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Old 07-01-2012, 06:05 AM
 
Location: The western periphery of Terra Australis
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I meet many young people, say 18-35, travelling alone, often on big adventures for up to a year, but few of them seem to be Americans. Many are on 'gap years' before university, or want to go on a big trip after working a few years, or just want to take an extended vacation. It seems many other nationalities do this, particularly Europeans, Aussies, Kiwis, Koreans, Japanese, but when I see Americans travelling it's generally in groups.

Also Americans don't seem to go on working holidays nearly as much as say Canadians or Brits do. I checked out the programs and it doesn't seem there are as many options/freedom available to Americans.

Is this culture? Is the American government not really supportive of it's citizens travelling as part of 'cultural education' and exchange?
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Old 07-01-2012, 08:52 AM
 
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I think you're right, most Americans don't prefer to travel alone. I don't know why that is, but I suspect it's the way our culture has become.
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Old 07-01-2012, 01:24 PM
 
Location: Eureka CA
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I prefer to travel alone if not with my SO. You meet more people traveling alone than with a group or as a couple. Americans don't depend on the government to provide them with "cultural education" although a lot of our university students take the traditional junior year abroad.
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Old 07-01-2012, 01:27 PM
 
Location: on an island
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Only anecdotal, but I (American) traveled alone in Europe as a youngster, and so did my husband (actually we met just a month after our trips back in the late 70's.)
Our sons travel alone as well.
I don't think people understand this until they actually do it, but going solo can often help a traveler meet new friends (especially when you're like me and tend to get lost.)
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Old 07-01-2012, 01:43 PM
 
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Many Americans will not step foot out of the country unless it is part of some organized group. Most Americans I have met are out of the country due to being an exchange student, and they are traveling as a group together. I think it is part of the propaganda of "the world is dangerous" that people are hammered with constantly; 30 second news clips about the world.

On the other side, many Americans are materialistic, and if it came between paying $3000 for a trip, or buying $3000 worth of stuff, they will buy the stuff.

I always traveled alone, sometimes an Aussie or Brit would join me for a ways. Now it is my wife and I that travel.
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Old 07-01-2012, 01:58 PM
 
Location: South Portland, ME
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I'm in that demographic (American between 18-35) and I've traveled alone twice - in 2010 I went to Africa (Gabon and then South Africa) and in 2012 to Europe (Finland and Estonia), I enjoyed both trips but I also think it would have been more fun overall to go with someone (like I did for my 2011 trip - I went to Costa Rica and Panama with my girlfriend).

I do agree though that a lot of people here seem to have a bad perception of the "outside world". A lot of my friends make comments like "I can't believe you would go somewhere like that (Africa, Eastern Europe, etc.) by yourself."

I also agree with boxus - one of the main reasons that I went alone in 2010 was because, fairly fresh out of college, none of my friends were willing to spend that kind of money to go with me (the main reason I went was to go to the FIFA World Cup). However, they were more than happy to buy big screen HDTVs, new cellphones, new cars, etc. - probably spending more on that stuff than they would have to go on the trip(s) with me.
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Old 07-01-2012, 02:09 PM
 
Location: Duluth, Minnesota, USA
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Trimac20 View Post
I meet many young people, say 18-35, travelling alone, often on big adventures for up to a year, but few of them seem to be Americans. Many are on 'gap years' before university, or want to go on a big trip after working a few years, or just want to take an extended vacation. It seems many other nationalities do this, particularly Europeans, Aussies, Kiwis, Koreans, Japanese, but when I see Americans travelling it's generally in groups.

Also Americans don't seem to go on working holidays nearly as much as say Canadians or Brits do. I checked out the programs and it doesn't seem there are as many options/freedom available to Americans.

Is this culture? Is the American government not really supportive of it's citizens travelling as part of 'cultural education' and exchange?
The answer is no.

"Many" American young people might because there are so many of them, but proportionally I would say it is less than in some other developed countries (e.g. Australia, Germany). This is coming from an American who has traveled alone in Mexico, Spain, and Morocco, as well as on domestic trips (e.g. road trips and to New York).

Part of it may be due to different social and economic circumstances. Taking a year off in between high school and university (college) is perfectly possible in the U.S. - I did - but quite rare. One thing is a lot of kids want to get out of their parents' sight and go off to the wild life of the dorms as soon as they can. Another is that people tend to think that if you put off university for one year, you'll put it off forever.

American young adults are also saddled with more obligations than their foreign counterparts. Credit card companies aggressively seek out customers as soon as they turn 18, and many 18-year-olds are perfectly receptive to this and end up with a credit card debt payment. American high school students traditionally started driving their own car and working around 16 or 17, and although I hear this is rarer today, it is still quite common. It is true that many parents pay for all car-related expenses while the student is still in high school, but with their movement to another place they may stop. Americans also tend to move out early and have rent due each month as well. All these things require money, and the way most young Americans primarily obtain money is through working - usually at jobs that aren't too generous about vacations...and sometimes young people have 2 or 3 of them.

The tendency of young people in Europe to "extend their adolescence", although it certainly exists, is not as prominent here. At 25 years of age many of the students I graduated high school with are already married and/or have children - I would estimate a third. Many more are engaged and working full-time jobs that are the start of their career.

Many do, however, travel abroad, for either short periods of time or as part of a study abroad program, which are seemingly becoming very popular. Study abroad programs usually last a semester, and the destinations of some of the people I know have been Australia, Italy, Ireland, Ecuador, Mexico, England, South Africa, with shorter trips having been to places like Morocco and India.

Also, traveling alone is just seen as scary and lonely here, especially for girls. It certainly isn't looked down upon - it's seen as adventurous and daring - but most people prefer to go with their friends or as part of a group (and then usually with friends).
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Old 07-01-2012, 07:11 PM
 
Location: The western periphery of Terra Australis
24,683 posts, read 45,384,878 times
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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'.
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Old 07-01-2012, 09:43 PM
 
14,260 posts, read 23,991,339 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.
3And don't forget that college tuition is largely state funded in most of Europe.
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Old 07-02-2012, 12:32 AM
 
Location: We_tside PNW (Columbia Gorge) / CO / SA TX / Thailand
22,569 posts, read 39,952,759 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Trimac20 View Post
....
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, ..
ADD to that the fact that the USA education system is totally 'introspective', as is media / relationships / culture (in general).

It would be good to send our 18 yr olds OUTSIDE the USA with a one-way ticket, and instructions to 'Work-your-way-home'. (MANDATORY National Service fills this role in many 'foreign' countries).

Americans (in General) do not have much interest in international events / cultures, and have EVEN less education about the fact the world is ROUND. USA does have a lot to see / do, often enough for someone ONLY comfortable in THEIR culture.

Foreign Language EDU requirement starting in elementary school might assist more USA kids to realize there ARE other nations...
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