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American Versus European Travel Culture  
User currently offlineKrje1980 From Norway, joined Feb 2006, 193 posts, RR: 0
Posted (8 years 6 days ago) and read 3978 times:

Hi all.

Just a topic I wondered if you all had any opinion on. It seemes to me that Americans in general travel far less than many Europeans. I lived in the States between 1996 and 1998, and I have also visited the country twice since moving back to Norway. When I chat with Americans about travelling I find it quite interesting that many of them have barely even left their home state! Now I understand that the percentage of Americans travelling INTERNATIONALLY would be far lower than for Europeans given the sheer size of the US, but I also get the feeling that many Americans do not even travel much domestically. And coming from Norway, one of the countries with the highest percentage of international travellers in the world, the issue becomes even more interesting to me. Sure, many of the Norwegian travellers are young people looking to party in Spain or Cyprus, but there seems to be a growing trend that many Norwegians travel much further than that - especially the US, Thailand, Australia and New Zealand are hot destinations for many Norwegians. Of course, being a nation with very high income level, this might explain why so many people can afford to travel, but I also think that the general travel CULTURE in the States differs.

What are the reasons for this? Could it be that for many (not all of course) Americans travelling is not really something they wish to do? Is it because people on average work more and have less vacation in the US than in Europe, thus making it hard to squeeze in a long vacation to a far-away and exotic place? What other reasons could it be?

Would love to hear others opinion about this issue  Smile

22 replies: All unread, jump to last
 
User currently offlineNighthawk From UK - Scotland, joined Sep 2001, 5178 posts, RR: 33
Reply 1, posted (8 years 5 days 23 hours ago) and read 3961 times:

I think one of the key reasons Americans tend to travel abroad less than Europeans, is that "abroad" is further away for them. For a European citizen, spending a week in france/spain/italyuk etc is relatively cheap, with return flights at just £100 and taking just an hour or two.

For an american, to travel abroad means heading over to Europe, and typically costs £500, and takes 7-8 hours.

Therefore for holidays americans tend to stay within the US, instead visiting a different state, however they are still in the same country, so the culture is still the same, and the need is less appealing.

Rather than compare the number of citizens travelling abroad, a better comparison would be the number of citizens taking holidays in long-haul destinations.



That'll teach you
User currently offlineCheckraiser From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 2, posted (8 years 5 days 21 hours ago) and read 3930 times:

I think Nighthawk has it summed up pretty well. I'll just add that we typically have a lot less vacation time than you. When it takes a day just to get to Europe, a day to get over jet lag and anotheer day to get home you have to spend two weeks over there to make it worth your while. Two weeks is often times all the vacation a person may have, and many employers don't care for you taking that much time off at once.

User currently offlineZkpilot From New Zealand, joined Mar 2006, 4841 posts, RR: 9
Reply 3, posted (8 years 5 days 21 hours ago) and read 3923 times:

The USA is so large that most Americans never feel the need to go overseas.
If you count Europe as being like one country, then many Europeans don't go abroad either.
That said something like only 5% of Americans have passports compared to the majority of people in most western countries.
I don't know very many New Zealanders at all that have not been out of New Zealand for example... most of at least been to Australia, with many having go to the Pacific Islands, USA, Asia or Europe. Same goes for Australians.



56 types. 38 countries. 24 airlines.
User currently offlineDLPMMM From United States of America, joined Apr 2005, 3596 posts, RR: 10
Reply 4, posted (8 years 5 days 21 hours ago) and read 3923 times:

Norway is cold!!! Everyone wants to escape Norway in the winter (and yes, I have been to Oslo multiple times in winter). All the destinations you mentioned are warm! If you looked at Wisconson's population, I think you would find the same percentage of people have travelled to Florida as Norweigans to Spain or Cyprus (ever heard of "Spring Break"?

The second reason is that the cost of living is soooo high in Norway that it is cheaper for a resident to buy a ticket to Thailand, pay for a hotel, and eat in restaurants every night than it is for a Norweigen to stay home! (USD$24 for a hamberger and a coke at a sports bar in Oslo???).

In addition, many less people in southern Europe travel long haul internationally (look at the population of the small towns in Spain or Italy. If you had actual statistics and looked at the geographic distribution, I think you would find the result suprisingly similar.

