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February 24, 2004 8:59 AM   Subscribe

How many Americans own passports? Working with passports issued and the US population, it gives an idea of around 20%. Why do so many Americans stay at home?
posted by the fire you left me (98 comments total)

 
Because something's on TV tonight.
posted by xmutex at 9:05 AM on February 24, 2004


Surely the obvious reason is that for me as a Norwegian to travel anywhere without cold weather, I need a passport, while Americans can explore almost an entire continent without ever needing one?

I would be more interested in a comparison of visits to other US states by Americans to visits to other European countries by Europeans. As far as I can remember from newspaper articles way back, Americans are generally seen as extremely mobile when it comes to relocating their homes, and I wouldnt be surprised to see that they are when it comes to travel as well.
posted by frednorman at 9:07 AM on February 24, 2004


Does someone really have to say it?

Because Americans are the least cosmopolitan people in the world... excluding, of course, people who live in countries that abrogate the rights of their citizens to travel abroad.

And no, I don't buy that it's because Americans have so much more to explore within their own borders. These days the shops in SoHo are identical to the stores that you find in Des Moines, IA or Modesto, CA.
posted by psmealey at 9:12 AM on February 24, 2004


A lot of it has to do with how expensive it is to leave the continent. And the fact that American workers don't get the same amount of vacation time as the rest of the civilized world leaves us very little time to explore countries where jet lag is part of the trip.

I'm really grateful that I've gotten to see as much of the world as I have...but I'm very aware of the fact that it was pure luck on my part that I could.
posted by dejah420 at 9:13 AM on February 24, 2004


... should have said, other than people whose rights and/or opportunity to travel abroad are constrained by political or economic factors.

Yeah, I know it reads like a troll.... but as American who as spent many years abroad, this is one of my prinicple frustrations with my countrymen. Particularly among those who proclaim that the US is "the greatest country in the world" while never having seen it from the outside.
posted by psmealey at 9:15 AM on February 24, 2004


Well, Americans don't need passports to get into Mexico or Canada, which are our two neighboring foreign countries. So that cuts down on quite a bit right there. If you needed a passport to go to Cancun for spring break, every college kid would have one, right?

In Europe, the countries are much smaller - The size of a state here in the US. It's a lot more likely that you'll travel out of the country if it's a three hour drive instead of a day-long plane ride.

You can get such a variety of experience just travelling within the United States, that a lot of people see no need to spend the extra money to leave the nation. There's lots of swell stuff here already, and you won't be laughed at if you eat at a McDonalds.

Mmm... McDonalds...
posted by Jart at 9:16 AM on February 24, 2004


Its a lot easier and a lot cheaper to go abroad if abroad is only a couple of hundred miles away (or less), this is the case for most Europeans, it is less likely to be true for Americans.
I'm a European who's visited about 20 countries but I've only been out of Europe twice and that was for work.

psmealey: Do people travel just for the shops? I think not, otherwise all the cathedrals, national parks, natural wonders, galleries and historical sites wouldn't be chocka with tourists every year, in Europe or the US
posted by biffa at 9:17 AM on February 24, 2004


I agree with frednorman, but would also add that many neighboring countries allow US citizens to cross their borders with only a birth certificate or drivers license (although this may have changed in recent years). Despite this, I've always been surprised to encounter adult US citizens who do not have passports since I've had one all my life. However, my parents are from Europe and we travelled there frequently when I was young, this probably why I always keep my passport current and enjoy travelling outside of the country.
posted by evilelf at 9:20 AM on February 24, 2004


Actually, no American own passports. Passports are the property of the United States government. I am a big dork.
posted by hammurderer at 9:21 AM on February 24, 2004


Well, Americans don't need passports to get into Mexico or Canada...

And member countries of the Schengen Agreement don't need any documentation at all...

I think that the difference in vacation time really nails it.
posted by plep at 9:22 AM on February 24, 2004


If by "least cosmopolitan" you mean "broke", you've hit the nail on the head. I have traveled to Europe once, after saving up for over a year. I simply can't afford the airfare to travel abroad even yearly, especially when the vacation money I do have is more often used to visit family in other parts of the US.

I imagine it is easier to travel to other countries if you are in a continent where countries are closer together and you do not have to fly over a gigantic ocean to get somewhere. If it was as easy and inexpensive to get to Spain, Japan, Italy, Australia, etc from Massachusetts as it is to get to New York from Massachusetts, believe me, I'd hop a train as fast as could be!
posted by catfood at 9:23 AM on February 24, 2004


'There are no longer any frontier controls at the borders between EU countries (with the exception of the United Kingdom and Ireland) or between the EU and Norway or Iceland. When you cross the external borders of this area you will need a valid passport.' (from the EU website)
posted by plep at 9:23 AM on February 24, 2004


Money...

some of us can't afford to travel to other places because we can't afford it.

I would love to visit Japan and Australia, but they are very expensive to travel to.

I would love to go back to Europe (yes, I have lived in Europe: Greece, Italy, Portugal)

However, I currently can't afford a trip there for my wife and I.

As well as, I only have 2 weeks of vacation. So time is also a factor.
posted by da5id at 9:27 AM on February 24, 2004


better question: why do we need passports to travel to other countries? (i know the purported reasons, no reason to derail ...)

i actually just got a passport for the first time in 15 years, to travel to France (loved it!). i think that the economic factors are more considerable than you might think.

there's also the major fact that average Americans get far less vacation time than their European counterparts. most of us are lucky to get two weeks (and we're in the privileged class).
posted by mrgrimm at 9:27 AM on February 24, 2004


Interesting. There's an old saying I've heard time and time again that only 5% of americans have passports (to show how uncosmopolitan/broke/hard-working we are). I'm surprised to hear the number is as high as 20% actually.
posted by mathowie at 9:27 AM on February 24, 2004


Vacation time, and the fact that it's a lot more work to go to a different country than it is in, say, Europe (well, Mexico excepted, in my case). I semi-regularly have the time to take short, inexpensive trips crossing state lines. If I had more vacation time and even the same income level, I would probably travel outside the country more often.
posted by namespan at 9:29 AM on February 24, 2004


I feel sorry for you chaps with only two weeks holiday. When I add in bank holidays and days off over christmas easter etc I get nearly six weeks off per year (this leaves plenty of time to go jaunting off whenever I want to). One of the major reasons for not working in the US is the lack of holidays, it would drive me nuts.
posted by johnnyboy at 9:35 AM on February 24, 2004


Is there some kind of duty to travel abroad that I'm not aware of?
posted by JanetLand at 9:37 AM on February 24, 2004


The reason I don't have a passport is because I can't afford to travel overseas not to mention that there are few foreign countries you can drive too.

