Nomadic Matt’s recent post on why Americans don’t travel overseas generated a large number of comments, and got me thinking of a number of reasons why they should. His post was fairly controversial, but taking his premise to be true, I came up with a list of reasons why Americans should travel overseas.
I kept coming to the conclusion that, why Americans should travel overseas isn’t really much different than why anyone should travel. Then I came upon one, but my opinion alone isn’t enough to answer this question.
I’d like to hear from you – what do you think is the most important reason Americans should travel overseas?
I’ll share with you my original conclusion in a post next Monday. Until then, let the comments roll.
I think the more on travel to different places the more knowledgeable you become by learning different cultures, food and ofcourse enjoyment is there with you! Americans you must visit overseas common!!
To escape the din of the election?
If they haven’t escaped in the last 8 years, I don’t think they will j/k.
To learn more about other cultures to understand Americans with different backgrounds better. This will make them appreciate the blend in this country.
I too was thinking along those lines. That Americans traveling helps America. I think, as a whole the various ethnic groups in the States live in relative harmony.
Americans shouldn’t take that for granted..
The reason Americans should travel is that travel broadens the mind and fosters acceptance and understanding. And, like it or not (I don’t particularly), the United States is a major political player on the world stage. Your policies and cultural exports do affect the rest of the world. I’d like those policies to be more well-informed and aware of other views, not just what is in America’s best interests.
It’s sometimes very easy to assume that everyone in the world lives as you do – except until you travel and get to see how varied the world truly is. No amount of reading, watching TV, or schooling can do it quite the same.
As for acting in its own interests, I think all countries do this – its just when the US does, the ripples are felt throughout the world.
Yes, I definitely agree with you. Of course, all countries act in their best interest, but if you have more understanding you can reach compromises that are good for both parties, and ultimately better for everyone.
Well said 🙂 Understanding is poison to ignorance.
I have lived in California all my life. I have ZERO interest in traveling to other countries. Let me explain why. The ends do not justify the means. A 10 to 20 hour flight? Thousands of dollars spent on hotels and flight and activities? I don’t think so. Just to see different geography and culture? In my opinion, it’s just not worth the misery of sitting on a plane going crazy. The hassle of packing, spending money on hotels, over rated trendy activities that I can easily do in my hometown or within driving distance. I see culture ALL DAY LONG! Vietnamese, Chinese, Indian, Mexican, Italian, Thai, Middle Eastern, and honestly, I don’t feel comfortable with any of their cultures, it’s not me or my style! Why should I subject myself to something I don’t like or need? So why would I want to travel a million miles away from my comfort zone to be uncomfortable and spend thousands to do it? Just because I’m not comfortable with it doesn’t mean I don’t respect it. A lot of these “world travelers” who claim to have epiphanies about “perspective” need to open up their minds just a tad bit more and realize that a great perspective in life is not limited just to world travelers. As an American, I don’t criticize other cultures in the world and say “you need to travel to America more to gain perspective!” in fact I say do whatever it is you do as long as you don’t force your culture or agenda on to me. For people who seek out traveling and other cultures, by all means do it, you love it, so do it. Equally and just as valid, I tend to hate it and find it to be extremely inconvenient, exhausting and financially draining. My point is why is it so hard for world travelers with “perspective” to accept or care that Americans, not all, don’t like traveling over seas? Who gives a shit. To each their own. Individualism, everyone is different!
What about a 2 hour flight to Mexico for $200? Hah, I’m kidding. If you don’t want to go, you don’t have to. Nobody is forcing you to travel – although seeing a culture in California is nothing like and seeing where it developed (and why). If those things don’t interest you, stay at home.
As far as why I personally care that Americans travel – it’s good for America (as well as those who travel). There are many misconceptions in the world, more people actually meeting Americans could go a long way to changing those perceptions.
“A friend from Iowa once joined me in Thailand. When she told her co-workers about it, their response was “Thailand? Where is that? Why would you go there? If you want a beach, go to Florida.””
I’ve been reading a lot of these articles and statements such as this seem to pop up in most of them. All of these articles also have something else in common: they never answer the question. Why would you want to go there?
Personally, I find the travelers who assume everyone likes to travel to be the ignorant ones. Personally, I do not dislike travel and I am aware of there being a whole great big world outside of America. But I choose not to spend my time or money traveling to foreign places because what is most important to me is right here at home: my family and friends. People are what matter to me. My people. And that is where I choose to invest my time and money. I would like to see some comments on why Americans should travel instead of listing reasons why they don’t.