[Edited 2006-11-17 14:29:00]

User currently offlineLTBEWR From United States of America, joined Jan 2004, 13169 posts, RR: 15
Reply 5, posted (8 years 5 days 20 hours ago) and read 3908 times:

There are a number of issues I would add on why a much lower percentage of Americans travel long distance internationally than Europeans and others. Many USA people who do travel internationally are more educated and have higher incomes than the average, or they are traveling to their homelands, but there are other factors.
As noted above, we have such a huge country with many natural and tourist destinations, we really don't have to leave the country to find someplace to go different in some way from our home areas. If you want 'international' then we have Canada, Mexico and Carribbean nearby at reasonable costs.
The EC has a much larger and more secure middle class than the USA has today. That includes employment protections due to stronger labor laws, national pension programs, longer mandated vacation times and less overall economic class differences.
Our culture and hence our national policies have a strong work ethic. Unlike EC and other countries, the USA doesn't guarantee minimum vacation time for all workers. Most in the USA get maybe 1-2 weeks after 1-2 years of work, maybe 3 weeks after 5 years. Then if you change jobs, and we tend to do so more than EC people do, then you go back to 1-2 weeks for a year or two. What time people do get they need to use to see their kids, do work on their homes, and so on, and may not have the available cash to go on vacation. Employment insecurity and work demands also means that many Americans do not fully use their available vacation time anyway. Some employers also allow some banking of time you can get upon retirement, termination, quitting an employer, so there is incentive to not use it too.
Health insurance is a critical issue. Usually it is connected to your employment, if they offer it. Personal policies are quite expensive. Unless you are old, permanently or long term disabled or poor, you don't have any from the Government. Also the over 65's Medicare program will not cover your health needs outside of the USA, so many seniors cannot afford to travel internationally as would have to purchase a supplemental policy. The lack of health insurance or security of it means less interest from traveling in general.
We don't have the degree of pensions or protections of them that EC citizens have so most Americans have to save for their own retirement (and many cannot afford to do so), taking away money from travel.
We spend a lot more on cars, homes, other consumer goods, entertainment items like ATV's, boats and the like than the typical EC citizen, so a lot less money for long trips.
We also have a mentality in the USA that discourages travel to 'strange' places. Too many tend to like things like at home in terms of food, money, accommodations, personal safety and the like.


User currently offlineCheckraiser From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 6, posted (8 years 5 days 17 hours ago) and read 3859 times:

A nice post LTB, but I vehemently disagree with this:

Quoting LTBEWR (Reply 5):
We also have a mentality in the USA that discourages travel to 'strange' places.

Virtually everyone I know would love to go see more 'strange' places. Time and money are usually the limiting factor.

The Middle East is probably the only place in the world many Americans wouldn't want to visit.


User currently offlineTravelin man From United States of America, joined Mar 2000, 3553 posts, RR: 0
Reply 7, posted (8 years 5 days 17 hours ago) and read 3852 times:

Quoting Krje1980 (Thread starter):
Now I understand that the percentage of Americans travelling INTERNATIONALLY would be far lower than for Europeans given the sheer size of the US, but I also get the feeling that many Americans do not even travel much domestically.

I'm not sure where you get that "feeling" from. The US domestic air market is THE largest in the world by far. Who is filling those planes if we do not travel much? That doesn't even count the number of people who travel by car (which is also much higher than in Europe).

I have NEVER met someone who has not traveled outside of their state, and virtually everyone I know has traveled internationally.

Feelings are nice and all, but facts are better.


User currently offlineDaleaholic From UK - England, joined Oct 2005, 3208 posts, RR: 13
Reply 8, posted (8 years 5 days 17 hours ago) and read 3849 times:

If I am correct, depending on where you get it from, passports in the US cost top dollar! $300 my aunty told me is what she had to pay for my 3 year old cousin's passport.

Just one possible factor...



Religion is an illusion of childhood... Outgrown under proper education.
User currently offlineTravelin man From United States of America, joined Mar 2000, 3553 posts, RR: 0
Reply 9, posted (8 years 5 days 16 hours ago) and read 3846 times:

Quoting Daleaholic (Reply 8):
If I am correct, depending on where you get it from, passports in the US cost top dollar! $300 my aunty told me is what she had to pay for my 3 year old cousin's passport.

Just one possible factor...

I think your aunty may have been mistaken:

Age 16 and older: The passport application fee is $67. The execution fee is $30. The total is $97 .

