Reading departure signs in some big airport, reminds me of the places I’ve been.

Song & Artist
Changes in Latitudes, Changes in Attitudes by Jimmy Buffett

Most tourists venture to at least one international locale in their lifetime.

Musician and island enthusiast Jimmy Buffet reflects on his travels with fondness in Changes in Latitudes, Changes in Attitudes. His ode to world wandering got me to wondering. Do most tourists leave their home countries? Let’s take a journey to find out.

It may seem silly to define a tourist, but there are nuances for the purposes of statistics. A tourist is a person who travels for pleasure (instead of business or family obligations). According to the United Nations World Tourism Organization, tourism is expected to increase over the next 15 years. Even areas with traditionally declining visitor rates, such as Africa and Middle East, are on the rise.

Living Social, the online deal marketplace, studied Americans’ ultimate destinations, and found Las Vegas and Disney World landed on the top 10 list. Sixty four percent of the U.S. population has never traveled abroad. Two words: do better. The universe is brimming with rich cultures, beautiful landscapes and delectable cuisine, and you want to stay home? It’s a small world after all, go conquer it!

When Americans finally leave the country the most popular regions are Mexico and Canada. So pretty much, people cross the border. It’s better than nothing (no disrespect to Mexico and Canada). The United States Tour Operators Association found that Myanmar in Southeast Asia will be the top emerging destination in 2015. Cuba is now an enticing option thanks to renewed diplomatic relations.

american abroad statistics

Adventure seekers the world over packed their bags and accounted for 53 percent (598 million) of all international tourist arrivals in 2014. Europe had the most foreign visitors the same year. Which nationality globe-trots the most? The average Briton has explored seven countries OUTSIDE of the United Kingdom. The most powerful passport, based on cost and visa-free entry to nations, belongs to Sweden.

Most tourists during their time on this planet travel internationally at least once. If funds are limited, you don’t have to go far. Leave your ‘hood, village or city. Whether bus fare or air fare, learning something new can ONLY enrich your life. I have been very fortunate to trek across three continents. Not bad, but my exploration appetite is never satiated. Grabbing my passport and headphones now, au revior!


This article originally appeared in Griot’s Republic magazine. Image is from The New York Times. lyricfancy uses music as a conduit to humorously discuss human nature. This article is in no way a personal judgment about the artist. We believe in creative expression.

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