It’s a little ironic. In this day of mass electronic communications – Facebook, Twitter, You Tube, Instagram…the list is ever growing – it’s easier than ever to engage in conversations about travel. There are Twitter chats, bloggers and tourist sites devoted to almost every means of travel and just about every destination under the sun. There is likely no place on earth that you cannot virtually visit. And yet…virtual visits appear to be all we are doing.
The travel intelligence website Skift did a study of Americans’ travel habits recently, and the results were as numbing as every other survey that shows America is a nation of couch potato inactivity. More than 62% of Americans did not travel AT ALL in the past year, and only 13% travelled internationally.
Not surprisingly, the surveys show the upper-income, northeastern, urban American male is most likely to venture beyond his native shores. While many seem to think that only older Americans have the time or money to travel internationally, the Skift survey actually found the number of international travelers declines with age, with the 18-24 set travelling the most and those 55+ the least.
When it comes to travel in general, guys and gals are in a dead heat: 43.3% of women had travelled for business or leisure in the past year, compared to 43.1% of men. Though the young ‘uns were most likely to have travelled internationally, in the larger question of having travelled at all, they were least likely to have ventured out, while seniors age 65 and up were the most travelled. Interestingly, virtually every respondent who banked $150k or more last year also did some sort of travel, bearing out the belief that travel is most accessible to the wealthy. But other conventional wisdom, that parents travel less than empty nesters, also turned out to be wrong. Perhaps because students tend to travel more today, parents do too, far outpacing non-parents.
Focusing on these survey results give us some interesting info-nuggets to dissect and discuss, but the big problem is revealed by this amazing statistic: Almost half of all Americans took no time off this summer. Apparently, even the stay-cations were spent at work. It’s true: Americans excel at many things; vacationing is just not one of them. But there is hope: in a pre-summer survey, 63% of Americans said they did not plan to take a vacation this summer, so at least more of us got away than expected.
Given the state of the American economy, wages, unemployment and other issues, it may not be surprising that Americans have not travelled much recently, and that virtual tourism is so popular. We can only hope that, having added so many places to their “bucket lists,” Americans will hit the road running when fortunes change. If and when that happens, there could be a fortune in tourism revenue to stoke local economies at home and abroad.
You can see the results and learn more about Skift’s survey, “Travel Habits of Americans 2014.” Are you surprised by the results? Are you among the lucky traveling few, or have you become a stay-at-home work-aholic?