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Why do few Americans travel abroad compared to other nationalities?

Why do few Americans travel abroad compared to other nationalities?

Old Apr 11th, 2020, 12:14 AM
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Why do few Americans travel abroad compared to other nationalities?

I just want to point out, I am an Aussie (Australian) and every time I travel abroad, I notice how few Americans I meet compared with other nationalities , I was wondering why that is the case, I then did some research and it says time off work (only 2 weeks off) and Money are an issue, another point people point out is the fact that the US is a huge place with lots of varieties of weather, climate, geography, terrain and the like, but then again, so does Australia, but beyond those reasons, why don't they travel abroad, it perplexes me???

PS. I hope this is in the right category that I put this in??? if not please re-categorise this in a different thread.
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Old Apr 11th, 2020, 02:54 AM
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Australia isn't tiny but it's quite a bit smaller than the US: Not just in terms of landmass but in terms of population. If you then factor in a large part of the American population lives next to either Canada (Bigger than both the US or Australia) or Mexico traveling outside of the Americas is obviously less important. That before you add the short hops to places in the Caribbean.

Most Europeans tend to travel within Europe or even within their own countries. It's a myth that everybody in Europe travels the world.

Personally I think the line about vacation length is a bit of overdone. Not everybody has only two weeks. The people with the money to travel tend to have more flexible schedules.

So why don't people travel? The same reason people in other countries don't travel. A lack of interest.
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Old Apr 12th, 2020, 06:12 PM
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The statistic to know would be the number of trips taken abroad per 1 million people... which I was not able to find.

But, according to this article (July 2019), Australians take a significantly smaller total number of trips abroad than people from other countries, in particular China, the U.S., Germany and the U.K.


Could your observation indicate that Americans are standing out less as they travel? Or could it be that Americans tend to choose different destinations than Australians do?


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Old Apr 12th, 2020, 08:27 PM
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Sorry but there is nothing here to conclude that based on the Americans you happen to bump into while traveling that few Americans travel.

Consider where you were and when you were there. If you went say close to home like Bali and saw few Americans I would say you would have seen more in say Hawaii, Mexico or the Caribbean.

Last edited by jacketwatch; Apr 12th, 2020 at 08:38 PM.
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Old Apr 12th, 2020, 09:07 PM
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Personally, I meet plenty of US citizens (as opposed to “Americans” ) when travelling. I think a number of factors will influence how many you will meet. Pre 9/11 a very low % of US (think around 15-20%) citizens had passports, simply because they didn't need them to visit their favourite haunts close to home - Canada, Mexico, the Caribbean islands etc. The number of US citizens now holding passports has risen to something like 40% which still lags way behind the 76% of UK citizens with passports or 70% of Australians (but of course, in absolute terms the population of the US is way higher and will offset this to a great extent.

Another factor, for the working population at least, is the amount of holiday (vacation) time allocated to employees. When working for the London office of a US company, I can recall how delighted my US colleagues were to be posted there if only because their vacation allocation usually doubled! this effectively freed them up to take not one but two or more trips per year so the total amount of holiday time will have a significant effect on how long people people spend travelling. For people in Europe at least the taking of a “long weekend” trip within to another countrey is way more prevalent than I suspect it is in either the USA or Australia simply because of the distances involved

Of course Jean could be correct in her assertion that "Americans are standing out less as they travel” although, I would have to say that most of my friends from the US are not what I would describe as shy retiring types

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Old Apr 13th, 2020, 04:35 AM
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As Mr. C said having longer allowances for PTO is a factor. The US lags far behind per the chart.

I transferred to a unionize hospital and spent the last 24 years of my career there. As a registered nurse I got far more benefits than my colleagues in the private sector. My paid time off which includes vacation and holidays and personal days came to around 7 1/2 weeks and we also had a separate bank for sick days which did not cut into the holiday time that we had. When you compare this to what register nurses get in the private sector it’s far far better. As such it enables us or anyone who has more time off to go further away and to come back with enough time to adjust to jet lag.