I've been to Canada, and have been to most every state between here and the East Coast (and am leaving again in a few weeks), and would love to see Europe, but can't, I don't have the disposable income.
posted by drezdn at 9:39 AM on February 24, 2004


When you can just up and travel to any beautiful state in our amazing country and dine at Denny's and shop at The Gap and get a coffee at Starbucks, why go anywhere?!!?
posted by xmutex at 9:47 AM on February 24, 2004


there are few foreign countries you can drive to

Um, if you really wanted, you could drive all the way down to Punta Arenas. Which, at a rough count, gives you a dozen countries by the most direct route.

Is there some kind of duty to travel abroad that I'm not aware of?

No, but there's a duty to appreciate that your government might have an effect on that big vague thing which is 'abroad', and having some experience of 'abroad' is useful in that regard. Every little helps when it comes to understanding over there.

If you needed a passport to go to Cancun for spring break, every college kid would have one, right?

I was curious about this one, so checked: American citizens apparently require at least a certified copy of a birth certificate to make it to Cancun. And to be honest, I'd imagine that 'college kids' are actually the demographic most likely to get passports anyway, given that young adults are the group most likely to travel abroad.

You can get such a variety of experience just travelling within the United States, that a lot of people see no need to spend the extra money to leave the nation.

Yes, who needs Paris or Venice or Egypt, when you've got Las Vegas? But more seriously, the vast majority of tourists anywhere don't travel for cultural enlightenment, and want as friction-free an environment as possible; they travel for the weather and the parties. For every Brit who goes to Lisbon and tries valiantly to speak Portuguese, a couple of thousand go to the Algarve and eat fish'n'chips; for every Brit who trawls the remains of Ancient Greece, tens of thousands get pissed and dance their heads off in island resorts where the locals have learned English as an economic investment.

But I still like the thought that the American tourists who descend on European capitals each year should be considered a cosmopolitan minority.

And it should also be mentioned that with the US dollar being so weak, there's a real disincentive for Americans to travel abroad these days, since their funny green money is worth nearly 1/3 less than a couple of years ago.
posted by riviera at 9:48 AM on February 24, 2004


I got mine for potential draft dodging porpoises. I can't afford vacations.
posted by mcsweetie at 9:53 AM on February 24, 2004


Is there a "European" version of this? I would be curious to see data regarding Europeans travelling outside of Europe. Up until recently (last 10 years?), didn't all Europeans need a passport to make a trip from country X to country Y which is (somewhat) akin to a US citizen making a trip from state X to state Y?
posted by shoepal at 9:56 AM on February 24, 2004


Um, if you really wanted, you could drive all the way down to Punta Arenas. Which, at a rough count, gives you a dozen countries by the most direct route.

From where?!! Wisconsin? It might be more realistic, with the 2 weeks of vacation many of us uncosmopolitan Americans have, to dig a hole through the center of the Earth.

Traveling is definitely a worthwhile experience - I had a great time when I went to Europe and would love to see more of the world. While there isn't a "duty" to travel, per se, a lot of people seem to think it makes you a better person.

Maybe, though, having time to kill and no financial responsibilities makes you a better person. In which case, I'm in! Anyone want to pay my bills for me so I can run off and backpack across Europe for 6 months?
posted by catfood at 10:00 AM on February 24, 2004


there is *a lot* to see without leaving the US--it's not all siegfried and roy, either. (and hey, vegas has part of the hermitage collection, so i hope to get there soon myself) add that to the costs of getting to europe--or even worse aisia--, the time required, job & family responsibilities, and the fact that you don't need the passport to cross into mexico & canada (did that change?), and i'm not surprised more americans don't have passports.

personally, i'm just annoyed that mine *never* gets stamped when i leave the country!
posted by crush-onastick at 10:03 AM on February 24, 2004


We hosted a Dutch exchange student. He spoke of going on weekend backpacking jaunts to France, Spain, Italy, England. He didn't do it to be "cosmopolitan"; he did it because it was fun and cheap, like how we in DC drive to the Delaware and Maryland beaches or the West Virginia mountains. I've driven to Quebec and Mexico, and would visit other countries if I could do it in a day or so's drive, but I can't.

I've flown out of country a few times (I do, in fact, have a passport), but it's far, far more expensive for us to visit Europe than for, you know, Europeans to do so. I'd like to see statistics on relative numbers of Europeans who have flown to visit the US, or China or Austrailia.

Um, if you really wanted, you could drive all the way down to Punta Arenas. Which, at a rough count, gives you a dozen countries by the most direct route.
Don't be pissy. How many Europeans have driven to Cape Town?
posted by MrMoonPie at 10:05 AM on February 24, 2004


Is there some kind of duty to travel abroad that I'm not aware of?

No, but there's a duty to appreciate that your government might have an effect on that big vague thing which is 'abroad', and having some experience of 'abroad' is useful in that regard.


Hehheh. That's what I read Metafilter for.
posted by JanetLand at 10:09 AM on February 24, 2004


Ok, here is the dope: Americans don't have enough vacation time to travel abroad, and tend to spend their 10-14 days a year attending to family business or slipping off to meet high school buddies at fishing camps or following civil war reenactments. Europeans have about a month or more off a year. They can afford the time to hang for two weeks on a foreign beach or trek Nepal, and still not feel under pressure.

The Japanese have a similar situation, very little vacation time a year, and a lot of domestic obligations that swallow it up. That's why you see them either rushing around in group tours trying to cram all the sights in, and they have to be fed special Japanese food in hotels because they haven't had time to adapt to rich gaijin style food.

However, Americans tend to travel alone or in pairs, whereas Europeans tend to travel in packs - friends, offices on a spree, a couple of families - and often on organized bus tours. I meet Americans more often in remote bars, village festivals, out of the way places of the tourist trail. The Aussies, Brits, and Kiwis (Da backpacker Crowd) are always to be found in the downtown bars in the big tourist cities, shouting loudly about their football teams.
posted by zaelic at 10:12 AM on February 24, 2004


Because Americans are the least cosmopolitan people in the world...

I thought that was one of our good traits. Maybe we don't want to go to Europe and all those places because our ancestors busted ass to get out of those countries.
posted by jonmc at 10:15 AM on February 24, 2004


For comparison purposes, let's take a relatively large European country: Germany.

Germany is slightly smaller than Montana (4th largest state). And Montana is huge -- it is larger than Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Rhode Island, New Jersey, and New York combined -- with room for more than half of Pennsylvania, too. Just saying - one state is larger than most countries. In other words, America is amazingly large.

