In my adult life, the global gripe has always been that not enough Americans travel overseas.
We’ve all probably heard some version of this statement, with people filling in various statistics about how many Americans have no interest in leaving the country (it’s been recently reported that just one-third of Americans have a passport) and why it’s a bad thing.
Well, turns out we’re not alone. A recent study suggests that all countries harbor population subsets with no interest in leaving town, and one in particular, Japan, appears to lead the way.
According to the report, only 23% of Japanese hold a passport, and 35% of adults said they will “never travel again” for leisure purposes. Why? The study cites a variety of reasons, most of which are no doubt cross-cultural and universal.
Risk Aversion/Health & Safety
One of the lasting effects of COVID-19 is the health and safety risks people feel when traveling. Not only does travel expose you to more, it also takes you far away from your homeland’s healthcare services, which makes people nervous. In Japan, there is a “cultural preference for risk aversion,” the study says, which is enticing people to stay home.
Stress & Anxiety
Though we can get anywhere in the world faster than ever, travel remains stressful and causes anxiety for people.
The study cites stress and anxiety-inducing travel delays as the culprit, as well as realities like the language barrier (Japanese is not nearly as readily spoken around the world as English, Spanish, or the other romance languages).
Work & Finances
Like Americans, the Japanese also experience high-pressure work environments, with limited days off and/or the pressure not to take vacation days.
The cost of travel has become a bigger issues in recent years, with the Yen weaker than usual and the pandemic’s effect on the economy still looming.
Sustainability & Environmentalism
While not cited as frequently for the Japanese, data from other countries suggest that sustainability and environmentalism are also getting in the way for some folks, who feel that travel puts a strain on resources and negatively effects the environment.
Realities like the carbon footprint of airplanes, mega-resorts using local resources, and travel’s disruption of local life were all contributing factors.
There’s No Place Like Home
Finally, one positive reason given for a lack of interest in traveling internationally was the availability of domestic options. The report said that Japan’s wealth of nature, history, and culture has incentivized some to explore closer to home.