Do many Americans go outside the USA?

$5000 for flights? or was that $5000 with accomodation at a top class hotel?

Just another “relative size” map

Another factor is not where Americans have traveled to, but how many places they’ve lived. For example, I’ve been to Europe, and vistied England, France, Germany and Switzerland. I don’t have a map handy, but lets say that from one end of the trip to another totaled 800 KM.

Yet I have lived in Illinois, Missouri, Texas, Kentucky and Indiana. Even with the shortest lines to connect all those places, it has to be at least 1,600 KM. And that doesn’t even cover the East Coast, the West Coast or the Southeast – all parts of the U.S. I’ve spent considerable time in.

and from the same reference:
Australia - comparative: slightly smaller than the contiguous 48 states of the US
Canada - slightly larger than the US

DO you have a cite for that? Would just be interested because
Martin Walker Chief International Correspondent, United Press has made the observation that “less than one in five members of Congress have a passport”. Just trying to get my mind around the possibility that members of Congress are less likely the travel than the average American.

Walker’s observation was discussed in this thread a few weeks ago.

I have often heard damning statistics about the percentage of Congress that hold a valid US passport. They have always varied between about 20%-40%. I am not sure whether this is true but would not be surprised. If it is true, that would give a much more significant insight into a country that styles itself as a world leader.

(Slight hijack)
I still haven’t been able to resolve the issue of how many countries George W. Bush had visited before elected as president. I would like to know the truth. Does anyone know for sure?

If Ireland was land-locked, and surrounded by countries that were culturally indistinguishable from it, would Irish people bother to travel so much? And if you discount no-effort-required trips to Spain, Portugal, Greece etc., are Europeans that much better-travelled than Americans?

This question (or something similar) is very often asked on the travel boards I visit. There’s apparently a consensus amongst american travellers that american people very often greatly overestimate the cost of oversea vacations. An usual anecdote is someone wondering how someone else could afford vacations in Europe and then spending much more for his own vacations in some american resort. American travellers also complain very often about having much less vacation time than europeans.

I’ve read quite frequently the 4 motives given by fretful and the also the fifth one given by ruadh (once you’ve visited family, there’s no vacation time left) and also another one : american being less accustomed to foreign travel, they’re more uncomfortable with having to cope with weird customs, language, money etc… (which is somehow circular logic, but nevertheless makes some sense). The issue of the language barrier in particular seems to them (american travellers) to be greatly exagerated.

AFAIK, the Germans are the people who travel the most in foreign countries.

Ugh. Lots of good (and probably correct) conjecture here, but does anyone have any actual stats on the percentage of people from whatever country have visited another?

(edited coding)

Balor, how many people in Ireland have never left Europe? As has been pointed out, a lot of Americans don’t have a passport because they can’t afford/don’t want to take long, exensive trips, which is what pretty much any ‘passport required’ trip is for us, since the two large countries that border us don’t require one and most of the Gulf islands don’t either (IIRC). It will be interesting to see what the passport figures in Europe look like if the EU ‘no passports’ initiatives go through…

For that matter, Europeans tend to be ignorant of just how different different parts of the US are; I suspect that the differences I found moving from my smallish home town in NC to Manhattan were as large, if not larger, than those someone would find moving from, say, a small town in Germany to Paris. Part of this probably comes from the fact that tourists tend to go only to a few specific places in the US for only short times, and general European lack of awareness of how large the US is. Not that they might not be able to rattle off a figure, but that they don’t have a grasp of it. For example, some neighbors who temporarily moved to my hometown from England talked about taking a road trip one 3-day weekend to see the redwoods. Driving from NC to CA is about a week one way…

And Bmerton :
I don’t know how many countries G.W. Bush visited, but make sure to count Gambia amongst them. His visit to this little African country (during his father’s presidency) was pointed at (with a link to an article) on a very recent thread on a travel board.

It’s already the case. No passport is required to travel between EU countries (I’m not sure for how long it has been true, but I would guess at least 10-15 years, though I could be wrong). Actually, there isn’t even border checks, in most case. EU citizens landing in an EU airport are usually just wawed through, and on roads, border check points are deserted.

I lived in Germany for a year. I found it to be just like the United States. Although it was way easier to beat up the residents. Our blacks are just harder to hit and make them stay down. Hard of physicality, short on mentality.

I’d love to go abroad-I just can’t afford it.

I can’t even afford to get my teeth fixed.

They’re not the stats you want but, hey, they’re stats.

I think people forget that the U.S. is, geographically speaking, almost a continent, not just a country. (And I think people make the same mistake about Australia and for the same reason.) The country of the U.S. is close to the same size as the continent of Europe (stats coming up!): The United States has an area of 9,629,000 sq. km. while Europe has an ares of 10,360,000 sq. km.

Therefore, to be fair, you should probably ask how many Americans travel out of their home state, and how often, as compared to how many Europeans travel out of their home continent, and how often. I’d wager the majority of Americans have left or leave their home states, and pretty often.

I live in Seattle, Washington. My parents spend the winters in Phoenix, Arizona (1200 mi. away) and the summers in Montana (500 mi.). My brother lives in Dallas, Texas (1700 mi.) and my sister lives in Charlotte, North Carolina (2250 mi.). We all try to see each other at least once a year which in my case has meant three trips to Montana (driving), two to Phoenix (one driving, one flying), and one to Charlotte (flying) in the nine months I’ve lived in Seattle. And I don’t think my family is terribly unusual.

