Why Do We Travel So Little?
It’s currently mid-winter in the Northern Hemisphere. That means cold, cloudy skies, rain and snow for many people. It’s great to dream of traveling to sunny, tropical places while you’re at home freezing, but dreaming and doing are two different things.
Most people when asked what they would do if they had unlimited funds, rank travel rank high on their list. Everybody loves to go on vacation, to leave the mundane behind and leave all those bills, worries and work stress at home for a while.
Why Aren’t We Using Our Vacation Days?
Why is it then, that so few people actually follow their dreams and travel? Americans, in particular are well known for having less vacation time than workers from other parts of the world, particularly in Europe and Australasia. What’s really surprising though, is that so many Americans (55% of workers according to Project Time Off) were left with unused vacation time at the end of the year, amounting to an incredible 658 million unused vacation days in 2015.
Many companies allow workers to defer or roll-over vacation time into subsequent years, however an estimated 222 million of those 658 million unused days were completely forfeited last year. They can’t be banked or used at a later date. They are gone, forever. That’s nothing short of a travesty.
Obviously nobody wants to lose their vacation time, or so we would think, so why are all these days being lost? The primary reasons are:
- ‘I have too much work to do to take a vacation’.
- ‘It’s a dangerous world and Americans are often targeted overseas’.
- ‘I can’t afford to take a vacation’.
Unfortunately 60% of workers said they lack support from their boss to take a vacation, while 80% said they would take more vacations if they knew they had the support of their boss.
Our vacation time is ours to do with as we please. We’re entitled to it and if we don’t use it, it may be gone forever. Workers need to feel empowered to take what is rightfully theirs and not feel intimidated by their superiors into not taking time off.
Are We Not Adventurous Enough?
An unfortunate issue, is that people in general aren’t very adventurous. Many people don’t travel because they aren’t interested in it or feel that they would be taking an unnecessary risk by doing so. Media reports that portray everywhere outside our borders as dangerous certainly don’t help in this regard.
It has always baffled me why out of everyone I know, I can count on one hand the number of people who ever take a vacation anywhere that doesn’t involve visiting family. Bear in mind that most of these are upper-middle class professionals and business owners who certainly have the financial means to travel.
Even fewer are those who actually do anything other than mainstream, mass-market travel (e.g.: cruises, beach resorts and the tourist hotspots of western Europe).
Why is this? Purchasing power is high, the US Dollar is strong and airfares are at their lowest in relative terms in decades. In our age of technology there’s more readily available information about the world than ever before. There’s an amazing, fascinating and yes… safe world out there, yet so few Americans are actually doing anything about seeing it.
This is in huge contrast to Europe and Australasia, where it’s almost a rite of passage for young people to take a ‘gap year’ to travel.
This is time taken off to go traveling around the world, usually upon graduating from university. Reciprocal temporary work visa agreements for under people under the age of 25 allow ‘gap year’ travelers to spend a few months backpacking cheaply through Asia on their way to Australia or New Zealand, where they spend 6-12 months working before heading home to start their careers.
This really opens the minds of these young people, shows them that the world isn’t a dangerous place and most importantly, sets the stage for making travel a priority as they go through life.
I’d love to see more American graduates doing something along these lines as so few actually do, and I’m always surprised when I run into young Americans actually doing it.
Most people have a bucket list of sorts, filled with experiences they’d like to have and places they’d like to see, yet sadly very few actually achieve their travel related goals.
I can’t imagine anyone lying on their death bed, looking back at their life and feeling regret for taking too many vacations.
I’ll be forever grateful that my parents were curious travelers and growing up in the UK in the ’70s and ’80s, while my childhood friends were going to beach resorts in the Mediterranean like everyone else, we were taking family vacations to places like India and Egypt. It sparked in me a passion for world travel that changed the course of the rest of my life.
Show your children that there’s more to the world than what they see at home. Educate them about different cultures and open their eyes to seeing the world from a different perspective.
Use every minute of your vacation time. In fact you should be asking for more. Get out there and see the world! Explore! Step outside your comfort zone and experience something different from what you see every day. Broadening your mind through travel can’t possibly be a bad thing.