...and diverse in so many ways. America does have many of the geographical, topographical, climatic, and cultural aspect of other countries, all under one "roof." Do we have the same thing as the Alps? Can we compete with Venice? Do we stack up to the Louvre? Are there any Buckingham Palaces?

Maybe. Maybe not. But it's all here, and remarkably convenient for us (Americans) to reach, compared to the often expensive and relative hassle of international travelling.

Having said that -- if you have the means and the desire, travelling abroad is wonderful. But please don't look down your nose at Americans who choose not to travel outside their borders as some sort of backwoods, Cletus-like hicks who don't (or won't) appreciate the world outside of their front yard.
posted by davidmsc at 10:18 AM on February 24, 2004


Maybe we don't want to go to Europe and all those places because our ancestors busted ass to get out of those countries.

Yeah, good point. Personally, I refuse to go to zoos because my great-great-great-great-great-great-great-grandpappy was eaten by a bear.
posted by Armitage Shanks at 10:31 AM on February 24, 2004


Um, if you really wanted, you could drive all the way down to Punta Arenas. Which, at a rough count, gives you a dozen countries by the most direct route.

6626 miles as the crow flies is a bit of a stretch for me as a two week driving excursion. That's comparable to suggesting a weekend hike across Russia. :)

If I had the income, I'd dearly love to do my "duty" to appreciate "abroad," but as it is, I'll have to settle for the occasional trip to Windsor, Ontario to plug a few of those depreciating dollars into a slot machine and enjoy a donut and coffee at the local Tim Hortons.
posted by snarkywench at 10:37 AM on February 24, 2004


There's a visited countries version of the site you link to, shoepal - but as a world map it doesn't do what you want it to.

Surely this is purely financial - not many Europeans cross the Atlantic or head down under either, it's just too expensive (better value for money now though - the sinking dollar is practically dragging me back to New York).

We're just lucky over here to have normal-sized countries on our doorstep to explore. And they bloody well aren't analagous to US states, either - I'm betting a couple of hours on the train in any direction from any station in the States won't serve up a culture shock like the one you get leaving Waterloo and stepping off in Paris. Or, stepping off the ferry from Shetland to Norway.

Also, one reason I might try to travel outside America were I American would be to see some really old stuff. There's a lot to be said for really old stuff.
posted by jack_mo at 10:46 AM on February 24, 2004


I get one week of paid vacation and I'm not paid very well, but it's all a matter of priority. I take four weeks off every year to vacation in a foreign country, which means three weeks are unpaid. It's hard to recover from the financial hit of missing one and a half paychecks, but I'd rather collect experiences than objects. Living, you now?

Surprisingly, my employers have always been fairly OK with it. The first time I did it they went through the roof, but now they expect it, and I do all I can to make it go as smoothly as possible.

The exchange rate worldwide has made it much more difficult the last two years, but I don't mind hostels and eating out once a day. I figure what goes around comes around - we're now getting a taste of what the rest of the world has always paid when they visit us.
posted by letitrain at 10:57 AM on February 24, 2004


Um, if you really wanted, you could drive all the way down to Punta Arenas.

Ahhh, someday. I'll take half a year off work, fix up an old Land Rover, ship it to Anchorage, and drive to Tierra del Fuego. But I don't even want to think about how long it's going to take to save up enough money to take a six month sabbatical...
posted by Mars Saxman at 10:58 AM on February 24, 2004


Well, I just had a four week vacation and we still decided to take a four week road trip around the United States.

It isn't because we don't like international travel (there isn't anywhere I don't want to go), but it is more than I don't travel to visit other cities. I'm not a big museum or architecture person.

I go to see different places. And there are plenty of those in the United States. It is amazing to me how differently beautiful the Florida gulf coast is from the Arizona desert is from the Colorado rockies.

Eventually I'll have seen enough of the stuff that I can get without leaving the country and start going elsewhere.

But talk all you want about the homogenization of stores, the circumstances of American life is still amazingly varied and you won't see that going to Home Depot and saying "hey, they have one of these almost anywhere I might go."
posted by obfusciatrist at 11:01 AM on February 24, 2004


Americans only get 10-14 days vacation a year? Wow, I was aware it was less than most of us lazy Europeans (29 days plus 8 statutory holidays for me) but that is just cruel. You poor bastards.
posted by squealy at 11:04 AM on February 24, 2004


Shoepal, here's the European version

Um, if you really wanted, you could drive all the way down to Punta Arenas. Which, at a rough count, gives you a dozen countries by the most direct route.

Actually, you can't drive to Punta Arenas. The Darien Gap between Panama and Columbia still has no roads.
posted by einarorn at 11:04 AM on February 24, 2004


I realize that it is possible to drive to South America, but it would cost roughly the same as flying most places (figuring $20 every 250 miles for Gas) and I just don't think my car is up for it. Traveling outside the US would be great, but to get 2 weeks of paid vacation, I would have to stay with my current employer another 3 1/2 years.

Also, I second the notion that the US has huge differences between the states. Even by less than 100 miles. Illinois is very different from Wisconsin, and Indiana is different from both, and Mass is practically another country from where I come from.
posted by drezdn at 11:07 AM on February 24, 2004


Our family got passports mostly to make cruising easier. As for me, I hate flying. Places I'd like to see: Egypt, Ireland, Denmark, India, Japan, Morocco... it's endless. But we've traveled a lot within the US. Have you tasted kolaches in Nebraska, maple syrup in Vermont, buffalo in Colorado, or seen the White Mountains in New Hampshire? There's an awful lot of culture right here - if you just look for it. But yeah, given two weeks of vacation (and that has to be pre-approved) there sure isn't as much time to travel as we'd like. Unfortunately it seems like the norm for working in the United States is that if you have a job where you can earn the kind of vacation it takes to travel, it's a job where it's necessary for the entire business that you be there, not out vacationing.
posted by Timebot at 11:30 AM on February 24, 2004


I drove 1250 mi/2000 km last weekend and didn't even make it out of my state, where I can see everything from ghost towns and mountains to oceans, lakes, art museums, quaint towns, local symphonies, etc.

The 3 1/2 day trip cost about $250. By contrast, travelling to the Czech Republic and Austria for a week over Christmas set me back well over $1500, and I stayed and ate in modest places. Was it worth it? Yes. Can I do it routinely due to budget and time constraints? No. The U.S. has plenty of variety if you get off the beaten path and look for gems.
posted by OneSmartMonkey at 11:34 AM on February 24, 2004


Maybe we don't want to go to Europe and all those places because our ancestors busted ass to get out of those countries.

