Summer 2023 has been the season of international travel for Americans, who have touched down in Europe and the Pacific in record numbers.
American arrivals in Europe are expected to surpass last year’s numbers by 55%, and the season isn’t over yet. The top places U.S. travelers are visiting are London, Paris, Rome, and Dublin, according to travel booking app Hopper.
American, Delta, and United have reported double- and triple-digit increases in passenger revenue and miles traveled by passengers on trans-Atlantic and trans-Pacific routes in the first and second quarters of this year.
Americans Are Hungry For International Travel
This surge in demand for international travel is likely explained by three years of lockdowns and being forced to stay close to home.
It’s reflected by the record-breaking numbers of passport applications at the U.S. Department of State, which received 500,000 applications per week in July.
Not everyone will be lucky enough to get away this year. The agency is struggling with a backlog of passport applications because of pandemic-related staff shortages.
It won’t get back to its normal processing time (six to eight weeks for routine passport applications) before the end of this year. It’s currently quoting 10 to 13 weeks for routine passport applications applied for on or after March 24, 2023.
For those without a U.S. passport in hand, you still have a few options for getting away. Americans can visit Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands without one.
For those looking to travel internationally, where should you be heading?
Europe’s Hotspots May Not Be Worth It
If you’ve got your heart set on Europe, be prepared to pay for it. Hopper reports that the average ticket to Europe costs $1,200, a 23% increase since summer 2019.
You should also be prepared for crowds. Europe’s hotspots are overrun, and many of its most iconic locations have imposed bans, fines, and taxes to discourage more people from visiting.
Rome has restricted access to the Trevi Fountain. Athens implemented a time-slot system for the Acropolis, where tourists reportedly have to wait for more than two hours to see the monument. Amsterdam has launched a “discouragement campaign” to crack down on crowds.
My advice is to skip the hotspots, especially the ones that are actively trying to discourage visitors, and head to the places that actually want you there.
The good news is that there are unique and desirable destinations all over the world that embrace visitors, particularly American ones, with open arms.
How Do Other Countries Perceive Americans?
Gone are the days when American travelers felt the need to put Canadian flags on their travel bags to avoid unpleasant interactions while abroad.
Despite the general sentiment at home, much of the rest of the world has a positive opinion of the United States. A Pew Research Center study shows that a median of 59% of the 23 nations surveyed have a favorable view of the United States.
Many countries, including a few you might not expect, welcome American tourists, who are generally seen as friendly, outgoing, wealthy, and generous tippers.
Of course, there are also negative stereotypes associated with Americans, but this article focuses on where Americans are embraced, determined by their populations’ perceptions of the United States, their governments’ policies towards American tourists, and heritage ties between them and the U.S. population.
The Most Welcoming Countries For Americans
The two most pro-American countries in the world are Poland and Israel, with 93% and 87% favorable views of the U.S., respectively, according to Pew Research Center. These are the highest percentages recorded for those since Pew started the survey.
South Korea follows Poland and Israel in the survey, with a 79% favorable view of the U.S., followed by Japan (73%), Nigeria (74%), Kenya (71%), India (65%), Brazil (63%), and Mexico (63%).
Any of these places would be fantastic travel choices. It makes sense that their positive views of the U.S. would translate into a welcoming environment for American tourists.
Another way to determine where American tourists are welcome is by looking at their tourist visa policies.
The majority of the world’s nations allow tourists to visit for one to three months at a time. Albania, Georgia, and Palau are exceptions, allowing Americans to visit for an entire year at a time.
While not mainstream travel choices, these generous tourist allowances give you a chance to fully immerse yourself in these countries.
Countries that have strong heritage ties to the United States also tend to be more welcoming of American tourists.
Two of the biggest ancestry groups in the United States are Irish-Americans, who number 33.5 million, and Italian-Americans, who number 17.3 million.
Ireland received 7 million visitors in 2022, and 1.5 million of those were from North America. While Dublin is the focus of attention, a recent spike in crime means that Ireland’s safe and authentic small towns are better choices.
The United States and Italy have a similar kinship, and American tourism makes up the second-biggest slice of tourism in Italy. It received over 6 million tourists in 2019.
While its most famous destinations are currently overrun, there are still places in Italy where you can enjoy local hospitality without being surrounded by other tourists. Some of its most underrated regions include Umbria, Abruzzo, and Emilia-Romagna.