Friday, October 17, 2008

I'm Not Scared!!

I'm in the minority. Definitely. I LOVE to travel. I couldn't see my life as being complete without seeing new countries and experiencing people and cultures that are the exact opposite of myself. I've been thinking about this a lot lately, pretty much since I met my husband. We both come from very different worlds. I had a grandmother who loved to travel and spent a great deal of her time seeing the world. She instilled in me the love of all things travel related and when I was younger I loved to hear her stories of the places she'd been.

My husband on the other hand, came from a very different family. They did not travel. In fact, he didn't leave the country until our honeymoon. This was and really still is, absolutely incredible to me. After experiencing the world outside of America, he has been bit by the travel bug, but up until we went to Thailand, he never really cared so much.

This all brings me to my point. I read this article on Gadling. The article talks about why American's don't travel. This is a question I ask as well. Ask around, most American's don't leave the country and I'm not sure why. Any ideas??


gretchen said...

I think the time factor is huge. If you don't live near family, often times that vacation time of 2 weeks is used to visit them. Other countries value travel and holidays in a MUCH different way than the US. (And maternity leave, but that's another soapbox -- but related. I'm consciously not taking any vacation time or sick time unless absolutely necessary to save for hypothetical future maternity leave -- like 2010. But to try to get that paid, means I can't use any of my time. And money -- I was just lamenting about this yesterday. I won't do any vacation unless it's paid in cash, and lately our cash is marked for windows and other home stuff, as well as the constant fear of a car dying, etc. I grew up traveling all over the US (incl a 6week long US road trip withmy family) and totally value it, and can't wait to travel with Ingrid+ when we can afford it. For now, I even see a weekend trip to Boston in terms of how many windows we could replace instead....

Katie said...

I agree with Gretchen. My guess is that it is a cultural thing due to the fact that Americans put so much emphasis on work. Ask someone in Europe what they do and they will tell you their talents and hobbies--ask someone in America and they will tell you what they do for work (or so I've heard anyway).

Having come from your husband's family I can vouch for that aspect too. I think the reason our family and many families in America do not travel is the time issue. My dad only had a couple of weeks of vacation and often times that was used for some down time at the camp or working on home projects that didn't get done the rest of the year. Or we went to visit family and friends that lived out of state and were difficult to get to unless you had several days off. So it's not that we did not travel, but that we did not go to far off places such as the ones you had the priveledge of going to. That is probably another benefit of being from a small family as well.

Secondly, another obstacle is the cost. I know that my parents would have loved to have taken us all to other countries (and they did take us to Canada by the way so he did leave the country before the honeymoon--just not very far!). =) I know that my husband and I are just starting out and would love to travel all over the world as you two do, but we wound up having kids (and wouldn't trade that for anything, might I add), but it means that our travel dreams have to wait a little longer. We're paying off school loans, saving for their college and dealing with the rest of the financial issues that many people our age deal with.

So, I don't think it is at all that Americans don't want to travel. In fact, I think many would love to, but have too many hurdles. So count your blessings that you are able to take the time and money to do this now! Not everyone is that fortunate.

Libby said...

I know for us it was always money...My mom is a teacher/single parent, so we just didn't have enough money to travel very much.

gretchen said...

Oh yeah, I wouldn't trade Ing for a full passport, ever. :) And, having traveled a LOT domestically, one can absolutely experience different cultures -- as well as climates/geography/etc -- within the US. SF & Sydney are way more alike than South Phoenix vs Yellowstone NP.

[F]oxymoron said...

Nomadic Matt's article makes many unfounded generalizations. For instance, Nomadic Matt should know that study abroad programs are seriously blossoming here in the states. These statistics provide empirical evidence signifying a move away from that, "cultural ignorance", he speaks of. Interestingly enough, though this is not a justification for it, there are just as many "culturally ignorant" people overseas as there are here. I've meet quite a few on a couple different continents.

When it comes to the desire to travel, what Nomadic Matt fails to recognize is that a nation's people fall along a standard curve. There are those that won't ever travel and there are those that will never stop traveling. I think Nomadic Matt, in large part, is trying to parlay his egalitarian outlook on travel possibilities with the American reality of long work hours, limited vacation time, familial obligations, and high travel costs that constitutes the outlook of most Americans under this curve. And oddly enough, Nomadic Matt has the elitist sensibility to state, “In reality, Americans have an image of the world that is totally divorced from reality.”

Anonymous said...

I think Nomadic Matt does raise a lot of good points there, but at the same time, let's face it - my blog is entirely based on the fact that I have been bit by the travel bug, but do not have the type of lifestyle that lends to the type of travel that "real travel bloggers" do.

I think that Pam at Nerd's Eye View ( made a great point in Matt's original post. America is quite large and there is a lot to see. Not only that, there is much culture to be experienced here from which we can learn.

I have lived abroad via a study abroad program. While in Europe I traveled to various countries and soon I will be flying to Guatemala and El Salvador. However, I had never left the continent before I had studied abroad as a junior in college. Of course - it was the money. My parents chose to send me and my siblings to Catholic School instead of getting on planes for vacations. But another reason why I do not get on a plane as much as I would like is because I am a workaholic- whether the culture of America has ingrained that in me or not - I do love what I do. While I am "stuck" in a cubicle 5 days a week, I do not feel chained there.

I love to travel and I love what I do. If I wanted to leave my job to travel more, I would. But I don't. And because I don't- I don't think it means that I lack that bug or that need to explore and learn new cultures and places by way of immersing myself in them.

Sometimes, we just need to find a balance. And we need to recognize that as long as we are open to learning and that despite lacking certain experiences, never letting ignorance lead our impressions - is actually most important.

Anonymous said...

You went to Soweto? I live here and I haven't even been there! :)

Nifty Adventures into Denmark said...

I agree with Gretchen and Katie. I think timing and cost have a huge impact on why people don't travel.

I think you also need to make traveling a priority.

an ordinary Saffa girl. said...

Isn't Soweto and eye opener? Arent the people there so friendly??? I write travel reviews (basically it's a travel diary) and have a Soweto page here:

I think the cost and distance factor is a biggie... and the fact we all have responsibilities like mortgages! haha

But I understand the travel bug... because we have it too :)

titan said...

perhaps because we don't get *any* vacation time compared to other countries. and we're pretty segregated from the rest of the world. if you live in germany, for example, you can just hop a train to poland or switzerland or france and see what there is to see. hell, you might even travel there for business. traveling outside of the usa is also very expensive...especially for families. the airfare alone is ridiculous, and then you have the hotel and the food on top of that. THEN you wanna actually do something while you're there. so unless you go to bulgaria (where room and board are uber-cheap but kinda shady), you better make a ton of money to pay for both the vacation and the bills while you're gone.

it also doesn't help that americans are very material. we are always finding things in our house to upgrade, new cars, new clothes, new landscape, etc. many other countries have modest apts and use public transportation, so their monthly bills as well as their possessions total much less, and much less to maintain. americans tend to accrue debts as well because of this materialism, and so their paying off their fancy car and huge tv long after they've purchased it.

on top of that you've got healthcare costs skyrocketing, insurance inflation, retirement savings, college savings (education is so expensive), and so on.

there's my $0.02.