How Many Americans Have A Passport?

Sunday, December 11, 2016

How Many Americans Have a Passport

How many Americans have a passport? This was a question a British friend had asked me a few years ago, probably based upon the assumption that much of the world has about Americans, which is that the majority of Americans do not have passports. I had no idea what the answer was, so I decided to do a little research, and the answer is somewhat surprising.

The quick answer is that yes, the majority of Americans do not have a passport. The percentage of Americans who have a valid passport, according to the most recent statistics as tabulated by the State Department, is about 46%. This number excludes passport cards, which are identification cards that only allow sea and overland entry to the U.S. from Canada, Mexico and certain parts of the Caribbean, but not the rest of the world.

To get this number I took the number of outstanding valid passports in circulation as estimated by the State Department — the number is 138,675,021 — and divided that by the total U.S. population according to the Census Bureau, which as of December, 2016, was 325,103,000 (minus the approximately 11.1 million people who are undocumented residents and 13.3 million legal permanent residents that live in the U.S. but cannot obtain passports or have valid passports issued from other countries).

For those keeping score, the fact that 46% of Americans have a passport means that a little less than half the population can’t fly to Canada, let alone travel to any other country in the world.

Has This Number Been Going Up or Down Year-Over-Year?

As reflected in the graphic above courtesy of the U.S. Department of State, 2016 showed a pretty healthy increase in the number of passports issued from 2015, and an overall trend upwards since the 10-year low of 2011. However, given the increase in population year-over-year, the percentage hasn’t actually gone up from 46% over the past few years.

Which States Have the Highest Percentage of Passports?

Here comes the fun part. I decided to take this data and see which U.S. states have the highest and lowest percentage of their population with valid passports. As can be viewed in the top graphic, those states with the lowest percentages are clustered in the South, Midwest, Upper Midwest, and the Great Plains States. Perhaps not surprisingly, those states with the highest percentages tended to be on the border of Canada and Mexico, along both coasts, and those states with higher urban populations.

Mississippi was the lowest, with just 17%, followed by West Virginia (19%), Alabama (22%), Arkansas (22%) and Kentucky (23%). The state with the highest percentage was New Jersey with 62%, followed by New York (59%), Massachusetts (58%), and Alaska, Connecticut and Delaware (all were at 55%).

I decided to then compare my state-by-state calculations with the results of the recent 2016 presidential elections. As can be seen above, there is a striking correlation between the states that voted for Trump in 2016 and those states with the lowest number of passport holders. Those states that voted for Clinton had the highest percentage of passport holders (Alaska is a notable exception — a state which is historically conservative, but not surprisingly has a high percentage of passport ownership given its remote location).

In fact, the top 19 states with the highest percentage of passport holders (states where at least 44% of the population has passports) were all states that voted for Clinton (Alaska was the sole exception). Alternatively, the bottom 11 states in terms of passport ownership all went for Trump.

Of the bottom half of states with the lowest percentage of passport holders, only 1 of those states went for Clinton (New Mexico). Of the top 25 states, only 6 voted for Trump (24%).

Below is a sortable list of all 50 states and the percentage of each state’s population that has a valid passport.



I’m probably the last person in the world to defend anyone who doesn’t have a passport, which by this very fact, completely precludes them from even the opportunity to travel outside the United States. However, rather than attempting to list out the reasons I think this is obviously not a good thing, I thought I’d propose a few reasons why this may be the case.


One factor discouraging foreign travel is quite simply that it’s cost-prohibitive for the average American, many of whom are still reeling from the Great Recession. When factoring in the costs of traveling abroad from the U.S. (which tends to be much higher than other parts of the world given its location), even the cheapest international trip is simply beyond the means for the average American, especially given the lingering effects of the Great Recession and years of wage stagflation for the majority of the country.


No doubt Americans just don’t have the history and drive that, say, the British have for international travel. In the 2009 edition of The Best American Travel Writing, noted travel writer Simon Winchester had this to say on the subject:

There was essentially no empire (the Philippines, Puerto Rico, and a scattering of Pacific islands excepted), and hence little by way of imperial legacy. The country is formidably isolated by thousands of miles of ocean from almost anywhere truly foreign, and getting abroad is very much more costly. Americans seldom went to seek their fortunes overseas, as British so often did . . . [and there] is little tradition of American exploration (aside from exploration-as-entertainment put on for the benefit of a number of some rather dubious but fashionable clubs and societies).

Further, there is a lack of tradition of Americans traveling abroad given America’s size and therefore lack of need to travel to other countries to experience relatively different geographic and cultural differences.

Then factor in America’s relatively low number of paid vacation days granted by their employers, and you can quickly begin to see the many reasons many Americans simply don’t see the need to obtain a passport.

Maybe It’s Not That Bad

It’s also worth pointing out that although this number isn’t great (and certainly is far below the percentage found in countries in other parts of the world such as in Europe), at least Americans aren’t as bad in this respect compared to, say, the Chinese, where only about 5% of the population has a passport.

Finally, Americans that do have valid passports actually travel a lot. The United States ranks third in terms of the number of departures to countries other than their own (behind Hong Kong and Germany) with 68.3 million trips abroad. A good number, unless you compare that to the numbers from countries with far less populations that rank above or near the U.S. in this statistic (Germany, the U.K., Poland, Canada, Italy and France are right behind the U.S.).

How to Get a Passport

To find out how to get the process going if you don’t have a passport, all you need to do to start is to visit the official U.S. Passports and International Travel web site for the U.S. Department of State by clicking here.


By Matt Stabile / The Expeditioner Twitter The Expeditioner Facebook

Matt Stabile Bio PictureMatt Stabile is the Founder and Editor-in-Chief of The Expeditioner. The Expeditioner began in 2008 and is headquartered in New York City. You can read his writings, watch his travel videos or contact him at any time at

  • This is very interesting. Seeing the number of Americans without a passport is really interesting.

  • This is pretty funny when they connect it to votes for Hillary. The democrats after the election were asked what they could do to get more support in the fly by states and rural areas and they said they need to provide high-speed internet to the rural folks in order to get them to vote for them.

    This passport stuff will be the same thing, the democrats plan will be to provide everyone with passports because the stats show if they have them their states will vote democrat. Morons, all.

    • David Cloutman

      ^^^ Another copy / paste Russkie bot.

  • Its difficult to wrap my head around the numbers but great article nonetheless.

  • heidi medina

    I’m still trying to figure out how you came to 46% have passports. Even doing your math calculation which drops the population of people who can have a passport to 300.7 million people and with only 131,841,062 valid passports in circulation in 2016 per the US State department, that only equals 30% of the population having a passport. Would love to know how you ended up with 46% since that number is overly inflated according to basic math and very misleading.

    • Henry

      131,841,062 / 300,700,000 is about 44%.

      Not sure where you got the 30% from…

      • Wendy Burton

        You forgot about the illegal and legal aliens that he subtracted. As my math teacher used to say,”Please read the entire equation'”

  • ReadandShare

    Of the minority who do hold a passport, I reckon a big portion applied for their “once in a lifetime” trip abroad. And of those who do travel more than once or twice, think just how many habitually flock to Canada, the Caribbean, London, Rome and Paris. A far tinier minority might opt for eastern Europe, and “popular” destinations in Asia: Thailand, Bali, Hong Kong and maybe Japan.

    The percentage of Americans who have visited (and gotten firsthand experience) in China? India? Or the Middle East? Africa? Teeny tiny blip.

    Add to the above our far-too-often-counter-productive news media (slanting, sensationalizing) – and most Americans actually have very inaccurate impressions of the rest of the world. And yet, our political leadership intervenes in just about every corner of the world! For good, sure, but I fear far too often, for bad too.

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  • All weak arguments in my opinion

  • Gordana Govic

    Cost prohibited? I drool at the cost of airline tickets in the US compared to Canada. I cringe every time I have to take a 30% loss on buying US dollars to travel as a Canadian.

  • Rishi Pandey

    Thanks for the ask that question but don’t have any idea if how many peouple have passport
    One Day Agra Tour

  • bogart

    I HAVE A PASSPORT that is NOT valid anymore because it is too old. I would have to turn in my old one and get a new one to use. What a STUPID assumption that no valid passport means you have never been abroad.

    • AllieO

      Where in this article did you see an assumption that people who lack passports have never been abroad? And why do you think anyone cares whether you have been abroad in the past? The author said that people who don’t have passports can’t travel abroad now, which is 100% true. Your expired passport may be a nice souvenir for you, but it useless for travel. If you get a new one, the old passport will be returned to you with a hole punched through it.

  • What a amazing images! I totally want to go there now and it wasn’t even on my shortlist for my next trip. Amazing list of travel trip. Great information, thanks for sharing it.

    This is such a beautiful story and definitely a blessing to read right now in my life. Thank you so much for sharing your experience and giving that hope that there is purpose even in those moments of confusion and waiting. Amazing pictures you shared this event.

  • Guest

    It is ridiculously funny to think of a person without a passport

  • dougq

    This is pretty funny when they connect it to votes for Hillary. The democrats after the election were asked what they could do to get more support in the fly by states and rural areas and they said they need to provide high-speed internet to the rural folks in order to get them to vote for them.

    This passport stuff will be the same thing, the democrats plan will be to provide everyone with passports because the stats show if they have them their states will vote democrat. Morons, all.

    • zhark

      I’m afraid you’re not understanding the difference between correlation and causation. This article is merely pointing out that there is a correlation between the amount of people who has a passport in a given state and which candidate won the majority in their state. Correlations tend to suggest some kind of pattern that might point to possible causes, but they are not usually the causes themselves. It’s not suggesting that making people get passports could somehow ‘turn’ people into democrats that would vote for Hilary…

      • dougq

        I will explain myself better then. I was pointing out that the democrats’ plan was to provide high-speed internet to rural folks in order to create more democrat votes in rural areas. I was pointing out the fallacy of that argument, like you said causation and correlation. So to me it was quite humorous to see another potential democrat strategy based on the same faulty premise. Increase visas in red states thereby getting more democrat votes.

        As such I perfectly understand the difference between correlation and causation – I was just pointing out that the democrat leadership does not.

    • David Cloutman

      ^^^ Copy / paste Russkie bot.

      • dougq

        Clueless you are, at least if you are serious about your comment.

  • tori

    As a British citizen who has travelled the world for the last 10 years I have encountered many US citizens both overseas and in the US. Those I met overseas were intelligent, well cultured individuals. Those I met in the US…. not so much. Its probably a good idea that not everyone has a passport as when abroad you are effectively representing your country. Being asked by a gentleman from arkansaw where I learnt English when he knew I was English…. Just one example.

    • grubber


      • Wendy Burton

        Now try to spell that sauce from England that people put on their steaks…no peeking

    • ReadandShare

      Thousands of drunken Brits menacing the world and you are concerned about Americans?

  • Supergirl

    There are about 340 million people in the USA. According to the US State Department, there are 125,907,176 million valid passports in circulation. That means 37 percent of the population has a passport.

    • bobsmythe

      The US resident population is “only” 325 million. But almost 10% are non-citizen legal residents. So they aren’t counted since the article focuses on the percentage of American CITIZENS who have passports. Thus the overall percentage is higher as the denominator in the equation is much lower than 340 mil.

  • Pamela Kennedy

    I actually think that in Massachusetts, and probably New Jersey as evidenced by the map, one reason our percentage of passport holders is so high is because a Massachusetts driver’s license is so prohibitively expensive. Massachusetts’ are pretty much the same price as a passport, and Connecticut’s are “getting there.” And in Massachusetts, to get a passport you don’t have to show a Driver’s license – if you don’t have one, the passport office won’t immediately be suspicious and haul out “the long form” application.

    • dougq

      In Washington state we all had to get passports because we aren’t allowed to go onto military bases or some flights with just a driver license because our driver licenses aren’t recognized by the Feds as valid proof of citizenship thanks to them giving them out to legal and illegal immigrants…It’s probably the same in many of those other states as well.

    • AllieO

      Not sure that theory makes sense.
      In Massachusetts, someone who doesn’t have a license can’t drive a car, so a passport isn’t a useful substitute. If a Mass resident just needs valid identification, has no license and doesn’t need to drive, it’s easier and cheaper to get an official Massachusetts non-driver ID ($25, valid for 5 years) than to get a US passport.
      For drivers, a Massachusetts drivers license costs $50, and is valid for 5 years.
      A US passport costs more than a drivers’ license: a 10-year adult passport renewal costs $110, plus the cost of a photo that the traveler provides, while a first-time adult passport costs an additional one-time $25 application fee ($135 total, plus the whatever the photo cost).

      The states with a high percentage of passport-holders tend to have a high percentage of immigrants and green-card holders. Permanent resident-immigrants are proud to travel on a US
      passport, and even of they don’t have much money they will save to
      travel back to their country of origin to see family that they left

      Also, the states with a high percentage of passport-holders have a large number of high-income folks who travel internationally for business or pleasure. For them, the cost of a passport is negligible, and they happily take advantage of available direct flights to Europe, Asia, and Africa. I have friends in the midwest who love to travel, but for them, the stress of having to connecting to flights in New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, or Boston is discouraging and adds to the cost of any overseas trip.

  • Pamela Kennedy

    It may be because it’s seen as the only reason in America to even GET a passport is to get the hell AWAY. When you get tired of taking all your college degrees and going state-to-state and getting “shown the door” showing up for jobs you’re perfectly qualified for and got via telephone interview, and you need to go find a country where you don’t have to sue for misperception discrimination every time you turn around – some country where the mathematicians, physicists, and lawyers all have “mestizo” brown skin like you too so that hopefully won’t happen? Guatemala, French Guiana, here I come.

  • Alt World

    As an American who’s lived in four countries — I find this kind of stuff really annoying. And of course written from someone outside of the country. I remember living in New Zealand and hearing this discussed on several occasions. Well, NZ is the size of a postage stamp that fits into the state of Colorado. The size (and extreme population diversity and cultures within the US) is more than most people, especially small island nations, can comprehend. Go from London to Moscow and that’s like traveling the States. Not to mention, until relatively recently, Americans didn’t need passports to travel to Canada, the virgin islands and many other locations. Enough of the passport crap already. I’ve known French people who’ve never visited their own mountain ranges. I’ve met Belgians who haven’t left their villages. Every culture has people who don’t move around for whatever reason. Every culture. Enough already. To the person who wrote the article, take a closer look at your own population and you might be surprised by how many people in the UK, in relation to size, don’t travel – anywhere.

    • Pamela Kennedy

      You’re right. The difference is that everywhere I personally have gone lately, in the USA, with “Teachers Without Borders,” all I seem to meet are the ones who not only have never seen anything outside their own backyard but assume that I too must not have. When I got to Albuquerque, I mentioned that the nearest IKEA store is the one in Denver (it is) and got hit immediately with “oh you must be from Denver” as if you have to be born and raised in anyplace you know anything about. IKEA happens to be visible from the freeway driving through it (I also noticed on the way out there that there’s one in St. Louis — and Lord knows I never slow down driving through THAT state. I don’t mention that one because I don’t want to be asked if I was born and raised in St Louis, as if you HAVE TO in order to notice there’s an IKEA there!!) so it feels like, lately, ALL I’m meeting are the fucktards of America. I have to remind myself that somewhere in the USA there ARE people who DO have passports and who have been somewhere else other than where they were born and/or raised. It’s perception. Hell yes it’s “state by state.” I sometimes get sick and tired of talking to people who assume that anywhere I know anything about how to GET TO, I must be “born and raised” there. Thirteen states and four countries, and I must have been born and raised in all of them, you country full of I don’t know whats???

      And it’s not just “the Heartland” because I got an earful of it in Worcester, MA too. I would go shopping in Hartford – but even though I am a Yalie no one EVER asks me if I’m “from” Connecticut. Never. So, it’s selective stupidity. Plus racism – it’s additionally assumed that MINORITIES in America “don’t travel.” Or can’t possibly know anything about any place other than where they were born and raised. If I hear one more of the assumption that I must be “from” the state I bought my CAR in, I think I’ll hit that person with it!!

  • Amy

    “When factoring in the costs of traveling abroad from the U.S. (which tends to be much higher than other parts of the world given its location)…”
    That statement is not true. I went to Europe from Taiwan even the cost of return fly ticket over my one month salary, and I did it over 15 times, visiting 34 countries before marry. And now my husband thinks it’s too much when we spend 1/4 of monthly salary on a fly ticket because he is an American.

    • Pamela Kennedy

      You’ve been to 34 countries – tell me, if you start talking to people about any of them is it automatically assumed that you must be born and raised in the one you happen to be talking about? Or is this something people to do ME uniquely because I’m an American “Red” Indian?? Or am I just encountering the bottom of the barrel of even America’s stupid fucktards…when I leave for Europe I’m going to leave off of the East Coast so I have time to clear my head!!

  • ryzoncity

    wow the US and the UK is always growing tow to toe even with it’s population had an article realative to this too but you did a better job

  • Kane

    “In fact, the U.S. is nearly at the top of the list of countries when you look at the number of people who travel from their home country to a foreign destination.”

    Um, that’s because it’s nearly at the top of the list of countries with the biggest populations ;) The other countries in that list are filled with people that can’t afford to travel. When you look at travel per capita, the US is nowhere near the top. In fact the UK is almost tied with the US and it has 20% of the population! Dang.

    • Pamela Kennedy

      There’s also this: having a passport, in most countries, does not necessarily equal “has money to travel.” In Europe and most of the rest of the world, your passport is your primary form of identification. I can’t count the number of times some stupid American treats a passport like it’s “not real ID” or uses the phrase “why don’t you use your regular ID instead” – that right there, my friends, says it all.

    • hi


  • PeerCover

    The U.S is a diverse country where one can get around easily (within one’s borders) without too much trouble. Free borders within the European Union on the other hand are pretty new. I’d expect European % passport holders to drop in the future more towards a U.S / Russian / China type figure.

    • Pamela Kennedy

      No, because in most of Europe their passport IS their primary form of ID. A lot of countries don’t have their pictures on a driver’s license, you know.

    • Pantpurlais

      The “free” borders are for citizens of EU member countries travelling to other EU countries. Passports are still needed for Europeans from non-EU countries.

      Not only that, but Europeans do happen to travel outside Europe, you know. Furthermore, “free” borders do not mean that you can leave your passport at home because you need to show it if required, and airlines generally require a passport to be shown at the check-in desk.

  • Matt

    I’m 34, never had a passport, no real need to get one. I don’t think my parents ever had one, maybe my dad when he was in the Vietnam war. My brother has one, but I think it was mainly to take a trip to one of those islands right off of Florida. Reasons?
    1. Don’t really care to fly. Its expensive, security seems to be a hassle and I don’t think I could deal with being crammed into one for hours at a time.
    2. Its pretty much $3,000-$5,000 to take a trip overseas for a week. I put in quite a bit of effort to earn my money, it would be hard to blow 1-2 months of income on a week long trip.
    3. If I wanted to travel, theres a lot of places in the USA I haven’t been. It would be a lot cheaper to go there.
    4. Communication problems. Sure there is a lot of countries that speak English, but getting lost and not being able to ask someone for directions would be annoying.
    5. Legal & culture issues. Things that might be acceptable in the USA, might be enough to get beat up or thrown in jail over there. What if you got thrown into jail for jaywalking when you had no idea that the penalty was that severe.

