Are Americans Afraid Of World Travel?

When I think of traveling, I imagine myself in a far off place, meeting interesting people and learning about new ways of life. But I’ve noticed a recent trend amongst readers that I’d like to share with you today.

Here’s the deal: When you sign up for my free bicycle touring email mini-course, one of the emails you receive asks you to fill out a short survey that requires you to list your name, where you are from, where you most want to go in the world and a bunch of other questions like that. I ask that you fill out this survey so that I can learn more about you and come up with ideas for future articles here at

Anyway, what I’ve noticed recently is that has a large international presence. We’ve got readers from nearly every country in the world. But the largest majority of our readers come from the United States.

Now that, in and of itself, isn’t all that interesting. But what is interesting is that of the American readers who have completed my bike touring survey, nearly 60% of those individuals said that their ideal bike touring vacation was something right here in the United States.

In other words, 60% of the Americans that filled out my survey said they would rather stay at home in the United States than go ANYWHERE ELSE IN THE WORLD!

Personally, I find this shocking!

Of course, there could be several reasons for this.

Many of the readers from America are age 50 and beyond. For these people, maybe traveling outside the country is seen as too big of a challenge and that’s why staying local is more appealing?

Maybe my American readers don’t feel the need to travel internationally because America is just so gosh darn big… and there is a world of adventure right here at home? It’s true! You could spend years exploring the United States and not see everything. The US is a really big place.

Maybe so many American’s want to stay inside the country because the Adventure Cycling Association (an American based non-profit) has done such an incredible job of promoting bike travel on our home turf?

Or maybe, on a more cynical note, American’s are simply afraid to travel outside of their own borders?

I don’t know what the answer is really, but I think it’s an interesting trend.

What do you think about all this? Why is it that nearly 60% of American readers said they would rather stay inside the United States than travel internationally? And why is it that International readers almost always list some far off destination as their ideal cycling locale? Leave a comment below and let me know what you think. I look forward to hearing your thoughts and ideas on the matter.

Photo by Zach Dischner


0 thoughts on “Are Americans Afraid Of World Travel?

  1. Norm says:

    Americans are more afraid of spending money right now more than any robbery or terror threat . Americans have always been world travelers and will be again…just stay out of New York City Deli’s where I was taxed .08 cents for getting my Bagel sliced” ‘not kidding, I was taxed for sliced bread!


  2. Miguel Marcos says:

    It’s a function of education and culture. I was raised and lived mostly in the States but have lived in Spain now for years. When I talk to strangers in the US I realize their awareness of what’s happening as the history of other areas in the rest of the world is dismal.

    If my schooling in central Florida is indicative of the rest of the country kids don’t get much of an inkling of “what’s out there” beyond our borders nor is such an interest developed. Rather than curiosity, I think fear and/or disinterest takes over.

    In other words, the US is insular. Such insularity creates fear, resistence and/or lack of interest in the rest of the world. I think a lot of people are content just to watch the National Geographic channel and leave it at that (if they watch the National Geographic channel at all!). In Europe the awareness of language, culture, and current events extends at least to the other countries on the continent and perhaps elsewhere (such as issues regarding Morocco or norther Africa in general for Spaniards, Portuguese, French, Italians, Greeks). In fact, I’m pretty sure the average European is more aware of current events in the US than the average US citizen is aware of current events elsewhere. That’s not to say there aren’t other countries that are insular as well. There are, but I think most of them are insular because of a lack of education than anything else.

    Of course, generalizations like the above are, well, generalizations. Most of my US friends are quite aware of world issues and love to travel overseas but they are well educated. Still, they remain the exception.

    It would be interesting to see some stats like what percentage of the population of a variety of countries has visited other countries, speaks another language, is aware of events across the globe, etc. That would be fascinating.

  3. Don Weinell says:

    I’m one of those 50 year olds that are just getting back into biking after a 20 or 30 year hiatus. I was in high school when the original Bikecentenial rolled. At the time, I dreamed of making the ride someday. College, a career, a wife and kids, all have a way of changing your outlook through the years. I don’t mean that in a bad way, but priorities do change as you go through life. 20-year-olds like yourself can’t even imagine all the twists and turns your life has in store for you.
    So, why don’t Americans like to travel abroad? I’m in the Air Force Reserves, so I actually do get to travel throughout the world more than most people; it’s actually one of the best benefits about the job. I tend to go out and mingle with the natives more than most of my compatriots, but I still have to be conscious about security. Like it or not, believe it or not, in today’s world Americans are targets. 99% of the world’s population are open and friendly to those of us that treat them with respect, but that last 1% can’t be ignored. In many countries, westerners (not just Americans) are valuable as hostages.
    Do I let that 1% keep me at home? Of course not. But with so much variety to be found in this country, I certainly understand why some people would rather not bother with the hassles of foriegn travel until the political climate improves.
    As I’m getting closer to retirement, the call of the TransAmerica Trail is once again being heard in the distance. Before that, though, I’m planning a ride from Independence Missouri to Portland Oregon along the original Oregon Trail. This ride will combine my love of history, travel, photography, and biking into one Big Adventure. One last piece of advice; Never Grow Up! No matter how many candles you have on your cake, when you stop growing, you become stagnant. Decay sets in, and you whither away. Death will eventually get us all, but it has a harder time catching a moving target. Roll on!

  4. Darrell Robertson says:

    I have served overseas in the military and enjoyed it a great deal. I never thought about your question in that respect when I answered it. The reason why I chose my answer of wanting to tour right here in the U.S. is that I still believe that we have some really great places to visit here in the U.S. After all, this is my beloved homeland. Oh sure, I’d love to tour ride Israel, Germany, Spain, Italy and even Russia. But my priority is to see my own country first and then take it across the pond.

  5. Steve says:

    Why I want to travel the US is simply money and security for my first tour. Im stretching my self thin paying for all the equipment to go let alone pay for 1000$ plain ticket I cant afford. When I get more miles under me I would love to travel to Canada , Uruguay and other parts of the world.

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