Travel is a big deal. It’s also big business. Which is why the U.S. Travel Association exists … to promote and increase travel to and within the United States. To that end, the association periodically publishes interesting facts about the country and the many people who visit it. What follows is the best of the best—the things you should know.
1. America is the Second Most-Visited Country
Centrally located France and that damn Eiffel tower have us beat. But for its diverse landscape, friendly people and infinite roads, America is a wicked-popular travel destination, ahead of even Spain, China and Italy as the second most-visited international travel locale.
2. Canada Tops the Inbound Countries List
Have you ever wondered who travels most to America? Here’s your answer: Canadians, Mexicans, British, Japanese and Brazilians in that order. Chinese are gaining fast, however, and are expected to overtake the fifth spot any day now.
Overseas-wise, Eurasians collectively love us. Thirteen million Europeans visit America each year, followed by 11 million Asians and 7 million Latinos (excluding Mexicans). Of all global regions, Africans and people from the Middle East visit us the least.
3. Most Americans Travel for Mundane Reasons
After Finns, Americans are the second most well-traveled people in the world. But only one in five of us travels abroad, meaning we like to stay in our own backyard.
That wouldn’t be so bad if said domestic travel was spent seeing all the kick-ass places our country is known for. In reality, however, outside of work Americans travel for the following reasons: (1) visiting relatives; (2) shopping; (3) visiting friends; (4) fine dining; and (5) beaches.
All good things, except for maybe shopping. Still, it’d be nice to see more adventure in there.
4. Youth is Wasted on the Young
The average age of American leisure travelers is 48 years old. The average age of business travelers is 46. You know, that whole “it takes money to travel” thing and “older people have more money since they’ve been in the game longer.”
It doesn’t have to be that way, though. Young travelers can buck this trend by changing their perspective on travel. It doesn’t have to be exotic, status-enhancing or even world travel to count. For travel to work, it just has to take you somewhere—near as well as far, domestic as much as international. Just go.
5. We Suck at Time Off
On average, Americans forfeit more than three paid-vacation days per year. Who in their right mind would leave so much free time on the table? All of us, apparently.
This is largely because Americans don’t like to return to a mountain of work after vacation, our inflated egos and infatuation with “busy-ness” won’t let us, and we fail to embrace the importance of travel.
“We need to change our thinking,” says Roger Dow, president of the U.S. Travel Association. “All work and no play doesn’t get you ahead—it only gets you more stress.”
Off the Grid columnist Blake Snow writes epic stories for fancy publications and Fortune 500 companies. Visit his website or follow @blakesnow.