    • Dawid

      I respect your opinion Matt, but some of the reasons you’ve mentioned are just ridiculous. First of all, you can definitely travel for less than $3-5k a week. I’d say there are a lot of great destinations where you don’t need to spend more than $1.5k for a week, that’s including the flights. Do your research and you’ll be surprised.

      Communication problems because people don’t speak your language? Well, I’m not trying to be rude but the world really does not end as soon as you leave the USA. I understand that being a native English speaker is not very encouraging to learn other languages, but trust me, it opens a lot of doors to know one. And broadens your horizons, too. Besides, it might be worth getting out of your comfort zone and trying to deal with this kind of situation abroad without speaking the language. More often than not you’ll be fine.

      Legal and cultural issues you say… This is a part of learning about other culture mate. When in Rome, do as the Romans do. As they say. And you’ll learn something, too.


      • robert walbridge

        Cheers mate, you a polyglot? thought not. Or if you believe you are, how in-depth is your study? Bet you know namaste?…wow, you are a citizen of the world! Before you brow-beat someone who honestly may have a reservation or two about foreign travel; learn to be less of a douche and appreciate a rare example of sincerity and humility. Yes Dawid, you are the dickhead backpacker who has been everywhere(ok), but knows nothing and barely speaks a phrase of a foreign language.

        • JamesieK

          Looks like you´re probably one of the quarter of Americans that never left their state, hence the defensive reactionary tone of your comment

        • gia

          defensive much?

      • George Pettigrew

        I wholly agree. Having experienced around 25 countries, Matt’s concern about getting around and getting along in other countries smacks of the image of the ugly American, upset that things aren’t the same or perceived as “good” as at home.

        • CM V

          With all due respect. George, you sound the like “ugly American “. In fact, you sound downright condescending. I’ve been to nearly 25 countries, throughout my travels. And some of my closest friends have never stepped outside the US. And you know what? Good for them. Thankfully, we live in a very diverse world with people who have many different interests. There are some things that I love (international travel), that they have no interest in, and vice versa. My interests aren’t better than theirs, and neither are their interests better than mine. If someone has no interest in international travel, it doesn’t make them an “ugly American”. It just means they have differ interests than you do. I’d argue that your the “ugly American” in this instance, because you can’t seem to comprehend that people in this world come from all different walks of life and interests.

          • Pantpurlais

            About one-quarter of US Americans haven’t even travelled out of their own state! Even if they had they would be arriving at a place very much like the one they just left, so what would be the point? I have travelled in the US down the west and east coasts, throughout New England, down from Cleveland (Ohio) through several states to the Texas and the Mexican border, and also across California, Arizona and New Mexico, numbering 19 states in all. The scenery changed but the same old tacky chain stores, gas stations, fast “food” outlets, advertizing plastered everywhere, billboards littering the countryside, historic spots disneyfied, soul-destroying ticky-tacky suburbs, crumbling towns, and trailer trash were everywhere to be found. So what’s the point of travelling in the US? I certainly wouldn’t bother to go back to Ugly America again.

            As for US Americans choosing to follow different interests, how would they know what their choices are if they haven’t travelled? Actually, I’m glad that a high percentage of US Americans don’t have a passport and “prefer” to stay at home because it makes it easier for me to find places that are free of Americans. And don’t slam me for that comment!! You would be surprised to learn how many people from Canada and Europe seek American-free spots to travel to. The Ugly American epithet came into being for a reason. Ask travel agents how often they come across people booking flights who don’t want to go anywhere near the US, even when it costs more and takes longer to go via other countries. Once anyone has experienced the ill manners, arrogant attitude, and ignorance of US border and security officials, who can blame them? I am one of them. I once paid almost $400 more for a flight to avoid flying via the US.

    • Pantpurlais

      My last trip to Cuba for two weeks cost $788 Canadian for the flight, transport between the airport and the hotel, hotel accommodation, and all meals and drinks. I went to Panama for $820 Canadian for three weeks and spent about $1,000 there on bus travel, a diving trip, accommodation and food. This year I spent three weeks in Nicaragua. The flight was $760 and I spent around $1,500 on accommodation, bus and boat travel, food, several excursions (trips up three volcanoes and a trip by horseback to a cocoa plantation), and a four-day camping trip in the rain forest.

      You definitely don’t need to spend anywhere near as much as $3,000-$5,000 to take a trip overseas for a week!

      As for the language, how do you think Europeans cope? Get a phrase book, learn a few words before going! There are plenty of free language courses online.

      About one-quarter of US Americans haven’t even travelled out of their own state! Even if they had they would be arriving at a place very much like the one they just left, so what’s the point? Get out and travel. You’ll be surprised at how much more interesting the world is outside the US, not counting Canada, which is also pretty much the same from coast to coast – same “food”, same chain stores, same lookalike accommodations, same culture.

      As for being thrown in jail, that’s the US talking. The incarceration rate of the United States of America is the highest in the world, at 716 per 100,000 of the national population. While the United States represents about 4.4 percent of the world’s population, it houses around 22 percent of the world’s prisoners. How many times have you been thrown in jail in the US? You remind me of Star Trek’s The Journey Home and of what Spock said when they landed in San Francisco: “This is an extremely primitive and paranoid culture.”

    • JamesieK

      Seems like your arguments are based on fear of the unknown and are unfounded;
      1-2. Flying doesn´t need to be expensive, just shop around. There are lots of deals that can be found, you won´t regret it. You might find out that you love it, you won´t know any other way.
      3. Nothing wrong with traveling around the US but variety is the spice of life and there´s less of that in the same country
      4. It´s not a big deal to speak a few words of another language and you will find that many people speak English anyway
      5. You have nothing to fear about culture issues, it´s part of the experience about learning about the world. Ask anyone who has traveled and they will tell you.

    • Supergirl

      Dude, you’re 34 and don’t have a passport which means you’ve never been outside of the United States. That’s definitely not something to brag about, as well live in a global era not the 1800s.

      • Matt

        I’ve been to Canada, but that was before you needed all the documentation.

    • Guest

      You are a typical american

    • Bamboclot44

      All weak arguments in my opinion.

      1. It’s not as expensive as you think. I flew LAX-BLR roundtrip for $800 last November. I know some people who blow that much on a week on drinks/clubs. Security is not a big deal if you arrive on time at the airport and are prepared/organized, 15-20 minutes, I wouldn’t call it a hassle.

      2. It does not have to be that much… there are plenty of ways to save money. You don’t have to stay at the 4 Seasons. For example, I stayed in a terrific B&B for $40/night in the heart of Madrid with my own private room. I drank nice beers for 1-2 Euro and ate lunch for a couple Euros. And this was when the Euro was $1.30ish, now it’s almost at parity so traveling to Europe is absolutely DIRT cheap. If you avoid the tourist trap areas it’s cheap.

      3. See (2), travel in the USA is not always cheaper. The US is one of the most expensive places to travel in the world so it being cheaper is a myth.

      4. Take it as an opportunity to learn a few words in another language rather than a handicap. In addition, I have traveled in many countries – China (Mandarin), all over the Middle East (Arabic), Japan (Japanese) etc. with zero issues and I don’t speak any of those languages.

      5. If you act like a moron you will get beat up/jailed anywhere in the world. Getting jailed for jaywalking is a stretch. You are just running your imagination here! I’ve yet to get into any legal issues anywhere and i’ve traveled to over 50 countries!

      • 1. Just because some people love to travel does not mean they should be so negatively judgemental about people who don’t. Some people live in cities and blow most of what they earn on fashion and partying. People in other parts of the country prefer to invest their earnings in growing a business or building or improving a home or ranch. Each person is free to choose what to do with their time and money.

        2. Security today = your choice of radiated or groped. I for one am not going to volunteer to let strangers manhandle me or damage my health. This new “security” nonsense has definitely impacted travel. No none knows how scanners affect our health long-term and flying isn’t all that healthy for us either, especially if done often. I flew to South Africa back when you could do that without being radiated or groped. Now I will never fly anywhere ever again unless I can do it without having my personal space and person violated.

        3. Travel within the U.S. could cost as little as the price of fuel if you already have a car. There is a lot of the U.S. to see, so there isn’t any real motivation to travel to other countries. Many don’t feel any need to travel to another state. Some have never even been beyond the closest “big” city. The only reason many people think travel is the thing to do is conditioning from the media and advertising. It isn’t essential.

        4. You don’t have to leave the U.S. to find opportunities to speak many other languages. People in the U.S. do and now you can talk to people online, too.

        5. It is a valid concern to not know the laws in other countries (or even safety in other cities). Just because you have been lucky so far doesn’t mean you might be lucky forever. I suspect you don’t know what minor activities in the U.S. might be minor offences here, but land you in jail or even prison in those 50 other countries you claim to have visited.

        You like to travel and have the means to do so. That is fortunate for you. Others don’t care to travel as they have higher priorities regarding how to spend their time and money. That is their choice. The only reason I ever had a passport was to go speak in South Africa. There is no point in having a passport if you don’t need one and have no plans to travel.

        • A Helmut Fickenwirth

          America is sooooo selfcentered, because there are far too many Americans like you. Living in a large and powerful country has defintely disadvantages. It blinds people

    • PS85

      I don’t have a passport either. I’m not opposed to getting one, I just never got around to planning an overseas vacation. We’ve got fifty states, two ocean coasts and one on the Gulf of Mexico, lots of places to go. Still, I would like to take an overseas trip sometime. Right now I’m on a pretty strict diet for medical and weight reasons, so eating out-a big part of travelling-is out for me.

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  • Karen Hansen

    Interesting, but the figures don’t take into account Americans that have more than one passport. My sister married a US serviceman, so has American citizenship. She was issued with an American passport, She didn’t, however, relinquish, her Australian citizenship, so she also has an Australian passport. She works for the US government in Washington, so she has been issued a ‘government’ passport. In effect, she has 3 passports. And when she is travelling, she interchanges them. Flying to Aus for family visit, she leaves the US on Aus passport so when she arrives she can take the Australian customs line, leaving Aus to go home, she uses her US passport. Flying into Asia or other countries on non-government business where warnings for travel for US citizens, she uses her Aus passport. On government business, she uses her government passport.

    • Pamela Kennedy

      There’s also the fact that New Mexico, from the map, is an anomaly. The population is barely over 1 million and of that, a high PERCENTAGE of it are:
      –students at NMTech, 78% of whom are foreigners
      –the Nuclear Physicists at the Nuclear Bomb Labs in Los Alamos, a substantial percentage of whom are from “somewhere else.”
      The majority of that state’s population is, as I’ve mentioned previously, dumbfuck as the rocks they crawled out from under. The “if you even know anything about anyplace other than where you’re standing, you MUST be “born and raised” in that place” sort of dumbfuck. It’s not even “hillbilly” because that phrase usually applies to white people. “Hillbilly” would be more understandable, as in, if on my way back to Massachusetts I ever drove through the South and got those kinds of things said to me in passing, it would be understandable. New Mexico – no excuse.

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  • I live in Oslo, Norway and can say that we don’t travel to the states that much because it’s to expensive to fly. We do fly to the same places over and over, such as the Canary Islands, and Costa del Sol and trust me you are not missing much. You Americans like to travel independently and see history, we travel in groups in charters tour packages and see Norwegians getting drunk. I think I read something like 20 million Americans travel to Europe and only like 15 million Europeans travel to the states. I can tell you that there are many Europeans that still have not been to Paris, Rome, Florence, Madrid, Barcelona, and Vienna.

  • Omar Faruk


  • متولي رمضان
  • Clearly the UK is top of the list when it comes to overseas travel measured as a per capita figure. I would have expected that as we have our colonial legacy fuelling a great number of those visits. Coupled with the proximity of Europe and our heat-seeking nature due to our climate. Interesting article, thanks for taking the time to research the figures.
    It got me thinking about borders and visa revenue. It might be an interesting exercise to research how much the world spends on visas and currency exchange fees compared to how much it would have cost when there was an empire that stretched from Iran to the UK and you could spend a coin minted in modern day Romania from York to Cairo. Progress?
    Ian Paul (York, the original one, in England)

    • Pantpurlais

      The great thing about travelling with a UK passport is that visas are not very often required, at least not by the countries in Asia, Africa and Latin America that I have visited. I travelled a lot with my Canadian husband and he seemed to need a visa for everywhere and was only given a stay of 30 days whereas I usually had three months. It was such a pain when he had to extend it for a few days. I also hold a Canadian passport but I don’t use it.

  • Richard Reiss

    Ironically, considering Obama is trying make headway on climate change so there is still a world worth traveling to, the people without passports (likely antagonistic to Obama, and to action on climate) are helping the most.

    • Bill Koenig

      it feels like you’re trying to twist this story into a platform to speak about something you care about instead of commenting on the content of the article. what you are talking about has little to nothing to do with who does or does not have a passport in the united states.

  • Dev

    Getting holier then thou because you travel and others don’t is the weirdest thing to get holier then thou over. Thats a lot like getting holier then thou because you play tennis and others don’t. Its a hobby, thats all traveling is.

    • TheThunderChimp

      I stopped reading when you used then instead of than

    • Mary

      Travel broadens perspectives and horizons. Travel makes one more tolerant, because one sees that other cultures may emphasize different values. Lack of tolerance is a very limiting state of mind. “Getting holier than thou because you travel” sounds extremely intolerant. Perhaps you should travel, to broaden your knowledge of the world.

    • Seosamh O’C

      That says it all. If you think that travel is just a ‘hobby’ then the whole discussion is lost on you.

      • robert walbridge

        Really? Do you speak Pazeh? Think speaking an extinct Taiwanise language makes one culturally correct or confers travel cred? Seosamh…how many languages do you speak? No not phrases, but c1 level? Let’s not be so backpacker assholeick and realize that there are about 6 billion people out there that have been to more places, and speak more languages than you have.(a week in Costa Rica is not an expedition)…heh heh asshole

        • JamesieK

          Did Seosamh say anything about languages? Do you know him or anything about him?
          You´re not making sense

        • gia

          Your anger is palpable, misdirected though it may be. Seosamh O’C made a valid comment, but you aren’t making any sense as it relates to what he said.

    • Pamela Kennedy

      No, it’s about possession of a passport. To most of the world, NOT the US, a passport is just the ultimate form of ID that proves citizenship in one fell swoop. No need to have a driver’s license AND birth certificate AND national insurance card number AND yada yada yada AND so on and so forth…

      • PS85

        Ahem. National insurance card number? Are you sure YOU’RE from America?

  • guest

    I think the $150 charge to obtain “permission” for what is supposed to be a basic right and should be one of those essential services that are provided de rigure by our Government which we have formed is outrageous. Forget not that until recently one did not need a passport to enter and return from Canada or Mexico; just some valid proof of citizenship – like a birth cirtificate or proof of naturalization.

  • How do you control for passports issued to replace lost or stolen ones?

    • Alex Ellsworth

      You have to submit a birth certificate (and certificate of naturalization, if applicable), ID (driver’s license, etc.), photo, and submit the application in person. If you’re overseas and don’t have a birth certificate, you at least need a photocopy of the lost/stolen passport, valid U.S. ID, and you have to make a sworn statement before a consular officer. Police reports are preferred. The lost/stolen passport will immediately be invalidated for travel.

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  • Clarrie

    Interesting statistics.  There seems to be a link between those states that were pro slavery in the early years and the number of passports on issue in those states.  I also wonder if the average person in these states know anything about what is going on in the rest of the world.  Or is it just simple to keep your head in the sand.  Thank goodness I live in a country that views the world as a whole.

  • Wow, those figures are crazy, I can’t believe how few people have passports! To be fair though, I think part of the reason is that America is so big, so there is more diverse cultures and more places to go without leaving the country. Let’s say you look at figures of people who have never left their own continent – I’d imagine the number of people who have never left North America would be pretty similar to the number of people who have never left Europe.

  • Interesting read and actually quite surprising figures. Any idea which country has the highest percentage?

  • NickCollins

    That’s incorrect, we need passports to travel anywhere in Europe or around the world…

  • Jsnb2001

    The UK is approximately the size of Oregon and England the size of Louisiana.  Most Americans living in Oregon and Louisiana have left their States.  So if Texas and Washington State were different countries, these people would be considered to be better traveled?  A New Yorker travels 5000 miles and lands in Hawaii, a Key Wester travels 4000 miles and lands in Alaska.  Yet because they are still in the US that doesn’t count as travel?  So absurd.

  • Connie

    Maybe they just don’t have passports because it’s so darned hard to get one!!!   My fiancé just applied for a US passport. He was born and raised in the USA and has never been outside the USA in his entire 57 years of life. When he sent in his application (which he did in person) he provided them with a birth certificate and a state-issued ID – which the Department of State website said was required. They wrote to him three weeks after receiving the application stating that the birth certificate and ID card were not sufficient to identify him. He now has to provide AT LEAST FIVE more documents to “assist them in identifying who he is”!!!! These documents have to be OVER five years old! They want marriage certificates from a marriage which ended over ten years ago. They want the birth certificates of his two adult (married) children. They want his medical records. They want a copy of his social security card. He recently renewed his driving licence and they want a copy of that too. If the Department of State is so hard up for investigators who can successfully identify their own citizens, I think they need to start coming down harder on the organisations who issue birth certificates and ID cards and driving licences, instead of coming down on the ordinary citizens! Every dealing I have ever had with any government department in the USA has, honestly, been like dealing with a 3rd world communist country – its like some awful novel by Solzhenitsyn. Unbelievable.

  • irlitany

    The numbers on the Chinese with passports are skewed since they need exit permits from the government and the difficulty of getting entry visas to other countries. Also, travelling abroad is expensive except for business trips paid by employers and rising middle classes who can afford it.

  • smrstrauss

    Can anyone help me to determine the total percent of Americans who had passports in 1961, and the total percent of 18-year-olds who had passports???

    • MattStabile

      That’s a tough one. I doubt that information is out there publicly, but you can probably make a Freedom of Information Act request for that.

  • Kaan L Caglar

    Also, the short paid vacation time could be one of the biggest reason for Americans not being motivated for international travel.

  • BabinsCO

    Interesting point about the election layover and passports. Also interesting to see such a drop off in 2008. What’s that about?

    • mattstabile

      My guess was that it was related to the run-up to the June 1, 2009 requirement for passports to travel to Canada and Mexico (before driver’s licenses were sufficient).

  • dw

    Utah has a relatively high number of passport-holders because of Mormons going abroad on foreign missions.

  • Mary

    It’s important to remember that 12.9% of the US population is foreign born, and therefore likely to be using a passport issued by a country other than the US.

