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  1. #11
    Senior Member JivinJeffJones's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Veneti View Post
    Australians and New Zealanders are in the majority 1st or 2nd generation immigrants and also makes them more interested in visiting their ancestoral countries (In the vast majority Britain). Given that Britain is close to Europe then its a natural to have a look at it.
    Yeah, that's a generalization but it's pretty true. Australia has a lot of cultural ties with Britain. A lot of Australian identity is derived from the contrasts and similarities with the poms. But Britain is the ancestral homeland of many Americans, too. And I can't see why Americans would feel unsafe in traveling around the UK and Europe. They might get some good-natured heckling, but who cares? Plus, Aussie and Kiwi backpackers don't just stick to the UK and Europe. They are all over Asia too. That doesn't have anything to do with their ancestral homelands.

    Quote Originally Posted by Recoleta View Post
    I've backpacked a little in Europe and South America, and there are some major differences between those places and America. For an American, I would not reccommend their first trip outside of the country to be a backpacking adventure just because other countires are so different. In America, public transportation is pretty hard to come by unless you live in major cities like NYC or LA. Yeah, we have bus and some train systems, but they're not all over the place and are kind of cumbersome to use. Really, if you want to travel in America, it's best to have your own car. Plus, cities are not really clustered over here...so getting from one city to the next can take hours of driving as opposed to Europe where you can be on the other side of a country in a few hours. Also, we don't really have hostels or cheap places to stay readily available. The cheapest you might find would be a crappy Motel 6 for about $30 dollars per night.

    Backpack-type travelling just isn't easy to do in America, so you really have to get out of America to do it...and it takes hundreds of dollars just to get a flight out of the country.
    All those problems are just as present in Australia, and we get loads of backpackers here. It's true that we probably have cheaper accommodation around catering specifically to backpackers. But there are vast distances between cities and our public transport is pretty pathetic. Backpackers here tend to get around it by doing a couple of weeks of simple casual work for around $25 an hour and then buying a cheap car. It's not hard.

    And it still doesn't explain why there aren't more American backpackers outside America. True, America isn't the best place to go backpacking in, which could explain why Americans don't backpack that much in America. But why not overseas? Accommodations are cheaper, public transport is more extensive (in Europe at least). And plane flights these days aren't that expensive. Thousands of Australian school-leavers fly to Europe every year, and that's almost the other side of the planet. A hop across the Atlantic isn't that big deal. The airports are full of the poverty jetset.

    Quote Originally Posted by Recoleta View Post
    Although, I mostly have stuck to Spanish and English-speaking countries just because I can speak both languages. If I was in France, Germany, or Brazil for example, I would be much more anxious.
    I don't know about Brazil, but there are English speakers all through Europe. I'm told that German police are required to understand English, for instance. If you attempt to speak their language, they will usually take pity on the poor monolingual tourist and graciously respond in surprisingly fluent English. You feel like a pillock, but it's not a big deal. It's the people who don't even try to speak the local language who tend to get attitude.

  2. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by booyalab View Post
    really? I thought Americans were considered to be good workers in other countries.
    They consider us hard-working and harsh. They are afraid of us and don't want us to either steal their jobs or make their employers accustomed to how hard we work.
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    Disclaimer: The above is my opinion and mine alone, it does not mean I cannot change my mind, nor does it guarantee that my comments are related to any deep-seated convictions. Take everything I say with a whole snowplow worth of salt and call me in the morning, if you can.

  3. #13
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    For the record: I would love to travel for months on end in Australia, New Zealand, and the UK (Scotland, Ireland, and England). I would like to see some of northern Europe, but since I don't know the languages, I wouldn't be as comfortable.

    I have vacationed for a few months on end in Canada before, but that was with a car and wandering via ferries/roads, stopping here-and-there, camping a lot. I would estimate that I collected 30-40% of my diet in the forest and along the coast.
    I 100%, N 88%, T 88%, J 75%

    Disclaimer: The above is my opinion and mine alone, it does not mean I cannot change my mind, nor does it guarantee that my comments are related to any deep-seated convictions. Take everything I say with a whole snowplow worth of salt and call me in the morning, if you can.

  4. #14
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    A couple decades ago, American college students used to save up a few thousand dollars at a summer job back home and then fly to Europe, buy a Eurail pass, and travel around Europe for a month or two on trains and stay overnight at hostels.

    But that particular adventure fell in and out of fashion from one year to the next. A lot depended on exchange rates, the cost of flights, and of course the changing politics and international perceptions of Americans. People talked about doing a Eurail trip someday, but I only recall two personal acquaintances of mine actually following through and doing it.

    Also, I heard that the prices were increased quite a bit for both the Eurail passes and the hostels. Maybe that put the cost out of reach for average college students.

    I haven't heard much about Americans doing the Eurail thing in recent years, so I don't know if it's still high on the list of things that young Americans want to do.

  5. #15
    Per Ardua Metamorphosis's Avatar
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    I suspect that we are also used to a comparably wide-open large country and so it is more difficult for us to perceive wandering around an entire continent in a matter of days/weeks. I know that where I am from, I wouldn't contemplate going anywhere without a vehicle. Even in my hometown (Houston, Tx), it would take me 20 minutes driving 80mph just to get to my friend's houses...and that's just one city.

