The Displaced Nation

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Which country produces the people who travel the farthest, the longest — and with the most credit cards?

The Displaced Nation was contacted about doing a post on a recent survey by Travelex on “How the World Vacations” — the results of which are summed up in a cool infographic (see bottom of this post).

Since Travelex helps travelers with their foreign currency needs, they were particularly interested in finding out not only where people are traveling internationally but also how they are financing their vacations.

I thought I’d go over some of their findings and see if it helps me to understand this Big Wide World of Travel.

Really? Did I? Or did I do something altogether more irresponsible, and just pull it apart for my own amusement? Well, you all know me by now. You decide…

What’s up with international travel?

More people are doing it now than ever before. Even in the most parochial parts of England, folk are pulling the ferrets out of their trousers, staring at glossy magazine adverts and dreaming of something more glamorous than a weekend caravanning in Skegness.

Rumor has it that almost ten percent of Americans now own a passport; even more significantly, some of them have actually used them!

Yes, travel beyond one’s borders is growing — but so is the human race. So it’s only to be expected, right? (The numbers of people going abroad did decline, however, in 2008 due to the global recession, but in 2009 the upwards trend resumed.)

And now for some stereotype-busting!?

I’m not sure how much the survey tells us that we didn’t already know, to be honest — but I’m willing to be persuaded otherwise, if one of you is a better statistician than I am.

Where do the Brits go on holiday? Hmm. Tough one.

If you guessed Spain, you can give yourself a pat on the back. It is Spain. For two weeks. The survey doesn’t tell us this, but most of them spend the entire fortnight lying lobster-red on the beach before heading for the nearest bar. Had the survey asked what they ate, the finding would have been 85 percent fish and chips, of which most would have been washed down with beer — the local variety of course, because it’s so staggeringly cheap.

The destination that comes in second for the Brits? Right again! France. The main surprise is how few are going to the United States nowadays: just nine percent (versus over fifty percent to Spain and France).

The Americans? They head to Mexico and Canada. Goodness, that’s a revelation! And if they venture any further, it’s usually to Europe, especially the UK and Italy, or to the Caribbean. That said, there are a few brave American souls visiting China these days.

The survey doesn’t report this, but most Americans when they go abroad eat burgers and fries, even when sitting in an Italian restaurant. They drink beer, too — but the good stuff, because it’s still cheap, and imported, which makes everything taste better!

Noticed any Chinese tourists lately?

Thanks to its booming economy, China gets pride of place in this survey. (The Japanese used to be the most well-traveled of all Asians, but I’m afraid they’ve been displaced!)

Interestingly, the 1.3 billion Chinese are represented by a sample of 20,000; anyway, for most of them the average length of holiday is six days. Perhaps it’s not surprising, then, that they end up going to Hong Kong — which I’m not sure counts as foreign these days. (Didn’t my country transfer sovereignty to China in 1997, or have I misremembered something?)

Chinese mostly use credit cards to pay their way, despite almost a third of those being refused. Which is a shame, though I can’t say it surprises me. Would you take a Chinese credit card? Be honest.

And a surprising number, about a third, travel by boat. Still trying to puzzle that one out, given how short their vacations are. Fear of flying, perhaps? I’ve heard some nightmare stories about China Airlines.

How about Brazilians?

Another booming emerging economy is Brazil, which is the fourth country to be featured in a big way in the survey. Guess where most Brazilians go? You got it, their wealthy neighbor to the North, the United States!

But what I’d really like to know is whether the five percent of Brazilians who had their bank cards stolen were the same ones that said they traveled by rail — in which case, it serves ‘em right. Everyone knows that if you take a train in Brazil, you get robbed — it’s, like, common knowledge.

International holiday central

Australia, my adopted and much beloved homeland, makes a brief appearance in the statistics for “how long they stay.” We’re at the top of the charts. Did you know that Aussies having the longest holidays IN THE WORLD, by almost a week?

The survey doesn’t tell you how often we go abroad and where we go, however.  Because if you knew that every man, woman, child and most of the sheep here take a foreign holiday every single year — and that the vast majority spend it in Bali — you’d have perished of jealousy by now (or else looking into emigrating!).

As it is, I’m worried that if the Chinese see that Aussie vacations are almost three times longer than theirs, it will trigger a revolt, for which Australia will somehow be blamed! :)

Herzlichen Glückwunsch!

In their write-up of the survey findings, Travelex said:

We were surprised to find that the most consistent destination for international travel seems to be Germany. That’s right! Germany. We guess lederhosen and lagers hold a certain amount of appeal no matter what native language you speak.

It’s a fair point — who’da thunk it? Even the Chinese went to Germany. Well, 1.9 percent of them did. (Which, out of the 20,000 vacationers surveyed, means at least 382 out of a country of 1.3 billion.) Germany must be thrilled at this news of its new-found popularity across cultures.

I suppose another surprising finding is that while Chinese are busy having their credit cards turned down, Brits tend to err on the side of caution, doing their money exchanges before they leave, while many Americans are still getting away with using dollars — despite the recent talk of abandoning the U.S. dollar as the single major reserve currency.

* * *

It’s often said that statistics can be made to say whatever you want them to say. And then of course, there’s the old truism that 97.6 percent of statistics are made up on the spot…

Not that I’m saying Travelex did any of this, of course. Far be it from me to cast aspersions on their information-gathering tactics. I’m just wondering if something like this can tell us much. Still, it’s a pretty infographic — the designer of which has certainly earned a vacation overseas, in my opinion!

Please talk to me in the comments. Are you into travel surveys? Have I missed something earthshaking in this one? Am I being too flippant? I’d love to know your thoughts!

