Why Americans Don't Travel (Or Are Too Afraid To)
Why Americans Don't Travel (Or Are Too Afraid To)
Its no secret that Americans don't travel much, and apart from the stereotypes that we are all ignorant to the world outside our borders, the simple truth is that most Americans are happy and content to stay within the US with barely any dreams of escaping to see the world.
Let's dig in, and find out why Americans don't travel.
While there are a couple good excuses, the real reason is most Americans are too afraid to explore and get lost for fear they might not like what they find and that's why I am here to tell them all why that is utter horse shit - but I thought you'd like to know to so we're opening up the conversation to everyone.
1. "Ugh, Europe is too far."
Ok, there is a BIT of truth to this, but we'll quickly get to why it doesn't make sense and is a terrible excuse. The US is a massive country and not only has the popular coast cities of New York, Miami and Los Angeles but also has mountains, desert, forests, plains and everything in between. This makes it hard for us Americans to justify flying all the way to Switzerland to go skiing when we could just jump on a shitty cheap Southwest flight and be in Aspen by lunch.
That being said, have you ever tried to get to Hawaii from the East Coast? It'll take you 2 days and isn't even that worth it. Instead, man up and take that plane the other direction, across the pond and get lost in Paris, London or Dublin - all beautiful European cities that will give any American a soft entrance into international travel. But watch the French, they are asshole, especially to us Americans. (Although we deserve it, so know that.)
The bottom line is that once you are on an airplane you're on an airplane, why not spend a couple extra hours and step outside your comfort zone - the world isn't all that big and a couple extra hours of flying can get you to some pretty amazing places. Just pop on another shitty Adam Sandler movie, take a shit and you're there.
2. "But I don't have a passport."
Well, congratulations, you're a complete idiot. This is the single worst excuse not to travel but sadly one of the most popular reasons why Americans don't travel. Did you know that until Mexico started requiring passports for visitors driving over the boarder from California that only 13% of Americans had a valid passport. THIRTEEN PERCENT! I still cannot believe that and am utterly embarrassed, but I'm glad it has increased in recent years.
The process takes less than 2 weeks (99% of which is just waiting) and includes filling out a simple 1 page form, taking 2 passport photos at CVS and spending pennies to send it off. For some reason it feels like the process of getting a passport feels like the most stressful thing to Americans so they just ignore it all together. Remember, you won't get waterboarded, detained or wire tapped for requesting a legal document granting you access to travel the world.
And lets not forget that a US passport is the 2nd most powerful on the planet, granting you visa free access to 172 countries! Seriously, get your shit together! (In case you were wondering what is #1, a UK, Sweden and Finland will get you to 173 countries - thanks for nothing Brazil!)
3. "Yea, but what about ISIS?"
If its not ISIS, its Ebola, if not ebola its North Korea, terrorists or bears - as long as the media has existed in the US it has been used to scare the living shit out of Americans into thinking that no good can come from traveling abroad. I actually had a great, life long friend come to visit me in Dubai when I first moved here who's father, when hearing he was planning to visit me, said "yea... but what about ISIS and Ebola?" Obviously a man who had never stepped outside the boarders of the country, he failed to realize that at that point (and still) Ebola has killed more people in America than in Dubai or anywhere in the Middle East for that matter - and that ISIS, jesus don't even get me started.
The point is that Americans simply think everyone is out to get them and whether it is their ignorance and lack of knowledge, the lies they are told on the news or their steadfast belief that they've got all they need right there in the good ole' US of A, few ever venture out because of fear, which is a real shame.
I've lived in third world countries, gotten lost in shanty towns and seedy neighborhoods all over the world and still never felt as scared or unsafe as I did at times living in Los Angeles. Thats no lie.
4. "I would, but I don't have enough vacation days"
Ok, this is as close to a valid excuse as you can get. Indeed, it is tragic how few vacation days most Americans have, and you can't blame us for wanting to travel somewhere close when all we have is 5 days off. Hell no I'm not flying to Rome with a connection in Paris and a 7 hour time change when I can just jump on a 2 hour flight to Florida and drink cheap cans of American beer on the beach for 4 days.
Unfortunately, what many Americans fail to realize, is that in even just one week you can get to some pretty incredible places, and if you are willing to be tired for an extra day or two at work after your trip you can vastly expand your world view. Think about it, London, Paris, Dublin, Rio de Janeiro, Costa Rica, British Columbia, Cancun, Iceland, Haiti - all pretty close to the US if you are willing to got the extra mile.
5. "No one will go with me"
Man up, honestly. Might as well be out on the road with new friends you met at a youth hostel in Bolivia than with the fat creep you ended up talking to all night at the Blockbuster when you think back to the most interesting conversation you had this week.
Solo travel is one of the most amazing experiences anyone can ever have, and if you miss out on seeing a bit of this world with nothing but yourself as company, you are really missing out on not only some amazing experiences but honestly on what it means to be human. Do you know how refreshing it feels to walk into the town square of a city you've never been to before, not knowing the language or anything about where you are? You forget quick what that feels like and most people (Americans especially) barricade themselves behind the familiar and are terrified of anything new or scary. Seriously, think about what you are missing out on - you know what, never mind, you never will until you try it for yourself, which sadly you probably never will... sigh.