13 January 2011

How Americans Travel

So I saw this article in the New York Times, giving people a list of 41 places to visit during 2011. And to make it easy, I'll enumerate it here for you.

1. Santiago, Chile
2. San Juan Islands, WA
3. Koh Samui, Thailand
4. Iceland
5. Milan
6. Republic of Georgia
7. London
8. Loreto, Mexico
9. Park City, UT
10. Cali, Colombia
11. The Danube
12. Niseko, Japan
13. Oahu
14. Antwerp, Belgium
15. Melbourne, Australia
16. Tlemcen, Algeria
17. Gdansk, Poland
18. Erzurum, Turkey
19. Hyderabad, India
20. Manchester, England
21. Tallinn, Estonia
22. Fogo Island, Newfoundland
23. Singapore
24. Port Ghalib, Egypt
25. Whistler, BC
26. Guimaraes, Portugal
27. Olympic Park, WA
28. Dresden, Germany
29. Oualidia, Morocco
30. Zanzibar
31. Colonia del Sacramento, Uruguay
32. Tozeur, Tunisia
33. Hangzhou, China
34. Iraqi Kurdistan
35. Durham, NC
36. Kosovo
37. Pingyao, China
38. Salonika, Greece
39. Okinawa, Japan
40. Budapest
41. Miami

So, what do I think about this list?

Well, first of all, it is perhaps a good way of encouraging Americans to travel: it is known that American's aren't known for international travel, and that there is a significant segment of the American population who don't even have a passport. Now, yes, this is understandable. Unlike the European continent, where countries are rather small, here in the USA, states can be rather big, and the extent of travel that Americans do on roads (after all, Americans are known for the road trip) definitely counts. It's just that there are too many things to see in this continent to make other people even start of thinking about travel outside its borders.

Second, somehow, I don't understand why the African sampling is rather skewed. There's an entry for Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, and Egypt. That's it? Oh wait, there's the lone entry for Zanzibar, which is the only African entry that is found south of the Sahara. I wonder why.

Third, as always, English-speaking entries are featured heavily. There's several local entries (which is okay), a couple of entries in Canada, and also several entries in countries such as Australia. For this, I would say that it wouldn't hurt to get a phrasebook and widen one's horizons.

Fourth, what is it with the fascination with Europe? Iceland, Poland, Turkey, Hungary? Perhaps, it is time to get out of one's comfort zone. Whatever happened to Romania? Bulgaria?

Oh wait, I forget that not everyone is an intrepid traveler. And for those that are, I guess I commend the fact that Kosovo, the Republic of Georgia, and Iraqi Kurdistan are actually listed.

So yeah, I guess it isn't as bad as I thought it was. Of course, most people fall into the normal curve, and not everyone would venture into the more challenging destinations.

(Dancing Men, from my Cusco Series)


  1. yeah! Chile nr. 1!!!!
    So, planning to come down here soon?
    Voy a abstenerme de opinar respecto de las tendencias de viaje de los estadounidenses ya que la verdad, no creo que los chilenos viajemos mucho tampoco... Al menos yo fuera de Chile sólo conozco Tacna

  2. Kami,

    Hehe, Chile is indeed number 1! I haven't been to Chile, but it might be a destination in the future! If it happens, then I will let you know.

    I agree, not a lot of people travel. I tend to slowly realize that traveling people are a small subset of the general population: most of the time, people are not comfortable with going out of their comfort zone, and traveling somehow necessitates this.

  3. I remember a secretary in my department who said she had traveled and married away from home and missed her home. I asked her where home was and she said that it was the Georgia county south of the airport - we worked north of the airport! Also when I told her I was going to Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, for work she said “do you really have to?” Like this was a terrible assignment. Many people are like that here. I on the other hand am always ready to go.

  4. I forgot to tell you that I would like to travel to the list you showed. I have already traveled to nos. 3, 4, 5, 7, 23, 25 and 32.

  5. Oh I have heard similar stories! I heard one lady living in Manhattan who was complaining that her son moved away from where she was living, and when she told me where, I was surprised, because it was just to Staten Island!

    And I would love to go to Ethiopia someday and see those rock-hewn churches!

    Unfortunately, in this list, I have only been to 13 and 40. I need to travel more.