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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 May 2nd, 2020, 11:47 AM
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When I lived in Western Australia, I always wondered why so few Aussies from 'over east' visited WA, which is one third of Australia

For West Aussies, it's faster and easier to get to Bali (3:50) and Singapore (5:30) than to some parts of Australia. For East Aussies, it's faster and easier to get to New Zealand (3:00 from Sydney) than Western Australia (5:00 from Sydney).

In the US, it's generally faster and easier to get from one state to another...which was not the case for us when we lived in Western Australia. And unlike Australia, which is red and empty in the middle and green and inhabited around the edges, the US is filled in the middle, so there are a lot of places to visit.

As an avid traveling American, I much prefer off-the-beaten path international destinations, where I'm less likely to run into other Americans....and I usually travel well off season. And now that I think of it, I haven't encountered that many Aussies on my travels (outside of Australia that is).

As mentioned up thread, I think some Americans don't travel internationally because they have so much at their doorstep. Many people I know don't quite understand why I'd rather travel internationally than domestically.

There's also the difference in time off which has been mentioned already. Australians get 6-8 weeks of long service leave after 7-10 years with the same employer. Many Americans get a fraction of that.

If mej210390 revisits this thread, I'd be interested to know where he/she has traveled.

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Old May 25th, 2020, 06:02 AM
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Adding to marvelousmouse, when it's summer in the US, it's winter in Australia. 🏖
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Old Oct 9th, 2020, 09:22 PM
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Based on which study? i don't think that's accurate. Maybe they just go to different routes so you don't bump into them often.
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Old Oct 9th, 2020, 10:52 PM
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Originally Posted by matheui902 View Post
Based on which study? i don't think that's accurate. Maybe they just go to different routes so you don't bump into them often.
Per the US State Dept approx 39% of Americans currently have a passport so right there it means only a minority can travel to other countries. And only a fraction of passport holders will travel out of the country in any one year. I read a travel industry journal a couple of years ago that 'guestimated' that up to 20% of passports are applied for because of a specific upcoming trip and seldom used more than once or twice in their 10 year validity.

In my own extended family -- three different cousins/uncle had to get passports because of trips I was planning for them. They never traveled out of the country again. With everything there is to see and do/diversity in the US - "There is so much of my own country I haven't seen so France (or England, or Thailand or Japan, or wherever) will just have to wait." is a pretty common sentiment.
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Old Oct 10th, 2020, 04:56 PM
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Originally Posted by janisj View Post
Per the US State Dept approx 39% of Americans currently have a passport so right there it means only a minority can travel to other countries. And only a fraction of passport holders will travel out of the country in any one year. I read a travel industry journal a couple of years ago that 'guestimated' that up to 20% of passports are applied for because of a specific upcoming trip and seldom used more than once or twice in their 10 year validity.

In my own extended family -- three different cousins/uncle had to get passports because of trips I was planning for them. They never traveled out of the country again. With everything there is to see and do/diversity in the US - "There is so much of my own country I haven't seen so France (or England, or Thailand or Japan, or wherever) will just have to wait." is a pretty common sentiment.
I can believe that. I think I got my passport the first time for WYD in Toronto.

I first started traveling internationally because Iíd been to the major US cities. I wanted more transit oriented destinations. Itís not that that Iíve seen everything in the US. Not even close. But the year I went to Japan, I had actually had a Maine/Vermont trip all planned out. Injured my leg, driving sounded miserable, and rebooked for Japan. If Iíd had a spouse or buddy going with me to Maine, I wouldíve still gone.

flights are a significant expense. And the older I get, the more I understand my parents perspective. A flight with several kids, ranging from teen to baby, just sounds like a lot of work, not vacation. Iíd take an older niece or nephew on an international trip, but only one at a time.
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Old Oct 10th, 2020, 06:31 PM
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As an American immigrant to Australia, I agree with the diversity of domestic travel being a big difference. Both countries have a huge variety of landscapes. But Australia I think is much more culturally homogeneous country even while being one of the world's most ethnically diverse. That diversity seems to integrate and modify Australian culture quickly. I find that Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide generally still "feel" pretty much alike. Whereas New Orleans is incredibly different from Seattle, New York or Miami... nearly as much so as European cities are from each other.