Under Age 16: The passport application fee is $52. The execution fee is $30. The total is $82 .

http://travel.state.gov/passport/get/fees/fees_837.html


User currently offlineJakeOrion From United States of America, joined Oct 2005, 1255 posts, RR: 2
Reply 10, posted (8 years 5 days 16 hours ago) and read 3846 times:

A question regarding this topic (please, do not turn this into a political flame thread, etc, I am curious about the answer to these questions):

Are Americans generally welcomed in other countries? From what we constantly see on the news, it seems we are not exactly the most popular of people. Are Americans really that bad? However, I know the news loves to generalize but I would love to hear what others from other countries say about this. I am curious.



Every problem has a simple solution; finding the simple solution is the difficult problem.
User currently offlineDesertJets From United States of America, joined Feb 2000, 7801 posts, RR: 16
Reply 11, posted (8 years 5 days 16 hours ago) and read 3846 times:

Quoting Travelin man (Reply 7):
Feelings are nice and all, but facts are better.

Facts have no place on an internet discussion board!!  banghead   Cool


For better or worse Americans tend to work longer weeks, and longer years than most of our western counterparts. So even if we have the vacation time (and not all companies give vacation/sick time the same), their is a stigma against using it. Who wants to go on a a 2 week vacation just to have our work piling up waiting for us upon our return.



Stop drop and roll will not save you in hell. --- seen on a church marque in rural Virginia
User currently offlineDaleaholic From UK - England, joined Oct 2005, 3208 posts, RR: 13
Reply 12, posted (8 years 5 days 16 hours ago) and read 3832 times:

Quoting Travelin man (Reply 9):
I think your aunty may have been mistaken:

Or I may have just misheard, either way... $97 is quite a lot.

My bad!  Big grin



Religion is an illusion of childhood... Outgrown under proper education.
User currently offlineAsstChiefMark From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 13, posted (8 years 5 days 16 hours ago) and read 3826 times:

Americans don't receive as much vacation time off from their employers as Europeans. It generally ranges from none for newly-hired employees to four weeks for senior employees.

America's vastness assures a never-ending supply of places to go and things to see.

Mark


User currently offlineSv2008 From United Kingdom, joined Aug 2006, 622 posts, RR: 0
Reply 14, posted (8 years 5 days 16 hours ago) and read 3814 times:

Quoting Daleaholic (Reply 12):
Or I may have just misheard, either way... $97 is quite a lot.

We need to have biometric passports to go to the USA soon I think....the current fee I think is £51, about $100.

Thats if you already have a passport, just to swap them over.


User currently offlineSprout5199 From United States of America, joined Feb 2005, 1855 posts, RR: 2
Reply 15, posted (8 years 5 days 16 hours ago) and read 3804 times:

Quoting AsstChiefMark (Reply 13):
America's vastness assures a never-ending supply of places to go and things to see.

Thats the truth. For me to get out of Florida, It is at least a 5 hour drive. I think any country in Europe, if you drive that much you will be in another country(maybe 2 or 3). here in the states we have alot of different places(mountains, seas, plains, hills,.....) to see. I think the only bad thing is the food isnt as different(Spain(Palma(sp?)) was so different than Sicily which was COMPLETELY different than England, whereas the food in Florida is about the same as in Tenn or California.

Dan in Jupiter


User currently offlineCairo From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 16, posted (8 years 5 days 15 hours ago) and read 3783 times:

Middle class Europeans definitely want to travel more than their American equivalents.

Foreign countries in Europe are very close to everyone and the concept of travel to a foreign place is prominent from birth. In America, foreign countries are on the news only, if you even watch the news. Only about 1 in 5 Americans have a passport*, so 80% of America just doesn't want to travel overseas.

Quoting JakeOrion (Reply 10):
Are Americans generally welcomed in other countries? From what we constantly see on the news, it seems we are not exactly the most popular of people.

Americans as individuals are welcome everywhere in the world when they are polite and courteous.

In many non-tourist areas of Europe Americans are very rare and you would be the center of attention in a pub or other social setting.

Yes, people are angry about Bush, Iraq and other things, but they are able to separate a government from an individual.

America remains fascinating to most of the world and a constant topic of conversation - an actual American is often a very appreciated visitor

Quoting Travelin man (Reply 7):
I'm not sure where you get that "feeling" from. The US domestic air market is THE largest in the world by far. Who is filling those planes if we do not travel much? That doesn't even count the number of people who travel by car (which is also much higher than in Europe). I have NEVER met someone who has not traveled outside of their state, and virtually everyone I know has traveled internationally.