    • mattstabile

      That’s not true at all Mary. Foreign-born is not the same as illegal immigrant. In fact, over 50% of foreign-born residents of the U.S. become naturalized citizens:

      For my discussion about the impact of illegal residents and the percentage of Americans that have passports, please see my discussion below (the resulting change is basically negligible).

      • dw

        The 50% of foreign-born residents who have not naturalized will have a non-US passport. In addition, even many who naturalize still retain their non-US passports (there is an oath of renunciation in the naturalization ceremony, the the US government currently does nothing to enforce it).

        I don’t see your problem with Mary’s comment. She wasn’t saying or implying anything about illegal immigration.

      • forKnowledge

        Actually, you’re missing Mary’s point here: if 13% of the “legal” US population is foreign born (I haven’t double-checked that figure), when most of those ppl become naturalized they overwhelmingly retain a dual citizenship. So they might travel on their “other” non-US passport + they’re much more likely to travel than US-born citizens (to visit relatives abroad, plus they’ve already relocated, often across continents, so chances are they *enjoy* travelling).
        For instance, about 1/2 of the population of NYC was born abroad, but of course only a small percentage of those ppl are illegal immigrants.
        Similarly, about 1/2 of PhDs awarded by US universities are earned by ppl born abroad (whether they are or not naturalized), and in this case the percentage of illegal immigrants is quasi-null + quite a few stay in the US afterwards (brain drain, better chances of employment, met spouse/had kids during their many years of study etc.)

        Also, since getting a passport is actually easier than getting a State ID, and since a passport is almost useless as proof of ID (e.g. it won’t be accepted even in major stores to write a check), ppl will only get one iff they plan on travelling, and happily let their passport expire when not needed (ex: Most of my relatives from the Midwest have traveled much more than the avg American, incl to live abroad in Asia and Africa, and almost all those born after 1975 spent at least one semester abroad, but 3 months, and if possible how does that compare with the EU, Australia etc?
        Comparing with a few EU countries might prove tedious though, bc you can’t rely on ownership of a valid passport (ex: even pre-Schengen, any French citizen could travel pretty much through all of western Europe + Turkey + some former colonies on an expired passport or on an ID card).

        • Pamela Kennedy

          The “passports are useless as ID” part is actually technically illegal. But most of the US doesn’t know that, or when I point it out to them, doesn’t seem to care. It’s as if they’re daring me to haul them into court. Which I do. And win. I don’t like practising law every time I turn around, though. Never had the stomach for it.

          • forKnowledge

            Pamela, that’s good to know! I don’t have a legal background, and as a Pedestrian in New York, I’ve ketpt having problems “proving my ID” in misc circumstances.
            Tried getting a State ID, but couldn’t because a passport + social security card wasn’t good enough (according to the DMV employees, which weren’t very bright to begin with…).
            So 1000x THANKS for every lawsuit you’ve ever pursuied on this issue: so many of us encounter that frustrating situation on a regular basis!

    • Pamela Kennedy

      Also, if you happen to be a US citizen born outside the US to a US-born parent, you are issued a passport as proof of that. If you were born in another country you wouldn’t want to be in the US presenting your birth certificate from THAT country handing THAT around as proof of US citizenship, now would you? Your birth certificate wouldn’t prove US citizenship in that case – and I can think of only three states, nowadays, that would even accept that to issue a driver’s license. (New Mexico only HALFWAY asks you for a birth certificate….said as if they really don’t care if you don’t have one….they also don’t seem to care if you can drive, but I digress…)

  • pilight

    A passport is far more necessary in Europe, where the next country is always within spitting distance, than in the US, where the next country is hundreds of miles away in most cases. I live in middle Georgia. Canada is 1000 miles from here. Mexico is 1500 miles by land. Every place in Europe is closer to someone in Germany than the Mexican border is to me living in the Southern USA.

    • Bob

      Most countries in Europe are part of the Schengen agreement, so passports aren’t really necessary to go from country to country. I think with Americans, it is mostly cost and the fact that a lot of people aren’t interested in going abroad.

      • Pamela Kennedy

        Pretty sure that even though that’s technically the law, if you “look” or “sound” American meaning including Canadian, the “North American accent” even if you are an EU citizen you won’t be able to get by without that EU country’s passport. If I’m wrong (and they don’t treat me like “American” just because of the colour of my skin…which was my experience in the UK back in 2003-2005) then that’s great. I have a feeling I’m RIGHT, though.

    • Joy

      1000 miles from London is only Spain and Portugal. Its only a trip of a couple hours. People compute from there into London.

      And the cost comes down the more people travel so that is rather a weird argument. There are so many cheap carriers in Europe because there are so many people travelling that the companies compete for business on cheapness.

      • Joy

        I forgot to say that most British people are encouraged to travel because holidaying in the UK is so expensive and because they are encouraged to go abroad from an early age. I think all schools will arrange a couple of foreign trips for each intake. The EU encourages that even more with grants to study abroad.

    • Omar Faruk


    • Wai Marie

      This argument is totally invalid though since you don’t need a passport to travel within Europe (with an European citizenship). In fact, that’s one of the big advantages of the European Union. You can travel and even live and work in any country without a passort or visa.

      • Pamela Kennedy

        Something tells me that as a Canadian “Red” Indian, even once I get to Europe and possess an Irish “not passport but “citizenship card,” – this is hypothetical because the last time I checked, Ireland just issues the passport and doesn’t seem to have the non-passport-ID thing anyway – I won’t be able to go anywhere without having to show my Irish PASSPORT as I was asked for it all the time in the UK too. In other words. Because I’m “Red Indian” no one will believe me with an Irish “citizenship card” – even if Ireland did give those out. Just like, in the US I’m constantly asked for ID and they specifically DON’T mean passport. I have my Treaty Status card and they ask for something else.

    • Pamela Kennedy

      Way to explain the South’s attitude towards passport holders. I was at this hostel in Denver, an “international” hostel, by the way. When I was complaining that my passport wasn’t being accepted (in other places in the country, not THERE, of course. International hostels fully EXPECT you to hand them a passport to check-in) as proper ID in most of this country, some jerk actually said that I “didn’t look like someone who should have a passport.” Racist dumbfuck – good thing I’d been at that hostel so many times before, the guy behind the counter knows me and could keep me OFF of that jerk. The jerk was from South Carolina.

  • Alex

    Right. If those Americans don’t have passports, what kind of documents they have, if any? For instance, a cop stops someone for a document check, what type of document he/she asks for? What document is the most widespread? Thnx

    • Nelson Ricardo

      Drivers license. I have a non-driver ID from the dept. of motor vehicles. Many countries have national ID cards. People don’t walk around with passports.

      • Pamela Kennedy

        Or if you do have a passport, and you present THAT, you get asked for a driver’s license anyway, which constitutes document abuse. And that’s illegal.

        • Anon Y. Mous

          Are you behind the wheel of a car at the time?

    • TheExpeditioner

      As Nelson mentioned, there is no “national ID”, although the idea has been battered around recently. If you’re stopped by a cop, there is no requirement to have “papers,” of course if you’re operating a vehicle you are required to have a driver’s license.

    • Pamela Kennedy

      Driver’s license (except in parts of the country like New York City, San Francisco, Philly, DC, and Boston where most people don’t drive) and these days, birth certificate or otherwise proof of citizenship. In other words, three or four things to prove identity and right to be there. What we call “a flurry of paperwork.” Americans assume passport is only for travel but it is also definitive proof of citizenship – and the only thing with your PICTURE on it. Most birth certificates don’t have one’s picture on them, now do they?

  • A Canadian with math skills

    Your research is great! I would like to note that your overlooked Permanent Legal Residents who cannot yet get US Passports (they are not US Citizens nor US Nationals, yes there is a difference) and therefore your numbers are flawed as Legal Residents count as part of the US population. Based on this, you have to start your study over from SCRATCH to get a real percentage, as your numbers are skewed. Sorry to burst your bubble. A good start however. I look forward to the updated results.

    • TheExpeditioner

      Well, at most maybe 10 million illegal residents were estimated to be included in the census, which would result in a negligible percentage change (maybe 1% increase). However, I don’t think it would be wise to change the calculation based upon “estimated” numbers.

      • David

        Dude, you are not counting on the many millions of LEGAL residents. ALL WHOM carry FOREIGN PASSPORTS by definition.

        • TheExpeditioner

          David: I don’t understand what you are saying. The census counts residents of the U.S. whether they are citizens or non-citizens. Are you saying since this post is based upon U.S. passports, it’s excluding non-citizens living here with foreign passports? If so, excluding illegal residents, that essentially limits it to those with visas to live here as students or workers. Though there are quite a bit, statistically it’s quite small and would probably make even less of a difference than the change when including illegal residents (if you’re living here and are from abroad, you are either illegal or have a visa — and you eventually leave or become a legal resident, which would then require you to have a U.S. passport.)

          • Anu

            I don’t disagree with your main point, but I want to note that becoming a legal permanent resident of the US does not require having a US passport — you continue to have a green card for a large period of time. I am an example of this as I am a legal permanent resident (a green card holder) but I do not have a US passport. Hence even though I am a legal resident of the US and thus likely to be counted in this census, I do not hold a US passport. I agree with you that the numbers are unlikely to skew the results by much, however.

            • MattStabile

              Interesting Anu, how long will it be (because of your own choice or because you have to) before you get a passport? And yes, I agree, this doesn’t really change the numbers much statistically.

              • anonymous

                Anu will never get a U.S. passport while a green card holder. If Anu never becomes a U.S. citizen, Anu will never have a U.S. passport.

      • David

        Although anecdotally I could have picked NJ as #1 and Mass as #2.

        • Pamela Kennedy

          Massachusetts (I don’t know about New Joisey) has overpriced driver’s licenses, that partially factors into the “why’s”.

    • Marc Whinery

      The other “missing” number is that his numbers overstate % by a few points because I’ve averaged 5 passports in 30 years, not 3 in 30. How? My first two were when I was young enough to have them not last 10 years. I also had one lost, and I’ve renewed most before expiry, sometimes up to a year before, depending on upcoming trips and visa transfers, if any.

      But effects like that shouldn’t change state proportions, which was the interesting result, just the total number, and probably not by enough to matter.

  • IhaveID

    Interesting information Matt, thanks for posting

  • HeatMapRevelation

    Hello Matt if you look at the heat Map for the fattest Americans and the heat Map for the most racist Americans ( Harvard Study) you will also see that Mississippi is at the top of the list.

  • Brett B.

    A more apt comparison would be how many Americans travel to other states in the US vs. how many Europeans travel to other countries in Europe. Keep in mind that all the countries in Western Europe are part of the EU and have automatic access to their neighbors… Have you considered that the size of the US is larger than all of Western Europe, and that the largest country in Western Europe (France) is smaller than the largest US states (Alaska, Texas)? In other words, don’t discount the cultural experience of Americans just because we don’t leave the country. We have to go farther to get out. :)

    • UWS_CA

      Very good point. But it’s pretty clear that the poorest, least educated states are also travelling the least. Strong correlation in my opinion.

      • Brett B.

        I’m not sure I understand your point; do you mean they’re poorer and so can’t afford to travel or that they’re less educated and so choose not to travel? For myself, I tend to believe that it’s more the economics driving the lack of passport/travel, which in turn is caused by lack of education (and therefore lack of high-paying job opportunities…). But I’m not sure what point you were trying to make so maybe we’re saying the same thing.

        • UWS_CA

          I agree with you. They need to spend the money on food, clothing and housing and can’t afford the thousands of dollars it costs to go abroad.

          • A Canadian, non-resident

            Actually I find it WAY cheaper to stay OUTSIDE of the US and work online. I can live in paradise for $500 a month, that’s if I stay away from the other gringos. Oh yeah, that’s WITH full health insurance.

            • Pamela Kennedy

              Really, where, Guatemala?? Costa Rica, Panama??

        • Pamela Kennedy

          No, it’s probably that the poorer and less educated can’t understand the simple concept that to most of the world a passport is your primary ID and not just a “travel document.” People who didn’t grow up with two sets of Encyclopedias and two globes in the house….and walking distance from two public libraries….oh, and not to mention born from two parents from two different places themselves. Sometimes I forget that I take that part for granted….

          • In the United States, a passport is NOT the primary form of identification. In most states, a driver’s license is. Just because that is different where you come from that does not make it the same as you expect here. Try handing a police officer a passport in most locations and see what happens.

      • Pamela Kennedy

        And the poorest, least educated states also crank out the people who are the most likely to say to someone else that she “doesn’t look like someone who should have a passport.” That particular time, that particular jackass was from South Carolina not the usual culprits (Texas or Mississippi).

    • Pamela Kennedy

      Except for New England…but point well taken.

  • Sam

    your link to show the number of US Citizens with passports shows that only 13,125,829 Americans have passports, not 117,014,020 as you’ve stated, therefore meaning only around 4% of the US population own a passport or passport card.

    • TheExpeditioner

      Sam: Passports are valid for ten years. That statistic shows how many were issued in 2011, not how many total valid passports are in existence (for that I added up the most recent 10 years worth of numbers).

      • dw

        For children under 16, passports are valid for only 5 years. I know this because I just filed for a renewal of my 5-year-old’s passport.

        Because of international child abduction legislation, both parents and the child all have to physically show up together at the Post Office during its laughably short office hours. It’s a royal pain to co-ordinate with work, school, and childcare for siblings.

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  • alloallo3

    Let’s be real.  Buying a package holiday and staying in a package holiday resort does not a world traveler make. The brits are specialists at that.  They go spend their holidays on a Greek beach among other Brits, get drunk, and then return with a message:  “I love Greece.”
    Really?  Then why did you avoid it?

    • jsd

      We’re not all like that- it’s a stereotype. Ok there are people that do it but then there are many that don’t.

    • Nick

      Just like American spring breakers flock to Mexico.

  • Yellowostrich

    I read a few comments dissing the author’s statement on how it is difficult for the average American family to travel abroad. Please consider:

    Distance an average family must travel from Manchester (central England) in order to go “abroad” = 495 kilometers.Distance an average family must travel from Kansas City (central U.S.) in order to go “abroad” = 1,567 kilometers.

    I’m an American who’s lived outside of the United States for 18 years. A couple months ago I took my family back to the States for a vacation. During 8 weeks we traveled over 5,500 kilometers as we made a loop starting in east Texas traveling to west Texas, up  to northern New Mexico over to Minnesota and back to Texas. We didn’t even hit most of the famous areas of the country known to foreigners and we still saw plenty of different and interesting people and places.

    My experience has been that most foreigners are completely clueless as to the size of the United States. From criticizing us for not having more trains (a non-stop bullet train from Boston to LA would still take 16 hours), to asking me “I’m going to the U.S. for a couple weeks and want to see the country. Where should I start?” Seriously? 

    Americans aren’t the only ones who show geographical ignorance at times. So please lighten up on us a bit.

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  • An American

    114,464,041 people with passports? Every one complaining about how Europe is much better with passports, the 37% statistic is warped. Evan at 37% passport holders, there are still more people with passports in America than any nation in Europe has people, besides Russia.

  • Happy in Florida

    The USA is a large vibrant country. There is really no need for a passport unless you want to visit and learn another culture. There is nothing ignorant about that. Maybe the reason why other cultures have more passports could be because they are unhappy in the country they are from and NEED to get out.

  • Just wandered in here late to the party, and will repeat several more punctual posters.  We just got our first passports, after half a century of living without one, and they are expensive. Nevermind the cost of international travel.  How many families are easily able to plunk down $135 per person for the documentation?  It’s part and parcel of privilege.

    • Yellowostrich

      I agree completely. Honestly, what’s up with these “you’re not cultured unless you go to art shows at an embassy” stuff? 

      I’ve been all over the world and seen many different cultures and places. From the beauty of the Wadi Rum to Evensong at King’s College. From an Aussie rules football match in Melbourne to the Tokapi Palace in Istanbul. From the Calakmul Mayan pyramid near the Mexico-Guatemala border to Broadway and the Globe. A Daiquiri and cigar in Habana and tea in Aleppo. I’ve had what you could call a broad experience. And, if I could pick, I’d still pick:

      A boat on a lake in the upper midwest with my pick-up truck parked at the boat ramp.

      I’m experiencing just as much culture sitting in that boat with my fishing pole as I am at one of those pointless art shows where God knows what is considered art.

      And for good measure, when I’m done fish’n, I might just go out and shoot a deer.

      Don’t tell me we don’t have culture. There are plenty of west coasters and east coasters who, when they come out to the upper midwest, go through culture shock! :)

    • Pamela Kennedy

      People in New England states where the drivers’ licenses cost easily that much.

  • blobclark

    Even better question – – “how many Americans speak 3 languages” ? or “how many have been to visit a nation East of the Oder or Vistula rivers in Europe”?  sic – – that would be Poland, the Baltics, Finland, Russian Federation or Turkey and Egypt. By my count , less than 10 millions out of a population of 311 million. when was the last time they tore themselves away from a playstation to read, heaven forbid, a paper book ? When was the last time any of them went to an art gallery opening or a formal dance , say at an embassy or consulate ? Having a university education does not mean one is cultured or aware of other nations. The geography awareness and foreign policy acumen (even vocabulary) of most Americans I work with is simply stultifying when compared with persons I meet from other nations. 

    • Yellowostrich

       What’s up with the “you’re not cultured unless you go to art shows at an embassy” stuff? 
      I’ve been all over the world and seen many different cultures and places. From the beauty of the Wadi Rum to Evensong at King’s College. From an Aussie rules football match in Melbourne to the Tokapi Palace in Istanbul. From the Calakmul Mayan pyramid near the Mexico-Guatemala border to Broadway and the Globe. A Daiquiri and cigar in Habana and tea in Aleppo. I’ve had what you could call a broad experience. And, if I could pick, I’d still pick:
      A boat on a lake in the upper midwest with my pick-up truck parked at the boat ramp.
      I’m experiencing just as much culture sitting in that boat with my fishing pole as I am at one of those pointless art shows where God knows what is considered art.
      And for good measure, when I’m done fish’n, I might just go out and shoot a deer.
      Don’t tell me we don’t have culture. There are plenty of west coasters and east coasters who, when they come out to the upper midwest, go through culture shock! :)

    • Yellowostrich

      Perhaps a better question would be? How many people can you speak to with those three different languages? 

      I’d argue that you could consider most Americans fluent in at least two languages if you use the same standards you’re using to judge the rest of the world. After all, nearly all Americans speak both their native language as well as the global language. Nearly everyone else in the world who learns a second language is learning the global language of English. It is not our fault that they both happen to be the same. Neither is it our fault that we grew up speaking the global language which also happens to be the official language of over 25% of the countries in the world. :)

      The majority of people who speak three languages, learned three because at least one of them is fairly useless outside of their immediate vicinity. So it was more out of necessity that additional languages were learned.

      Oh, and I know 4.

    • dw

      If you asked Brits I doubt you’d find any higher numbers — and they live far closer!