Additionally, you can hit us up on Twitter: @DisplacedNation and/or @TonyJamesSlater

And now for that fabuloso infographic:

STAY TUNED for Tuesday’s post reviewing some books by expats in Dubai.

If you enjoyed this post, we invite you to register for The Displaced Dispatch, a round up of weekly posts from The Displaced Nation, with seasonal recipes, book giveaways and other extras. Register for The Displaced Dispatch by clicking here!

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Infographic courtesy of Adria Saracino, Distilled Creative.

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15 responses to “Which country produces the people who travel the farthest, the longest — and with the most credit cards?

  1. ML Awanohara June 18, 2012 at 3:41 pm

    Hmmm… The more I think about it, the more I think that the findings on the Chinese preference for traveling by boat reflects their interest in taking cruises? I’ve observed that Asian Americans love cruises, so I have to assume that the same is true of the people of the motherland. But am I wrong or am I right? Methinks we need another survey! :)

    • Tony James Slater June 18, 2012 at 11:29 pm

      No, I think you’re dead right about the fear of flying – if I lived in China, I think I’d share it. What are the likelihood that Air China’s Boeing 77’s are knock-offs…? Lovely, faithful copies where the stitching has a tendency to come undone…

  2. expatlogue June 18, 2012 at 3:43 pm

    Loving the flippancy! A very entertaining post – “Even in the most parochial parts of England, folk are pulling the ferrets out of their trousers, staring at glossy magazine adverts and dreaming of something more glamorous than a weekend caravanning in Skegness.” Have you posted this up on MyT? I’d love to see the feeding frenzy.

  3. Miss Footloose June 19, 2012 at 1:18 am

    Flippant is good. We’re talking about vacations, so who wants to be academically serious? I loved this post, and am happy to see that my people, the Dutch, are number two in how long they stay abroad on vacation. Mostly in Spain and Italy, too, I imagine. Camping, bringing their own potatoes, I hear.

    • Tony James Slater June 23, 2012 at 1:24 am

      Potatoes is Ireland – they never leave home without ‘em! Seriously – I knew an Irish girl living in Thailand, and what did she miss most about home? Potatoes.
      “Your head is a potato,” I told her.
      :0)

  4. Bex June 19, 2012 at 3:50 am

    As a complete Greekophile (as an expat in Greece) – I feel sad Greece only comes in at 5%…they certainly need the tourists these days! Love this country (hence my blog about it).
    Although, what with resorts like Falaraki and Kavos (on Corfu), I do wish the Brits would learn to tone down their drinking and red lobster bodies! Hmmm, maybe those tourists should stay on the Costas after all.

    • Tony James Slater June 23, 2012 at 1:27 am

      Well at the moment I imagine it’s pretty cheap to holiday in Greece, and that’s what the Brits (especially) love. If you can stand even more of them swarming your adopted home country, just let slip on your blog how good the bargains are. Our UK economy is about one step behind yours and heading rapidly in the same direction, so any chance at an inexpensive holiday will be snapped up. Of course, then you have to deal with a country full of drunken English guys… a win/win scenario if ever I saw one.. :0)

  5. Emily Cannell June 19, 2012 at 1:49 pm

    AHH Tony- I hate to bust on you – but- I have to defend my country men and women. We are all required to have passports post 9/11- however- only 20% have had them stamped. And, the same is true of the Japanese by the way. And I can certainly understand why the Aussies stay long- it takes them 12 hours on a plane to get anywhere.

    • Tony James Slater June 23, 2012 at 1:30 am

      No way! Really? Wow, well that’s gotta be good news – might persuade the average bod on the street to go a-traveling one fine day! And that’s always a good thing. Well, except for them that gets their credit cards stolen. Yeah, it’s a killer journey from Oz to anywhere – Perth is the remotest city on earth I believe! Just flying to Sydney is the same distance as going from London to Moscow… imagine the jet lag when you finally get to the Caribbean! It takes a week just to recover from the flight…

  6. Moon June 21, 2012 at 7:51 am

    Rather pleased the sterotypical Brit goes to Spain… means it leaves the more original destinations to me !.. I anhor the typical Brit abroad ….
    As for Americans, currently I am there once a month, but business not pleasure, and one reason they dont travel far…. so little vacation time, jet lag and a day spent in the air cuts down so much on the time they actaully have, unlike us europeans.

    • Tony James Slater June 23, 2012 at 1:34 am

      And of course, Americans have one massive advantage, which is that America is freakin’ HUGE! So if they want a paradise beac holiday, or a lake-and-a-forest, or want to trek the mountains, or snowboard – they can do all of it without needing to go overseas! I believe they also serve a few different varieties of food in America, and have places to go shopping… basicaly they’re where the rest of the world wants to holiday! It’s like I always used to wonder, it’s great to live on Koh Phangan or Bonaire – but where do you go on holiday when you already live in paradise?? Vegas, I guess :0)

  7. giddayfromtheuk June 23, 2012 at 8:37 am

    Tony, I’m with Emma. We Aussies stay longer because it takes longer to a) get anywhere and b) recover from the jetlag of doing so. Going back to Melbourne to visit family is pointless for anything less than 3 weeks as, quite frankly, I’m an absolute cow for about 3-4 days after I arrive. (GRUNT)

    On top of this lengthy Australian wanderlusting, I also have one Dutch parent so that’s my double-barrelled excuse for loving long, luscious holidays…..

    • Tony James Slater July 2, 2012 at 10:01 am

      I hear you. My wife is both Dutch and Australian – and all she wants to do is holiday! Which is fine by me, because although I’m a Brit, I’m an exceptionally lazy one. I could quite happily spend my whole life on holiday… oh, hang on a minute – I do!
      Ahhh….!
      :0)

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