People travel for different reasons and not everyone like every type of travel. There are many good reasons for Americans to travel – I could probably write about those or lead you to some good resources if you’re interested.
I’m an American who’s been to 15 countries. But most of these were visited either on the way to, or whilst living in, Taiwan. If you want to be within range of other countries for travel, both price- and distance-wise, best move out of North America.
If I just want a quick, relaxing, shallow-ish vacation experience like a beach, a mountain hike, a quaint little village, or a big cosmopolitan city, why fly out of the US? I’m from the Northeast, and all of these things are a cheap and doable drive away.
I can only justify spending the time and money to get overseas if it’s for a deep cultural immersion, in which case I’m MOVING there temporarily. Honestly, I could see myself uprooting my family in the future, if the government of Kerblakistan is willing to give me a work visa and a license to practice medicine. I think if every American spent a year or two overseas, preferably as a child, America would be a better country.
Many people overestimate how rich Americans are. For the average American, a plane ticket overseas could easily cost several weeks’ salary. It took me 9 months of scrimping and saving before I had enough for my one way train trip across Eurasia to get to Taiwan.
Excellent points, though I’d argue that even a short overseas trip can have profound yet unintended consequences for one’s perception. Unexpected things can and do happen that might lead you down another course – or a short trip can mean falling in love with a place to move to later…
Most Americans don’t travel because it is very expensive. Even a well-educated American making a middle-class income may not have the luxury of travel (like myself – how can I justify a $3000 Europe trip when I have $40000 in student debt?). But furthermore, why would I want to spend my hard-earned money in a continent (Europe) that largely considers Americans ignorant, lazy, and rude? If I do get together some travel money eventually, I will be spending it somewhere where people like Americans.
Travel can most certainly be done for much less than that. Still though, it doesn’t explain why most Americans don’t travel to other places that are less expensive – Costa Rica, Brazil, etc. Also, all of the misconceptions about Americans in Europe is a great reason for Americans to travel there. I think some Europeans may have negative attitudes about some aspects of American politics or culture but like Americans – especially after they meet some 🙂
“I love how generalized people from the U.S. are! Man, they are so stupid for not traveling!” That way of thinking is incredibly ignorant. The United States of America is a massive country so I can understand the want to discover the incredible diversity that the U.S. has to offer. Sure, the U.S. has a common language but if you were to visit Maine, then New Mexico, then Kansas, then Arkansas, then Oregon, then Michigan you would say to yourself “Am I still in the same country?”
If people don’t want to travel abroad then who cares, it is none of my business how one wants to spend his or her life. It isn’t my job to say to people, “traveling abroad was a great experience for me so YOU should do the same!” Because they don’t think like me doesn’t make me better or less ignorant then they are.
A former co-worker of mine has only been to two countries outside of the U.S. – Perú and the U.K. and people gave him shit for only having two stamps in his passport. But this man completed what is known in the backpacking community (not “hostel hopping” community) the “Triple Crown” meaning he has hiked from the Mexican border into Canada twice via Continental Divide Trail, Pacific Crest Trail and the International Appalachian Trail (Georgia to Canada) taking him about four and a half months each to achieve. I guarantee that he has more travel experience then a European “hostel hopper” with a 95L backpack buried in a Lonely Planet guide book. I love those people that claim, for example, that they’ve been to 33 countries but when you ask them how much time they’ve spent in each country it is often only a few days to a few weeks in “backpacker” hostels. Sure, he or she has the stamps but only skimmed through the countries in order to say, “Look at me! Look which countries I’ve visited!”.
I used to have that state of mind while hitchhiking at the age of 19 from La Guajira, Colombia to Buenos Aires, Argentina (it took me 13 months to complete). I used to believe that those whom didn’t travel abroad were more ignorant than I was. But with time I had realized that I was ignorant for generalizing entire peoples and thinking that my lifestyle was for everyone.
Best of luck on all of your travels. Remember, the more stamps one has in his passport doesn’t necessarily signify more impressive experiences.
True, it doesn’t have to be about collecting passport stamps (although that why some people travel). But, regardless of how you travel, what do you think is the most important reason for an American to travel abroad – or is it important?
Residents in other countries across the world are more likely to have passports for a simple reason: their countries are probably smaller than America. In Europe, alot of the time, travelling to another country is nothing more than a couple-hour long drive. America’s expanse is an entire continent, so yes, we’re alot less likely to travel to have passports.
Americans aren’t as cultured as they need to be, yes, but this point is faulty.