I'm *so* on the first plane to Dublin as soon as this potato famine thing blows over.
posted by 4easypayments at 11:39 AM on February 24, 2004


I'm about to go to Europe next month, so I've been thinking about the passport business lately. Passport fees for non-expedited service run a total of $85. It's not exorbitant, but it's also not exactly cheap.

I don't think this is the only reason that relatively few Americans have passports, but cost is probably a factor for some people. The cost of a passport may be too much for people.

That said, I traveled to Montreal last summer (sans passport) and it was wonderful. Even without a passport, you can see different cultures in different countries if you like.
posted by acornface at 11:41 AM on February 24, 2004


All the posts above hit the nail on the head, for an American to need a passport you essentially have to leave the continent and make your way over a big ass ocean. A thirteen hour flight really takes a bite from your paltry two weeks vacation a year and completely rules it out for a long weekend.

The comparison should really be how often/what percentage of folks travel to other continents.
posted by zeoslap at 11:51 AM on February 24, 2004


Thanks for the link einarorn! (Though, it seems to be broken at the moment).

Apparently a lot of US Citizens can't afford to travel and those that can afford to do so don't have a lot of time off to spend flying to other continents. Not to be an ass or anything, but I wonder if it isn't also a matter of priorities. Quality of life is fairly important round these parts and I would be willing to bet that a lot of the folks that don't have a lot of disposeable income eschew travel in order to maintain or elevate their QoL. And those that do have money but very little holiday time choose less stressful holiday activities. Additionally, for some reason a lot of people in the US put off foreign travel until retirement and then find that they aren't up for it or would rather see distant areas within the US.

FWIW, most of the people I encounter while travelling are not particularly wealthy. They simply make material and comfort-level sacrifices in the name of new and foreign experiences. If you live below your means and place a priority on travel, seeing the world isn't as difficult as it would seem.

On a slightly related note, because of the current perceived threat to "american" lives overseas it seems that lately a lot of US citizens are truly afraid to leave the continent, which is really quite unfortunate. I wouldn't be surprised to see the passport numbers actually go down.

On the plus side, the less US citizens travelling abroad visiting foreign lands the better chance the Brits and Italians have of taking the lead as the world's worst tourists.
posted by shoepal at 12:02 PM on February 24, 2004


there are 294 cultures represented and you can hear aprox. 135 diff languages spoken on the streets in toronto so i don't need to go broke travelling abroad, i just have to buy a token for the subway. which, after visiting sisters in vancouver and montreal, aunts and uncles in boston, and cousins in winterpeg, is about all i'm willing to spend. unless i want to put off buying a new house this spring. hmmm, new house vs. a glimpse of crumbling architecture in the old country...? yah, no. new house wins.

once i've gotten my fill of bc's rainforest, ontario's algonquin park, banff...the whole canadian shield for that matter, and peggy's cove in nfld, i'll venture elsewhere. but outside of new zealand i can't think of anywhere else that will have the huge expanses of natural beauty that i'm used to and most interested in. just looking at europe on the map makes me feel claustrophobic. you can fit it all into manitoba for crissakes...
posted by t r a c y at 12:13 PM on February 24, 2004


not many Europeans cross the Atlantic or head down under either, it's just too expensive

Not so much: the next step up from Spain/Greece for many British families is package holiday in Florida. Not that I'd imagine a trip to Disney World can be classed as travel which broadens the mind.

Really, I take all the points about the US being a big country, etc. Though it should be noted that Australians traditionally spend a few months 'doing Europe' in the time between school and 'uni', and they live in a country that's just as large and diverse as the contiguous US. And all the cheap shots about ancestral immigration tend to apply to non-Aboriginal Aussies as well. (So many Australians were sent there to live behind bars; visit Earl's Court and you'll find their ancestors have come back to work behind them.)

But I wonder just how many Americans actually do explore their vast, diverse country, rather than jumping on a plane to Florida or Las Vegas where 'culture' is served on a plastic tray.

the less US citizens travelling abroad visiting foreign lands the better chance the Brits and Italians have of taking the lead as the world's worst tourists.

Oh, there are enough categories of 'worst' to keep quite a few nationalities in awards for decades, the British included...
posted by riviera at 12:13 PM on February 24, 2004


I have a passport I haven't taken out of the safe deposit box for better than 5 years...

A] We have no excess money, as we are trying to clear the books prior to buying a home.
B] I never seem to get vacation time.

We'd love to travel overseas, but our (me and the wife's) jobs making simultaneous scheduling of more than one day together impossible (and that day is improbable).

On the other hand, a day in Forest Park in St. Louis, with the zoo (yay naked mole rats!), the Art Museum, and the Science Center, among other attractions is fun, inexpensive, and easy to schedule (we live in Illinois).

Call me provincial if you wish, but the time involved in traveling is just not available and most probably won't be for a long time...
posted by Samizdata at 12:23 PM on February 24, 2004


All the logistics issues have already been covered well - e.g. limited vacation time and the fact that you can go roughly 100 times further without needing a passport as a US traveler than as a European traveler. Along the lines of the latter, foreignness is literally a lot more foreign to the average USian, simply because you have to traverse an entire hemisphere to get somewhere genuinely different, rather than just crossing a river.

And despite the obvious superiority of folks like xmutex and psmealey, whose glamorous weekly globetrotting has given them the authority to denigrate millions, I'd still say their are a few things to see in the states besides Home Depot and TV. Among other things, there's this cute little thing we have here called the National Park System. Now I know Yosemite doesn't have a thing on keeping it real in a hostel full of adventurous college kids spending their parents money on hash in Prague, but still, it's worth a look see.

the less US citizens travelling abroad visiting foreign lands the better chance the Brits and Italians have of taking the lead as the world's worst tourists

I believe Australians are still waaaay ahead of you.
posted by badstone at 12:24 PM on February 24, 2004


And I missed a comma, dangnabit!
posted by Samizdata at 12:24 PM on February 24, 2004


On the plus side, the less US citizens traveling abroad visiting foreign lands the better chance the Brits and Italians have of taking the lead as the world's worst tourists

No offense, but when I lived in Italy in 2000; I gotta say that the Brits really take the cake. I know that these people don't represent the British people as a whole, but I have never encountered a group of people what are more drunk, rowdy, rude, cute, loud or obnoxious than the brits I met while living in Rome. I also know that the "rude American" does represent me or the rest of the nearly 300 million Americans.

On the passport issue...I am an American who has a passport and has been blessed with the ability to to visit and live in several Western European and Latin American countries. I dream of on day visiting Japan, India, Australia and hopefully much of Eastern European countries some.

