U.S. CitiesCity-Data Forum Index
Go Back   City-Data Forum > General Forums > Travel
Please register to participate in our discussions with 2 million other members - it's free and quick! Some forums can only be seen by registered members. After you create your account, you'll be able to customize options and access all our 15,000 new posts/day with fewer ads.
View detailed profile (Advanced) or search
site with Google Custom Search

Search Forums  (Advanced)
Reply Start New Thread
Old 07-24-2009, 03:37 AM
Location: BELGIUM
616 posts, read 649,362 times
Reputation: 1273



First, there is size. Forget about post 9/11 politics for a moment. Most family vacations in America are to other parts of America. Why? Because the U.S.A. takes up a whole continent and we have all the worldís environments in our states. Need beaches? Head to Florida. The tropics? Hawaii. Desert? Arizona. The cold Tundra? Alaska. Temperate forests? Washington. This attitude is best summed up by a response I got from a friend in Iowa: ďWhy would you want to go to Thailand? Itís far and scary. If you want beaches, just go to Florida.Ē Americans simply donít see the need to go anywhere else when they can do it all in their country, especially when they are afraid of the world.
Which brings me to my second point- fear. Americans are just scared of the world. I mean really scared. Maybe even petrified. In this post 9/11 world (even before it), Americans have been taught the world is a big scary place. There are terrorists outside every hotel waiting to kidnap you. People donít like you because you are American. The world is violent. Itís poor. Itís dirty. Itís savage. Only Canada and Europe are O.K. but, if you go there, they will still be rude to you because you are American. No one likes us. The sky is falling!
Even before 9/11, the media created an environment of fear. If it bleeds, it leads right? Even prior to 9/11, the media played up violence at home and abroad. Pictures of riots in the foreign streets, threats against Americans, and general violence were all played up to portray a violent and unsafe world. Politicians now tell us ďthey hate youĒ as former NYC mayor, Rudy Guiliani, did during his campaign. Itís US vs. THEM!!!

Bombarded by this for decades, Americans think this myth is reality and donít want to leave the states. People always ask me why I want to leave the US to travel. Isnít the U.S. just as good? No one likes us out there people say.
To Americans, the world is a scary place and itís a perception only reinforced by the media and politicians.
Finally, it is because of cultural ignorance. Yes, I said it- itís because Americans are ignorant. I mean ignorant as they simply just donít know what is going on outside their borders. I mean I donít blame them. When you are told the world is scary, why would you want to care about it? Why would you want to go to places where they want to kill you? So Americans donít put an emphasis on learning about the world. We donít take languages, avoid overseas programs, and donít talk about our world in schools. Our schools teach one foreign language: Spanish, and that is only because we have a large Spanish speaking population in the country not because we want to go to Spain. The media doesnít focus on the world except if it relates to something bad and our politicians encourage us to erect walls not break down barriers.
Some people argue that itís because America is ďfarĒ from the rest of the world as if there is an insurmountable distance to go to get places. However, New Zealand is further geographically yet they are encouraged to go out and explore the world. Itís further for them to get anywhere in the world than it is for Americans. In the age of the internet, Twitter, You Tube, and airplanes, it is easy to go places. Distance is no excuse.
No, Americans donít travel because of culture not location. Sure, itís not universal. There are plenty of Americans out there exploring the world and breaking down cultural barriers. They come back and break down myths and encourage the world to get involved. But even in the more liberal places in America, you see this attitude that America is the worldís only safe country, that most of the world is pretty scary. In reality, Americans have an image of the world that is totally divorced from reality.
Why Americans Don't Travel Overseas | Nomadic Matt's Travel Site

Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message

Old 07-24-2009, 03:55 AM
Location: Fairfax
2,880 posts, read 6,169,448 times
Reputation: 1230
I disagree almost completely with this post.. Maybe it's a generation thing but I'd say the vast majority of my peers don't think this way. From the media, some Americans do get the idea (wrongfully) that people will be burning American flags wherever you go and that anti-American sentiment exists everywhere. However, even those with these perceptions would jump at the chance to go abroad given the chance.

You want to know the reason most Americans don't travel overseas? Money and family obligations which go hand in hand. The typical family vacations overseas cost a fortune but the more affordable options of studying/working/backpacking abroad are best for younger people not tied down. On the flip side many people that retire with financial security travel abroad. So naturally the average Joe with two kids and a mortgage will save thousands and go to the beach in Florida rather than Bali.

So no, we are not a bunch of chicken littles.
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
Old 07-24-2009, 04:02 AM
Location: Texas
43,562 posts, read 52,689,396 times
Reputation: 70839
Almost everyone I know has vacationed outside this country...

I wonder what the stats are.
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
Old 07-24-2009, 04:14 AM
Location: on an island
13,382 posts, read 40,925,492 times
Reputation: 13245
About a year ago, there was another Americans Don't Own Passports piece floating around the internet.
I am glad to see that this particular guy updated his info (he now says 25%.)

