Humans have been on the move since the dawn of time. Now more than any time in history, it’s easy to travel – both in our own backyards and halfway across the planet. But, not every person is the same and some people like to travel more than others. Who do you think travels more? Indians or Colombians? Australians or Egyptians? The numbers might surprise you. In this list, we group people together by nationality to see who travels most often. A few general trends emerge: people from smaller countries are more likely to travel abroad than citizens of larger countries; more affluent countries tend to have populations which travel more frequently; and, maybe surprisingly, people from island countries are not more likely to travel abroad than they are to travel domestically. So, where do you think the most well traveled people come from? (Travel data is sourced from Timetric’s study on 2013 travel habits across the world. For a trip to count, it must include an overnight stop, but it could be leisure, business, or otherwise.) Do you consider yourself an avid traveler? Find out if your country made the cut in this list of the 25 Most Well-Traveled Peoples In The World
The archipelago of Indonesia starts off our list of the world’s most well-traveled people. Though they are the 25th most traveled nationality on the planet, Indonesians aren’t necessarily travelling the world. More than any other nationality on this list, Indonesians travel more within their country than abroad with only 0.03 outbound trips per domestic trip. Living in a country of 17,508 islands which is also one of 25 global biodiversity hotspots in the world, it’s not hard to see why Indonesians stay close to home.
The Chinese are legendary travelers, whether it be Chinese traders who plied the seas in their junk boats or today’s 50-person strong tourist groups which show up and leave in a flash on their chartered tour buses. Despite the amount of Chinese tourists seen around the world, most journeys are domestic – 15 times more in fact. With mega-cities, ancient monuments, and almost every type of climate, who can blame them?
Like the Indonesians and Chinese, Brazilians are much more likely to travel within their own country – 25 times in fact. Citizens of a BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa) country, Brazil’s rapidly developing middle class are hungry to travel. Couple that with ever-more Brazilians going abroad to learn English and these people are major travelers. Despite its size and natural wonder, Brazil only brings in about as many international tourists as Argentina.
This fact may surprise you – for such a small country, Belgians are not one of the nationalities which travel the most. Relegated to #22, Belgians are, though, much more likely to visit foreign countries rather than travelling in their own, a trait common to smaller nations. (They’re three times more likely as the average Belgian takes 0.9 outbound and 0.3 domestic trips each year.)
Despite the high disposable incomes of many Saudis, they aren’t the biggest travelers on our list. On average, each Saudi citizen takes just under one domestic and international trip annually. Despite being largely barren desert and wastelands, Saudi Arabia has made use of its oil wealth to build vast cities, including the two holiest spots in Islam – Mecca and Medina.
Asia’s most influential city according to Forbes, Singapore is a city-state group of islands and one of Asia’s most economically prosperous and important zones. One of the smallest countries on Earth, Singapore sees its citizens travel abroad 80 times more than they do domestically, the second largest imbalance on this list. Due to the country’s role as one of the primary Asian business hubs, many Singaporeans (who often have generous incomes) frequently travel for business to other countries in Asia and to the Middle East and Europe.
Italy: the country most people dream of visiting. Its bright blue Mediterranean shores, legendary gastronomy, and rich history has shaped the boot-country. With such diversity, Italians are the 19th most traveled people in the world. Most trips are domestic – likely to visit large extended families or religious monuments – but Italians, like other higher-income Europeans, are often seen on the move around the continent as well.
Mexicans travel more domestically than any other country so far on our list. Large extended families, like in Italy, and the country’s long cultural history as the founder of multiple civilizations (including the Olmec, Toltec, Zapotec, Maya, and Aztec) play a major role in high domestic travel. Other nationalities have recognized the vivacity of Mexican culture and the numerous important cultural sites which bring in nearly 30 million tourists each year, making Mexico the tenth most visited country in the world.
The Dutch are the most charitable nationality in the world, giving more money per capita to charity than any other country. Most Dutch people (and nearly all Dutch people under 30 years old) speak fluent English, making them more comfortable to travel. Despite being from such a small country, the Dutch travel inwards as much as outwards with each person taking, on average, at least one inward and outward-bound trip per year.
The Japanese are similar travelers to #2 on our list in terms of travel habits. Coming from a country with a rich history (and possibly due in part to its history of isolationism), the Japanese much prefer to travel within the country than abroad. Though each person generally takes 2.3 trips per year, 2.2 of those are within the country. With volcanoes, mountains, beaches, and massive metropolises, Japan has plenty for its citizens to visit.
Austria is home to one of the most travelling nationalities in the world. Among Europeans, Austrians book the farthest in advance, about 72 days before a holiday. Whereas other cold country-living people enjoy beach getaways, Austrians prefer to go on social vacations or visit family and friends.
The country famous for timepieces and chocolate is no stranger to taking trips afield. The Swiss are some of Europe’s most frequent travelers with each person taking 1.6 jaunts abroad on average every year. Despite the breathtaking Alpine lakes and skiing opportunities, Switzerland brings in less than 2% of visitors to Europe.