It's not that it's so expensive (as shoepal points out), but it's just that Europe, Asia and South America are so far away that planning and travel is a total pain in the ass. Perhaps many Americans say, "Why should I travel for 8-25 hours on an airplane when there is plenty to see much closer in the US?"

As for Americans not being "cosmopolitan,” I can, form my experience place this tag on most people I met while I was in Europe. Traveling and living in Europe taught me that people are people and that end of the day most differences are either political or other totally superficial.
posted by Bag Man at 12:25 PM on February 24, 2004


Cost and Vacation time

I was planning to visit Germany and Czech Republic, but the cost would be too much of a burden this year. I still plan to go but in the off season. If I had more time and money I would definately be off to more places.

Most of my vacations are spent in the US because it is cheaper and there is so much to see and do. It's very easy for me to spend time in the mountains.
posted by Akuinnen at 12:26 PM on February 24, 2004


Expensive? For Americans? To fly?

Two friends of mine just came over to London last week, for a weekend. From Michigan. The flights cost them $198 return each.

It cost my girlfriend and me twice that to fly to New York in January.

Someone protesteth too much, mefeels.
posted by Hogshead at 12:50 PM on February 24, 2004


Not to mention that the depressing things about vacations is much of the insight gained is superficial. It's hard to go anywhere and get any sort of idea of the place from a week or two spent there.

Honestly, the only vacation I get is spent playing shows in different cities. One of the really nice benefits of this is I usually get to stay at peoples houses and see a city from an entirely different viewpoint. Plus, it's the only reason I would have ever been to Minot, ND.
posted by drezdn at 12:51 PM on February 24, 2004


I have never encountered a group of people what are more drunk, rowdy, rude, cute, loud or obnoxious

I'm guessing you've never had to travel with Israelis, then.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 12:59 PM on February 24, 2004


All I have to say is that badstone is my new metafilter idol.
posted by catfood at 1:00 PM on February 24, 2004


Sweet deal, Hogshead! I was attempting to plan a trip to Whitby via London (from DC) and couldn't find anything cheaper than $700.

Can I stay on your couch?
posted by JoanArkham at 1:04 PM on February 24, 2004


more drunk, rowdy, rude, cute, loud or obnoxious

cute?!

also, i'm not sure why americans cite money as a big reason not to travel. americans earn a pile more than europeans on average. the size of the usa seems like a much better reason.

personally, i think travel is over-rated. the superficial differences between different places are kind of boring after a while (ooh look they do *that* differently) and the deeper social differences just make life hard (speaking as someone living in a different culture from the one i grew up in). i think you could become equally cosmopolitan / broad minded at your local library (or web browser); alternatively you can travel the world and still be an asshole.
posted by andrew cooke at 1:17 PM on February 24, 2004


Maybe we don't want to go to Europe and all those places because our ancestors busted ass to get out of those countries.

I'm *so* on the first plane to Dublin as soon as this potato famine thing blows over.


and bring some of your food with you when you come, i'm starving.
posted by knapah at 1:21 PM on February 24, 2004


I've done a ton of traveling all over the world, and while I have certainly met plenty of "ugly American tourists", I think it's unfair to accuse Americans of being less cosmopolitan than the rest of the world. Just by virtue of immigration, Americans soak up A LOT of other cultures, even though they may miss the experience of seeing the physical sites. I did not see one boba cafe, or Ethiopian or Cuban restaurant in any city in Rome, but they're all over California and many cities in the east coast. The average American *has* eaten a reasonable facsimilie of Chinese, French and Indian food, has heard a few songs in other languages (even if they are by Shakira), and has interacted with multiracial couples (even if they don't approve).

If you are fortunate enough to live in New York, Boston, SF, LA, New Orleans, Miami etc, you can get a hefty dose of several cultures easily just by wandering around your city. This does not substitute for visiting Versailles or the Taj, but I still think it's unfair to imply that Americans are so much less worldly than every one else.
posted by synapse at 1:26 PM on February 24, 2004


ouch, that should be "in any part of Rome".
posted by synapse at 1:27 PM on February 24, 2004


It's a funny old world

...
There are a couple of statistics that are good to quote at Americans who favour US military intervention overseas. In a country so anxious to meddle abroad, only 16% of its citizens hold US passports. That is to say, 84% of Americans apparently have no desire to travel in the world they crave to transform. The other statistic is 11%: the percentage of American high-school students who can't find a certain country on a map of the world. The country in question isn't Iraq or North Korea or even old Europe. It's America.
At present there aren't any statistics detailing how many US citizens cannot find their arses with a mirror





I remember this funny little anecdote -- an admittedly not-very-pleasing American couple having dinner in a famous ristorante in Rome.
Dialogue in Roman dialect, between mandatory cynical waitperson n. 1 and mandatory cynical waitperson n 2, translated for our (admittedly very few) non-Roman speaking users:

1: Ahò, ma so' vveramente du' scassacazzi 'sti ammericani

2: Eppensa che questi appartengono alla minoranza d'ammericani che armeno viaggia all'estero. La maggior parte de li ammericani è ppure peggio de sti due focozzoni

1: Limorté

English subtitles:

1: Man, I can't stand those two American assholes

2: But they belong to the minority of Americans that at least travels abroad. Most Americans suck even worse than these two rubes

1: Damn


posted by matteo at 1:28 PM on February 24, 2004


I travel internationally to experience the natural beauty, to expose myself to completely foreign situations, and to meet people with widely divergent values and cultures. The US has an abundance of natural beauty, but to find the really foreign experiences, and meet the broadest array of people, one has to leave the borders of his own country, even his own continent.

I moved out of the US a few years ago so I could travel more. Now I'm living in Austria, with 25 days of paid annual vacation. Throw in the 13 annual paid public holidays per year and 3-4 "free" days from my company, and I have almost 8 weeks of paid time off per year! Couple all of the free days with Austria's 14 month salary system (1/14th annual salary every month, except for June and December, when 1/7 annual salary is paid), which guarantees a 1 month "bonus" to every worker at the beginning of Summer and again in December, and I live in one of the best places in the world from which to travel.

In a 3 hour train ride, I can be in any of 6 different countries other than Austria, and international flights are also reasonably priced. Every year I travel home to Texas for 3 weeks, spend another 3 weeks on some other continent, and still have a few free days to enjoy in Austria.

Unless you experience that kind of freedom, you won't know what you're missing, and I probably never would have found it if I had chosen not to travel out of the US.
posted by syzygy at 1:38 PM on February 24, 2004


Let me get this straight - the US is a terrible place to work that doesn't pay well and has appalling benefits packages.

I think that the following typifies the outside view of Americans' ignorance:

Traveling and living in Europe taught me that people are people and that end of the day most differences are either political or other totally superficial.