The US Government says closer to 30%. (http://www.travel.state.gov/passport/services/stats/stats_890.html - broken link)

I think there are a bunch of reasons, some of them, such as our large country with its varying terrain, have already been stated.

Another is vacation time.
We don't get nearly as much vacation as, say, the average Brit or French person, who, for the inexpensive price of an Easyjet flight, can go to any number of exotic places (Canary Islands, Marrakesh, Tunisia etc) in a matter of hours, and then spend weeks away from the office.

No doubt there is a certain amount of fear, though perhaps that is changing.
No doubt there is also a lack of intellectual curiousity among some groups of Americans. They might be more at ease in Disney World than Beijing.

Those types of people probably have counterparts in other regions of our planet. I am sure there are a few lager louts in Britain who don't own a UK passport.
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
Old 07-24-2009, 06:00 AM
25,996 posts, read 33,010,516 times
Reputation: 32219
Originally Posted by delany View Post
I'm on my 3rd passport. My son, his second. I've flown around the world, twice, lost track of how many times I've actually left the country. Every SINGLE person in my immediate family has traveled outside of the U.S. We LOVE other cultures and the whole travel experience.

The article may have the right stats, but the reasoning is garbage.
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
Old 07-24-2009, 09:21 AM
943 posts, read 2,781,600 times
Reputation: 694
My brother has not traveled overseas and the main reason is ignorance. He is convinced that he will be treated rudely and no one will be able to communicate with him. He will not believe that a large number of people he will come in contact with will be able to speak English. Also he is fearful that he will be a victim of crime or terrorism.
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
Old 07-24-2009, 09:28 AM
Location: Camberville
12,030 posts, read 16,773,933 times
Reputation: 19763
I think many people overestimate the price of travel abroad. For instance, I studied abroad for 6 months in England and probably spent a little over a month and a half in total traveling outside of the London metro, though much of that was scattered weekends to Paris, Wales, Amsterdam, Bath, etc. In total, I only spent about $4500 for 6 weeks of travel- including transportation (planes, trains, buses, ferry, subways, trollies, etc), museums, food, accommodation, souvenirs, and even some of the tours I did. That might seem like a lot, but that was probably under 50 Euro a day plus transportation. It might not always be comfortable or glamorous- like eating PBJ sandwiches that you split the cost for with the people in your 12 person dorm in a hostel- but it's absolutely wonderful to scrimp by and then have a nice meal on the banks of the Seine or splurge on a pricier souvenir somewhere. If I had done it all in one go, I probably would have shaved off at least $750 on transportation costs (airfare/Eurostar/ferries in between London and the continent as well as transportation from downtown London to the airports which is EXTREMELY expensive).

Granted, I met other young Americans and Aussies who dropped over $10,000 in 2 months completely staying on the continent (so no need to cross the channel and the extra expenses included) because they were treating travel as party party party all the time. I might have had a few local beers along the way but I was never looking to get drunk. I met far too many people who blew through years of savings in only a month doing nothing but laying on a beach in Greece and downing alcohol. If that's what you want to do, that's fine, but that's not how you HAVE to do it.

Lack of vacation time is also part of it. It takes pretty much 2 days out of your vacation just to fly to Europe, Asia, South America, etc, plus those flights are quite pricey. Personally, I want at least a full week if I'm going well out of my way and would prefer even longer than that to soak up a culture. We just can't do that as easily- even to quite inexpensive places like Chile, Argentina, Colombia, Mexico, and the Balkans.
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
Old 07-24-2009, 11:12 AM
943 posts, read 2,781,600 times
Reputation: 694
I can travel in Mexico and Central America for cheaper than in California if you add the cost of air, hotel, food and transporation, so cost is not really the issue.
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
Old 07-24-2009, 12:16 PM
16,092 posts, read 36,583,468 times
Reputation: 6277
UK is fairly expensive if you don't know your way around or are afraid to ask..
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
Old 07-24-2009, 12:56 PM
32,089 posts, read 32,994,562 times
Reputation: 14956
Some Americans are international travelers and some aren't. But I think people that are more educated and have more financial resources travel internationally more.
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
Please register to post and access all features of our very popular forum. It is free and quick. Over $68,000 in prizes has already been given out to active posters on our forum. Additional giveaways are planned.

Detailed information about all U.S. cities, counties, and zip codes on our site: City-data.com.

Please update this thread with any new information or opinions. This open thread is still read by thousands of people, so we encourage all additional points of view.

Quick Reply

Over $104,000 in prizes was already given out to active posters on our forum and additional giveaways are planned!

Go Back   City-Data Forum > General Forums > Travel
Follow City-Data.com founder on our Forum or

All times are GMT -6.

© 2005-2019, Advameg, Inc. · Please obey Forum Rules · Terms of Use and Privacy Policy · Bug Bounty

City-Data.com - Archive 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30, 31, 32, 33, 34, 35 - Top