TALLAHASSEE, FL– There are many reasons why American citizens do not travel. Some are influenced by what they see on television. They see the African child with the air-filled belly and fly resting politely on his forehead, and they mentally dismiss any idea of visiting. That one image becomes the face for an entire country. While others, because of the events of September 11th, have a mental crater so deep they won’t touch a plane ticket. These are instances of living in fear and ignorance.
According to planecrashinfo.com, your chances of being killed in an aircraft accident are approximately one in 11 million while your chances of being killed in an automobile on the way to the airport are one in 5000. With this knowledge, why don’t more American citizens have passports?
“I didn’t really see the need to travel,” said Doris Nebut, an international student at Florida A&M University. “I’m happy I found the need and came to America for my education, though.”
According to the U.S. Travel Association, out of 308 million citizens in the United States, only 30 percent of them have passports. This means that two-thirds of American citizens cannot go to Mexico or Canada. In comparison to other countries such as Canada, where 60 percent of their population have passports, and the United Kingdom with 75 percent, America is trailing.
According to the U.S. Immigration Support, out of the 21 million Florida residents, 17 percent of them are foreign-born and that number is predicted to rise.
Do Americans feel as though they are an entire continent and have enough sights to see, so why travel? Or are they tormented by the idea of flying and would rather keep their feet grounded on U.S. soil? Could it be that the price of flying is too far out of their reach?
FAMU graduate Dominique Crawford had the opportunity to have her passport stamped for the first time for a trip to Jamaica during spring break. “I would recommend flying outside of the United States because diversity is a necessity,” says Crawford. “My trip was less than $500; this included air and hotel accommodations and spending money.”
Traveling abroad is a way to experience the cultures that make America, AMERICA. You can purchase a U.S. passport at the post office for $135 and the passport expires in 10 years. It takes between six and eight weeks for the passport to arrive, but this also depends on the season. The U.S. Department of State also offers traveling safety tips, a travel checklist, and continuously updates its website with different events taking place in the country you are inquiring about.
America is trailing behind as a country when it comes to its citizens leaving its soil, but with careful planning and thorough research, traveling abroad can be an exciting experience. The first step is getting a passport, the tangible portal that gives us the opportunity to embrace the cultures of the world that come together and give America its name, “the melting pot.”
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