    • Pamela Kennedy

      I can speak 3 languages but two of those, native speakers of which tend not to want to speak to ME in because they think I’m an American, which to them automatically means “someone too stupid to understand their language (French and German).” It doesn’t matter how many languages you can actually speak. What matters is whether native speakers of those countries WILL speak to you in “their” language if they even think you’re an American.

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  • Anonymous

    Part II
    America is indeed expansive and has many worthwhile places to visit. That misses the point though. In today’s intextricably linked world, a trip to Branson, Disneyland, or Waikiki can never be a substitute for nor provide the same essential knowledge, educational benefits and insights as say a trip to Laos, Vietnam or Burma, all beautiful and culturally rich countries. The value of visiting these countries is precisely because they are not America. Traveling to such countries means being exposed to different viewpoints, languages, cuisines, ways of life, and cultures, and thereby hopefully expanding one’s own vision and knowledge. Traveling abroad and interacting with others will enable Americans to better understand there are myriad viewpoints shaped by cultural, historical, geopolitical and economic environments and dynamics and that the opinions, values and beliefs of Americans are not in every instance shared by persons in other parts of the world. Americans seem to be unable to grasp this important point. Around  94% of global population lives beyond the shores of Santa Monica or Cape Cod. The only way to learn about this world is to go out there and visit. Learning about the rest of the world is absolutely imperative for making informed decisions in the 21st century.  


      I could not have put it any better than that, Thank you. Unfortunately until you travel what your saying most Americans just don’t understand. I’m 43 and just started traveling about 3 years ago. I’ve been to 20 countries and am currently living in Thailand as I don’t care to live in the U.S. Anymore. I still love my country but after I started traveling it was like waking up from a coma. My eyes are now open to how the rest of the world thinks and lives. Traveling just makes you more well rounded and helps to take away the prejudices that we learn in the states about other countries, especially from our media. It also makes me more appreciative of what I do have in the states. We have a great standard of living unfortunately we work like slaves to maintain it. I’ve been to some of the poorest countries in the world and the people are happy for the most part, maybe it’s because they don’t know any better. They would share there last bit of food with you. People in the states work like crazy and have very little family time. For what?? The bigger house, to have a nicer car than there neighbor. Their deeply in debt and rarely happy despite all the material things they have. How can they afford to travel abroad when they spend all their money on fancy name brand clothes, expensive restaurants, tv’s and x- boxes? If you took the money that you just waste on junk every year you could probably pay for the family trip to Rome, Paris, Prague, Vietnam or Thailand places that will change you and your kids forever. The overwhelming view of Americans from the rest of the world is that we are ignorant, don’t travel, lazy and fat! I hope that one day we will be respected by the rest of the world again.

      • Pamela Kennedy

        But if you’re currently abroad, the overwhelming view of Americans from the rest of the world being what it is, how do you overcome that instant stereotype and get a job in another country so you can stay there in the first place, then? If people think you’re an American then they’re assuming ignorant, uneducated, monolingual, too stupid to speak another language let alone read, write and understand it, “untraveled, lazy and fat.” With all that, what country on Earth would HIRE us??

    • Most Americans were not born rich enough to go traveling around the world. Only a small percentage of Americans have the money it would take to go gallivanting around the world. Who is earning the money to keep a roof over your head and your utilities paid while you’re off on your trips?

      In the U.S., some choose to live in outrageously expensive cities where a percentage of them earn a ton of money by being workaholics with no life balance. That small percentage can easily afford to travel.

      The working class in the United States would have to choose between having their own place to live and traveling. Perhaps people from other countries live with their parents while they’re traveling? Or their cost of living is lower compared to what they can earn?

  • Anonymous

    Thank you for the article on US passport ownership. There are some valid points explaining why Americans do not travel abroad more frequently.
    I was raised in California and have had the great pleasure of traveling throughout most of the United States, from Maine to the Hawaiian islands and as far north as Nome and Kotzebue, in arctic Alaska. That said, I have also lived or traveled around Europe, Oceania, and Asia for the past 25 years and have had extensive interactions with a broad range of people in these regions at the university, business and personal levels. Based on my experiences and my perceptions, there is absolutely no doubt in my mind that among persons of developed countries Americans are by far the most culturally and geographically ignorant and parochial, with little knowledge of or curiosity about the world they inhabit. The low level of passport ownership clearly illustrates this point. I say this not as a criticism but strictly as a casual observation. In Japan, where I am currently based, people have a keen desire to visit and learn about other parts of the world and, in my opinion, are far better informed about the world than Americans. As a prime example, I can generally talk to Japanese (or British, Canadians, Aussies, Thais, etc.) about any global-level issue and receive a somewhat educated or informed response. In contrast, when I travel to America and raise these same or even more-simple issues, I inevitably get blank expressions and silence, as through I have inquired about the colonization of Mars by African pygmies. In fact, I am always dismayed by the number of “educated” people who think Japan is part of China or vice versa or have no idea where these two countries are situated. 

    • Meesher

      Goyka, I want to meet you: you are a global citizen and if you are not gay, we share many opinions.

    • Greg Gonzales

      Well I think everyone is overlooking the geography. USA is bordered by only 2 countries and over 2000 miles apart. In some areas in Europe you can easily travel through 4 countries in that same distance.
      I have traveled in 45 of the 50 states and that took me many years. The past 6 years I have been traveling abroad and form my view it is much easier to go from country to country due to the distance. I did a backpack trip through Southeast Asia for one month and was able to visit Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, and Vietnam, all by land. What 4 countries could i do that in Leaving from the USA???
      Also to many Americans believe it is very expensive to travel abroad. Yet I spend less money on a 1 month trip to Southeast Asia than I do for a 1 week trip to Las Vegas.
      America is a big place and much to see and do, and the Caribbean is not to far, many cruises are taken by Americans and as of a few years ago didn’t need a passport for the trip.
      My humble opinion. 

    • Pamela Kennedy

      When I try to talk to people from other countries about any global-level issues I don’t receive a response so much as astonishment and surprise that I know what I’m talking about AT. ALL. Or that my “English is so good.” If I so much as know where some other country IS, I get asked with surprise “where you from originally” for some reason. The same damned reaction that I get when I show up in-person for Maths or law job interviews. And this is not just in “the Heartland.” These are the “circles” I wind up in even on both Coasts. I swear. I don’t know what I’m going to say to the next stupid hick who goes “wow, you’ve been to a lot of places!” with that surprise in their voice when I say I’ve only been to 13 states and 4 countries. At one point in my life, most people I’d met had been to even MORE than that, people. Thirteen states and 4 countries isn’t all that many – it’s just, apparently, more than “someone who looks like me” is “supposed to have” gone to AT ALL. Racist much, people???

  • nice article, i just finished bookmarking it for future reference. i would love to read on future posts. how do i configure the rss again? thanks!

    • Anonymous

      Hi Yasser, I’d suggest following us on Twitter and liking our Facebook page for updates. Thanks!

  • Mr. Sep O.

    The US is large with a lot of its own touristy places to visit.  A lot of my friends who don’t have passports aren’t too worried about seeing other countries as much as they are focused on their family and work.  I have a passport for work and because I love to travel.  I think generalizing an entire country based on the percentage of its residents that own passports is a bit silly.  That’s like me saying all Brits have bad teeth and enjoy tea and crumpets on a regular basis. 

    Both of which I know aren’t true.  Personally I think more of us should sample different cultures, but I would never speak ill of a person because their priorities lie elsewhere.

    • Meesher

      But—Brits DO have alarmingly strange teeth!

  • Martin

    You have to consider that a few months ago, Canadians and Americans could go anywhere in North America without a passport.  Did you ever look at a map  to check how large is Canada, USA and Mexico compared to Europe?

    • JamesieK

      Yes but many Europeans travel outside Europe to places all around the world, whereas fewer Americans do it

  • Sgvocal

    As a Brit living in the US, you soon discover that the Americans aren’t interested in the rest of the world. Is is barely taught in schools and even less mentioned on TV. CNN considers itself the ‘Worldwide leader in News’…err, no! Royal Weddings maybe but thats about it unless in directly involves Americans…so its not surpising that the yanks don’t get out. As one infamously said…”i don’t need to go to Europe…i’ve been to Epcot”

    • Mr. Sep O

      Totally agree with you about CNN.  Never even watch CNN or FOX while I’m overseas…always BBC for me.

      • Www

        American media is terrible!!! Once you travel outside of the U.S it does not take long to figure it out. Fair and unbiased then try BBC World news not Fox or CNN.

  • Bailey-miller

    Everybody.. People are people. It doesn’t matter where we come from. There is good and bad in all of us. It’s not right to stereotype anybody because of what you’ve heard or experienced from one group of people. I don’t think it’s fair to make any judgement until you’ve met every single person on this earth. Then you can judge all you want. The bottom line though, is that we really aren’t that different. We all have hopes and dreams and worries and cares. We should all be united as ONE. 

  • David Traves

    I’m sorry but who published this article it’s just one long reassurance to Americans that there not a colloquial nation that is too scared of the rest of the world to travel.
    “even the cheapest trip abroad would essentially bankrupt a typical family” really that’s strange because I know families living in council house’s (government subsidised housing) in the UK that take their children abroad and it doesn’t bankrupt them.
    “a little skewed given population numbers” Are you sure you shouldn’t have written is a completely meaning less statistic because you’re the world’s third most populated country.
    “No doubt Americans just don’t have the history” how exactly do you think white people got to the U.S.?
    The Australian’s travel and they are another immigrant population from Western Europe, with no empire and a huge country of their own to explore. I’m sure the U.S has some good reasons for not having many passport holders it is after all is said and done a free and democratic super power, you just haven’t managed to find any!

  • Add this factoid to the piece: American spend more money on pets than the total money spent on domestic air travel. That is about 42 billion dollars vs. 40 billion. Add all the super billions spent eating out and in alcohol and it shows the priorities we have in the USA.  

    • CM V

      What’s wrong with spending money on pets? Maybe I was raised differently, but I’ve always felt that what another human being does with their money is none of my business. So long as they aren’t doing anything illegal, then can spend it however they like.

      • JamesieK

        I don’t this that post was meant to criticize, mainly an observation and an interesting one at that

  • I want to get a European passportCompared to the amount of moneyCan you help mePleaseBRAB18@YAHOO.COM

  • I want to get a European passportCompared to the amount of moneyCan you help mePleaseBRAB18@YAHOO.COM

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  • Bbb

    arrogant brits,,,always thinking of their “glorious” past…a nation that gather wealth on piracy and oppression…. 

    • JamesieK

      Looks like you’re on the wrong topic

  • Sarah

    i cannot believe that out of a simple statistical report the americans as always try to prove their superiority. how dumb! im from england and if it is any country that is envied it is definitely us. We are and always have been the greatest country on the face of the earth. it is from our tiny island that world leading scientists,authors,artists,sports and many other things are born. England is the motherland of culture,grace, history, respect,power, royalty. Americans copied us with their flag and with their name. no1 cares about dumb, delusional americans who have a pathetic excuse for democracy in their own country. it is to england which the world looks and it is england which is the shining knight at this round table. oh n btw the world runs on english time (gmt) and quite literally the language itself

    • I take it this is parody? I’m embarrassed to ask but I have come across people out there with views that come dangerously close to this nonsense.

    • Lou

      One comment for Sarah.  My mother is English so no arguments on the culture and the things to be proud of.  Just a little aside though for all the people from Great Britain/ Europe mocking Americans for not travelling, I think it is far easier to criticize when you live within very easy travel distance from multiple destinations.  The commentary here doesnt seem to have any accounting for how many individuals who are scared to travel either.  Its not all insular thinking.

      • Meesher

        Are there no spell checks or commas allowed in this forum? Doesn’t anyone proof read? Oh. The Oxford Comma originated in–Britain?

  • Here’s one statistic to consider;  50% of all American households are either poor or low income.  Add to that the number of households with children, the overwhelming majority of which cannot afford international travel, and it’s not at all surprising that just over a third have passports.

    Also consider how little vacation time Americans get, and how many are unable to use even that, and the picture becomes a little clearer.

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  • It amazes me that so many people here think Americans are backward because only 37% of the population don’t have a passport.  Many people can’t afford the application fees that go along with obtaining one.  If a family has to decide between a passport for a family or paying the light bill what do you think they would pick?

    Geographical location also helps with Europe  I was shocked by the price it cost me, and one other person to fly from Ireland to Italy it was less than $40.00!  I can’t even drive to visit family for that price.  If I wanted to take a holiday to Europe now it would cost me too much money in the airfare alone so I have to stay here until I get the money.

    I have a passport because I live about 30 minutes from the Canadian border, and need one if I want to visit.

    • Blondechick52

      Couple of points: the 37% refers to those who have passports.  Second, affordability is a weak excuse.  I’m an American living in the UK and we pay (approx) 8 US dollars per gallon of petrol (gas), among other excessive costs.  Doing a proper grocery run costs approx. a hundred pounds, or a hundred and fifty US dollars.  Yet travel is expected here.  Booking a holiday is something people just do, regardless of their financial position.  If they can’t afford Greece or South America, they go to a holiday location in France or Spain.  I think the reason Americans don’t travel abroad is because we are not educated in other cultures.  There’s a feeling of being isolated, of “having it all”, of not needing to understand other lands because America thinks itself as “the best.”  This isn’t the case.  My quality of life is superior here to what it is in the US and I always, without exception, become depressed when I know I have to return to the US for any reason.  Americans, whether we want to believe/accept it or not, are very, very ignorant of how the rest of the world actually lives.  We have a rather silly, immature view of other cultures, as though we’re stepping into a fantasy movie when we walk the streets of Italy or see the antiquity of British cathedrals.  If we were to grow up, understand and respect other cultures, and take the time to actually go with an eye toward being less “smiley” and more serious about interacting in a real way with people of other cultures, I think we’d  increase our reputation and start changing people’s views of Americans.

      • Cheesetothepower

        Blondechick52, do you realize how ignorant you sound? Do you realize how far it is to anywhere foreign in America? To the north is Canada, which is culturally similar. To the south is Mexico, whose culture starts to blend with the culture of the south west as you get closer to the border. To both the east and west is a minimum of 2,000 miles of ocean. That’s not even mentioning that America is the size of Europe. I live on an island, the distance from where I live and the mainland is roughly that of the English Channel, and at the best of times you can’t get over for les than $50 because of tolls. If you want to go to an actual city, it’s another fifty miles. It’s expensive to travel abroad. If you wan’t to travel, you go to the next state. If you’re from Louisiana, you go Texas. Texas is roughly the size of France, and depending on where you live in Louisiana, the distance between you and Texas is the same as between the UK and France.

        • JamesieK

          Australia and Canada are also big countries so how do they have passports when Americans don’t?

  • CrazyRed

    Hahaha…. I think you yanks have it the wrong way around….. We don’t want you in our countries and the more of you that stay here and fill up on toxic food, watch reality TV and whine about being hard done by by China the happier the rest of us will be.

    Tragic that the greatest group of Yanks that travel are those that go out  to destroy other countries – in order to preserve your precious way of life.  Amazing how often you ‘police’ others only to run home with your tail tucked in after realizing not everyone wants to be an American.
    Sad that as one of the youngest countries in the World you prefer arrogance over education.

    Red, white and Blue does not just belong to you Americans, believe it or not the rest of us are every bit as patriotic and like you we love our countries – but unlike you we also like to see how the other half live and think.

    Stay home, watch Jerry and see if anyone actually gives a shit!

    • CM V

      Hey crazy, when you send a man to the moon, and a rover to Mars, then you can go on and on about Americans. This country has a lot of flaws…and has also achieved many feats that few other nations have achieved.

  • GMG13

    Seriously, your comparing Americans to poverty stricken Chinese?  As for distance – Australians are one of the most remote countries in the world and they have a high population with passports (60-70% at last consensus) and their passports, and travel costs are higher, not to mention that they can have as high as 43% income tax PLUS another 10% GST (tax) on everything they purchase (expect fresh food).

    Perhaps apathy, inflexibility and a loss of the adventurous spirit that opened up the country are a better explanation.  It costs very little to fly to Europe from the USA and the cost to stay and eat over there is often less than it is in the USA.

    It would be one thing to say that Americans are happy to explore there own land, but even this is not the case as most people rarely venture outside their own state, or further than the few that might surround them.

  • While I agree with some of points that seek to explain the low number of passport-carrying Americans, there is one statistic that could potentially nullify some or most of the mitigating factors mentioned in the article. I’m talking about a demographic percentage that I’ve never seen published anywhere but is somewhat relevant. And, it’s this:

    What percentage of the already low number of passport-carrying Americans are actually American? I mean ‘American’ in the “Apple Pie” sense of the word!

    I hope that doesn’t offend anyone. I’m sure there are many naturalized
    American citizens who consider themselves as “Apple  Pie” as the Joe next-door, but that’s not the point I’m making.

    I’m just venturing to guess that a disproportionately large percentage of US passport-holders are indeed naturalized citizens or immigrants; if not first generation then with lingering familial/cultural ties to the country of their origin.

    So, if the premise is that the fewness of Americans with passports correlates with negative isolationist attitudes, then the quoted percentages don’t tell the whole story. Counting passports in the American Heartland might be more telling.

    Personally, I shy away from make sweeping judgements on any nation’s character based on statistics of any kind. And, I’ve always hit it off with Americans abroad. They’re just fun to be around with their go-get optimistic nature.

    In the end, it’s not about how far you travel in this life, it’s how much you learn that counts. Sometimes, you need to immerse yourself in a culture for years before you fully appreciate it. But even a little travel broadens your perspective. And the benefits are mutual to all cultures. So what the heck! Get that passport! You never know when you might need to leave in a hurry!

  • Bkode

    I find it Interesting that people can take a statistic and use it to justify their preconceived ideas. People who already think Americans are stupid will look at the article and say “ah-ha! I knew Americans were ignorant, poorly educated, isolated slobs.” Please remember there are lies, d@mm lies, and statistics.

    I’m American, and like the vast majority of my countrymen, I don’t have a passport. I’m not ashamed, nor do I think I’m inferior/superior to the great masses of Europeans who have passports and travel extensively. One day I will renew my passport, but with children too young to appreciate international travel, why bother now?

    In defense of boo, I cringed when I read his post, but buried was a kernel of truth. Let me try to explain. America has a huge impact on the rest of the world, so it makes sense that the rest of the world knows more about the US/Americans than Americans know about the rest of the world. Isn’t this the same as people knowing

    • gmg13

      Whilst the use of statistics would normally be the very point I would advise people to be wary of, it is a lot more than numbers that underpins this topic.  In some small way you have hit the nail on the head, others know more about us than we do about them – but that is about education not travel; kids in most parts of the world know more about our history than we do (and it is never at the expense of their own history); but I digress.

      The fact is that most Americans can not be bothered to travel to their neighboring states, let alone overseas.  The arguement that it costs too much could be a factor, but when you look back to the years we did not have a financial crisis and high unemployment the numbers were no better, in fact were worse in some cases, so that isn’t the limiting factor.