Are you really suggesting that people in China, Japan, France, Algeria and the UK are all the same? I have been to each of these places and I would say that the people (based on culture) in each are significantly different - so much so that it is extremely difficult for people from one place to live in another, e.g. European in China or Japan. You will find that things that you take for granted are totally alien and vice versa, not something that you will experience if you stay within the US.
posted by daveg at 1:44 PM on February 24, 2004


To find the really foreign experiences, and meet the broadest array of people, one has to leave the borders of his own country, even his own continent.

This is very true. For me the magic of travel is that scary first few days of extreme disorientation in a new country while you work out what's going on around you. It's a reality shift and how you deal with it is a true test of character. It also can be more powerful than a really strong drug, perhaps because life is so interesting when everything is new and unmediated.

Yeah, I just got back from Thailand and Laos. It was fantastic.
posted by dydecker at 2:11 PM on February 24, 2004


more drunk, rowdy, rude, cute, loud or obnoxious

cute?!


Sorry meant crude...although there some hot British women; I'll ‘em give that for sure!

Are you really suggesting that people in China, Japan, France, Algeria and the UK are all the same? I have been to each of these places and I would say that the people (based on culture) in each are significantly different - so much so that it is extremely difficult for people from one place to live in another, e.g. European in China or Japan. You will find that things that you take for granted are totally alien and vice versa, not something that you will experience if you stay within the US

I think you have misconstrued my comment. I believe one can find many human traits that transcend culture and what I learned was if you spend some time with people and find common ground no matter what culture or country you are from. I feel that many of the differences between countries and cultures are exploited for political and social gain. Yes, people are different; however, my experience was one can still connect on a human level. I guess it's in fashion to be xenophobic, but it does need to be that way.


I’m not making a "why we can’t along" comment, but stating that Americans are not cosmopolitan, French are all rule, etc. is a load of bullshit. This my impression traveling and living abroad.
posted by Bag Man at 2:29 PM on February 24, 2004


My wife just drove 750 miles to visit a friend. In parts of Europe, or other parts of the world, you'd need a passport to travel that far. It seems you have to have a passport for more than "vacation" or travel for travel's sake, you need it to go just about everywhere.

For those of you not in North America, if you traveled to another country (which required a passport), was it for pleasure? how far did you go? how much did it cost?

I got my passport when I was 30 - when I traveled to Malaysia and Japan. But before that I had visited every corner of North America, w/o a passport - Maine to the Virgin Islands to Mexico to British Columbia to Hawaii to Toronto and everywhere in between....
posted by tomplus2 at 2:31 PM on February 24, 2004


Not to mention that the depressing things about vacations is much of the insight gained is superficial. It's hard to go anywhere and get any sort of idea of the place from a week or two spent there.


That is so true. I've always dreamed of being able to live for at least a year at a time in places all over the world. It's so hard to get a feel of a place that you only visit for 2 or 3 days, while you're rushing to visit all the "must see" sights packed with tourists.
posted by gyc at 2:39 PM on February 24, 2004


I think that some people just:I can't stress that third item enough. I hear it all the time from people that take vacations to Florida, or out to California, or wherever. Invariably they drive in their car or SUV, and they never take into account that they are paying for more than just their gas to get to their destination. Wear and tear on a car can cost you $$ big time, but I don't know a lot of travelers that take it into account because it isn't an immediate, up-front cost.

I also think there is a tendency of Americans to be afraid to go to a country where the locals speak one or more different languages. Lots of Americans don't speak anything but English, and lots don't experience even hearing another language on a regular basis (with obvious exceptions for some regions). In a lot of cases this makes people feel quite uncomfortable.
posted by moonbiter at 2:41 PM on February 24, 2004


Bag Man: I did indeed misconstrue what you said - I agree that one of the delights of travel is the combination of massive cultural difference and yet common human understanding (although I think that you need to travel to different cultures to really grok this).

On preview: Not speaking foreign languages doesn't stop the Brits from travelling, we just talk louder and louder until the stupid foreigners do what we want!
posted by daveg at 2:46 PM on February 24, 2004


A lot of you mention how easy it is for Europeans to travel more because of the shorter distances. But the last 15 or twenty years many Dutch people and students in particular choose to travel outside of Europe.

When I was in college, my flatmates travelled to India and South America mostly, in recent years people seem to prefer places like Vietnam and Malaysia.

I don't know what it's like in other European countries, but the Dutch just like to travel. It's all they talk about, travel is more important than work and they spend all time in between trips planning and discussing the next one.
posted by prolific at 2:54 PM on February 24, 2004


I'm American, about to turn 27, and will be getting my first passport soon for an upcoming trip to Europe. I've never left the country before because I simply had no time - my parents did not have the vacation time to take me as a child, and now that I'm grownup, I have only just earned 2 weeks of vacation.

Like so many others, most of my vacation time is spread throughout the year so I can visit with family. You might be surprised how many American jobs have so few holidays - I get only 5 holidays a year. So, that's a total of 19 days off a year. Add the fact that I have a second job that is on weekends and holidays and it's no wonder why I don't travel abroad. As it stands, the best chances of me being able to leave the country on a regular basis would be me getting a job that inherently required such travel.

So, I make do with what's around here (Florida). I may hate the beach, but I take some measure of pride in being able to appreciate my own state while on horseback or in a canoe and as far, far away from Disney as I can.
posted by Sangre Azul at 2:55 PM on February 24, 2004


Bag Man: I did indeed misconstrue what you said - I agree that one of the delights of travel is the combination of massive cultural difference and yet common human understanding (although I think that you need to travel to different cultures to really grok this).

While similar in cultures, I don't think that culture found in Europe countries and American is the same. I found that Europeans and Americans have different worldviews and practice politics very differently. No, I have been to a radically different cultural from my own, but that did not stop a few Europeans from being very surprised at my description of basic American cultural norms and government types.
posted by Bag Man at 3:27 PM on February 24, 2004


Not speaking foreign languages doesn't stop the Brits from travelling, we just talk louder and louder until the stupid foreigners do what we want!

Heh. Of course. You guys once ruled a world empire.

Seriously though -- I wonder if the average Brit hears foreign languages more than the average American. I would suspect yes.
posted by moonbiter at 3:34 PM on February 24, 2004


I've had plenty of friends, American and foreign, amazed that I've never made any serous effort to save up some money and visit Europe. Now that I'm older, underemployed and have a wife and child, it's less likely than ever that I'll make the effort. Probably I should; the Internet is really more Americacentric than the world itself is, I suspect.
posted by alumshubby at 4:28 PM on February 24, 2004


Don't bother with Europe. If you can save up $1500, you can travel to Asia and afford to live there for 3-4 months. Much more "worth" it.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 4:43 PM on February 24, 2004


Wait, wait wait. Last time I went to Canada sans passport I ended up having a long discussion with some guy named Bubba about how I WAS a US citizen while they took my friend's car apart.

