Americans: Do We Really Travel Less Than People In Other Countries?
If you’ve done much traveling to destinations like Europe, Japan, or South America, you’ve probably come across this bias: Americans don’t travel as much as people from other countries. But is this assertion true? Residents of the world, the United States included, tend to think that Americans stick to home much more frequently than their international friends. Rumors circulate that only 10% of US citizens hold current passports, and that the vast majority of citizens haven’t been outside of the continental United States.
But these claims, like most unsubstantiated “facts,” are a far cry from reality. William D. Chalmers crunched American travel statistics for the Huffington Post and found that well over a third of Americans actually hold current US passports, and we take over 30 million overseas trips every year.
Of course, when you take into account that there are 311 million people in United States, and that many of the people who do travel internationally do so more than once a year, you discover that only about 3.5% of all US residents travel overseas in a given year. Chalmers also found that only about 9% of US residents were even interested in taking an overseas trip in 2012 compared to 11% in 2011.
These numbers seem quite low, but they should be taken with a grain of salt. The United States isn’t exactly a small country, and we’ve got some great neighbors to the North and the South that aren’t counted in Chalmers’ numbers for American international travel. There are vast opportunities to explore different cultures, climates, terrains, and cities here within North America. Just think – in a drive from Southern California to Northern California, you cover the expanse of what would be six or seven countries over in Europe! We Americans may not head overseas as often as we’d like to, but that doesn’t mean we’re not doing our fair share of exploring right here at home.
It’s also worth noting that we do travel more than the vast majority of the world. We tend to forget when we weigh our travel opportunities just how lucky we are to have any chance to expedition at all. So, the next time you throw a dart at your map of the world and decide where to take your adventure, think about how lucky you are to be an American with a valid US passport and the means to see what the world has to offer. Then, when you’re done being sappy, contact SPS to get your travel visas secured as simply and conveniently as possible.
Rob Lee is co-founder of Swift Passport and Visa Services. Originally from Michigan, Rob is an avid fisherman and SCUBA diver who enjoys adventure travel.