I too did some school trips: one to DC and two to Europe. Like you, I was under strict rules to stay with other group members at all times. Actually, I got in trouble for wandering off on my own in Paris. I was under "house arrest" at the hotel in London for that... but when the chaperone went with the others to a play, I sneaked out the hotel anyway. Honestly, my parents didn't care and were more upset that the lady grounded me. But still, I understand now that it's a liability issue, and the US is a pretty litigious society, so they didn't want to take their chances.

I agree that there's a degree of loneliness people get when they're away. I heard 75% of all people are extroverts, so going anywhere without significant others, friends, family, etc. might be too much alone time for people to bear. I'm definitely an introvert, so the alone time and disconnect makes the vacation that much more enjoyable, and in going out in town I'm more of a flneur. However, beyond international travel, I still notice a lot of Americans traveling domestically that either go somewhere to visit people, or go somewhere to visit a city and bring others with them. It does make me thankful that I have an independent personality, because if I had to rely on others to go with me I wouldn't have seen nearly as many places as I have.
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Old 07-07-2012, 10:52 PM
 
Location: The western periphery of Terra Australis
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^ Interesting you talk about being lonely when travelling solo. For me I'm actually lonelier when I'm here, in my hometown, than when I'm travelling. I don't hang with most of my friends anymore, so I spend most of my days alone. Whereas when I'm travelling, even when not travelling with people I'm constantly meeting people, making new friends, I also don't feel as awkward when eating alone at a restaurant (cos I can say I'm a traveller, right?), or going out at night alone. I actually find it freeing. Living in the same place is a stultifying existence for me, I'm getting restless just thinking about it. But yeah, I very rarely feel LONELY when travelling alone, a little homesick if I've been away TOO long, but I actually do a lot more socializing when travelling and I'd consider myself an introvert.
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