      Think of the statistics in terms of trend, rather than the ‘alarm’ that we don’t travel offshore.  The trend, like it or not, is that Americans have no desire to look outside their own backyard (unless it is through the eyes of the media or to provide a ‘policing’ action for the good of the very people we do not want to visit).

      Instead of defending the reasons people don’t have a passport, or explaining why we have such a great country perhaps we should look to encourage others to travel and see for themselves the wonder of the world; especially our kids.

      Maybe we could learn from the Australians, who have 60-70% of the population with passports, who despite being remotely located and having many great places of their own to visit, encourage their children to spend at least one year traveling before settling down to Uni or a job.

      My children have had passports since they were 6mths old and have visited many continents as well as traveling on long road trips inside the US and Canada.  Our kids are well rounded and compassionate to the plight and struggle of others.  They love their country, they love everything it represents and they love to travel, always asking where the next big adventure might be.

  • Anonymous

    I hate to use the word ignorant or arrogant but thats where it comes from, from not ever travelled out of the country… 

    • Marcel Duchamp

      Most American’s don’t realise there’s a world outside of America. If you watch the news there you’d be forgiven for thinking that. Ignorance is rife.

  • Stevenguy

    I worked for a Travel company in America where nearly 80% of the office were never even outsie their own state, one was never on a Train and one was amazed that we Had Mc Donalds in Ireland, needless to stay im back in Europe again as if i had stayed much longer i dread to think what id hear lol

  • Anonymous

    I think simple geography explains the low level of US passport ownership.  Especially in comparison to the U.K.  Of course Britain, an island nation, will have a high level of passport ownership.  One can leave London and go to Paris for the afternoon.  Also, many Britons have to seek their fortune overseas.  The entire U.K. is smaller then Oregon, but has over 62 million people and leisure and economic opportunities are fairly limited in scope (Have you ever seen a campground in England or Portugal?  Kind of a big waste of time by Grand Canyon or Yellowstone Park standards).  As far as culture or empire, I guess you’ve never heard the expression “go west young man.”  The United States is the empire, is the frontier.  When the British left to seek their fortune they came here (or Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Kenya, India, Malaysia, Burma or one of the other British colonies).  They still do.  Something like 1 in 9 people living in the US were born abroad. 

    Geography also affects economics.  Many companies in the U.K., France, Canada, etc do business in several countries and still don’t have the total market numbers that a company doing business in New Jersey would have.  Roughly 85% of Canada’s gross sales are made to American companies (while the reverse number is about 1%).  This means that the average salesperson or the average worker bee in Canada is very likely to have work related travel to the US.  In Europe it is common for a mid or low level employee to cross an international border on a daily basis.  The New Jersey company may send an employ on a daily run to New York, but since they don’t need a passport to do this, they don’t bother getting one (also, don’t forget, an EU passport has basically become a form of “national” ID for Europeans).There are many things to see and do while in the U.S.   Coral reefs, glaciers, rain forests, deserts, two oceans with several thousands of miles of coastland, at least 2 major mountain chains (plus a dozen or two smaller ranges) as well as a number of fairly large, bustling cities.  As far as not being able to fly to Canada, I’m American, but live in Canada and I can personally vouch for the fact that even most Canadians don’t fly to Canada.  When they vacation they go south to the states.  Most Canadians live within an hour’s drive of the border so they often travel to the states, but the reverse is simply not true.  Many people in Europe don’t make any more money then many Americans, but they do live in small countries.   Money and culture certainly play a part to some degree, but I think the main reason most people in the US don’t own passports is simply because the US is a huge, really geographically diverse country.  

    I’m not saying people shouldn’t have a passport or shouldn’t travel (as I think they should – for example, it looks like ignorant poster boo radley badly needs to get outside the US and get an education), but the reasons Americans have lower per capita passport ownership then Switzerland has little to do with cultural shortcomings and everything to do with the sheer size of the damn place.

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  • boo radley

    i STILL don’t understand why people in tiny european nations can’t understand that americans just don’t care about them as much as they care about america! it’s understandable why a person would need to get out of rainy london, depressing ireland, boring/unimaginative scandinavia, poor russia, or emotionally repressed germany. not to mention communist china, war-torn mexico, or just about any other country where people are not free, cannot grow past a governmental/societal prescription for “growth”, and, where you get to own a lot of cool creature comforts and be happy. i can definitely understand why someone would NEED to get the f### out of some of those places just to maintain their sanity! when will they just understand and accept that they just are not important to the average american?

    • Anonymous

      Boo, you make me sooo happy. Average americans as yourself do all the rest of us a big favour staying home…..

    • Abahshsdh

      Boo radley, your utter fucking stupidity makes me sad.

    • Kreilly63

      you are a moron boo boo…..and a perfect example of the ugly American….why would anyone want to come to America who has the largest gap in income, worst education in the developed world, worst health, not just worst health care ( we have managed to SHORTEN this next generations life span with all our great medicine), highest mental instability of any nation (we consume 80% of anti depressants in the world), more prisoners in jail than most countries combined, one of the last countries doing the death penalty, tent cities in every state and growing, unemployment at a cool 14%, failing infrastructure, corrupt government… know you have a sheeple following when you can put up crappy numbers like these and STILL get people to wave the flag with pride…. bravo moron!

    • Thats Just Real

      EASY People! This man has a right to his opinion. And I have the right to AGREE with him. I mean there is a clear point he is trying to make and I’m happy he is taking the REAL approach. I am a traveler and hold a valid passport aong with my family, I truely see the reason why American don’t travel. Come on American people, you can clearly imagine the envy from the even the commenters on here. These people are happy to hear what they think is a flaw of American people. But like Boo has explained it puts them right back in their place. I have friends from UK, Germany, Thailand, Russia, Mexico, England, and I know people from China (cause they are clearly not friends), and they all express their jealousy toward American people, moreover, they are baffeled when Americans do travel stating it’s “the most beautiful country in the world” and if they lived there they “will never leave”. TRUST ME they all want to move to America, well maybe no the Germans. Take it from me being a native, and now on the outside looking in, America s the most beautiful country in the world and really do care about the citizens. Care about the citizens so much the citizens are true BABIES. I’m not defended the BABY part (Get your Justin Beiber ass out the house and work). Travel for you mind expansion and to become patriotic. For non American citizens be For REAL – YOU ARE JEALOUS?

      • charliesage

        Envy? Jealousy? Er…no. Every country is beautiful in it’s own way – all people have something to offer. I’ve travelled in the US but have no desire to live there and I can’t think of anyone I know who would. Most people think their country is the best and they are all correct – mind you, that is no excuse for prejudice.

      • charliesage

        Envy? Jealousy? Er…no. Every country is beautiful in it’s own way – all people have something to offer. I’ve travelled in the US but have no desire to live there and I can’t think of anyone I know who would. Most people think their country is the best and they are all correct – mind you, that is no excuse for prejudice.

      • GaLL

        Oh my god you are kidding – if you have traveled and visited half the places you say you would know that people do not suffer from any form of jealousy for our country.  Yes they may like some aspects and the creature comforts we covet but they have things we can never hope to have like depth, history and culture.

        Despite your conviction that everyone wants to move t o the US this is just not the case.  People migrate to all ends of the globe, always have and always will, and not just America.

        Interestingly, the majority of people who do make it to the US, and do take up citizenship, retain their old passports and remain citizens of their old country because despite the reasons t hey moved, they all like to keep the connection (hence we call ourselves American Irish, American Jews, African Americans, and the list goes on).

        Travel is not about jealousy, its about curiosity, adventure and learning.  Getting a passport in a foreign country is not a ticket to moving to the USA, rather it allows people to see the great things that we have.  In fact if more Americans got off their Ass (aside from getting a bit of exercise) they would see all the reasons the USA is great and just how bad it really can be and stop bitching about how bad they have it.

      • Anonymous

        What are you talking about? Your rambling is totally incoherent and your sentences are grammatically incorrect.  Learn how to spell, punctuate and write a basic English sentence. I would bet those people from Thailand, Russia, and Mexico can write clearer English.

      • SuPaRik

        can you share some of those drugs you are on dude!!!!

      • JamesieK

        America cares about its citizens
        Highest incarceration rate in the world
        Highest gun violence rate in the western world
        Lowest education rate in the western world
        Highest poverty rate of any western country
        Highest rate of prescription drug addiction in the world
        The healthcare system sure looks after its people too.
        Everyone is jealous of all that

    • Kay 2011

      I agree with you, America does offer more opportunities than other countries which is what this people who are calling you “idiot and morron” are saying. No country is perfect, but a country that allows you to go as far as you can is the closest thing to perfection. I love America!

    • Kay 2011

      I agree with you, America does offer more opportunities than other countries which is what these people who are calling you “idiot and morron” are missing. No country is perfect, but a country that allows you to go as far as you can is the closest thing to perfection. I love America!

      • Anonymous

        Actually Kay, there is less upward mobility now than in most European countries. My guess is those same descriptive adjectives given to Boo apply to you as well.

    • Kimberly King-Burns


    • Spyro982

      Sounds like you have a very negative few on the world. Thats too bad, keep that mentally up and you’ll probably never leave your home.


      Have you ever been to any of those places, or are your opinions just simply media skewed

      -An American who has a passport

    • Uday

      Sir your country assumes a leadership role in the world, has thousands of nuclear warheads capable of destroying the world many times over, maintains a massive military machine, and can and does execute military, economic, political interventions in the rest of the globe. Which means the average American is directly and indirectly responsible for events in the globe, for which as you say they are least bothered. Which means most of them do not understand and don’t care what the US does in the rest of the world with their taxpayer’s money.
      This is surely a recipe for disaster for the rest of he world and also for the US!

      Uday, and Indian citizen (not red Indian, this country is in Asia)  

    • Tam

      what are on earth r u going on about. ” tiny european countries”,”poor russia” do ur homework first then open ur gob

    • Anonymous

      Say Boo, in aggregate, those tiny European nations have a GDP that exceeds that of the US and some of those countries you cite have higher per capital GDP and education attainment than the US. This article has nothing to do with liking America more than Europe or vice versa. You miss the whole point of a fairly simple and straightforward article. You need a bit more work on your reading comprehension or maybe you should consider a malpractice suit against your former teachers and schools.

    • Nad

       Wow… An exact picture of what the American media creates! Boo to you

    • JamesieK

      You’re the sort of ignorant fool that has never been anywhere in his life but thinks he knows it all.
      Depressing Ireland? Voted the happiest country on earth
      Boring Scandinavia? Looks like you’ve never been there
      Socially repressed Germany? Yes that country that has the world’s largest beer festival for example.
      Where is the war in Mexico?
      If you left your hick town for a second, you might see there is a great big world out there

  • “Love is the beauty of the soul.” ~ Saint Augustine

  • Not to mention there are literally millions of Americans that cannot obtain a passport due to legal issues spanning from child-support. Even if those individuals actually did want one to travel their government would just deny them. 

  • 50 states with a diversity that far exceeds the difference geographically of European countries makes it easy for Americans to not travel. Think of Alaska, Hawaii, Arizona, Florida, New York, and Texas.. all very different and very appealing. Europeans brag about seeing so many countries. WOW. You can cross off a few in a day. Easy to do. The real joy of traveling… is traveling.
    Disclaimer: I have been to 55 countries and all 50 states.

    • you’re also forgetting Guam, Puerto Rico, Samoa, etc. Unless you’re a student or you’re a young adult professional that’s single. There really isn’t any point of going out of your way to obtain a passport. I mean you can try to use it as an ID if you lose your license, but most people don’t recognize it as a proper ID. Which is kind of sad seeing that it is the highest form of identification a citizen could possibly have on them.

      • JamesieK

        Many people like to travel post retirement too. I don’t agree that there is no point in getting a passport. 95% of the worlds population lives outside America remember

    • David

      “50 states with a diversity that far exceeds the difference geographically of European countries” Yes and one mentality!

    • Glittleman

      Yeah but how many people do you know that have been to all 50 states? I mean I have been to 7 other countries, but I’m still missing about 20 states.

    • nad

       Lol… But the mindset? Its still the average american mindset!!!

  • Anonymous

    Perhaps if more Americans travelled they would have a better understanding of other cultures, religions and creeds and would be more sceptical of the motives of their politicians when getting involved in wars where hundreds of thousands of innocents get killed as in Iraq.

    • Tony

      Visiting somewhere does not mean one understand the culture or history of the place better, see the comments by Kaitan and Simon here.

      Moreover if Americans did travel more before 2003 very few of them would have gone to Iraq, of all places. Travelling to Acapulco or Tokyo or whatever would change nothing about the perception of Iraq, and more importantly its shitty leaders. 

      Furthermore you are simply making things up with your implication there was broad American support for the war, in fact people were enormously skeptical of the invasion of Iraq, even the anti-American guardian said as much see:

      “on the whole the same lack of enthusiasm for the venture pervades every
      set of findings, and the difference between one side of the Atlantic and
      another is not all that marked”

      • it kind of depends. If you’re going for short vacation I see where you are coming from, but a lot of American students study abroad now, and a lot of us have friends from all over the world, we know people that lived in countries that had the arab spring, we know people from places like Myanmar but now their families live in Singapore while they study in Japan knowing they cannot return home. The world is globalizing and Americans are actually doing the same too. I took a short visit to Germany, Holland, and Turkey my first time abroad. we had road tripped it from germany to holland, then did the same in Turkey. Anyway I didn’t know what would be out there like most Americans I just had images of 9/11 and being in a caved captured by evil people about to get executed on live TV. Believe it or not most Americans think like this. Fortunately if they even so much as go visit a place for a week I believe it changes perceptions. I also realized how sedentary American lifestyle is during my first visit abroad when I was 18. I was only gone for 2 weeks, but I lost sooo much weight, my leg muscles were stronger, and for the first time ever my metabolism was normal. I’ve kept that weight off. Some years I gained it back if I was in the US. On years when I was living in Japan and Asia  I would lose this weight simply because I did things like cycle to work, on my free time we would hike, go fishing, surf,ec. Things that someone from Oklahoma just can’t do in Oklahoma. You can go hiking in some parts of the state, but once the summer hits you cannot go hiking. It is too dangerous. The heat would murder you. 45 degrees +  C  climate is not healthy to hike around in. I had a few friends from Saudi Arabia tell me that Oklahoma is hotter than were they are from. In a sense they said this because at night Saudi Arabia temp. kind of cools down. In Oklahoma during the summers at night it stays 45+, No one understands how it can stay this hot until you realize we have so many artificial bodies of water. So much of our natural environment is man-made. Anyway with all of that being said I think you can learn a lot from just a short visit. If you think most people won’t then that is your opinion. I tend not to underestimate people. I use to think that negatively about people, but I realized that I’m not the only smart person in the room. So I never underestimate people. Learning that lesson is pretty humbling, and something I was able to learn while I lived in Japan and during my backpaking trip through most of Asia including mainland China.

        • Tony

          See how difficult it is to learn about a culture, you say most Americans think that Turks kidnap you and put you in a cave! I’ve never met an American who thought that, and I’ve lived here all my life.

          I gotta say figuring out that Oklahoma is different from other places does not really mean you understand the other places culture.

          I appreciate you comments and the sentiment behind them, though.


            I love America, I am just shocked when people whom love thier country lack the ability to travel to other countries and see things that they are envious of.  I am an american, born and raised Midwestern guy.  I love my culture in the midwest, yet hate it on the west coast.  However, my country is very diverse.  Knowing that you can handle this diversity will allow you to appreciate other places in the world

  • Igor

    Nice discussion, people.
    I’m Russian (Siberia, do not mix it up with Serbia). I met many people from different countries here, in the North. I would like to say a couple of words, if you don’t mind.
    It really doesn’t matter if an American or any other country citizen have/doesn’t have a passport (but I admit the information was good as statistics). Great thing is when a person is willing to find something new out, explore (even throughout either Internet, or books, or any other source of information), discover. Such person gets my respect. Some people I met (at work, oilfield industry) do not have any interest to the place they accommodate at the moment, they do not understand/or refuse to find anything about cultures the cope with at a moment. But some are very sophisticated and it is very exciting to listen to such people.
    I haven’t been to many countries yet (The UK, China, Turkey, Thailand) but I should say that my last trip (to Thailand) was cheaper than flying to Russia’s Black Sea cost Sochi (2014 Olympic Games). In-Russia vacation is more expensive.
    Have all of you good trips around the World.

  • Shoaib_fiaz

    I’m so superior to U.S.He was married to someone at the ready my facebook id

  • Slammajamma

    no passport for life.

    • JamesieK

      Your loss, stay ignorant of the 95% of people around the world.


  • Chudry_mehar

    I want to go to America so I did the U.S. get any of the fun my age 21m i am working boy and smart

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  • Badhog6

    It’s good that many americans have the right to travel any place they want. What about the ones that the Government reject. My story would make you sick of the rules god forbid if you where born at home like i was. If your parents don’t register your birth and you find out many years later you are screwed.  Back in the day before the late 60’s if you where born at home you could have a problems.

    I would like to get my story out so if there are any true Americans that care email me and i’ll give you the facts. You will be upset after you get the information how and why i was rejected there times. Not i’m not a crimal or anything bad just screwed by the system.

    I promise after you read all the documents I have send to the US Passport Office over the last nine months you see why I’m so mad.


  • Reina Mounce

    I have a Passport!

    • Inquiry needed

      When did Obama get a passport? During the Bush presidency, the media claimed that Bush never had a passport until he was president. But the same inquiry hasn’t been made about Obama, yet his passport photo is his presidential photo — not a photograph from when he was younger. Does this mean something?

    • Rojer_batsub

      Well done Reina! I have traveled quite a bit and met plenty of Americans on the road and they have to put up with a lot of grief from other travelers because of this mythical statistic (an accurate statistic I grant you but mythical in it’s retelling by EVERY traveler!). Reasons for Americans not to travel…there are 50 states, surely every one good for a 1-week holiday (that’s a lot of holidays); Americans get modest amounts of leave, why spend it all getting to your holiday destination; the US has a relatively low cost of living so travelling is expensive (oh to be Scandinavian…everything must seem so cheap!). I have a lot of the world still to see and I hope I bump into some more Americans on the way, they really are just like the rest of us (have you ever seen a bunch of drunk Brits…makes me so proud!).

      • You are right. a lot of us that get a chance to be abroad we do it for work or studies. rare to see someone on vacation unless they left their job for a month. I do notice a lot of other people tend to test me on geography. I use to find it amuzing, but now its just annoying. I shouldn’t have to prove to every Belgian that I know where Belgium is, or that I can find IRaq on the map. I dunno its annoying.  Most people who are living overseas when they get a chance to vacation, and go to a different country, really isn’t too interested in a geography test.  Yea there are Americans who don’t know their geography, but you know I don’t care I’m not one of them.  Anyway that’s probably my only pet peeve.

        • The trouble is that we are all told about the horrible statistics like “X% of American children can’t find England on a map” etc. 
          Although most of you are reasonably intelligent, there is a high enough proportion who are clueless to besmirch the whole country! They always seem to be about Geography as well, which just fuels the belief that American’s are insular and don’t care about other countries.

