Why We Travel — According to American Express

Recently, I’ve been getting an influx in travel-related press releases. It’s nice to know this little blog o’ mine is getting noticed.

After my post some months ago about my experience with the new site RezHub, I received a response from a site employee within the week. (I apologize for not responding, RezHub Rep. If only you knew the full status of my current Ulysses-like living situation. Sans cyclops. Kind of.) That was the first time I’d realized that the couple hundred regular readers — not to mention the thousands of irregular readers — reading my blog weren’t just friends I’d made on various jaunts over the last decade or so.

Many of these press releases leave me, shall we say, wanting. I don’t really give two craps about the new eco-lodge in Indiana. I’m glad more people are hopping on the eco-gravy train, but I just drove through Indiana on my way out to NYC, and if the gods favor me, I won’t be passing through the Hoosier State on my way back. (This has nothing to do with the fact that Googling “Hoosier State” yields “Hoosier State Semen Supply” as the third result. Honestly.) However, once in a while, something lands in the ol’ inbox that’s worth repeating.

The latest was from American Express. I know, I know — I’m a corporate sell-out, blah blah blah. But I actually liked the angle of their latest customer survey: The Purpose-Driven Vacation. I believe that traveling can do so much more than relieve the frazzled nerves of us Western workaholics. It can also benefit the residents, flora, and fauna of the destinations we visit. Case in point: When one of my oldest and dearest friends visited New Orleans last weekend, she and her husband went out of their way to volunteer eight hours of their four-day trip. And they didn’t do it just to rack up the karma points. Zi told me she felt that it gave her a better perspective of the city, not to mention that it might have countered the bad juju from having gawked at the worst-hit city districts from the comfort of a tour bus.

I guess a lot of us are feeling that way, according to Amex’s survey. Here’s the breakdown I found to be most significant:

  • 87% of travelers indicate that personal interests drive the majority of their vacation plans
  • 60%* of travelers say the stronger they feel about a passion, the further they’ve traveled for it
  • 57%* of respondents are willing to travel any distance to explore their personal interests
  • 36% of those surveyed said they wouldn’t consider a vacation destination that doesn’t help them fulfill at least one personal passion
  • 71%* of respondents have discovered a “new passion” while on vacation
  • 34% of vacationers have discovered a passion on vacation and incorporated it into their home life

Vacations that incorporate personal passions also tend to be longer by almost double the number of days compared to those trips that do not include personal interests (16 days versus 9); more frequent (6 trips versus 3); and more expensive ($3,900 versus $2,400).

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