Many People Ask Why Travel Abroad?
“Why don’t you just stay put and travel around the USA?” “Why travel abroad?” The USA is a huge and beautiful country, after all, right?
Well, at the moment we are doing just that. We are taking a year to breathe and work on our business and explore the American Southwest. Oh, yeah, and sleeping in our own bed for a change is nice too. 😊
But, for me, there is really nothing quite like traveling abroad. It is a matter of experiencing different cultures and expanding my mind – only travel abroad can do that.
Have you ever seen this quote?
“Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts. Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one’s lifetime.”
–Mark Twain, The Innocents Abroad (1869)
Yep, that sums it up in a nutshell and I think any travel helps but travel abroad really nails it.
Oh, don’t get me wrong, we love exploring the USA, as well, but it is a different type of experience – more on that in a later post.
Here is an interesting fact:
Did you know that Millennials want to travel more than GenXers and Baby-Boombers combined? In fact, two recent studies showed that 21 percent of Millennials ages 18 – 34 are willing to accept lower salary if the job provides them the ability to travel for work. Interesting eh?
In Europe, the concept of a “gap year” has spread like wildfire, and it seems that it is catching on with American youth too. And, in case you’re not familiar, a gap year is a period, typically a year, when a student takes a break from studies to travel (usually abroad).
Well, we do live in a global world, with a global economy. Ideas are spreading like crazy. So, why not get out there and see it for yourself?
Studies have shown that travel abroad creates a more “creative brain” and that teens that travel between the ages of 12-18 are more successful later in life than teens that don’t. That goes for both success in academics and financially, as well as overall connection to the world.
Hmmm… this seems to prove Twain’s point about expanding the mind.
The reasons are simple: Travel abroad helps one gain a new prospective of the world, develop cultural sensitivity, and adapt better to the globalized economy today.
How does it do that?
First, you will definitely get out of your comfort zone and see and experience things, you never would back home.
Second, you will build confidence, like you never had before. Tim and I are both completely unafraid of roaming strange places. In fact, we welcome them. We’ve been to the worst of drug-infested ghettos and to the swankiest of places and I can tell you with confidence, that not much intimidates us anymore.
Third, but defiantly not least, you will build connections with people all around the world. We have made the most wonderful friends in Puerto Rico and equally awesome friends in Spain, Mexico, Panama, etc. We cherish those connections and hope to build more.
Traveling abroad exposes one to different languages. And although it can be difficult to communicate at times, it is eye-opening how people can manage to convey meaning, even without language. I personally believe that Americans are at a huge disadvantage here.
Most people we met in Europe spoke at least two languages but many spoke three or even four. If you don’t know why that’s a good thing, check out this video:
Furthermore, I am a huge proponent of long-term travel. Yes, visiting for a week or two is nice and it is certainly helpful but unless you spend a longer time at a place, you don’t really get the benefit of being immersed in the culture.
Where do Americans Travel Abroad?
The number one country Americans travel to is ……. Wait for it…. MEXICO! And after that, Canada.
It makes sense, since they are our neighbors. I also have a theory about Mexico: The All-inclusive resorts are the big appeal. There are so many All-Inclusive resorts in Mexico that cater to Americans and I would venture to say that this is one of the main reasons American choose Mexico for their vacations.
Let’s face it, we Americans work hard and get very little time off. So, what better way to spend our vacation than having our every whim taken care of, while we drink and eat ourselves into oblivion in the sun? Here is a great article, from a British prospective, on how, where, why American’s travel, The Truth About How Americans Travel.
I would argue that this type of travel is not what Mark Twain had in mind after he traveled around the Mediterranean. We are definitely not All-inclusive-type of vacationers. Tried it and didn’t like it. When we go abroad, we want to “feel” the place. Stay in a local joint, eat local food, and immerse ourselves.
When we were in Spain, we met people from all over the world: UK, France, Hong Kong, Germany, Philippines, Netherlands, Sweden, Iceland, Turkey, New Zealand, and on and on and on. But we met only a small handful of Americans and, among those, most of them were living somewhere abroad. In my opinion, this is unfortunate and we would have liked to see more of our countrymen abroad.
So, here is MY problem:
I want to go EVERYWHERE! I want to know EVERY language! And I want to know EVERYTHING!
That’s not a small order, ha ha ha. Well, I know I will never get there but I can certainly keep trying 😊
This year, we’re planning on making at least one or two trip over the border. More of Mexico for sure because it’s been awhile and perhaps Columbia too. Next year, we may just take off for the entire year. At the top of our list are southern Europe (Italy, Greece, Malta) and southeast Asia, especially Thailand and Vietnam. Time will tell..