  • Claire

    Just read this now… It’s hard to say WHY so few Americans have a passport but to be honest, I think a lot of Americans (and this is based on my putting this question to many Americans I know) just don’t see a great need to rush out and see the great wide world. Some want to and do, some want to and can’t (or don’t), and some simply don’t want to. I have American friends who love to travel, while they say they have friends back home who have absolutely no interest in crossing the seas. Those who don’t want to simply find that their own country is so vast and so varied that they have plenty to discover on their own doorstep. I don’t blame them to be fair. Me, I’m from NZ and travelling is something we NZers do, given our country is so small, singular and isolated. (Beautiful as it is!) I guess it’s about curiosity – is there enough on your doorstep to satiate your inner explorer?

    • Just sayin

      Considering that the U.S. has states larger than most countries (both geographically and population-wise) it’s not that surprising that Americans don’t feel a strong urge to fly to some speck of a country in the middle of nowhere.

      • Rojer_batsub

        Is that a touch of American ignorance/arrogance at a perfectly sound comment!

      • JamesieK

        Yes all the countries of the world are little specks in the middle of nowhere. Something tells me you didn’t learn geography in school

  • Michael McClain

    China is not a good example, they are still a somewhat communist country and the restrictions on traveling internationally are very high.

    • China is a good example. Most of the restrictions don’t really come from their gov’t, but is levied on PRC citizens by other gov’ts. They have to get a visa to go to nearly every country. Its quite a pain in the ass, and there are plenty of middle class chinese (almost 300 million) that are spending the time and effort exploring their own country that is very rich and very diverse and very multicultural. I am not gonna say China is communist. China is an authoritarian one party state where the communist party has the power, but communist in name only. These people are quite the big capitalist.  In China like most developing countries you will see entrepreneurial activities everywhere. Street corner food stands, people selling fruits, bottle of water in the streets, etc etc. A lot of the travel restrictions to Chinese is placed on other gov’ts. Thus the CCP makes foreign visitors that want to come on tourist visas  pay for it. And go to the consular office in person to apply and receive it. But to be honest the US is more strict when it comes to travel. With a HUGE  no-fly list that arbitrarily adds people, lots of Americans might actually find it impossible to even be able to leave the country and come back without being put in holding for being suspect of something simply because they paid for their ticket a week in advance or they took up learning a new language, etc. The  gov’t in China is paranoid, but it is easily trumped by the US gov’t when it comes to reaching new plateaus of paranoia.

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  • Locomotivity

    “The number of Americans who have a passport, according to the most recent statistics issued by the State Department in January of 2011, is 114,464,041.”

    How exactly did you arrive at this figure of 114,464,041? The linked page to the State Department does not mention that figure at all.

    It appears you are starting with the Valid Passports in Circulation for 2011 (102,183,989) and then adding and/or subtracting some additional figures to that number.

    “Given the country’s population of 307,006,550”

    Please provide a citation for the country’s population.

    Please confirm whether this population estimate of 307,006,550 excludes non-citizens, who are of course not eligible for US passports.

  • Dkruesch


    -You don’t mention the fact that British have access to cheap flights to a multitude of European countries. For the cost of a flight from SFO to LAX, a Londoner can fly to Rome.

    -You don’t mention the fact that London is a couple hours train ride from Paris.

    -You don’t mention the fact that the strength of the British Pound makes travel to many  other European countries much more affordable and attractive

    -You don’t mention the fact that, until fairly recently, Americans could travel to Canada, Mexico (and some other Caribbean island nations) without a passport.

    -You compare China, where more than 2/3 of the population is living in 3rd world conditions to the US…

    This article is absolutely pointless

    • kelly

      Theres also the fact that Britain and most of Europe is in the EU so when we go to other EU countries we get EU citizenship travelling rights. Meaning we spend less time at border control. We just show our passports and get let in.

  • Runar

    Here is another example of the difference between American and Europeans.  Northern Europeans I include myself go on holiday to get drunk and you british people know what I am talking about.  Read the below link from my country its in english this happens all the time.

    • A nice example of why (some!) Europeans have no reason to be smug but again you seem to be putting Americans on something of a pedestal. if you want to read about unruly drunkenness abroad then google the terms “spring break” and “cancun”.

  • Runar

    I live in Oslo, Norway and can say that we don’t travel to the states that much because it’s to expensive to fly. We do fly to the same places over and over, such as the Canary Islands, and Costa del Sol and trust me you are not missing much. You Americans like to travel independently and see history, we travel in groups in charters tour packages and see Norwegians getting drunk. I think I read something like 20 million Americans travel to Europe and only like 15 million Europeans travel to the states. I can tell you that there are many Europeans that still have not been to Paris, Rome, Florence, Madrid, Barcelona, and Vienna.

    • Why do you equate the U.S. with Europe in this way? The U.S., big as it is, is just one country. Cultural diversity there is limited. Europe is an (admittedly cramped) patchwork of truly distinct and usually ancient and rich cultures. It makes no sense to equate the two.

      And speak for yourself about travelling in groups and getting drunk. I would like to see some evidence that Americans, by and, travel independently whilst Europeans, by and large, don’t. Doesn’t ring true.

      I’m not attacking Americans here by the way -I would distance myself from both the anti-Americanism to be found in these comments and the delusional American arrogance that provokes it.

  • Guest

    It’s quite odd that nearly 2 thirds of american’s don’t have a passport when 92,000 of them are on a waiting list to visit the moon.  I guess some of them have more appetite and financial capability than others.

    • nad

       LOL! good one there

  • Arldi2

    I was wondering about % passports.  I grew up in the segregated South, an impoverished one industry town about to pull its last breath where I could lie in bed on a summer evening and hear the Crescent blast through town and wonder about all those fancy people that were lucky enough to “see the world”….or at least New York and New Orleans.  I didn’t have my first passport until I was 30 and I was already traveling to the Caribbean, Canada, Mexico.  You didn’t need one for most Western Hemisphere places.  Today I live in Europe and work in Africa and have traveled to more than 40 countries, but I am not well traveled compared to many of my colleagues…all visiting/working in over 100 countries.  When I go back home the biggest difference I see between those who were not as fortunate as me and my buddies I left behind is we just feel differently about people that are different than we.  When your Uzbek scientist or Muslim guy or African co worker goes to such extraordinary efforts to bring you home to their families, to their flat in an a dilapidated Soviet building or to their Friday feast after prayers or their Masai village in the Great Rift near Mt Kenya, well you know something more about relationships than you could ever imagine.  Your prejudices based on just difference disappear.  You are a citizen of the world first and then you can talk about country. 

  • UpstateNY

    Wouldn’t it be nice to be a world traveler?  Wouldn’t it be nice if I weren’t unemployed so that I could travel?  Wouldn’t it be nice if a lot of Americans who are employed made enough money so that they and their families could travel anywhere, including abroad?  From my perspective, it’s too expensive for many of us to even travel in the US.  Foreign travelers: quit being so judgmental and elitist–no wonder people have bad opinions about Americans! 

  • I have to say a lot of my fellow Americans don’t travel outside the US just because we have access to a pretty wide variety of amazing places without even NEEDING a passport. Alaska, Hawaii, Puerto Rico, the US Virgin Islands, California, NYC, Colorado, I mean there’s just a huge variety of stuff to see in the US.

    I personally enjoy traveling abroad because I’m somewhat of a cultural tourist and I enjoy the experience of a new cultural and practicing languages I’ve studied, but I do understand why a lot of Americans don’t have passports and don’t travel abroad. I still think they SHOULD, I certainly have a different view of the US after having traveled abroad than I did before, but I do understand why they don’t. 

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  • Smokeyg

    The math is crap. you can take a all inclusive trip for 2 for 2000 (1 week to Dominican or Cuba from Canada) Our cost of living and taxes are higher yet you can’t in the US please… you want to spend your money where you want to spend your money. There are alot of xenophobes in the US.

    • Cheese

      I love traveling to foreign countries (I’ve close to 10 under my belt), but when you make less than $30,000/yr…it tends to be a little difficult. True we have a few xenophobes, smokeyg, but every country has them. I remember going to Vancouver last year and had someone badmouthing me because I accidentally pulled out my Louisiana driver’s license when paying my tab. He was one bad apple from a decent bunch of people.

      Add that to body scanners, pat-downs, and bad economy and people tend to hold back on travel

    • Tony

      Try the math again, if it’s $2000 to Cuba from Canada, that means an American cannot get there for $2000, since as you should know, it costs money to get to travel to Canada.
      An American could save the the time and cost of international travel, and probably  airfare too, yet still visit the Caribbean. Have you never heard of Puerto Rico?

      At any rate, going to an all inclusive resort should make one think of himself as being some worldly traveler. Even xenophobes can like drinking at poolside and sunbathing; they are not really great cultural experiences.

    • The big difference Canada doesn’t have a Florida or a Gulf Coast or the Florida Keys, or the US Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico and Hawaii, and, to be completely honest, Cuba (can’t speak for the Dominican Republic) makes you FEEL like you are traveling on a budget.

  • Tara

    It’s important to keep in mind that the US is a large country in terms of area.  Different regions in the US vary in terms of culture and landscape. 
    It’s also important to note that until recently it was possible to visit Canada, Mexico, and, I believe, some Caribbean islands without a passport. 

    • 15 years ago my wife and I traveled from Virginia, down through Florida, Mississippi, Alabama and up through Missouri/Iowa and across the US to our own state of Oregon. Even though we went exclusively by backroads  with only a brief, unpleasant interstate experience in South Dakota, I was impressed by how very uniform the US had become.

      Same sorts or ugly little convenience stores, colorless restaurants…you really had to look to find any regionalism.  This is so far from the international experience as to be a bad joke: we’ve been to probably 35 countries and love travel.

      The travelers we meet either from the US or from other countries are all far and away more liberal, educated and cosmopolitan than the vast bulk of Americans. I’m not at all surprised by the 37% figure for US passport holders (except that it seems high). 

      Travel? Americans are just not that into you.

      • Matt

        To say that the ‘bulk of Americans’ are not as educated is such an ignorant and arrogant statement to make.  There are various factors as to why Americans don’t travel.  I am a well educated individual and it took me until I was in my late 30s’ to finally make my first trip abroad.  I don’t travel nearly as much as I would like to but it doesn’t make me an uneducated or an uninformed individual

  • Dave

    I’m an American and have little to no desire to travel outside of the country, though I could certainly afford it.  I find it hard to spend thousands of dollars on something you only “have” for a week or two, when I could buy a car or television or lawn mower which I get to keep and use over and over.

    • Do you really want to use that lawn mower over and over again? Sounds like work. 

    • Roguemoney

      I actually
      agree with Dave here. I have travelled abroad before and while nice I’d rather
      spend my vacation time relaxing. Instead of catching several flights and running
      around trying to see this or that spending money I’d rather just save. That
      doesn’t mean I won’t travel abroad again. I just find the comments from others
      who have traveled abroad to be quite ridiculous talking about how enlightening
      it is or seeing different things. Besides picking up a few new swear words and
      learning a few things that I could’ve learned with a little research on the
      internet I didn’t learn much of anything new and I wasn’t staying in tourist
      resorts either. It certainly didn’t completely change my world view at all
      looking back I doubt it changed much of anything about me at all other than the
      experience of being abroad.

      Going back
      to seeing different things really if I want to see Lions, Tigers, and Bears I
      can visit a Zoo like I did when I was a kid. A lot of people in Africa have
      never seen Lions and elephants in their entire lives. I’ve met in college and
      at work several immigrants from different countries in Africa who saw a lion
      for the first time in real life was when they visited a zoo in the United
      States. Not trying to be rude here just stating some facts about why you don’t
      need to travel outside the United States to see a lot of wildlife. As far as
      architecture goes why differences exist I don’t get the “OMG…this is so
      utterly different my mind is going to explode!!!” type of reactions people
      on here are claiming.

      I’m not
      trying to bash people who love traveling abroad but I don’t get how they can
      bash people who don’t travel abroad either. I’m not going to make a false claim
      that the U.S. has everything but I find the “it’s so radically different
      and life changing!” arguments people are putting forth to be nonsense. Not
      to mention the fact most people who travel abroad just go to tourist
      destinations and global cities. People who have claimed to have visited the
      U.S. and have only been to NYC or LA make me laugh because you saw Jack S***.
      You didn’t see the U.S. you would need to actually hop in car and drive around
      the U.S. which I’ve done before for a previous job and that is the only way you
      will see the U.S. in which case you haven’t seen Hawaii and Alaska unless you
      want to drive through Canada (beautiful place to by the way) not to mention
      U.S. territories Guam, Puerto Rico, U.S. Virgin Islands, etc.

      So when
      people talk about seeing other countries and how diverse they are I point out
      to them that you saw just that city not the entire country. People in European
      who claim that Americans are ignorant about Europe and the rest of the world
      tend to be just as ignorant if not more so. Kansas City is not the same as NYC
      and LA is not Atlanta while there are similarities they are different places
      that are a lot more different than most people think and only someone who is a
      complete idiot would think they aren’t differences between them.

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  • Sam

    Talk about lack of time off work and beautiful sites in your own country all you like. The fact is, many Americans dont have the desire to travel outside of the U.S. If you wanted to do something, you would do it. This isnt criticism, its just an observation after years of travelling the world and studying foreign cultures. It’s some peoples inability to look past themselves that allows others to make these kinds of negative judgements towards Americans. Example: How many third generation (or more) Americans learn a second language?

    • Tony

      Only a fool would argue that “many” Americans want one thing or the other. It’s too ambiguous a term for any sort of thoughtful discussion.

      What people are saying is that there are reasons besides simple lack of desire to travel to other places that account for the margin of difference between international travel for Americans vs. other people.

      You are truly ignorant or extraordinarily privileged if you think the world is as simple if you want to something you do it. I have wanted to visit India and Nepal for a decade, but it’s an enormous expense and a lot of time off work to do it right. Haven’t been able to spare the five grand and three weeks off in a row quite yet.  My friends went one year, but I couldn’t get time off of work to do it.  I want to be able to pay my rent too. 

  • brighteyes

    I made a bold and challenging statement on a travelling website that I belong to, that Americans do not travel much. As in to Europe or Asia say. An arrogant woman I know said that everyone she knows travels. It is not a representative section of the population.

  • Scottmichael0763

    The other factor is that Americans don’t have enough time to travel outside the country. The average American gets only 10 days of vacation per year, while people in other countries get between 4 – 6 weeks per year.

  • Larryaugustyn

    Most Americans can’t afford a trip out of the country. I am 55 and have never left America and probably never will. It’s not out of lack of interest in other cultures — I just have to read about them rather than go there.

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  • julia jean

    I didn’t mean to insinuate any criticism of Americans for having few passports; I was seven times curious as to what the correct figure was.
    I âm definitely in no position to criticise them for seldom leaving their country when most of my holidays over the past 8 years have been to the US!

    Salwar Kameez

  • Rosborneutah

    As an American, I must sadly admit that the majority of my countrymen (and women) are terribly ignorant of other cultures. Their perceptions are biased and skewed based upon what they see in the news and on the internet, and therefore very incomplete and negative, since “news” in today’s culture and via CNN is by its nature negative and sensational.

    And most Americans who have traveled outside the USA tend to spend only a few days in a country, so their opportunity to “see the sights” is usually limited to tourist-centered attractions. A typical vacation would be a 1-week stay in Cancun in an insular tourist resort, lying on the beach, drinking Margaritas with the occasional day-trip to see Mayan ruins. These types of vacations don’t lend themselves to really experiencing a country or getting to know the culture at any level.

    I’ve been fortunate to travel more than most Americans, and I believe that those who travel have the opportunity to have a broader, more tolerant view, more accepting of other people and cultures. However, note that while “travelers” have the opportunity to do so, not everyone is a better person because of traveling abroad. Some people are simply “more-traveled” bigots, regardless of where they’ve been.

    However, that said, I hope that more Americans will travel outside the USA and see other parts of the world, expanding their personal horizons, and hopefully eliminating (or at least tempering) the CNN-view of other countries and people. There are wonderful people and places everywhere, and I believe that the more we can see of it, the better we are!

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  • Well I guess you guys have a very large country to start off with. Spanning across 5 time zones, I’m sure there’s plenty of different landscape to explore. Besides that, America spans from 2 oceans – from Atlantic to the Pacific. That tells a lot about the size.

    • JamesieK

      Australia and Canada also span 2 oceans but have much higher passport numbers

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  • Anonymous

    Oprah was fantastic to showcase Australia, though with these figures it simple to understand their reluctance to come such a long way when they only have a short time to see it all! Judy.

    villas in italy

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  • CharlieSage

    The comments about which country has the best scenery rather proves a point. All countries are beautiful and interesting in their own way and those who claim their country is the most beautiful are being a little short sighted and clearly have not travelled. Sure, I love my own country but would hesitate to say it is the best. What criteria are we using?
    Also to return to the aspect of the media: virtually all but the most localised media in Britain give equal coverage to national and international affairs. Take the BBC for example. As mentioned, Britain is an internationally focussed country and has been for at least 2000 years.

  • CharlieSage

    The comments about which country has the best scenery rather proves a point. All countries are beautiful and interesting in their own way and those who claim their country is the most beautiful are being a little short sighted and clearly have not travelled. Sure, I love my own country but would hesitate to say it is the best. What criteria are we using?
    Also to return to the aspect of the media: virtually all but the most localised media in Britain give equal coverage to national and international affairs. Take the BBC for example. As mentioned, Britain is an internationally focussed country and has been for at least 2000 years.

    • Tony

      No, you have no point. There has been no discussion here about which country is the best, or most beautiful. The closest to that was a discussion over whether the USA has more natural or geographic diversity than England.

      The distinction is that when planning a trip, Americans have a wide variety of beautiful and amazing things in their own country, and by staying in their own country save the expense of a passport and overseas travel. That is not the same as saying that the USA has the most amazing or beautiful geography in the world.

      Travel can be a wonderful experience, as can be understanding what you read.

  • JJ

    Totally agree with the passport data on American citizens not having them. Also they only get 2 weeks vacation yearly to our 4 weeks. They live to work, whilst we work to live. After returning late 2010 from New York & Virginia to Australia, we also found a lot of people had not even ventured beyond their own neighborhood, let alone State or Country. Oprah was fantastic to showcase Australia, though with these figures it easy to understand their reluctance to come such a very long way when they only have a short time to see it all! Judy (Castle Hill NSW)

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  • Coryjay2210

    Some part of me disagrees with the comment that traveling abroad doesn’t educate you. I should clarify that you have to stay in a foreign country long enough to learn about the culture (ie. a 2 week trip to Thailand and staying at your 5 star hotel the entire time barely constitutes “immersing” yourself in the culture). I’ve lived abroad on and off for the past 7 years and I can honestly say that it’s educated me in many ways, as well as made me a better person. Do I think that I’m better than anyone who hasn’t traveled? No way! But, I constantly hear Americans having opinions about foreign countries they’ve never even been to or have visited ONCE on a 1 week vacation. We are a country of very high criticism in respect to other countries. When I lived abroad, I would tell people where I was from and they would be so interested and tell me how much they dreamed of going to America. I found this so intriguing and very respectful. Of course there are cases where this is not true, but for the most part people from the East (Taiwan, Korea, Vietnam, Cambodia, Thailand, China, etc) have a great deal of respect for foreigners and are interested to know more about them and share their culture. I’ve got much more to say on this topic, but I’ll leave it at that. I am no expert.