Last edited by jacketwatch; Apr 13th, 2020 at 04:39 AM.
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Old Apr 13th, 2020, 10:35 AM
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I also wonder if your age and how/where you travel influences how many "Americans" you meet? I haven't looked at any statistics, but I recall when I used to travel regularly in New Zealand (independently, using public transportation and some hostel-type lodgings) there weren't that many Americans. They seemed more likely to be on package tours, or drove rental vehicles or campers and maybe they stayed in hotels. I would more often meet them on things like organized day tours, or hear US accents at scenic stops on driving routes. I don't know how things stand now, this was pre-Lord of the Rings (thank goodness!)

Yes a lot of "Americans" vacation in Mexico especially during the snowbird months. So if you haven't been to Mexico between November and March, you haven't run into all of those international travelers. And you probably aren't running into the retired Americans who populate upscale resorts and restaurants, either. Unless you are in Oaxaca, LOL....

I never run into very many Australian tourists here, other than hearing a lot of Aussie accents in Disneyland. And on cruise ships to South America. There were tons in Bali, of course.

Some of the younger American travelers that I've met more recently (in the Galapagos, for example) had their own businesses and didn't need to get employer approval for a vacation of more than 2-3 weeks. I do think that is an issue for the "wage slave" working population. Even those with lots of seniority and vacation days, there is always the "we need coverage" thing. So you might get a few 2-week vacations and then a 3-week vacation if you planned it far enough in advance during a time that wasn't busy. Actually that is also true for a friend who has been working for John Lewis in Cardiff. She used to come around the Christmas Holidays but now it's around Halloween if she gets approval at the beginning of the year.

Last edited by mlgb; Apr 13th, 2020 at 10:47 AM.
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Old Apr 16th, 2020, 10:30 AM
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We certainly run into a lot of Australian tourists when we travel from the US to Europe and Asia.
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Old Apr 16th, 2020, 08:52 PM
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I'd agree with another comment here that we can probably be attributed to not being interested at all. Even with the time and the money, travel is not something that interests everyone.
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Old Apr 17th, 2020, 04:45 AM
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Jacketwatch: I agree with you, anyone who travels to Hawaii will see a ton of Americans.

(thanks, I got a chuckle reading your response).
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Old Apr 17th, 2020, 08:01 AM
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Originally Posted by bdokeefe
Jacketwatch: I agree with you, anyone who travels to Hawaii will see a ton of Americans.

(thanks, I got a chuckle reading your response).
thank you! I’m glad somebody liked it
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Old Apr 17th, 2020, 12:33 PM
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It seems to me that Americans travel a lot, just differently. Think about it. If you are in England or Ireland, a quick flight puts you in other countries like France or Spain for beaches. In the States, a quick flight takes you from state to state. A flight from NY puts you in Florida or Puerto Rico or the Caribbean for beaches. Within Europe, it is easy to take a train or fly to a major city for shows, food, etc. In the States, on the East Coast, people travel to NYC, Washington etc. for their cultural fix.

One other thing, and I honestly have no idea how this affects Europeans, but the US is such a huge country with families far apart, I suspect a lot of travel in the states is spent going to see family, much of it by time-consuming car travel. For many years, all of our vacations were spent going to visit elderly parents who lived in different states far from our home.
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Old Apr 17th, 2020, 06:49 PM
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The cynic in me can't help but think that in addition to all of the above, some Americans (as in US citizens) tend to think that the world revolves around the United States and thus there's no reason or need to go anywhere else, let alone learn a foreign language, which certainly facilitates travel abroad. That and fear.
Along those lines, a few years back we were having dinner in Arequipa, Peru, and a German man approached our table and said he and his son were debating where we were from. His son said we couldn't possibly be from the US because we were speaking Spanish.
I like the joke I heard from a Mexican friend: Como se llama alguien que habla tres idiomas? Trilingue. Y, dos? Bilingue. Y sólo uno? Americano!
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Old Apr 22nd, 2020, 10:32 PM
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I think someone has already mentioned it, but one of the main faults with your logic is timing.

You don’t meet a lot of Americans because (most likely) you travel during the same times a lot of Aussies travel. Not Americans. I’ve been to Europe when US school is out, and when it’s not—two very different experiences in terms of meeting other Americans. There’s a reason US air travel spikes on set dates every year. My best friend is a teacher and her spring break is always “that week”—always very expensive.

then as someone else mentioned, lack of interest. There are people in every country who just don’t travel.

