Get Out More

As you probably know by now, I’m very fond of travel.  So it shouldn’t surprise you that I’m here to encourage everyone to get out more!

There are over three hundred million people in this country, and yet only a third of Americans have a passport.  Canada and the U.K. each have twice as many.  When I saw that number, I was astounded, and wondered why ours is so low.

I found several factors.  One is that people seem to like the safety and comfort of their own environment.  My brother, for example, is perfectly fine staying only in the state where he lives, and generally not going anywhere more than 50 miles outside of his city.  He thinks I’m crazy for wanting to travel the world, just as I think he’s nuts for NOT wanting to.  However, apparently people like him are the majority.

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Photo courtesy of Alyx Morgan

I think another big deterrent for Americans traveling is fear of the cost; many probably feel they wouldn’t be able to afford a vacation abroad.  Even I used to think it would take thousands of dollars to venture across the pond, as the Brits say.  But my friend, Nikki, showed me how to search for great deals, and my first trip out of the country from Chicago to London twelve years ago only cost me $380 round trip.  That’s cheaper than flying across our own country, even back then.

If you’re savvy in your search, you can find very cheap fares on sites like Orbitz, or Priceline.  While others, such as SmarterTravel, Travelocity, and Travelzoo all have weekly emails that showcase various vacation specials.  And don’t forget to sign up for the airline newsletters.  When Craig and I went to Sydney and New Zealand in 2010, we got a sweet deal from the weekly emails from Qantas, and our round trip tickets were less than $900 apiece.

The media also has something to do with people’s reluctance to travel, in my opinion.  Foreign countries don’t make it into our media for doing good things, usually.  Here in America, we tend to only hear about the bombings, religious wars, or natural disasters.  So when people think about traveling to South America, for instance, they visualize the drug lords in Colombia, or the political and civil unrest in Nicaragua; both of which haven’t been a problem for years.

You also have to factor in the work-mentality that exists here in the States.  Whereas most other countries have an emphasis on leisure time (such as taking a one-year break between major life phases, which is common in New Zealand and the UK), here companies frown upon employees taking a lot of time off.  As a result, many Americans wind up not using all of their vacation time, or else working while on it.  The thought of working while on my vacation just makes me shudder.

I did some research and found over 40 countries whose workers receive many more vacation days than what’s considered “normal” here in America.  And some countries offer a month or more of paid vacation, ON TOP OF paid holidays; much of Italy shuts down for the month of August alone.  Here in the States, we don’t even have a legally required minimum for time off, and many temp agencies won’t even pay their workers for the nationally-recognized holidays!  There’s also the disparity of time off for child birth.  Several other countries offer 6-12 months paid leave, and I believe it’s Germany that allows up to two years off, and the mother has a guarantee that her job will still be hers when she returns.  No wonder more Europeans travel than Americans.

I’m sure another reason American’s don’t travel to foreign lands is that we have scads of places to travel here, without needing a passport.  The whole of Europe could fit in just half of our country.  Traveling from one state to the next takes about as long as going from one European nation to another, and each state has its own culture and sights to see.  Though, that still doesn’t explain why more Canadians have a passport than Americans, when they have roughly the same amount of land as we do.

Photo courtesy of Alyx Morgan

Photo courtesy of Alyx Morgan

And while the Southern states have a different culture and attitude than New York, it’s still largely American culture.  There are vast differences between our way of life than, say Paris, London, or Asia.  Disney’s EPCOT Center offers a small taste of foreign lands, but they pale in comparison with the real thing, not to mention that they’ve been Americanized.

Besides, seeing the world is such a broadening experience.  Even just a short trip overseas can teach us that we’re all very similar, with just enough differences to make a trip worthwhile.  That’s something you can’t get from watching a movie or reading a book.

So Get Out More!

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4 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Dana Fredsti
    Apr 26, 2013 @ 11:11:54

    I love traveling… but the whole short vacation issue is definitely a factor in why we don’t go very far for very long (that and animal care). Being gone an entire week is a big deal… America needs to take some lessons from other countries regarding the mental health of their employees.

    Reply

    • Alyx Morgan
      Apr 26, 2013 @ 12:45:08

      AMEN, Dana. I was truly shocked when I discovered that there’s no minimum requirement on paid vacation time here in the States, when so many other countries give a minimum of 20 working days to their people! It just sends a horrible message to your worker bees.

      And yeah, I can understand that animal care would also hinder long vacations. We only have Jasmyn, but we flew Craig’s mom out to stay with her while we were on our honeymoon. I can only imagine the logistical nightmare you guys would have with your brood. 🙂

      Reply

  2. Terry Shames
    Apr 26, 2013 @ 12:53:34

    I’m one of those who has relatives who don’t travel–in fact, a few who have never been outside the county where they were born. Add to your list of reasons why people don’t travel “lack of intellectual curiosity.” Of course you don’t have to travel to satisfy intellectual curiosity, but in order to get the most out of travel you have to have a healthy dose of it.

    There’s also fear of the other, as you mentioned. For some reason, when I first went to Italy I expected it to be backwards–I have no idea where that idea came from (maybe reading Christ Stopped at Eboli?). Anyway, it gave me my comeuppance to get there and find out just who was backwards!

    Interesting post. Travel on…

    Reply

    • Alyx Morgan
      Apr 26, 2013 @ 13:21:21

      LOL You may have actually touched on another reason people don’t travel, Terry…fear of discovering that we Americans are the “backwards” ones. My brother is perfectly “happy” with being a “die-hard, patriotic American citizen” who thinks America can do no wrong. I think he would hate to discover that there are many things we don’t do “right,” because that would destroy the myth he so strongly clings to.

      But I also agree with you on the intellectual curiosity. You’re right, that travel doesn’t have to be a part of that, but they seem to go hand in hand. I think you’d be hard-pressed to find someone who travels who ISN’T intellectually curious.

      Thanks for stopping by today.

      Reply

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