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A Brief History of Travel in the USA

A Brief History of Travel in the USA

While the USA is a relatively new country, it quickly developed its own American culture and traditions in regards to just about everything — even travel!

The history of travel in the USA has led to a culture of tourism that makes us stand out from travelers from the rest of the world. But when you look at the big picture, it all makes sense!


When did Americans start traveling?

The first European settlers in the lands that would eventually be called the United States of America did not travel for leisure as often as we do today. Building a society from scratch and meagerly farming to feed their families didn’t leave much time for weekend trips.

Soon after the USA declared its independence, travel as a hobby began to gain traction. By the 1800s, some destinations began to attract tourists in droves, including Niagara Falls.

But still, even with this boost in popularity, experts estimate that only 1% of Americans visited a tourist destination in 1860.

The concept of going on vacation came about alongside the birth of the railroad industry that flourished after the Civil War. Hotels popped up along railways that took tourists across the country to beaches, mountains, and cities that were previously inaccessible to them. 

Since the trains were quite slow, these weren’t quick weekend trips. These were some of the first American vacations in USA travel history!

The introduction of the automobile made exploring the country even easier. Now, the average citizen could plan a road trip at their leisure and on their own schedule, and navigate to the destination via car. 

This is when the roadside hotel industry began, providing food and lodging for those traveling by car. Towns started creating their own attractions to bring visitors into their city.

By this point, the idea of taking regular vacations began to make its way to the growing middle class for the first time in USA travel history.

As air travel became even more common in the late 20th century, American travel changed yet again. No longer were vacations just for the wealthy — now, anyone could fly to their dream destination.

The rise of the internet in the 1990s suddenly made travel even easier! With the click of a button, you can easily book your flights and hotels or research destinations.

Today, travel is more accessible than ever before. Whether you’re looking to take a road trip or fly to another country, there’s no shortage of options. 


How Do Americans Travel Differently?

Americans are much more likely to travel domestically than residents of any other country. 

In fact, only 30% of the over 300 million US citizens have a passport. Many of us prefer to stay within the United States. When we travel abroad, nearly 50% of all trips are to Canada or Mexico.

With so much geographical and cultural diversity found here, it’s no surprise that some people can get their travel fill without ever leaving the country!

We also make our status as Americans known through our behavior when we are traveling abroad. We are considered to be the loudest and most extroverted tourists, but it doesn’t stop there.

In some countries, the culture does not value the general politeness that we do in the USA. It is commonly noted that Americans politely ask, "How are you?" to everyone they meet and that we smile a lot! European tourists to the USA often remark on our tendency to chat with strangers.


10 Reasons to Travel in the United States

1. There is something for everyone!

No matter what your interests are, you can find a destination in the USA that caters to them. Are you a fan of the outdoors? Visit any of the national parks.. Prefer city life? New York, Chicago, and San Francisco are some of the most popular tourist destinations in the world.

2. Famous Landmarks

The United States is home to some of the most iconic landmarks in the world, from the Statue of Liberty to the Golden Gate Bridge. No matter where you go, you’re sure to see some amazing sights.

3. Diverse Landscape

The USA is a massive country with a diverse landscape to match. From the deserts of the Southwest to the rugged coastline of Maine, there is something for everyone.

4. Friendly People

Despite what you may hear, the people of the United States are some of the friendliest in the world. Whether you’re in a small town or a big city, you’re sure to find people who are more than happy to help you out or chat with you.

5. World-Class Cuisine

The USA is home to a wealth of different cuisines, from the traditional American fare to the tasty offerings of immigrant populations. No matter what you’re in the mood for, you’re sure to find it here.

6. Historical Destinations

The USA is a young country, but it has already made a significant mark on world history. From the Revolutionary War to the Civil Rights Movement, there is no shortage of fascinating stories stretched out across our land.

7. Beautiful Scenery

No matter where you go in the USA, you’re sure to find some stunning scenery. From the rolling hills of the Appalachians to the soaring peaks of the Rockies, there is no shortage of beauty to be found.

8. Abundant Wildlife

The USA is home to a wide variety of wildlife, from the familiar deer and squirrels to the more exotic rattlesnakes and grizzly bears. The diverse landscape of the 50 states makes this possible!

9. Well-Developed Infrastructure

The USA has an extensive network of roads, railways, and airports, making it easy to get around. Whether you’re traveling by car, train, or plane, you’ll have no trouble getting to your destination.

10. Rich Cultural Diversity

The USA is a melting pot of different cultures, and this is reflected in its food, music, art, and literature. 

What Do Americans Do On Their Travels?

1. Road Trips

Road trips are a quintessential American travel tradition. No matter what part of the country you’re in, you’re sure to find a scenic route to take — and there’s nothing quite like taking it all in on a beautiful sunny day with the windows down and the radio up!

2. The National Parks

The USA is home to some of the most beautiful and varied scenery in the world, and there’s no better way to see it than by visiting one of the country’s many national parks. From the majestic cliffs of Yosemite to the geysers of Yellowstone, there’s a national park to suit every taste.

3. Camping

Camping is another popular American travel tradition, especially during the summer months. Whether you’re pitching a tent in your backyard or venturing into the wilderness, camping is a great way to enjoy the outdoors.

4. Sporting Events

Sporting events are a huge part of American culture, and attending one is a great way to experience it. Whether you’re cheering on your favorite team or watching a sport you know nothing about, the energy is infectious!

5. Shopping

No trips around the USA are complete without a little shopping. From high-end designer stores to outlet malls, there’s a shopping destination to suit every taste and budget anywhere in the country. 

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