Why Don’t Americans Travel More?

“This girl is a world traveler.”

This was said by a 88-year-old lady I know, after we had a short chat about my time as an exchange student in Australia and my trip to London a few years ago.  While, in my book, this may be one of the sweetest compliments one can receive, it really isn’t true.  I have only been to 4 other countries (and that’s including Canada) and I’ve maybe only seen ⅓ of the US states.  But those statistics are actually pretty good for a 31 yr old in our country.

The numbers are a little shaky, but according to one study, only 46% of Americans even have a passport.  And only 32% of Ohioans.

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So why don’t Americans travel more?

Possibly the #1 reason that most Americans don’t travel is money. It’s not that we don’t have access to money or jobs that would make enough money, it is the inability of most Americans to save for a overseas trip that may require a few thousand dollars.  Also, I would say the average American would also rather blow $100 on a steak dinner at Ruth Chris than $120 on a passport.  Or $50 on taking the family to a movie than $60 to tour a museum in another state.  Just to get passports for our three children (and the photos), we spent $340.  We knew that to make our travel goals a reality that this money was going to have to be allotted, and so we made that happen.  No rocket science there.

Brian and I went to Australia in 2006 and 2008.  At the time we had a few friends and colleagues say to us, “well I could NEVER afford a trip to Australia.”  This was always an awkward question for us because at the time we were not making good money at all.  It’s not like we were rolling in dough that just afforded us the ability to be able to wake up with $8000 in our checking account to be able to afford a trip Down Under.  However, we did drive used paid-for cars (no car payments) and we also budgeted every dollar that we earned.  We also picked up side jobs whenever possible.

Another crucial component, at that point neither of us owned any student loans.  If someone is shelling out the equivalent of a house payment is student loan payments, it’s hard to blow some change on a big trip!   I believe if money was handled more wisely and people made it a priority, they would have the money to travel (at least a little).

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I believe the #2 reason that Americans don’t travel is that we don’t have a travel culture in America.  Outside of the annual trip to Myrtle Beach, I believe some of this is that we have just set our standards too low (I mean, Myrtle Beach is great, but the $2000 you spend on lodging and entertainment there could be spent towards a week out west seeing some of our nation’s most beautiful sights).  Since every other person is only going to Myrtle Beach, we aren’t starting conversations at dinner parties about the cobblestone streets of Italy or the Queen Victoria market in Melbourne.

Last, I think we are just indifferent.  I just finished reading Jon Acuff’s book Start and he talks repeatedly about how the path to average is easy and everyone else is on it so there is no negative feedback from your friends.  It’s easy to take the family to Myrtle Beach every summer, but it’s more work to save an additional $2000 and fly the kids to Phoenix to see the Grand Canyon and Sedona.  It’s a logistical dance to take a car seat and a stroller and 2 kids and backpacks and toys.  The choice to travel is no different than any other choice we make in our life.  If we make it a priority and we are willing to make the sacrifices, it will be worth it…and we can make it work.

What do you think keeps Americans from traveling?  Have you ever chose to stay home just because it was easier?  Do you have a passport?  Do you think the cost of passports deters Americans from taking the first trip towards overseas travel?

 

(P.S. Don’t hate me if your favorite spot is Myrtle Beach.  I’ve been there a few times and it’s ok, I just have so much more of the world I want to see).

Best American Hotel Chains for Families

One of the reasons that parents don’t travel with small children is they are worried about where to stay.  I like my personal space, too, but I also want to know my kids are safe and secure.  We do travel on a budget, but we also don’t want to stay at a Rodeway Inn with 3 kids.

Suite-like properties with the convenience of a kitchenette are our ideal room.  We typically try to do no more than $120 a night, so it depends on your destination as to whether that is feasible, but here are some places to try!

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Here are my favorite American hotel chains for families:

 Marriott Brand Hotels-

Springhill Suites

I was really impressed by a recent stay at Springhill Suites.  I had asked for a crib when I booked online.  When we entered the room, I found a pack-n-play set up in the room, with a separate package on the desk.  This package included a Coverplay  which is a washable cover for the hotel’s pack-n-play, making it more sanitary for your child.  They also had a letter that noted we were traveling with a baby and asked us to stop by the front desk if we needed any Johnson’s Baby wash, nightlights, or outlet covers!  We took them up on the outlet covers (which will now be going in my bag on the next vacation).  I was pleasantly surprised by this extra effort put towards parents of small children.

Other perks:

  • Affordable, clean
  • Downside- no separate living room/bedroom (i.e. no door)

Towneplace Suites

We haven’t stayed at one of these before, but they are known as the extended stay option for Marriott.

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My personal photo of our living room at the Residence Inn Ottawa.

 Residence Inn by Marriott

My mom and I stayed at the Residence Inn in Ottawa this past spring and had a great, spacious room.  It was more like an apartment!  I really love these hotels because they have all the amenities of a small apartment, but many are also located in the CBD or sightseeing district.  Traveling with kids doesn’t always mean you have to be stuck by the highway!  The only downfall to a Residence Inn is that prices are typically higher than a Springhill Suites or Towneplace Suites, but you will get a hot breakfast!

Hilton Brand Hotels-

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Photo from Homewood Suites website

Homewood Suites

We’ve stayed at a Homewood Suites in Northern Kentucky and one in Asheville.  The room looked almost exactly like this (except we had a king in the bedroom).  We’ve been able to put the boys on the sofabed and then request a crib for the baby.  You know a plus of putting the kids in the living/dining room?  Running the oven fan for white nose! LOL.   Anyhow, I love these rooms because they give us the space we need to spread out and the quality from being a Hilton brand also makes it a little more luxurious.  The breakfast also has some hot items so everyone leaves with full bellies.

Embassy Suites

  • Another suite property with separate bedrooms and a hot breakfast
  • I find that the prices are usually higher than the Homewood Suites, but check them out anyhow for an occasional special

Country Inn and Suites

These hotels are owned by the Carlson Group- their most popular brand worldwide is Radisson, but you will find quite a few Country Inn and Suites in the states.  We haven’t stayed in one of these as a family yet (we did pre-kids) but they also offer studio suites and one-bedroom suites for a reasonable price.

Drury Inns

We have only stayed once, but a big perk for me was a REAL crib.  I’m not sure if this is brand-wide, so ask before booking, but my kids definitely do better in a crib than a pack-n-play because it is more similar to the crib they have at home.  Drury Inns also offer a weeknight happy hour with snacks and beverages (and even free adult beverages!).  The downside is you will most likely be cozying up in a one-room typical hotel, but hey, you’ll have a fridge for all the sippy cups of milk!

 

I hope this helps all of my friends that are parents and refuse to give up on dreams of getting out and exploring the world!

** This was NOT a sponsored post**



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