How come everyone else can go to Canada without a passport and I can't?
posted by maggie at 5:19 PM on February 24, 2004


also, i'm not sure why americans cite money as a big reason not to travel. americans earn a pile more than europeans on average. the size of the usa seems like a much better reason

You know, that appears true at first glance, but having lived in both the US and a couple European countries I would say that the wages in the US simply reflect the higher cost of living there.

I know, I know, everyone is going to scream about how the cost of living is SO MUCH higher in Europe, but IMHO it's not at all. It's those hidden costs that get you.

In the US you HAVE to have a car (unless you live in Manhatten or SF) and insurance in my case was cheaper in the UK than the US. Car payments too. You often have to pay a contribution to your health care (several hundred dollars/month if you have kids/spouse/chronic disease) or pay for it entirely if you have contract work ($150-$200 month). You pay far more for food etc. in the US if live on the west coast anyway. You pay more for heating/phone etc in the US than I ever paid in Europe. And you have student loans. The average European 20-something does not have the $10-40,000K burden that is commonplace in the US. Huge difference.

Once you buy a house or whatever all bets are off as the cost of housing in much of Europe is very high. But for a single, footless 20-something, the most traveled group, it's damn hard to keep your head above water in the US, never mind raise an extra couple grand for traveling. I know b/c I've done it.
posted by maggie at 5:36 PM on February 24, 2004


Most Americans suck even worse than these two rubes.

Well, shit, let me pack my bags.
posted by majcher at 5:57 PM on February 24, 2004


C_D, Asia sounds good...always wanted to see those old temples in Thailand and Cambodia.
posted by alumshubby at 6:06 PM on February 24, 2004


majcher,

may I suggest you a really nice restaurant in Rome?
(e-mail me for details)

;)
posted by matteo at 6:17 PM on February 24, 2004


I've been to Europe, even stayed in Tuebingen, Germany with a host family for a month, and I'd love to go back, but most people I know could never afford it, no matter how they "prioritize," as much as the very much upper middle class (if not downright rich by West Michigan standards) people that tend to populate Metafilter might disagree.

I think most people could easily broaden their horizons without going anywhere just by realizing that their hometown (or a relatively decent-sized nearby one) has more in it than the mall and their church -- I know that's true in Grand Rapids. And people should try to understand where they live before they try to understand anywhere else.

And most Europeans might go to different countries, but they do the same things -- mostly go somewhere with a beach and lay around for a while, and I'm lucky enough that that's something I can do within an hour of home.
posted by dagnyscott at 6:56 PM on February 24, 2004


Americans: if you're really thirsting for a job with 30 days of paid leave per year (and all federal holidays off, too!), full medical benefits, decent-to-good salary, and *plenty* of opportunities to travel both within the U.S. and abroad, maybe you should consider applying for a job with my employer.

Hey, it IS an option for some of you.
posted by davidmsc at 8:28 PM on February 24, 2004


Personally, I think LAZINESS has a lot to do with it. I'm an American that's been living overseas for four years (two in London, two in Sydney) and trying to get my familiy to come visit me is like shouting into the wind. I tell them: "All you have to do is get the flight! You don't have to worry about accommodation or food or plans or foreign languages or anything." Perfect opportunity, right? You'd think they'd be all over that. Instead not one of them has visited me, yet I've managed to fly home at least half a dozen times.

The first problem is none of them have a passport. "You mean I have to go down to the Post Office and FILL OUT A FORM?" You'd think it was one of the labours of Hercules.

Next they give me the time excuse, which is a total cop-out. I'm a contractor. When I don't work, I don't get paid, thus I have ZERO vacation time. If something is a priority to you, you'll make it happen. I took six weeks off last summer to visit family and friends in the U.S. I got home tired and broke, but I'm glad I went. Meanwhile my family aren't using their vacation days to "explore the vast USA"; they're using them to eat at Applebee's and watch NASCAR. It's frustrating.

Expense is a concern but not a huge one. As somebody else pointed out, you can hop a flight to Europe for cheap if you know where to look. Australia is more expensive but US dollars go further here. (Not a lot further, but a bit.) The "it's too expensive" argument also falls down when someone offers you room and board. Granted, I was making a really nice salary in London, but now I'm pulling down a lot, lot less. I have $30K in student loans. I don't own a car. Yet somehow I've still managed to circumnavigate the globe twice. It's doable.

So it really comes down to laziness and the assumption that international travel is just too much work. Of course, that doesn't stop people from guilt-tripping *me* about visiting every time I call home...
posted by web-goddess at 8:34 PM on February 24, 2004


davidmsc: maybe you should consider applying for a job with my employer.

I'm assuming that's not the recruitment page davidmsc, first paragraph: "After 11 active-duty suicides since Jan. 1 and 14 during the final quarter of 2003"
posted by biffa at 2:28 AM on February 25, 2004


The Aussies, Brits, and Kiwis (Da backpacker Crowd) are always to be found in the downtown bars in the big tourist cities, shouting loudly about their football teams.

No. Just the ones you notice. It's true of 'Ugly [Insert Nationality Here]' types travelling anywhere; you tend to notice the rude, noisy ones, but not the quiet, polite ones. (This is also why I don't pay much attention to Ugly American stereotypes. The ones I know aren't.)

the depressing things about vacations is much of the insight gained is superficial. It's hard to go anywhere and get any sort of idea of the place from a week or two spent there.

Depends how you approach it. I just spent two weeks in southern Spain, after spending a year doing night classes in Spanish before going, reading several guide books thoroughly, and just generally living with it in my head for a long time. Then when I was there I travelled as widely as I could to see a range of regions, cities and countryside. Ended up with a pretty good idea of the area after two weeks. Nothing compared to what you'd get living there, or growing up there, but a lot more than you'd get from a fortnight in Torremolinos.

Nah, just kidding. I'm Australian, so I'm clearly the world's worst tourist. I just spent the whole time in a bar on the Costa del Sol, shouting loudly about football.
posted by rory at 3:01 AM on February 25, 2004


I did not see one boba cafe, or Ethiopian or Cuban restaurant in any city in Rome

While not as prolific as elsewhere, there is ethnic cusine of all types to be found in Rome. And no, I won't tell you the address of my favorite little Mexican place ;-).

Seriously though -- I wonder if the average Brit hears foreign languages more than the average American. I would suspect yes.