I dunno how much PTO really plays into it. My father gets a lot of vacation time. Doesn’t use it to travel. He was in the army for years, and now he’d rather do anything but travel. He takes “vacation” when he’s down to use it or lose it—drives my mother insane around Christmas. I get relatively little—I make it work. It helps that I don’t need to use it to visit family for Christmas, I’ve no in-laws, I rarely attend weddings, and (thank heavens) my extended family would laugh if someone asked when we all got together for “reunions”. these are all reasons my friends use their PTO. They get it, they just don’t use it to travel with for various reasons.

i do think—and this is just anecdotal—that a lot of Americans see travel in a certain way. I think a lot of stereotypes are just that, but there’s a certain truth to the one about Americans’ expectations. A trip to Paris doesn’t necessarily have to be expensive, but it will be if you treat it like a once in a life time trip—as in you stay at an expensive hotel, eat at all the “must eat” places, go to all the “major” museums, and shows. And that attitude gets passed down—champagne tastes on a beer budget, so to speak.

Aussies have their own quirks, though. Many of the ones I meet hit the same three places—LA, NYC, Vegas. Never really figured out the fascination with Vegas. Shopping? Or the whole American iconic thing? And I love both NYC and LA, but there’s a LOT in between the two.
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Old Apr 23rd, 2020, 08:50 PM
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There are also differences among Europeans about where and how they travel, for whatever reason. In the mass packaged holiday market, for example, some Spanish resorts feature more for German visitors than British. In Australia, I noticed that camper-van hire companies in Alice Springs expected German-speaking customers, but little or no sign of French or Italian.

And of course the fall-out from CV19 may up-end travel habits in all sorts of ways.
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Old Apr 23rd, 2020, 11:47 PM
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Yes there are many European "destinations" that are really just warmer versions of home. The same TV channels on. The same food and beer.

Sort of like an American going someplace to eat at McDonalds, stay at a Holiday inn, while drinking Miller around the pool watching ESPN.
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Old May 1st, 2020, 04:49 AM
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"Australians take a significantly smaller total number of trips abroad than people from other countries, in particular China, the U.S., Germany and the U.K"

This may be misleading, because Australia is very far from anywhere, but Southeast Asia and airfares are very expensive. It's much cheaper to fly from North America to Europe than from Australia and for this reason Aussies may travel abroad less frequently than US Americans, but they travel for longer.

Who travels more?

An American who travels abroad 3 times a Year, spending 2 weeks in Italy, 1 week in Mexico, and a daytrip to Canada or an Aussie who travels abroad once in 2 years, spending 3 months abroad visiting 10 countries?
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Old May 1st, 2020, 05:17 AM
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We travel much more since being retire and semi retired. If not for the dog we would stay for a couple of months. Americans do not have much vacation time and tend to do family trips to parks, beach, Disney etc. As a child we would go to Boston, DC NY and Philly. My parents took us to Miami and the Keys in 1970 instead of Christmas. We loved it. My Dad was always up for a trip. We rented a cottage at the shore in the summer. We didn't really have money for a flight to Europe. I paid more for a flight in 2000 to the UK than I have ever paid since. Prices were very high 20 years ago.
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Old May 2nd, 2020, 12:35 AM
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Just pointing out summer all the major European cities are full of American college age kids. Plus quite a few have a year abroad.

In terms of sheer numbers they likely dwarf the total number of Australians traveling to Europe.
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Old May 2nd, 2020, 10:18 AM
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There are many factors but in the US we only get 2-3 weeks of vacation. I had to be at a job 13 yrs to get 4 weeks. Then there is the cost to travel. Believe it or not but there are a lot of people who can't afford to.

My parents did not have a lot of money. Our vacations were at my grandmother's beach house which had no heat or air conditioning. Showers were taken outside and no TV. To us this was vacation and I grew up that way. I only few once a year one way to visit my Aunt. My grandfather was a travel agent who got my airfare by collecting points at the local grocery store. I didn't travel overseas until I was in my mid 20s with a friend and that was after 2000.

Not all people grew up like I did but it plays a part. I did have high school trip that went to Europe over Easter but my parents couldn't afford it and did I want to spend all my money made babysitting on a trip? No.

I only started going overseas once I had enough money that I wouldn't miss later in a few months. Time is another factor as I did have a job that only gave 10 days. Which they tried to make me pay back when I left after 10 months. I only took 4 days of it. Not all colleges provided study abroad when I was in school. That is a more recent thing.
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