We do enjoy a good road trip here in Australia too. But when if we want that feel of being somewhere very different, it requires a minimum 6 hours flight from Melbourne (Bali) or 9.5 hours to Bangkok or Hong Kong, same as the average flight from the US to Europe. I think Aussies just get used to biting the bullet and booking long trips. The drive time between major Australian cities is just about as long anyway (and not nearly as cheap to stay once there, compared to Asia). I'd love to go visit Uluru (very much a unique cultural difference, it seems) but I haven't yet. The truth of it is that a flight there and a few nights stay is more expensive than two weeks in Vietnam. When you qualify for 8 weeks paid holidays, you might not want to spend it all on a 3 day trip.

What I find most curious about your question isn't in comparison to Australians, but that when we're in places like southeast Asia there does seem to be so many more Europeans than Americans in both high and shoulder seasons. It's about the same travel distance for either, their school hols schedules are similar, they both have similar levels of attractions to keep them closer to home and northern winter is about the only sane time to go no matter where you're from. That one I can't explain.

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Old Oct 11th, 2020, 05:50 AM
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I can see some of your points. However I don’t agree about the distance equation to southeast Asia from Europe and the United States. I’m not sure what your measuring point or starting point is but for people from the US it takes around a day to get to Southeast Asia unless you have a direct flight but that still is say 14-16 hours whereas from Europe it’s significantly less I think. As for winter travel I think that when you have children in school you have your answer as to why you can’t do that. The winter holidays like Christmas and Thanksgiving are pretty much here a time for family get together‘s.

Another different factor is vacation time. Unfortunately the United States does not have as much vacation time usually as you see in Europe or in Australia.

Retirees like us have the time and there are usually reasonably priced travel packages to go abroad so cost may be less of a factor than one may think.

We have had a chance to meet quite a few Australians in our travels and one thing I do notice and agree with you about is that when you see Aussies travel abroad they really like to go to a lot of different places. For example we have met people on a cruise who’s plans include leaving from the cruise and going to other destinations afterwards.

Last edited by jacketwatch; Oct 11th, 2020 at 06:28 AM.
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Old Oct 11th, 2020, 07:13 AM
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Yeah, itís a longer and more expensive flight to go to Southeast Asia. Normal prices are probably similar, but I rarely see good prices from airlines Iíd be willing to fly with, whereas Iím very often seeing European flights I could snap up. All of the SEA travelers I know actually are going to visit family. And because of expense, they go every couple of years at most,

Thereís more to it, I think, as well. Weather plays a part for me. Culture certainly plays a part. If someone is going to take their kids on one international trip, itís going to be stuff they connect to, and European history is heavily taught in American schools. I think, too, thereís a lot to be said about the ďtourist trailĒ. A neighbor or relative comes back with their snapshots of a trip. And the average American will plan their trip based on that, because it gives them confidence, because those locales are heavily covered in a guidebook. They might not stick to all of it. But the point is, youíd probably see the most Americans in Asia in the same spots. If youíve been a few times, CC, chances are youíve branched off and youíre less likely to be in those spots yourself. Or, possibly, you missed them due to a difference in schedules.
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Old Oct 11th, 2020, 02:18 PM
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Originally Posted by jacketwatch View Post
I can see some of your points. However I donít agree about the distance equation to southeast Asia from Europe and the United States. Iím not sure what your measuring point or starting point is but for people from the US it takes around a day to get to Southeast Asia unless you have a direct flight but that still is say 14-16 hours whereas from Europe itís significantly less I think. As for winter travel I think that when you have children in school you have your answer as to why you canít do that. The winter holidays like Christmas and Thanksgiving are pretty much here a time for family get togetherĎs.

Another different factor is vacation time. Unfortunately the United States does not have as much vacation time usually as you see in Europe or in Australia.

Retirees like us have the time and there are usually reasonably priced travel packages to go abroad so cost may be less of a factor than one may think.

We have had a chance to meet quite a few Australians in our travels and one thing I do notice and agree with you about is that when you see Aussies travel abroad they really like to go to a lot of different places. For example we have met people on a cruise whoís plans include leaving from the cruise and going to other destinations afterwards.
I used to leave for Europe and Asia from Memphis or St. Louis in the US. Now we live in Melbourne Australia. So my views could be coloured by the extra pain of getting out of the central US to a hub (Chicago when it was not snowing if we were lucky), where Melbourne rarely has to connect through Sydney to get underway and rarely has weather to contend with.

