A Thing That Bug Me About Travel Stats
I see stats all the time saying that most Americans don’t have a passport. Yes, international travel is cool and encouraged, but the U.S. has so much to offer and Americans do take advantage of it.
Let’s look at this for a moment.
1. Passports Are Not Required For Intra-U.S. Travel
The U.S. State Dept. Web site says this:
In 2017, there were 136,114,038 passports in circulation.
The U.S. population in 2017 is reported as 325.7M. So about 41.8% had passport. There was a huge push a few years back to get this number up and looks like it worked.
I wonder how many have used them before they expired?
No passports is required for Americans flying to Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin islands of St. Thomas, St. Croix and St. John all in the Caribbean and U.S. territories.
Honolulu is 7:17 hours flying from Houston and 9:56 hours from New York and you’re still in the U.S. so no passport required. And yes, almost always, the flights are full too.
In comparison, New York to London is 7:25 max! Houston to London is 9:20.
The flights to these U.S. destinations are mostly full of guess who, Americans :-).
Passports are not cheap by the way, its $135 for an adult, $110 to renew. $105 for a minor’s passport.
2. U.S. Geography
The U.S. has 50 states; 48 of which are connected to each other.
With cities like New York, NY; Chicago, IL; Las Vegas, NV; San Francisco, CA; Los Angeles, CA and Miami, FL there are many worldly famous cities to visit.
But they are far apart!
And connected by air and the Eisenhower Highway system. North/south highways are odd numbered and east/west ones are even.
3. U.S. Airlines Are Plentiful
There is a huge network of U.S. airlines. Many small cities are covered due to something called “Essential Air Service”. These are cities that the government have designated as cities that must be served by air for the community to thrive.
This makes air travel accessible to many more people. Also, with the number of airlines around competition is good to certain cities and as such you can find low fares.
In case you’re wondering, the major U.S. airlines are:
- Alaska Airlines (AS)
- Allegiant Airlines (G4)
- American Airlines (AA)
- Delta Air Lines (DL)
- Frontier Airlines (F9)
- Hawaiian Airlines (HA)
- JetBlue Airlines (B6)
- Southwest Airlines (WN)
- Spirit Airlines (NK)
- United Airlines (UA)
Most Americans don’t think about Hawaiian Airlines or Alaska Airlines as Hawaiian Airlines is based in Honolulu, Hawaii and flies mostly to the West Coast and Asia and Australia and Alaska Airlines based in Seattle, Washington has service primarily on the West Coast of the U.S., but does go across the country as well.
There are many regional airlines, but they operate for the larger airlines.
4. Americans love their cars!
Most Americans drive for their Holidays or fly across country visiting families and friends for the most part.
It’s almost 2 hours to fly from Houston to El Paso; both in the state of Texas, its 10:16 if you drive; a distance of 745 miles!
It’s 11:48 to drive from one end of California to the next and its beautiful!
It’s about 7:18 hours to fly from Houston to Anchorage when the nonstop is available and you’re still in the U.S.
The U.S. is a big country!
5. Train Travel
As slow as Amtrak is, people still use it as, at the moment, we have no other non-commuter inter-state options for train travel, unless we want to travel by freight which is not permitted.
There is train services in the major cities and there are commuter trains between cites just across the borders, but Amtrak is the one that will take you coast to coast and also north south.
I’ve traveled from New York to Toronto, ON Canada which is actually quite the journey through upstate New York, stopping at the border in Buffalo, NY, changing trains to Via Rail Canada and then continuing on to Toronto.
It’s a journey, but a beautiful one.
I’ve even taken Amtrak from Seattle to Portland; worth the trip I tell you.
So you can see most of the connected 48 states and Alaska by train.
6. Bus Services
There are countless bus services that go across the country; Bolt, Greyhound, FlixBus and MegaBus to name four.
Its about 6 hours to fly from New York to LAX and can take up to a little over 7 hours to fly to San Francisco and 6:24 to fly from Miami, FL to Seattle, WA.
Guam is the exception where a U.S. citizen requires a passport to enter although under special circumstances, they can do citizenship verification by other means.
Guam has a lot history and I highly recommend a visit.
So, those stats about most Americans not having passports are a bit misleading as it suggests they don’t travel which is incorrect, to say the least.
And remember, nothing wrong with exploring your own country first.
What say you?