    • Tony

      That would be living abroad not traveling wouldn’t it?

  • 220VOLTS

    Simon Winchester is beyond a doubt one of my favorite travel writers. He however, missed the 800-pound traveling American gorilla, the US Military. We Americans are constantly traveling overseas, seeking fortunes, and in huge numbers. But, since American soldiers don’t carry passports, they’re off the radar. Blend in US military travel and a completely different picture emerges.

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  • Tony

    There is an assumption that travel to foreign lands will broaden your horizons, and give you a deeper understanding of the world.

    Two commenters here, Simon and Kaitan, who have purportedly lived the USA are glaring counter examples of this. Simon was ignorant of the USA’s ancient sites

    Kaitan claimed that most of the USA looked alike, and the UK had more geographic diversity, dude kept his eyes closed the entire time he visited Florida and Colorado apparently.

    If you like to travel that’s fine, I like traveling too. But the next time you think you’re a better person for it, remember these guys. Don’t pretend it makes you more knowledgeable or wise.

    • Sam

      @ Tony. You are an idiot and a bigot. Get off your high horse.

      • Tony

        High horse? I am not the one saying my hobby makes me a better person.

        No one I have met in real life has accused me of being an idiot or a bigot. You are confusing your apparently strong disagreement with what I’ve written with feelings about me.

        In other words: look past yourself and your own feelings.

    • Sam

      @ Tony. You are an idiot and a bigot. Get off your high horse.

  • Anonymous

    It should be mentioned that there are other reasons for Americans not to travel abroad as much as Europeans.

    1 We dont have as much vacation time as most of them do. When i travel, i stay at hostels.And theres a reason that they are all full of German travellers.

    2 Many European young people leave college with little or no debt.Im guessing that most American 22 year olds would love to see the world.But college debt means that they have to get jobs.

    3 As mentioned by others, America is huge.But its cheap to travel in.A Greyhound 2 month bus pass is only $500. A month pass from Amtrak is only about $550. Its also cheap for Europeans to travel within Europe.But its expensive for Americans to travel to Europe compared to traeling within America.

    4 Home ownership is high in America.So is the birthrate compared to o many European countries.Germany has a very low home ownership rate .And a low birth rate. This is not a criticism of Germany.Its just that Germans are less likely to have kids, mortgages or college debt than Americans.And they are more likely to have more vacations.Its not shocking that they travel more then us

    And finally 5 For American travelers , the exchange rate is bad for them in most of Europe. Thats why if you are in Chicago or NYC , you see European women stocking up with clothing.

    BTW, for the record i have traveled abroad, lived abroad for up to 6 months at a time.And have traveled in America.Traveling abroad is different from traveling in America.But i dont think that its either superior or inferior

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  • Mattijs

    Jeff, Where did you get the total number of 114,464,041 pasports since it it not mentioned as such on the link? Thanks

    • Tigger

      He learned to add. A passport is good for 10 years, so he added the last 10 years together. That might be a slight overstatement, if one was issued as a replacement, but is a good estimate.

  • DJR

    Maybe this Brit chick's nose wouldn't be so bent out of shape if she realized that England is about the size of Oregon. My home state of Colorado is twice the size of England. Most Americans would rather stay at home and visit each state which is much more geographically interesting and diverse than most of England. Of course if I was this Brit, I could understand her need to flee England on a regular basis…..I too would want to escape British food for something a little more edible in say, Italy.

    • Anonymous

      ” Most Americans would rather stay at home and visit each state which is much more geographically interesting and diverse than most of England. ”

      I’ve lived in both North America and in Europe for extensive periods. You’re gravely mistaken about the diversity. The average three hour drive in the US will contain very little difference in terms of geography, architecture, culture, food, accents, history. In England (and the UK more generally) there are vast differences over such distances.

      I can tell by the stereotypes you’re deploying that you have never visited the UK, and have quite likely never left your own country. The Brits actually have some fabulous food; the lazy stereotype comes in large part from a grim period for the British working classes that stretched from the industrial revolution through ’til the end of post-WW2 rationing, when the average Brit was simply impoverished compared with an American counterpart. The UK has a vast array of good food available, much of it from former colonies. And the average UK supermarket has much higher quality food than most of those in the States.

      Very few American cities can match those in Britain in terms of quality of culture, architecture etc. The best American cities certainly can: NYC, Chicago, San Francisco. But most of them are homogenous and bland. The US has a lot of advantages, but diversity is not really one of them. Most of the country looks pretty much the same.

      • Tony

        DJR, of course was not writing about a three hour drive, he was writing about travel to different states within the USA, which as you note has some great big cities. Spanning a continent it has wonderfully diverse ecosystems, to claim otherwise is really just embarrassing.

        • Sam

          @ Tony. Again, you have missed the point.

          • Tony

            Kaitan tried to make the point that England has more geographic diversity than the USA. He for some reason limited himself to a three hour radius to prove this point.

            Whatever, you are wrong just like he is.

  • I say keep them ignorant, I like them better that way.

    • Austin McDowell

      If you’re gonna be a smart-ass, first try to be smart…

  • Jason

    WOW! I am impressed with the cultural point by Simon Winchester why most Americans do not hold passports and travel overseas. None of the reasons listed are anything that Americans should apologize for or be belittled about by others. It's indisputable fact: America was always a democracy and never an empire. Apart from a few regrettable decades of slavery we have nothing to apologize for. People from cultures with deeply ingrained aristocratic histories may have difficulty understanding that. We are physically isolated by thousand of miles of water from the Western and Eastern continents. Not our fault and nothing to be sorry for. Traveling any great distance is expensive. Everyone everywhere can relate with that. Americans had to find other pursuits and we did! America was (still is?) breathtakingly beautiful in places and diverse: mountains, deserts, beaches, snow, ocean, forests, swamps, plains, caves, etc. It was human nature that we found our fortunes from these resources. These shaped the American character as they would anywhere else and shaped our lives and choices as all people have been shaped by their surroundings, history and environment. We have no requirement to be validated and justified but thanks for asking. We may not visit but we do notice you, like you and care. You were our parent culture. We hope you have enough to eat and enough to keep you safe and warm. We'll sleep easier – sincerely.

    • 220VOLTS

      Jason…Please refer to my post on this subject. We are in fact an empire. Our overseas legions make Rome pale by comparison.

    • “…nothing to apologise for…”  – eh, do the words Native American mean anything to you?

      “always a democracy and never an Empire”   eh, the Middle east….??

      There do seem to be a number of factors, outlined in the comments here, that genuinely restrict travel opportunities for the average working American so why be defensive about it?

    • Nad

       “nothing to apologize for?? You mean apart from bombing half of the world? Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, Russia, Vietnam and the nuclear bombs of hiroshima and Nagasaki? WOW!  You are just reinforcing the stereotypes that the rest of us have about illiterate, ignorant, stupid Americans!

  • Blake

    And to expand on this even more, according to the International Trade Administration in 2009 (the latest full statistics available since 2010 hasn't been published yet) 61.5 million Americans traveled outside the United States. Of this total, 19.5 million visited Mexico and 11.7 million visited Canada. The remaining 30.3 million outbound travelers visited overseas destinations. I read in the UK National Statistics board that in 2009 about 9 million people visited countries that weren't part of mainland Europe. That's about 14% of the UK population, compared to about 10% for the US overseas travelers. Not a huge difference in terms of percentages. Hope all this helps your understanding, since a lot of people on here have a skewed mentality of what is actual fact and not speculation.

  • Jjj

    Great subject to post about! I am an American who lives in Asia, but works in America. It has long since gone beyond being annoying when Americans are like "Duh, huh? Well how do you do that?" It's called the internet and the jet age. Duh. I can be anywhere in the USA in 1 calendar day – just like it would essentially take 1 calendar day to go from NYC to anywhere west of the Mississippi. Living abroad has many advantages – I tripled my quality of life and savings by living abroad. I am amazed that Americans who can do it don't.

    Like you, I pondered the "How many Americans travel outside North America?" question a few years ago (2001-2?). At the time, my conclusion was less than .5% of the US population travels outside North America annually. OH THAT SUCKS comparatively speaking. Not only are Americans globally clueless, we (well, not me) don't realize also that the USA is in the company of N. Korea, China, and Cuba in that it is the only developed western country that only exposes its population to domestic media. Really – turn on your TV now and try to watch foreign media. Can't can ya. I can go to any other country and at least get BBC, Aljazeera, or the many European networks. But in America? Forget it. Clueless.

    Gimme the loot and I am gone. Thank you very much.

    • Demetrisb

      Wow, you sure do not sound like an American. :-) Listen, as an American who has lived in Asia and now living in Switzerland, I agree it is sad so many of our folks do not travel more. The world experience is priceless. But two things I want to contradict you on:

      1) Travel abroad does not equal enlightenment. I know sooooo many people here in Switzerland and the surrounding countries who have only the TV version of the US and other countries. Makes you wonder, eh?

      2) In the US, you can see foreign news stations. Aljazeera is in the US, though in very limited areas. BBC you can find, Sky TV, Telemundo, and other foreign national stations. Granted, if you live in Iowa or Kentucky, you might get them, but if you live in Chicago, NYC, SF, or any other truly multicultural US city, you will have such stations.

      I think global travel is important for all countries as you never truly know yourself until you step outside that comfort zone and look at yourself and host country in a different context. I think we find that we are more defensive of our country, as well as being more critical of our country. At least, this is my experience.

      • Demetrisb

        Sorry a slight correction. That should have been “if you live in Iowa or Kentucky you might not get them”.

        • MoMark

          I live in Kentucky and I get them. You can get any station on the internet. Most people are replacing their TV’s with the internet. I think one group of people that annoy me the most are people who leave to another country and then talk badly about 300 million people. Talking about how ignorant we are, and how much better their quality of life is. I’m very happy and have a lot of great experiences here. 

          I have also traveled abroad and thought it was very rewarding, but also insanely expensive. It cost me 3k to do the whole trip for two weeks. My girlfriend is still broke and jobless since traveling to Europe with me, then having to go to China for her sisters wedding. It was a great experience but she lost all her savings and her job. Now I support her financially because I kept my job and savings instead of heading to China with her(which was a difficult decision). 

          That is right I live in ol’ redneck Louisville, Kentucky and have a girlfriend from Hong Kong, a friend who just moved back from Uganda and a friend who just got back from Spain,  several friends from the UK. Most of my friends have been abroad and I think that people outside the US are falling into media stereotypes of us as much as we do of them. I do feel attacked and sad that anyone wants to cut down another culture. I know there are good, smart, and traveled people in all countries. Get over yourselves, the world is in my pocket and I look at it everyday. 

  • Steve

    How many Europeans have been to Mexico? Or South America? You guys are ignorant.

    You see, things aren't that simple, and many have already pointed out the financial and geographical reasons. With that said, Americans are isolated from the rest of the world more than they should be. However, the younger generations aren't nearly as bad.

    It is the Cold War and WW2 generations that kept their feet on American soil. While the younger generation, tends to sacrifice quite a bit to travel abroad; maybe too much.

    • simon

      more than 500,000plus brits travel to south America each year, if you include Central America that figure rises to close to 1million.. Brazil alone gets 160,000 brits each year peru around 70,000..the total equates to 1.5% of our population each year going to Central/south america (which is alot)… You are ignorant for making that commet in the first place, research before gobbing off.. these figures are even higher when looking at asian countries particulary India and me none of the places mentioned above are short flights iv'e done it (so i don't except it as an excuse) more thobbing off a lazy insular attitude to travel. i do however understand the 2week holidays situation (i mean 2 weeks, they actually treat you like slaves). Lived and worked in both the UK and USA. Had great fun in the States as a single british male but would never choose to live there, far too many insular people when it comes to foreign policies and culture, you don't experience Vietnamese culture by going to vietnamese restraunt in the states you get a very toned down version anyone who believes you do is ignorant..

      • simon

        and the attitude that the USA has everyting you need so there is no no need to travel abroad is a joke, yes you have magnificent scenery and great cities, but do you have places like Machu Pichu, Rome or any other ancient sites etc NO………

        • Tony

          You are incorrect.

          Cahokia Mounds.

          Navajo Cliff Dwellings.

          Maybe you should travel more, broaden your horizons.

          • simon

            Cahokia Mounds – basically little mounds with nothing much esle, hardly inspiring to view. (although historically important)…

            I understand travelling is a luxury and that is why i do it…. but it is a luxury most in Britain/USA/FRance etc can do so why not… It sounds like you need to broaden your horizons, have you actually been anywhere other than the states… Why would you not want to travel more, learning customs and traditions (culture) of the world… I tell you Travelling Africa Particulary East Africa and seeing wild Chimps and gorillas, and the myriad of other wildlife including all the big cats lions etc, will change your mind.. Only archeologist, needs to visit ruins, why?????? Trekking through jungles to see the Angkor region in Cambodia or even to see Machu Pichu and seeing the wildlife while doing it is simply something that cannot be described other than amazing, to see monuments that have stood for 2000 years like Rome..i cannot understand why people would not want to travel… I will travel for as long as i can afterall conforming to the run of the mill 9-5 just isn’t me.. My life in a Nutshell is 6 months working renovating houses and renting them out 6 months travel living of the rental income.. it’s a simple life but the way i like it..

            • Tony

              You admit you were wrong about ancient sites in the US, but I don’t really see the point you are trying to make.

              I can find nothing in what I wrote that would give you the idea I do not like to travel, other than pointing your lack of familiarity with fact.

              In fact I wrote “I like traveling” in one of my replies here.

        • Tony

          First off, no one besides an archeologist, needs to visit ruins.

          Secondly. you are incorrect about the United States lacking ancient sites.

          Navajo Cliff Dwellings.

          Cahokia Mounds.

          You should travel, broaden your horizons a little.

          • Anonymous

            “First off, no one besides an archeologist, needs to visit ruins”

            What an embarrassing thing to say.

            • Tony

              You are saying that if you do not visit ruins you will die, same as not having water to drink.

            • Tony

              Travel is a luxury.

              If you do not understand that then all of the traveling you have done has been in vain.

  • MOseeU

    Just do it!
    Travel…you see, you hear, you touch and you learn.
    It's like eating…. trying different venues and food from all over the world is an art(part of life).
    No one can eat hotdog everyday for the rest of his life……life is more of a journey than a destination.

  • Llinos


    I have travelled to the USA many times and, while I enjoy meeting people there, I found the lack of history very obvious. If you enjoy history you should bear in mind that Europe's history is also yours. We have buildings that date back to the 1000's and earlier Roman remains etc. There is so much for the historian to see in Europe that obviously you can never find in America.

    As to cost – I have met plenty of Americans through shared interests on the internet and quite a few of them have come to stay with me. Likewise I have been hosted in the USA by friends. This cuts the costs down to airfares and spending money, as I will board and feed them as guests and happily drive them around to see the best places. In addition, staying with friends means that you get a much better insight into the country than you would at an impersonal hotel!

    So those of you who say you can't afford it, get on the internet and find someone to host you – not too difficult in this day and age.

  • Llinos

    However, for many people the living standards in the USA are well below those of Europe, particularly in matters such as health care. Fine if you've got affordable insurance that you won't lose with your job and that your illness doesn't overspend – otherwise you're screwed. The cost of drugs for long term illnesses is awful, here they are free. Also, as many correspondents have stated, you only get 2 weeks annual holiday! How poor is that? It does make one wonder if your government or employers or whoever don't want you to travel and see how well off people are in Europe in comparison as it might make you discontented.


  • llinos

    I've read above many comments about cultural awareness being the reason both for and against travel. Those for travel argue that non-travelling Americans are culturally lacking and those against claiming that there is enough diversity of culture within the USA to compensate for lack of travel.

    However, I think there is a more important reason and that is political awareness!

    I have come across so many half-truths about Europe as well as some down-right lies. Americans seem to be indoctrinated into the idea that their country is the best in the world and I'm sure that for some people that is true.


  • Chris

    The comments from many resident Americans on here ring so true. I'm a Brit, and the holiday or vacation thing rings so true. I get 4 weeks paid vacation… if I only had 2, there'd be no way in hell i'd bother to go abroad.
    Plus, it's also true that living in the UK for example, Europe is merely a 30 min train ride away.
    I've been to the States many times and consider myself lucky to visit such a great country.
    Through reading this, I've thought to myself, if I lived in a nation with climates ranging to extremes, beautiful scenery, bordering both oceans, and that spanned 4 time zones, not to mention the food!!! would I really want to leave??? Let's face it the only thing bad about the US (in my opinion) is the lack of real football (soccer) hehe! Sorry, the NFL sucks ;-)

    Plus, figures & stats only tell you what you want to read into them.. like 22% of yanks may have passports, but does that figure include only people aged 21+? does it include babies & newborns? the elderly? As that distorts things slightly, as previous posters have said – if you have a family with 3 kids for example, are you going to get passports for your 2 year old infant.. Really??
    There's also a mention of Americans not being bothered to visit Canada.. well, that's the equivalent of me not ever going to Scotland… I live about a 5 hour drive (birmingham) from the Scottish border, I've nothing against Scotland, or the Scottish – but… in my 25 years of live I've been to countries in 4 continents and scotland isn't on my list, nor do I have a particular wish to visit it.

    In short, I understand totally why an American wouldn't really bother with a passport… Let's face it, 70% of Brits have got one because none of us can wait to get out of the place, as it's raining most of the bloody time :-)

    • Anonymous

      ” in my 25 years of live I’ve been to countries in 4 continents and scotland isn’t on my list, nor do I have a particular wish to visit it.”

      Which is a shame, because the Scottish highlands are the single most beautiful stretch of country in the UK, and Edinburgh is the UK’s most magical city.

  • Kirsten

    As a Canadian, I've travelled quite a bit. Honestly, it's cheaper to get to London than it is to get to Ottawa from where I live, so most of my travel within Canada has been for work. But I have to say that travelling to another country, even the one next door, provides a remarkable window into the culture of other people around the world that you can't get in the most multi-cultural city in North America. I find that one of the most significant "blockers" to international travel among Americans and Canadians alike is a sort of close-mindedness that has them convinced that theirs is the best country in the world, so why would they go anywhere where they'd have to eat weird food, try and understand a foreign language and different currency? To me, this is the best part of travel. One gains valuable experience when they're at a disadvantage in a foreign country – perhaps it makes them more humble, more open to new ideas, more… something. It makes me a little sad that others don't value those experiences, but to each his own.

  • Ashley

    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.