You may be surprised to learn that all island countries on this list actually travel less abroad than within the country (except for Singapore). On average, Brits travel three times per year with two of those within the British Isles. Despite Britain’s position as a major global economy, Brits travel more for leisure than for work with two out of three international trips purely for vacation.
Germans are frequent and easily-spotted travelers. A common example in the travel industry compares a French and German family visiting Disney World. The French family will stay in Orlando for the week while the German family will split half their time at the parks before heading to the beaches. Germans consistently enjoy and book beach holidays, preferring countries in Europe such as Spain and Italy. Despite their love of warm, sandy beaches, Germans take twice as many domestic trips as international.
The relatively affluent Spanish love to travel within Spain: a widely diverse country with beaches, mountains, deserts, and more. Maybe they travel to escape the tourists, 65 million of which visit Spain every year, making it the third most visited country in the world. Though Spaniards are 15 times more likely to travel domestically, when Spaniards do travel abroad, they prefer to visit London, Amsterdam, and Berlin.
The most visited country in the world, France is a traveler’s paradise. It’s alpine skiing, lush wine country, rolling lavender fields, and trendy cities brought in almost 84 million visitors in 2014. The globally-curious French mostly preferred travelling within their own country, taking an average of 3.1 domestic trips per year. As compared to other European tourists, the French typically spend less on a trip (about 600-700 euros), especially in contrast with the Brits and Germans who spend upwards of 1,000 euros per person.
Australia: it’s a continent and a country. Though not an island, strictly speaking, Australia’s vast outback and high incomes leads its citizens to frequently travel abroad. Though Australians travel much more within the country – 3.4 within to 0.4 abroad – don’t let the numbers fool you! Australians are major travelers all-around with almost 1 out of 3 Australians travelling abroad every year. Most trips are to nearby countries such as New Zealand and Indonesia and this number is expected to increase – since 2008, the number of Australians going abroad for vacation has been greater than the continent’s inbound visitors.
Canadians are the 8th most traveled people on our list with the average Canadian embarking on a trip over four times per year. Though one of the largest and most beautiful countries on Earth, Canada is, in many places, sparsely populated and covered by snow for much of the year. This may influence differences between Canadian and American travelers; while Americans prefer to travel within the U.S., most Canadians prefer to leave Canada for vacation. Maybe the cold gets to them.
It’s been a common trend thus far that citizens of smaller countries travel abroad more often than those in larger countries such as Brazil, Spain, and Indonesia. New Zealand is an anomaly in this trend – or is it? Though most people think New Zealand is a small country, it would reach from Jacksonville to Boston if overlaid on the U.S.’s Eastern Seaboard. Despite its size, New Zealand has some of the most diverse flora and fauna on the planet and is routinely lauded for its widely varied landscapes. Kiwis – as New Zealanders are often known – go on 3.8 trips domestically (0.5 internationally) each year.
Hong Kong is the most visited city in the world. Though most visitors go for business purposes, Hong Kong has plenty to see for those interested in culture or nature. Living in one of the world’s densest and most vertical cities must get tiring for locals who eschew the trend of most other nationalities on this list (and the world) and travel much more abroad than domestically. Almost every trip of their 4.3 annual jaunts are abroad, with Hong Kongers preferring to visit Japan, Australia, and the United Kingdom.
The fifth most travelling nationality in the world, Norwegians kick off Nordic domination of this list. Extremely high incomes and near-constant favorable exchange rates lead Norwegians to travel frequently to Europe and further afield. Taking an average of 5.2 trips each year (2 of which are international), Norwegians are also big spenders, dishing out 90% more money than the standard European tourist while on vacation.
Besides having fun and friendly personalities, Danes are major travelers! Like other Nordic countries, workers in Denmark receive 5-6 weeks of vacation annually which many locals often take weeks-at-a-time in the summer or, if possible, during the cold and dark winter. Among all the Nordic countries, Danes are the most fond of cruises and of sampling local food and culinary traditions while travelling.
If you see a Scandinavian-looking blond tanning on the beach or by the pool, you’re likely looking at a Swede! Among people from Nordic countries, Swedes put a major focus on sunbathing and swimming. The third best-traveled people in the world, Swedes won’t be stopping anytime soon: over 50% of Swedish citizens say they plan to travel more in the upcoming year.
The only non-Nordic country on our top five, the United States is one of the most diverse countries on Earth, geographically and ethnically. The wide variety of tourist attractions partly leads Americans to keep their trips domestic. Though the average American takes 6.7 trips each year, only 0.2 of those (less than 3%) are abroad. With many families spread out across multiple cities, many domestic trips are to reunite for the holidays. Despite their frequent travels, Americans are among the least well-traveled internationally among citizens from Western countries.
And so we come to the end of our list, topped by the most well-traveled people in the world: the Finnish! Taking an average of 7.5 trips per person per year, the Finnish prioritize climate and culture when choosing a vacation. As with most other nationalities below, Fins mostly travel within the country but are the second most likely (after Hong Kongers) to travel internationally. While residents of many other northern countries prefer to visit warmer (frequently Mediterranean) countries for leisure trips, Fins most frequently visited Estonia and Sweden.