    But then...this may not be the case with people that grow up in New York, etc.
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  6. #16
    No me digas, che! Recoleta's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JivinJeffJones View Post
    All those problems are just as present in Australia, and we get loads of backpackers here. It's true that we probably have cheaper accommodation around catering specifically to backpackers. But there are vast distances between cities and our public transport is pretty pathetic. Backpackers here tend to get around it by doing a couple of weeks of simple casual work for around $25 an hour and then buying a cheap car. It's not hard.

    Well, Australia gets tons of backpackers because it's known as a country with awesome outdoor adventures that you can only find over there. I mean, the U.S. has some great national parks and the Grand Canyon, but I personally have found South America to be more impressive than anything I have seen here. Australia is perceived as someplace really exciting and rugged, which I think is why it's so appealing. People usually come to the U.S. to see cities like New York, Chicago, or LA...not so much to enjoy the nature.

    Plus, in America, I have no idea where you could even go to do casual work for such a short amount of time...especially for $25 an hour. I'm a college graduate and I don't even make that much money just yet. Getting a job here can be a real pain and is often a long process. Even if you wanted to work in fast food you'd be getting around $6 an hr. Maybe the only thing that would be conceivable would be to hang out in front of a Home Depot and try to be a day-laborer...but that can be dangerous, it's illegal, and there's always a chance that you'd get totally screwed over. Backpacking just isn't part of the dominant culture in the U.S., and unless you can actually stay with a family, backpacking in the U.S. probably wouldn't even be worth it.

    As to why there aren't more Americans outside of the country...I think it's just a cultural thing. My parents and friends thought I was crazy when I backpacked. I had the time of my life, but I think most Americans that do travel abroad tend to prefer luxury over living day-to-day on a shoe string. Once I graduate grad school though, one of the first things I'm gonna do is buy a bigger backpack and head to Europe to do the Eurorail pass thing!

    And yeah, I know that most European countries speak English...it's just that I feel that if I don't speak the language I am perceived as a typical monolingual American tourist that has no interest in the local language or culture. I suppose I may be my worst critic, but when travelling though South America it's so wonderful when people are actually surprised that you speak their native language. Their demeanor completely changes. People have invited me to stay in their homes and eat with them, just for speaking Spanish and taking a simple interest in their culture. I feel like knowing the language just makes the experience so much richer...plus, when you can understand the language you just feel more at ease.

  7. #17

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    I tend to think that the lack of American backpackers is due to the Puritan work ethic that is so deeply ingrained in Americans.

    When you finish high school in America, you are expected to either go to college or undertake other career training. Then when you are finished college, you must take a job to become self-sufficient and to begin to pay down your educational debt. I think any interruption of this schedule is generally seen as indulgent and indicative of a lack of ambition. Such a trip would be regarded as an attempt to delay adulthood and responsibility.

    I think if you ask Americans whether they would have liked to take such a backpacking trip in their youth that they will say "yes". But they'll probably also say that school loans and parental disapproval would have precluded it.

  8. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by EffEmDoubleyou View Post
    I tend to think that the lack of American backpackers is due to the Puritan work ethic that is so deeply ingrained in Americans.

    When you finish high school in America, you are expected to either go to college or undertake other career training. Then when you are finished college, you must take a job to become self-sufficient and to begin to pay down your educational debt. I think any interruption of this schedule is generally seen as indulgent and indicative of a lack of ambition. Such a trip would be regarded as an attempt to delay adulthood and responsibility.

    I think if you ask Americans whether they would have liked to take such a backpacking trip in their youth that they will say "yes". But they'll probably also say that school loans and parental disapproval would have precluded it.
    This.

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  9. #19
    Senior Member Pseudo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by EffEmDoubleyou View Post
    I tend to think that the lack of American backpackers is due to the Puritan work ethic that is so deeply ingrained in Americans.

    When you finish high school in America, you are expected to either go to college or undertake other career training. Then when you are finished college, you must take a job to become self-sufficient and to begin to pay down your educational debt. I think any interruption of this schedule is generally seen as indulgent and indicative of a lack of ambition. Such a trip would be regarded as an attempt to delay adulthood and responsibility.

    I think if you ask Americans whether they would have liked to take such a backpacking trip in their youth that they will say "yes". But they'll probably also say that school loans and parental disapproval would have precluded it.
    I agree with this. Especially if you've graduated college l, then your essentially wasting your skills (and the money you paid for them). I think Americans really don't like the idea of being unemployed drifters especially if there is no real goal as in say a study abroad program. A lot more people I know do study abroad. The general view of backpacking where I'm from is that it's a very expensive indulgence. You have to pay to get over there, some how live and then somehow live when you get back

  10. #20
    Senior Member Pseudo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Pseudo View Post
    I agree with this. Especially if you've graduated college l, then your essentially wasting your skills (and the money you paid for them). I think Americans really don't like the idea of being unemployed drifters especially if there is no real goal as in say a study abroad program. A lot more people I know do study abroad. The general view of backpacking where I'm from is that it's a very expensive indulgence. You have to pay to get over there, some how live and then somehow live when you get back


    Edit: also, what are these casual 25 dollar and hour jobs???

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