I can't speak for the Brits, but having just returned from an annual London work trip, I am always amused by the fact that I hear more Italian on the streets of London than I do in the center of Rome. Or at least it seems.

matteo: Mi sa che il stesso discorso (più o meno) è stato ripetuto pure una marea di volte al mio posto di lavoro...sia con i rompicoglioni americani, sia con i rompicoglioni canadese, sia con i rompicoglioni inglese, sia ......eh bé e così via. ;-)
posted by romakimmy at 3:30 AM on February 25, 2004


Hey. I can hit a rainforest, hike in the mountains and take in the desert all without leaving the state. And although I do have a passport, but really, really...really hate to fly (not because I'm scared of heights but because I don't like to pay a lot of money to wind up luggageless, late and sore after being stuffed into airline seat for hours.) Not to mention getting hassled and going on watch lists...who needs the hassle?
posted by black8 at 5:03 AM on February 25, 2004


alumshubby -- You mean like these? (gratuitous self-link)

And web-goddess, some of your arguments hold more weight than others. Being self-employed doesn't necessarily mean you have no vacation time. It could just as well mean you have limitless vacation time, depending on how busy you'd like to be. But you at least have the option.

Most of the jobs I've had all started with the same lame 2-week business. Then summer would roll around, and I'd have enough saved up to say, "Well guys, it's been great. I'm off for 3 months. If you'd like to re-employ me when I get back, that's great; if not, no sweat." That's what I miss most about a good job market. Nowadays, anyone who's working for somebody is thankful just to get a paycheck. I'm glad I travelled when I did... besides local (under 1000 miles) trips, I don't see getting back for quite some time.

Expense is always the most often-stated and least-likely excuse for lack of travel. It's an easy-out explanation that's less pathetic than saying, "I work for the man and the man doesn't like me travelling." I wouldn't advise Australia as far as bang-for-your-buck, but Asia is cheeeeap, provided you're able to live without certain luxuries, like hot water or toilets. Even then it's only a few dollars a day. Stay away from the big cities and you can live like a king for months on a single paycheck. In Laos and Cambodia (and Indonesia, but not much of Bali) lodging might run you $2 a night.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 6:14 AM on February 25, 2004


Not that this is going to sway you, but in many guesthouses in Siem Reap (Cambodia), marijuana is complementary with the room. No kidding. There's even a pizza place called "Happy Pizza" in the downtown area that serves everything on their menu in two versions: regular, and "happy" (with pot sprinkled on top like oregano).

And off the island of Lombok in Indonesia are three islands (the Gili's) which have garnered a wonderful reputation for their relaxed attitudes about drugs due to the fact that there are no police on the entire island chain.

Please don't misunderstand me. Cheap (or free) drugs aren't the greatest reason to visit a foriegn culture. But I've heard so many people say things like, "Well, I'm not interested in Big Ben, so I don't see a need to visit London," or "I've heard the French are rude, and we already have Disney World here." When I see people indifferenly wave off foriegn travel for whatever reason (xenophobia, not enough cash, fear of airplanes, etc.) I like to remind them that there's so much stuff out there you won't know about until you get there and check it out for yourself.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 6:51 AM on February 25, 2004


A lot of Americans value people over place, so they don't see the point of visiting people of a culture that's already represented in the U.S.

"Why go to Rome? I know plenty of Italians."

"Why bother spending time
reading up on things
everybody's an authority
in a free land"

Hüsker Dü, "In a Free Land"
posted by basilwhite at 10:34 AM on February 25, 2004


A lot of Americans value people over place, so they don't see the point of visiting people of a culture that's already represented in the U.S.

Well, yes, but the WASPiest of Americans, I'm sure, aren't that 'representative' of seventeenth-century Pilgrims. And more seriously, that's the kind of attitude which kept cash flowing into the pockets of the IRA for decades, as yer man Bono put it: 'I’ve had enough of Irish Americans who haven’t been back to their country in 20 or 30 years talking about the resistance and the revolution, and the glory of the revolution, and the glory of dying for the revolution. Fuck the revolution.'

Somehow, I think that's the point of the American cultural melting-pot: that cultures melt, at least at the edges. And sometimes fondue is good, but sometimes you prefer a cheese sandwich.
posted by riviera at 12:43 PM on February 25, 2004


web-goddess, not to derail, but how did you manage a job in Australia? I want to do that but my research, including contact with some firms in Sydney that clearly want my money, suggests that it's very difficult.
posted by billsaysthis at 6:13 PM on February 25, 2004


Since I've gotten more than one e-mail on the subject, I'll risk derailing further by answering here: I came to Oz on a "defacto spouse" visa. I was qualified to come in as a Skilled Worker (there's a points system and you accumulate them by being young, speaking English, being in an in-demand industry, etc) but it takes a long time and you have to apply from outside the country. As I'd already been living with my Australian boyfriend in England for more than a year, it was MUCH quicker and simpler to do the defacto thing. It's essentially a marriage visa, the exact same process, but it's for common-law spouses. I came in as a tourist, lodged my application, and within six months had my temporary residency.

If you're under thirty, I know BUNAC.org can provide you with a four-month working visa to Oz. You might find some of those companies are more willing to sponsor you once they get a look at you in person. Other than that, I guess just wait and hope that this "free" trade agreement results in easier emigration!
posted by web-goddess at 7:10 PM on February 25, 2004


Build a mile-high wall around America, and administer IQ tests to those who want to get out. This is the keystone of my platform. I hope you will support me in the upcoming elections.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 9:02 PM on February 25, 2004


Or your job could be like mine where they don't give any vacation time AND they pay you only $6.25/hour! Try to travel on that! (I'm working 40+ hours every week, but the evil company won't list me as full time so I get nothing at all, and certainly no insurance. And if they ever do decide to let me be full time, I still have to wait another year to get vacation time, and that's only 5 days!)

I'd love to travel to a countless number of countries, but I don't know if I'll ever be able to because of my student loan debt and my paltry income
posted by mabelcolby at 10:19 PM on February 25, 2004


Build a mile-high wall around America, and administer IQ tests to those who want to get out.

So do you have to fail to get out? [just kidding]

Or your job could be like mine where they don't give any vacation time AND they pay you only $6.25/hour! Try to travel on that!

Well, that's definitely a problem, but one of economics rather than one of you being an American: And that's another whole can of worms.
posted by moonbiter at 12:11 AM on February 26, 2004


To echo and add to some of the themes here. I think one of the cultural things that tends to reduce international travel is the American family spread out over entire landscapes. As a result, "vacation" usually includes, "visit with family."
posted by KirkJobSluder at 8:44 AM on February 26, 2004


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