I’ve always considered us *lucky*. We’re Americans who travel abroad.
This seems to be a big deal.
I can tell you for sure, out of our group of friends, we’re the only ones who travel travel. Then when we meet other Americans who travel we’re like “OH MY GOD, you do it too, how do you do it? How do you manage?”
Traveling is not easy, for anyone. It takes cash and it takes time. How much of each is up to the traveler, but there’s no way to do it without either one of those things. For us, it’s mostly a time issue, John has a regular 9-5, but he demanded three weeks vacation. Even this was not easy to get. He takes no vacation days during the year, saves up every single day and then we take it all at once. That’s hard enough and I know for most of us, it’s not a logical option.
I’ve read a few articles about why Americans don’t travel. This article on CNN says:
The United States’ own rich cultural and geographic diversity, an American skepticism and/or ignorance about international destinations, a work culture that prevents Americans from taking long vacations abroad and the prohibitive cost and logistics of going overseas.
There’s this thoughtful article from Nomadic Matt, who also says it’s culture, fear and geography.
I agree with a lot of these, certainly America is pretty sweet and we have all kinds of things to see, from pretty, sandy beaches to rocky shores, to mountains to deserts.
Fear is certainly an issue. I get terrified every time we travel (but that’s part of the rush see). We may hear India is “dirty” and “dangerous.” But that’s not why we don’t go there.We’re smart enough to see through stereotypical fears.
These are symptoms. There is only one reason why we don’t travel, one: Our job culture doesn’t allow it. The Matrix cannot handle it when it’s citizens leave the country.
We get two weeks tops, most of us. Do you really think we’re going to load up our backpacks, spend 1-3 days on 24 hour flights to Delhi, then get 9 days in a foreign country where we don’t know the language, the culture? That we’re going to sweat our asses off after working ALL YEAR to save up two weeks, to work hard to see the world?
No, of course not. We’re going to go to the beach and have people wait on us and drink fru-fru drinks because we’re exhausted because we spent the past 340 days working like a dog.
Not only is it the limited vacation time, but our work ethic in the jobs we do have. I own my own business. I’m leaving it for three weeks in October. High season, good time to be working. I can manage the days off because travel is a priority for me, if you’re an actor, or an artist or a finance manager, three weeks off seems counter-productive to achieving the goal of the American Dream.
It will never come up in common, everyday American conversation to discuss leaving for months at a time. Only college students and people who work their butt off to make it happen get that kind of time. It’s unheard of to travel for three months. The majority of us don’t even let that thought enter our heads. It’s impossible. Why even try?
Yet all those reasons we don’t travel, from the US Geography to fear to ignorance, would all be solved, magically, if we had up to six weeks vacation. Americans would travel MORE, we would be LESS afraid of what we didn’t understand, we would cultivate curiosity, see the bigger picture. We wouldn’t be seen as ignorant and loud because we would have the chance to learn, to see, to feel it…feel it all.
Americans don’t travel because Americans don’t have the time to travel. I believe all other things are symptoms.
What do you think? Why don’t you travel? Why do you? What can we do about it?