He gets the feeling from the truth. Americans don't have nearly the time off as Europeans and they rarely leave the country. Those people traveling in the air so much are 90% made up of the same frequent fliers flying over and over again. I know dozens of counties in Texas where hundreds of people have never left Texas. It is quite common for many people to have never left their home state.

Cairo

*
http://travel2.nytimes.com/2005/05/0...912400&en=73e810482c84fde7&ei=5070


User currently offlineTravelin man From United States of America, joined Mar 2000, 3553 posts, RR: 0
Reply 17, posted (8 years 5 days 15 hours ago) and read 3770 times:

Quoting Cairo (Reply 16):
He gets the feeling from the truth. Americans don't have nearly the time off as Europeans and they rarely leave the country. Those people traveling in the air so much are 90% made up of the same frequent fliers flying over and over again. I know dozens of counties in Texas where hundreds of people have never left Texas. It is quite common for many people to have never left their home state.

First of all, the original poster said:

Quoting Krje1980 (Thread starter):
I also get the feeling that many Americans do not even travel much domestically.

Which if flat out not true. At ALL. Again, where are the facts?

I don't give a crap that you know some hicks in Texas that have never left their state. The FACT is that the domestic traveler market in the US is huge, by any measurement (airline flights, car trips, hotel stays, whatever).


User currently offlineTravelin man From United States of America, joined Mar 2000, 3553 posts, RR: 0
Reply 18, posted (8 years 5 days 15 hours ago) and read 3769 times:

P.S.

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/15751392/

25 million passengers expected during the 12-day Thanksgiving travel period


User currently offlineKrje1980 From Norway, joined Feb 2006, 193 posts, RR: 0
Reply 19, posted (8 years 5 days 11 hours ago) and read 3723 times:

Hi all.

It's nice to know that people have many opinions on this issue.

As for my "feeling" that many Americans do not travel so much. . .yes. . .it is just that. . .a "feeling", and I have no facts to back that up - thus, I never really claimed this to be the truth. My view on this simply comes from conversations I've had with various Americans from time to time. My brother recently married an American girl from ND, and her mother has only left the state 4-5 times in her whole lifetime! When I lived in VA from 1996 to 1998 I also met some people who had barely left the state. Of course, these people might have been extremely rare exceptions, so if you have facts to prove otherwise, then I have no trouble admitting that my "feeling" might have been wrong. After all, that is what discussion boards are for: discussing  Smile


User currently offlineEWRCabincrew From United States of America, joined May 2006, 5527 posts, RR: 56
Reply 20, posted (8 years 5 days 11 hours ago) and read 3716 times:

Quoting Daleaholic (Reply 12):
Or I may have just misheard, either way... $97 is quite a lot.

Just divide that by the term of validity and it doesn't seem so much then.



You can't cure stupid
User currently offlineSlamClick From United States of America, joined Nov 2003, 10062 posts, RR: 68
Reply 21, posted (8 years 5 days 11 hours ago) and read 3711 times:

Anyone who thinks Americans don't travel much domestically should try to non-rev some time!

My wife and I, with full travel benefits normally buy full-fare tickets on Southwest if we are leaving the time zone. We know we'll never get through the "hubs" without getting bumped if we non-rev. On one memorable trip it took nearly ten segments to get my wife, two kids and me from A to B. On one segment no two of us were on the same plane. The planes are mostly stuffed here.

My wife and I have pretty much had our fill of international travel. Probably most of the rest of our vacations will be driving. We both enjoy that. Next big one is from Carlsbad Caverns, through Four Corners and all the way up the continental divide to Canada on backroads.

Maybe we'll take some French wine and cheese for a picnic. Maybe we'll speak some Spanish along the way. International flavor is good.  Smile



Happiness is not seeing another trite Ste. Maarten photo all week long.
User currently offlineRobertNL070 From Netherlands, joined Sep 2003, 4533 posts, RR: 9
Reply 22, posted (8 years 5 days 11 hours ago) and read 3705 times:

My feeling is, is that it's a question of geography and what you are used to. The United States is such a large and diverse country, understandably a lot of people don't feel the need to cross its borders.

I am used to driving through four countries to visit my aged parents just outside of London!

Robert



Youth is a gift of nature. Age is a work of art.
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