After having traveled to at least one country on 6 of the 7 continents on planet earth, I started to notice patterns emerge during my journeys. Little things like in every European country I visited there was always an old town that had more tourist concentrated activities than other parts of town or the fact that the primary mode of worship in Europe was Christianity.
Asia was awash with temples because of the existence of older religions like Buddhism, Taoism, and Hinduism. One thing that also stuck out to me was the fact that whenever I asked fellow travelers where their country of origin was, they were consistently from the same parts of the world.
The more I traveled, the more I ran into these nationalities and it soon became obvious, that due to access to discretionary income, lax visa rules, a culture that allows for time off work and a general thirst for wanderlust, some nationalities are more privy to explore far-flung parts of the globe than others. Below is a list of nationalities that I have encountered the most while traveling around the world.
The Brazilians are the only nationals from South America that I seem to encounter consistently as I canvas the globe. I once asked a fellow Brazilian backpacker how come Brazilians have burst onto the travel scene in greater numbers of recent and he said Brazil is silently experiencing an economic renaissance of sorts. Flush with revenues from recent oil and gas discoveries, a lot of Brazilians used their wealth as an opportunity to explore the globe. The Brazilian government also invested in education programs that saw lots of young Brazilians get sent abroad to study. As Brazil’s economy continues toward an uptick, I expect to continue to see more Brazilians on the travel path.
Americans are the one people on the planet that literally have everything it takes to be the “ultimate globetrotters” but choose not to utilize their travel privileges as much as they should. With an economy that is ranked at present as the world’s most powerful, visa-free access to over 170 countries, and more discretionary income than many countries around the world, one is left wondering why out of a nation of close to 350 million people just under 50% even hold a passport, and an even lesser percentage even bother to put those passports to use. One explanation could be America’s isolationist past, while another could be the difficulty of getting time off work. The United States has just 10 paid vacation days on average and because workers are reluctant to take those days off, companies are beginning to penalize workers who sell their vacation days back to the company instead of actually using them. It would be nice to see more Americans on the travel path considering how much of the world there is to see.
8. The Dutch
People from “The Netherlands” tend to travel a lot. More so than many other nationalities and if they had the numbers of the Chinese or the Americans, I definitely would have run into many more Dutch nationals. Just like most of the other nations in the European bloc, they have a lot going for them in terms of what it takes to be a nation of globetrotters. With a robust economy, passports that guarantee access to huge swaths of the earth’s surface and a culture that puts a lot of focus on taking time off work and work-life balance, it is no wonder that the Dutch have been able to paint the travel path in their favorite color “orange”.
This includes Denmark, Finland, and Norway. The citizens of these countries have all the elements that make for a nation of travelers. Generous vacation days, thriving economies and a culture that focuses on work-life balance. A lot of Scandinavians take time off after finishing high school and head off for a gap year. Some also take non-profit jobs in countries abroad as a way to live and experience other countries and cultures.
6. The Chinese
Everyone who has been paying attention knows that in the past 50 years, China has smashed its way into being one of the world’s top economic players. With this new found success, the Chinese have decided to put some of their new found wealth to use by exploring the world. Unlike some of the fore-mentioned nationalities who travel as a means of restoring some balance back in the “work-life” mix, when the Chinese travel it is usually as “status oriented” which means is usually a means to flaunt their newly acquired wealth. It is estimated that China overtook the U.S.A in overseas vacation spending as far back as 2014 and this trend is expected to continue as more and more Chinese nationals climb the rungs of China’s economic ladder.
If you are an avid traveler, coming from the most powerful economy in Europe certainly helps. Another advantage is work rules that encourage a healthy work-life balance. With a guaranteed 34 days off work per year, a GDP per capita of about $35,000, and a passport that was recently ranked one of the most powerful in the world, Germans have it good when it comes to being able to dust off their passports and travel the world on a whim.
4. The French
The French are another nation with a healthy dose of wanderlust. The French, like their British counterparts, are lucky to be from a nation where travel is encouraged. By French law, workers are entitled to at least five weeks off work, coupled with another dozen public holidays, and a maximum 35-hour work week, it is no wonder French people have enough time to travel as much as they can.
3. The British
The British also have a culture of travel that is probably a result of having one of the strongest currencies on the planet, great visa privileges, and a thirst for wanderlust that predates their colonization of a quarter of the earth’s surface. The country’s exit from the European union might hurt or diminish the potency of their passports but time will tell whether their exit from the European bloc will impact their culture of travel negatively.
Of the all the countries in the Americas, I found the Canadians to be the most prolific travelers. They follow closely behind the Australians in how prolific they are at leaving home for other destinations around the planet. It is also not uncommon for Canadians graduating from high school to take a year off after graduation to explore the world before beginning their first semester of college classes. I also found that a great many expatriates in Asia, especially Hong Kong were from Canada. I would later find out that Canada is still an active member of the “British Commonwealth of Nations”. An organization that also had Hong Kong as a Member state before it was handed back to the Chinese government on July 1, 1997.
Aussies as some would like to call them are by a long stretch the most prolific globetrotters on the planet. I have literally never been to any vacation spot or job assignment anywhere on the planet without running into an Australian. With a minimum wage that is more than double that of the United States (The minimum wage in the United States is currently hovering at just above seven dollars per hour), a robust economy, an emphasis on taking time off work, and a culture of wanderlust born from Australia being so isolated from the rest of the planet, it is no wonder Australian nationals see the need to always up and leave home for extended periods of time. I have run into several Australians who told me they were on a “two-year” pilgrimage around the world. For an American who can barely muster out two weeks away from work at a time, the notion of traveling continuously for two years seemed mind boggling to me.
Did I leave out any nationalities in the above list? Please let me know in the comments section. Thank You!