Agreed that the flight difference is a bit longer from the more heavily populated West Coast US or Europe. A fair point that a couple of hours probably does matter though. I've done the US to Asia bit fairly often and about the same going Australia to Asia and to the US. To *me*, it doesn't feel particularly easier to do 10 hours over 12 or 14. I've regretted breaking up a long direct route into two shorter legs once. It's just easier to keep going. But deciding and planning is very much about perception.

It's also about options. Even if you compare why do more Australians visit the US than why Americans visit Australia, it's partly that Americans have more painless options on where to go than Australians do. The flight between the two places is the same, but the motivation to go isn't.

But I have to guess you're right. Time is probably the biggest factor. Countries with little time off and have work pressure not to take more than 2 weeks (I remember from several employers in the US) simply have to be more selective and limited in where they choose to go. Whereas here, we'll have off at least 6 weeks in the coming year, plus 4 weeks banked from an inactive 2020. And besides time, it's money. "Americans" is a very big group and while very wealthy on the whole, it's not particularly known for equity in the distribution of that wealth. Often reflected in the fight over minimum wage, for instance (which for most US states is half that of much of the industrialized world with lower GDPs and PPPs). A *lot* of rural and inner-city Americans are simply unable to afford to go very far from home and so it becomes a culture of believing only rich people travel overseas. A drive to Destin or Branson or the Dells is a luxury for many people.
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Old Oct 11th, 2020, 03:30 PM
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Originally Posted by CounterClifton View Post
I used to leave for Europe and Asia from Memphis or St. Louis in the US. Now we live in Melbourne Australia. So my views could be coloured by the extra pain of getting out of the central US to a hub (Chicago when it was not snowing if we were lucky), where Melbourne rarely has to connect through Sydney to get underway and rarely has weather to contend with.

Agreed that the flight difference is a bit longer from the more heavily populated West Coast US or Europe. A fair point that a couple of hours probably does matter though. I've done the US to Asia bit fairly often and about the same going Australia to Asia and to the US. To *me*, it doesn't feel particularly easier to do 10 hours over 12 or 14. I've regretted breaking up a long direct route into two shorter legs once. It's just easier to keep going. But deciding and planning is very much about perception.

It's also about options. Even if you compare why do more Australians visit the US than why Americans visit Australia, it's partly that Americans have more painless options on where to go than Australians do. The flight between the two places is the same, but the motivation to go isn't.

But I have to guess you're right. Time is probably the biggest factor. Countries with little time off and have work pressure not to take more than 2 weeks (I remember from several employers in the US) simply have to be more selective and limited in where they choose to go. Whereas here, we'll have off at least 6 weeks in the coming year, plus 4 weeks banked from an inactive 2020. And besides time, it's money. "Americans" is a very big group and while very wealthy on the whole, it's not particularly known for equity in the distribution of that wealth. Often reflected in the fight over minimum wage, for instance (which for most US states is half that of much of the industrialized world with lower GDPs and PPPs). A *lot* of rural and inner-city Americans are simply unable to afford to go very far from home and so it becomes a culture of believing only rich people travel overseas. A drive to Destin or Branson or the Dells is a luxury for many people.
Those flights to SEA can stretch into well over 20 hours or more with layovers. I agree its easier if you can get a NS flight though it seems to me these are costlier however.

As for the time factor that is a big one, I agree. I was fortunate to have close to 6 weeks vacation per year counting use of 4 personal holidays though as an RN we were restricted to max 2 weeks in the summer as those months were "prime time" so to speak. Most people don't have that much time and some may have to use vacation time for sick days too so thats another factor. We had a separate sick bank but that can run dry with a prolonged illness. I was out over two mos. due to knee surgery. My sick bank was well stocked because i seldom used it but others were not so fortunate and had to dip into vacation time as their sick time ran out. My wife had PTO and everything was combined and in her case it was pretty generous though many are not so fortunate.

As you point out for some long trips are simply not possible for lower income families. This is why driving vacations, camping, etc are popular for many or staycations.

Most of the Aussies I have met are appalled by our tipping custom here. In OZ the wage for service workers is much greater so no tipping is required and from what I can gather Aussies do not want Americans to tip when in Oz so the service workers will not expect it.

All the bat.

Larry





Last edited by jacketwatch; Oct 11th, 2020 at 03:48 PM.
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Old Oct 12th, 2020, 12:30 AM
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How common are US TV travel shows on Asia?