    • JamesieK

      So what about Australians or Canadians, they live in big countries too

  • Denise

    I am an American (with a passport) and I love to travel. I have been abroad only four times in my life. I would certainly be happy to go again. But, I also want to see my own country. All of it! And that's a huge undertaking. To see all fifty states throughly will take a lifetime of travel. Many of my countrymen want to see their own country first. That's not a crime. And, it's true, we Americans work a lot. Most only have two weeks of vacation, so that factors into the mix as well.

    I agree with Michel about the Anti-Americanism in some of the posts. The issue has gone from an interesting supposition that can be discussed reasonably to an …all Americans are stupid…we would never live in the USA…americans aren't civilized…WallMart!…etc., etc., etc.

  • Michael

    As for money, it's appropriate to say that it costs more to travel from Denver to Berlin, than London to Berlin. So, the cost is not necessarily prohibitive, but it is a valid consideration.

    Lastly, we really do have everything here…and, after all, we don't need to go to the world…the world comes here (to live/find a better life).

    So, there are many reasons for the US not having prolific use of passports.

    However, I take note of the rampant racism – anti-Americanism – that many (not necessarily here) exhibit toward Americans. Were any of the character assassinations leveled here at Americans leveled the other direction, there is no doubt people would be up in arms about that racism. I guess it's just okay to take issue with Americans as being knuckle dragging, prehensile, troglodytes who are too stupid/ignorant to care about the world.

    I suspect it says more about them, than it does about Americans.

    • Anonymous

      It’s not “racism” at all. It’s an irritation with precisely this kind of attitude:

      “after all, we don’t need to go to the world…the world comes here (to live/find a better life).”

      Get over yourself. People emigrate to the US because of its wealth, not because they regard it as the greatest place on earth whose existence precludes the need to visit anywhere else.

      • Tony

        Yes, they come for the states’ wealth, not the generous vacation time.

    • JamesieK

      So you don’t need to go to where 95% of the world lives? Stay in your bubble then

  • Michael

    There are a couple of solid points in here.

    First, Europeans just don't GET how huge the USA is. As I told a friend of mine in the UK, the US is 40 times larger than the UK…and my home state, Colorado, is 10% bigger than the UK. It's about the same to fly from Denver to NYC as it is from London to Moscow (with dozens of countries in between). The size of the US JUST ISN'T comprehended by Europeans.

    Now, as to time…another valid point. Europeans have 4-8 weeks vacation (plus bank holidays) while Americans have 2-4 weeks plus the following days: New Years, Good Friday (some people), Memorial Day, Independence Day, Labor Day, Thanksgiving (usually only that day), Christmas. Most Americans don't get all the legal holidays (like MLK, President's, Columbus). Whereas, in Europe, if there is even a whiff of a bank holiday (and there are about 10-13 per country), the country practically shuts down.

  • Rupert

    It seems to me that the majority of americans only visit other countries when they are sent there by there Government to fight .

  • Bar Mcdougal

    awwww.. you poor thing… and what is this hatred towards us Europeans??.. Yes we do travel to New York, because I am so sorry to say your enormous country has only one thing to offer and thats the big apple which is beyond fabulous, and the people are simply amazing…

    Kanas? give me a break… I hope you were joking

    dont even get me started with the finances, every average american family owns 3 cars, maybe its time to walk a little bit and stop driving and spending 500$ a week on each car's gas. And the list can go on and on.

    Considering that millions of americans have not even been to their nation's capital doesn't surprise me why they dont bother to see the world capitals in Europe, where, for your record, the civilization began, is and will be. As the enormous america has wallmarts for sightseeing in 98% of the the United States, we have museums, castles, gardens, sights, statues and fountains…But yet again, someone who can write this obviously shows that have not travelled to enlarge the view point.

    p.s. I have tons amazing american friends, and they are great, my comments is regarding to everyone who lies under that non passport holding category.

    • Dustin

      Listen here. Europeans can get by with public transit and walking because your cities are densely populated. American cities have massive suburbs where most people live, and there is little to no public transit out there, and suburbs are often miles away from your common destinations. If you don't have a car or a massive amount of money for cab fare (cabs are expensive as hell), then you likely aren't going anywhere. (Luckily for me I live in the middle of my city, so I can use our terrible public transit).

      Also, the person you replied to wasn't being hateful towards Europeans, he was simply expressing his disdain for the attacks a lot of Europeans have been throwing at us here. And you missed his point about Kansas. He was pointing out that Europeans tend to laugh at tourists who go to the major European vacation spots without spending time in rural villages along the way. He was equating Kansas with those villages that tourists ignore.

      tl;dr Don't be so quick to judge. Many of us would LOVE to be able to afford overseas travel, but at $1000+ dollars per ticket per person, it really isn't affordable for a large section of Americans.

      • Anonymous

        But those are the choices you make, as voters and consumers. You could easily have more vacation time and more public transit, if you had the motivation to demand them of your employers and your politicians.

        The average American is wealthier than the average Australian, and closer to other countries.

        • Tony

          Yes, closer to other countries which until a few years ago Americans didn’t need a passport to visit.

          Looking at the graph, will notice the spike in passports issued, after the rules were changed. It’s even higher in FY10 than FY06 even though the economy is crap.

  • Rai

    Spare the excuses and alibis. I was born in the USA, lived there for 45 years, and was on a valid US passport since I was 6! Sure it is expensive if the only way you know how to travel is to stay at the Hilton and eat in the hotel restaurant or the eateries listed in your guidebooks. There are more economical ways to travel! I was not born wealthy. Mother qualified for food stamps and I qualified for free school lunch. Still I visited more than 10 countries before I was out of high school. As a single mother on a teacher's salary receiving $150 a month in child support, both of my children had been to Europe before they were 10 years old on MY dime. My first born had visited 4 continents by the time she graduated from high school. Now, Europe is my home. I have no desire to ever return to the US. Children and grandchildren come here to visit me. Keep your limited attitude and your bovine excrement between the Atlantic and the Pacific, please. That 10% number suits us here. PS…the Canadians and Aussies were being to-your-face polite.

  • Brandon

    In the Philippines they say, Don't be a stranger in your own country. I learned that because I went to the Philippines with a classmate from college who lives there. It was a great trip but I think it's worth taking to heart that Americans shouldn't be strangers in their own country in order to travel the world at a potentially greater cost. As some have pointed out, what is it worth seeing different geography and buildings? The culture of every other country in the world has moved to America. That's what we are, everything else thrown together. If I want to learn about Africa I'll ask the African people in my city, if I want to learn about Latin America I'll ask the Latin Americans, if I want to learn about Iraq I'll ask the Iraqis, and so on. At the end of the day I'll go surfing because I live in SoCal and we can do that year-round. Can Europeans surf at home in January? I guess than can travel. To each his own.

  • GBGB

    Merely musing about all this. A couple of hundred years ago very few people even knew of nearby (let alone far away) towns and villages – most lived and died in the village they were born in. It seems ironic that the USA (in this global world and as the major super-power) has evolved with an inward-looking mentality – akin to ancient villagers, who know nothing beyond their narrow confines. In the main not knowing and not caring about anything outside their "village". Odd.

  • Wok

    A well-written piece and fair if compared with Europeans. However, falls very short when you compare against a country like Australian (roughly 65% have passports), similar arguments on the geography, climate and number of public holidays. As for travel times… there are no borders with Mexico or Canada and therefore unless you are a very good swimmer, boat or plane connects you with the nearest country. Travel times are painful.

    • Tony

      So what's the average vacation time for an Australian?

  • barncrofter

    You poor soul!

  • Zamira

    I have to say that I agree with you. Barry points out distance but he failed to include your point on vacation time. Further more, my time in Europe taught me that there are two places in the US – NYC and California! LOL! that's it! In addition, we do not have a tiny little island as a country. So while visiting other countries is extremely eye opening, it's also beneficial to learn what's in our own country and travel around the extremely different regions that make up the US. Also, I like how Barry says we don't experience other cultures. Even SF has a Japanese town. Chinatown. Little Italy. We have a plythera of diversity here that we embrace and experience in our own way. sure it's not nearly the same as traveling to the country but it does broaden our perspectives and teach us about diversity.

  • I think my second point was fuzzy so here it is in a sentence – what I was trying to say is that many Americans don't grow up learning that travel is fun. Instead they learn that staying in the comforts of home is all that they need. This isn't all Americans. Many of us are cultured, love travel, love exploring and love breaking out of our US borders with our heavily stamped passports. But I'm a traveler because I had opportunities to travel when I was young and now I refuse to let those go. I was lucky. Not everyone had that.

    Sorry – that was way more than one sentence.

  • You kinda hit it and kinda didn't with your points, Yes, it's expensive to travel internationally. But very few countries we can get to via car, fewer still are reachable with a short flight…. and even that depends on where you are in the US. So I think geography is another.

    Second, and you kinda hit this with culture, not a lot of Americans move around. I'm shocked to hear about how many people stay where their parents grew up. I've lived in 5 states and 2 countries in my short 24 years so I don't get that, much less do I feel I have a hometown nor do I know my parents home towns. But in each state, the majority of the people I know are not far from home. And i've heard more times then I care to count that moving to a foreign country is crazy and why don't I want to be close to home — they just don't get that home is where ever I go.

    To go with that, each state seems to have their favorite vacation spots. New Jersey and PA share the Jersey Shore. Or the Poconos for example. So why go far when you can go only a bit out of your way each weekend without a flight or a passport to soak in the sun for a couple of days?

    I think has less to do with history – and more to do with how freakin big our own country is! And we have so much diversity here if you're looking for it in the right places – compare Kentucky horse racing culture to Nashville country music scene to Louisiana Cuban fusion to New Mexico reservations to Hollywood So Cali to Wine lovin' chilled No Cali…. and just think… no passport required to see it all!

  • My Doors Are Open

    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.

  • GretaB

    As an American who lives outside the U.S. and has no intention of coming back, most Americans are ignorant of the rest of the world. We are not stupid. We are ignorant. The only reason that more Americans have gotten passports in the past few years is because we are now required to have one for Canada and Mexico. It used to be that we could go with just a driver's license. The really telling figure is the number of us who travel outside of the Northern Hemisphere… about 3 million out of 300 million

  • Curt

    An American asked why they should travel. Here is Why! Travellling to another part of the world is the cheapest way to get an educaton. Believe or not, going to other parts of the world is a great learning experience. By travelling Americans will learn that Europe has better transportation, Canada has more multicultural cities, Mexico is steadily advancing, Asia is learning from the rest of the world and using technology in new ways not seen in North America. I hope this helps

    • Anonymous

      Heck, I easily learned about that on the internet. Never been outside the US.

    • Anonymous

      On my latest trip I learned that some people still live in mud huts and sleep with their animals at night. Makes me glad I was born here and not in Africa. I have also learned that China is overcrowded and very polluted. Once you get out of the big cities it is still very much a third world country. Traveling there makes me glad I wasn't born in China either. And why does Europe have such small, overpriced hotel rooms? And Canada has more multicultural cities? Even more than the San Francisco Bay area? I have been to Vancouver and Victoria and they didn't strike me as any more multicultural than California or New York. In San Jose, California whites are now actually a minority.
      The USA could learn a few things from Europe, like better transportation in the cities and health care overhaul, but for the most part I prefer living in the United States to other places I have been to. Also, if more Europeans traveled to the United States, they would realize that in rural places like Montana people really do need to own cars. Public mass transit is not very practical in many parts of the US.

  • Joan

    “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.

  • TheExpeditioner

    There was an uptick in 2007 as a result, but in actuality, the number has dropped back down to 2006 levels based upon this:

  • Diana

    I grew up poor (welfare & foodstamps), but I had a keen interest in traveling. My mother did not know where I had gotten my interest. I would scour geography books in the library and pour through world maps. I graduated high school and went on to attend the university in San Francisco. Meeting people from all over the world made me want to visit these far away places that I studied as a child. Finally after much saving and sacrificing I got my passport and flew out to Europe where I spent three months visiting: London, Paris, Brussels, Amsterdam, Barcelona, Madrid, Nice, Monte Carlo, Rome, Venice, Florence, Budapest, Vienna, & Salzburg. Came back quite the traveler. I will never forget the wonderful people and places I saw. Amazing experiences that live in my heart. Best investment I ever made.

  • Rob

    What a really great discussion. I am from the UK and have travelled to to many different countries. I would argue that the usa is so big theres really no need to leave its borders. I live 30 mins from the sea and know people who haven't even seen the sea so its not just people in the states. I think that most people outside the states would agree that it's citizens don't have much knowledge of what happens beyond its borders especially with foreign policy. If I were a single guy I would love to move to the states but as a family guy with a 4 year old I don't know if I would, which is strange because we've just come back from a holiday in cyprus yesterday and I would happily live there with my family…. You only have to look at the map where Cyprus is in the world…. Even I'm confused.

  • Barry

    I am English and we visit America both East and West coasts on a regular basis, we don't see the distance as a problem, why should Americans? Fundamentally the USA is an insular society and cannot compete with other countries who travel and share other cultures!
    Guys………………..You need to get out more!!!!!

  • Aaron J

    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!

    • danny

      probably the best post

      • Melvin

        Yep, the best post indeed.

        • Brian

          Actually, Aaron indicated that he has never traveled outside the US. So he is "reviewing the movie without seeing the ending." He and anyone (on the earth) who has NEVER tried something, cannot badmouth it. He has NO IDEA what travelling may or may not do for his inner well being etc…

          • Commenter

            As Aaron is looking to the other countries immigrant populations in California to base his reviews and form his dislikes of other countries I would continue your analogy to say that Aaron is giving a bad review to a movie having seen only a "sweded" trailer of the movie.
            I do like the comment (paraphrased) that those with a broad open minded perspective should widen it a bit more to realise that his narrow perspective is a perspective nonetheless!
            It is the epitomy of a stereotypical American and thus goes to prove that stereotypes have to have some basis in order to become established.

    • JamesieK

      You don’t feel comfortable with other cultures. At least you’re honest about your bigotry

  • Hal's analysis makes sense. In states with lower average incomes, people will be less likely to travel internationally, especially when there are numerous opportunities to travel domestically. 22% is actually higher than I expected.

  • airwire

    how many american visit states other than their home state? I agree that USA is very huge country and you don't have to go outside to see different climate/places, but also I know lot of people who never went to other states. I am just curious what is the percentage of those people.

    • trygfj

      i agree with bob ^.^ up there

    • Tony

      Yea but I have no aspiration to go to a place like "North Dakota" or any other junk state which has nothing to offer me, time on this planet is limited you know!

  • anon

    I don't think the article is insulting at all, nor does it attack American's as isolated individuals. It clearly states that there are many reasons why the number of passport holders is comparatively low, including finances which is fair enough.

    However it is wrong to ignore the fact that there are cultural differences in attitudes towards travel. Highlighting them is not offensive to one way or the other, but it is still an interesting discussion point. I am sure there are many that would love to travel abroad but can't, but I think this is aimed at the people that could, but don't.

  • Melvin

    Some people struggle to find a reason to travel aboard. Also, some struggle with the contents of their journey.

    I also agree with Jeff.

  • Keith

    I agree with Jeff 100%

  • Jeff

    I am a little offended by the reasoning if you don't travel outside the US you are not well rounded individual. I am one of those persons that makes less than the Median income for the US. I also only get 10 days of vacation per year and several of those days are used durning the Christmas-New Years holiday. My employer shuts down durning that time and it's either take vacation or go without pay. As I understand it I am one of the 50% of the US that will never get outside the country. So are you saying that at least 50% of the people in the US are isoalted individuals that are clueless of the rest of the world? That seems incredilbly harsh and, in my opinion, very wrong.

    • ghio marsa


    • GretaB

      All you have to do is see the rise of the Tea Party lunatics to know that Americans are, in fact, clueless. We have the worst medical care of any industrialized nation. Our major outlay is military. We don't give a damn about social policies and complain about immigration even though we are a nation of immigrants. Traveling outside the U.S. might, just might, give us a better perspective of what a terrible nation we have become as an empire.

  • cbl

    No shit?!

  • That's why the US passport is so valuable… it's like a rare comic book.

    (As an American, I understand why many of my fellow Seppos don't have passports- if you have a family of four, Paris may as well be on Mars, for what it would cost to get your family there for even a week. Still, this doesn't explain why more young Americans don't travel. Australia and New Zealand are much further away from everywhere, and yet they somehow manage)

  • That's why the US passport is so valuable… it's like a rare comic book.

    (As an American, I understand why many of my fellow Seppos don't have passports- if you have a family of four, Paris may as well be on Mars, for what it would cost to get your family there for even a week. Still, this doesn't explain why more young Americans don't travel. Australia and New Zealand are much further away from everywhere, and yet they somehow manage)

  • bob

    i am doing a speech about passports becaushave low the people have passports.

  • Linda Estrada

    As a recent postal retiree who participated on many of those Passport Fairs, I can tell you that cost is an overwhelming factor. Even babies need passports , so the costs for a family of 4 with pictures, processing etc. is about $310-$350 . Thats quite a bit. Also living in New York for awhile I also noticed that some people are quite provincial & don't even go too far from the neighborhoods,even to travel to Brooklyn or The Bronx or Queens,if they live in Manhattan so its no wonder they don't travel farther. Its sad though, because there is so much to see & do & learn. I love it!

  • Ellle

    I'm not surprised. I have little faith in U.S. citizens in terms of opening their eyes to new things. I've traveling to three countries in my college career and am the first and only person in my family to have been abroad. I know my older family members don't place a priority on traveling as my family is not well off in any sense and they're worried about only making ends-meet. But I've been encouraging my younger siblings and cousins to travel and get passports, etc. I hope they can keep this going in my family.

    I'm also very sad that getting a passport in the U.S. is sooo easy compared to China and yet not that many people have passports. I just spoke to my Chinese friend to get an explanation and she's told me that getting a passport in China is extremely hard and that those figures are not surprising.

  • Linds

    Never mind – I found the stats easily enough. I am still amazed at how low the numbers are though. I can't imagine not having my passport!

  • Love the state breakdown, which puts the cost factor in the spotlight. The bottom 5 are all low-income states. Alaska and Maine can be explained by higher travel to Canada, leaving the wealth of NY, NJ, and MA at the top.

    • It's true. Vermont ranks high as well.

    • MoMoney

      new york city and its associated diversity (not simply money) is at least partially of not solely responsible for NY being up there. But yes if you have the money, you will be more inclined to travel.. I think.

  • Jean Weaver

    Interesting stats, along with being far from the rest of the world, Brits favourite travels are to colonies, like Australia, Europe is a boat ride, hydro foil, or plane stop away. Lived in the UK for 2 years, and getting around Europe was easy, if you're willing to do lots of preplanning, found it difficult to get rooms etc. if you left things to the last minute (even if we did get to Paris the long way) With many choices of transportation does help. You do need a passport if you want to travel from the UK to the rest of Europe & vise versa, helps when most of the countries belong to the EU. Of course cost is pretty much the deciding factor for most North Americans. Canadians being made up of many cultures, probably our biggest travelers back home to family & friends etc.

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