This page gives the number of passport issued in the US from 1974 to 2001. This number seems to be constantly growing (except in 2001) from 2,4 millions in 1974 to 7,3 millions in 2001.

Assuming that the US passport is valid 10 years (is it so?), 57, 1 millions passports have been issued between 1992 and 2001, which would mean that around 20% of american citizens (280 millions citizens, IIRC?) would have a valid passport (probably a little less if one takes into account passport lost, stolen, etc…and re-issued)

And, one-third of that is Russia.

From this site :
“The 1995 ATS showed that the nearly 100 million households in the United States took 685 million long- distance trips (at least 100 miles one-way)”

"More than half of all person trips were to destinations outside the traveler’s home state. However, 58 percent of all trips were less than 500 miles round-trip "

And :

“Only about 4 percent of all trips were to destinations outside the United States. About half of the 41 million person trips to foreign countries were to our neighboring countries of Canada and Mexico”

I knew you guys wouldn’t let me down! Aw, now you’re gonna make me cry.

That said, clairobscur, the second site you link to has one of those weird dealies where the web page title doesn’t change even thought the content does – the link takes you only to the front page of the BTS. Can you navigate us through to the right docs?

*Originally posted by clairobscur *
This question (or something similar) is very often asked on the travel boards I visit. There’s apparently a consensus amongst american travellers that american people very often greatly overestimate the cost of oversea vacations.


It’s also a matter of what they’re demanding in the way of living quarters. I went to Belgium and France when 17 and spent less than $800 on the entire trip - airfare, hotels, food, souvenirs - after several weeks. But then, I stayed at little hotels (the sort with just one WC to a floor), travel with a tour that had it’s own bus, used the Paris metro when I was in that city, used the bus in Clermont-Ferrond… But some Americans insist on prime hotels, prime rib, and doing their own driving. And they will pay for the privilege.

It’s true - we DO have significantly less vacation time. I didn’t get any paid vacation at all until I was 28, and that was but one week of the year. Two paid weeks is standard, when vacation time is offered at all (and it doesn’t have to be).

Oh, gosh, guess you never heard of the snake-handling churches of West Virginia? Or driving snowmobiles across unfrozen lakes in Wisconsin? How about polygamy in Utah/Nevada? We’ve got weird customs aplenty in this country, that’s only the tip of the iceberg.

Keep in mind, too, that we have immigrant enclaves in every major city - in Chicago we have Chinatown, Little Korea, Little Italy, Greektown, Mexican neighborhoods, Puerto Rican neighborhoods, a Hmong group… these are parts of the city where the languages, customs, and food are largely those of the immigrants who live there. The schools in Rogers Park in Chicago, for instance, must contend with a student population that uses 56 native tongues other than English. You can get quite a bit of the flavor of somewhere else if you know where to look in the US. Canada has similar enclaves in their large cities (Toronto’s Chinatown is well known even to us US types). I expect Mexico would, too, but I’ve live on the northern edge of the US all my life and, except for two brief trips to Arizona, have never been within a 1000 miles of Mexico so I really can’t say.

Well… in Europe language changes much quicker while traveling in the US. Remember, you can go over 3000 miles east to west and I don’t know how much south to north (but certainly over a thousand) and do just fine speaking nothing but North American English. It would be like going from Donegal to Istanbul and encountering only one major language.

That said, we do have variations - it took me about six months to learn to understand my Appalachian in-laws. And we do have pockets of other langues - French in Quebec, for instance. And the Amish, who inhabit parts of Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan, Indiana, and other states speak a German dialect in their own communities (although they are also almost always fluent in English as well). There are French outposts in Louisiana.

Having to deal with just dollars (both kinds) and pesos also simplifies things, particularly since you aren’t likely to need all three in quick succession. When I went to Europe 20 years ago I came back with all sorts of strange (to me) pocket change and I only visited two countries. The adoption of the Euro may encourage more inter-country travel in Europe.

One more note about distances - the point about the US being continental in size does seem lost on most Europeans until they get here and actually experience it. Remember that our states are about the size of your countries, and even larger in some cases. I’m a pilot, and even flying it takes me two to three hours (depending on the airplane) to reach the southern border of my home state. A trip to Arizona on a commercial jet - the fastest transporation available to civilians - takes over three hours And that’s still not the entire east-to-west expanse of the country.

Also, as has been pointed out, passports are not required for travel over this huge expanse, thus, Americans normally don’t acquire a passport unless they specifically plan to travel outside of North America and the Carribean, and they don’t keep them up (i.e. “valid”) after the trip is over unless they plan more travel far aboard. We don’t use them internally as ID, as I think some Europeans do. So the “40%” is actually deceptive - you have to ask how many Americans have at one time in their lives held a valid passport. That percentage is likely much higher than 40%

While you do encounter some Amercans who have never ventured more than 20-50 miles from their birthplace, most have at least left the state at one time or another. And a high percentage of us have lived in different states. I have lived in Missouri, West Virginia, Michigan, Illinois, and Indiana, which represents an area much larger than any European country as far as distance is concerned.

I think the European/American travel comparison is a bit apples to oranges - there are so many differences between the two continents that a statistic on something like passport ownership gives and entirely false impression of the situation.

Ohhhhhh, DON’T cry! You KNOW we didn’t bring along the oil can!