Here in Italy many have a dream of doing a route 66 road trip. The reason being over the years it's been something the travel TV shows have covered. Along with he US national parks.

Many of these shows end up acting like any other form of advertising.
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Old Oct 12th, 2020, 03:46 AM
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Originally Posted by jacketwatch View Post

Most of the Aussies I have met are appalled by our tipping custom here. In OZ the wage for service workers is much greater so no tipping is required and from what I can gather Aussies do not want Americans to tip when in Oz so the service workers will not expect it.
When I moved here about 10 years ago, tipping was pretty much non-existent except perhaps by a small segment of Australian diners in nice, full service restaurants. Even then, it was more just rounding up and intended as a true gratuity, rather than paying for labour. Along the way, I noticed tip jars appearing in some takeaway shops but they seem to be disappearing again now. It's just a generalization but it does feel like a cultural difference in the relationship between patron and employee. Less of a power differential, so no tipping, grocery employees don't jump out of the way if you're trying to be where they're stocking. Even in taxis, it's generally expected that a passenger (at least a male passenger) will sit up front with the driver and not in the backseat. It has its pros and cons. Probably more pros if you're more of a worker (law dictates nurses get 2x salary on weekends and holidays and long service leave).. Probably more cons if you're a high level professional type. Doctors and lawyers do well but they don't make exponentially more than other professions..



Originally Posted by Traveler_Nick View Post
How common are US TV travel shows on Asia?

Here in Italy many have a dream of doing a route 66 road trip. The reason being over the years it's been something the travel TV shows have covered. Along with he US national parks.

Many of these shows end up acting like any other form of advertising.
TV does seem to have its effect on things like that! I'm in Australia but have an interest in American style slow cooked BBQ. When I got here, few had heard of it. After Pitmasters and a couple of other tv shows hit Australian TV, it seems to be everywhere. Restaurants, supply companies and large weekend cooking competitions between teams of people who enjoy it. I noticed that there are a half dozen of those competitions now held in Italy too.

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Old Oct 12th, 2020, 05:43 AM
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Are there travel shows specifically for Asia here? None that I know of but a lot of shows do cover Asia.
1.House Hunters International has episodes from time to time featuring Asia. It’s not travel log material but you do get a good look at life and especially relative cost. Then there are food shows that do feature countries in Asia:
2. Andrew Zimmern of Bizaare Foods.
3. The Late Anthony Bourdain did many shows which IMO was far more about people and culture than food.
4. Eddie Huang of Huangs world.
5. Raw Travel.
6. Netflix has a series on street foods Asia which combines food with life in those countries.
7. And then I suppose you could find tons of stuff on YouTube.


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Old Oct 13th, 2020, 07:05 AM
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I don't think we have any shows on travelling in Asia either, except for the #6 variety. Seems any chef who gets famous enough here must do a tv show where they set up a cooker in random spots in Asia and cook something. Luke Nguyen's show around Vietnam wasn't bad but it still doesnt' fill you in much on what to do if you're not going to be cooking in the middle of the market. It's a quick montage of scenes and street activity taken before the host got there, straight into him talking to a stall seller or restaurant owner, then into the demo. I like cooking and learning new cuisines but it's probably not a great format for trip planning.

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Old Oct 13th, 2020, 09:48 AM
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Originally Posted by CounterClifton View Post
I don't think we have any shows on travelling in Asia either, except for the #6 variety. Seems any chef who gets famous enough here must do a tv show where they set up a cooker in random spots in Asia and cook something. Luke Nguyen's show around Vietnam wasn't bad but it still doesnt' fill you in much on what to do if you're not going to be cooking in the middle of the market. It's a quick montage of scenes and street activity taken before the host got there, straight into him talking to a stall seller or restaurant owner, then into the demo. I like cooking and learning new cuisines but it's probably not a great format for trip planning.
.

Agree. Rick Steves has travel shows about Europe but I really cannot find anything by anybody else that is specific for Asia.
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Old Jan 22nd, 2021, 08:09 AM
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As a US citizen, personally I love to travel abroad, although money and time off are definitely factors. I will say that depending on my budget it is sometimes difficult for me to choose traveling to Europe, or Australia, versus somewhere in the US that I've never been to before. Time is definitely a factor in that if I'm planning a trip to Australia or Asia, getting there and back, could eat up 3 to 4 days of the overall vacation. It can be tough to find that balance.
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