O for Overseas

For those who may be geography challenged, it takes a LONG time to get anywhere from Australia, other than to New Zealand!  Yet most Australians travel, unlike some other countries.  Look at the map – we are a long way from most other countries!

The World

World Map from geology.com

In the 12 months to June 2010, 6.8 million overseas trips were made by Australians, up from 2.1 million two decades earlier. In per capita terms, this was the equivalent to 31 trips overseas for every 100 Australian residents in 2009-10, up from 12 trips per 100 residents in 1989-90.


Quite a bit of travel, huh?  Bear in mind the population.  Australia’s population is a mere 22,801,350.  Check the population clock as it may have changed by the time you read this!  Almost 70% of Australians have a passport, many of us have two passports; myself included.  I could have three, but I think that is a bit of overkill really.  Two will do!

By comparison, only 30% of Americans have a passport!  That is an increase due to the new requirements for Canada and Mexico.  There are 314,159,265 Americans! 

The numbers tell the story: Of the 308 million-plus citizens in the United States, 30% have passports.

There were 61.5 million trips outside the United States in 2009, down 3% from 2008, according to the Office of Travel and Tourism Industries. About 50% of those trips were to either Mexico or Canada, destinations that didn’t require a passport until 2007


Well, I don’t consider travelling to Mexico or Canada to be travelling “overseas”! 😆

When I was in Florida recently, Americans seem stunned we had travelled SO FAR to go to the conference.  On the other hand, a couple of conference attendees told me they would do ANYTHING, anything, if I would give them a job in Australia!

The flight to New Zealand is, give or take, three hours.  Bliss, really.  Anywhere else?  Loooonnnnnngggggggggg flights.  15 hours to Los Angeles from Melbourne.   Want to go to FLorida? Add another 5 hours.  24 hours to London with a refuelling stop somewhere.

Then connections can be a drama.  When I went to Nigeria to get married, I flew from Melbourne to Perth domestic: 3.5 hours.  Perth to South Africa: 11.5 hours. South Africa to Nigeria: 5 hours.  PLUS I had to spend about 12 hours sitting around Johannesburg airport.  Next time I’ll fly Qatar airways via Doha!

Why on earth do we do it?

I believe it is for two reasons.  First, Australians are an adventurous lot!  Yes, we are!  Kids get a trip as a graduation present or there is always the famous (infamous?) Contiki Tours for the 18 to 35 age group!

Secondly, so many of us were either not born here or are first generation Australians.  Look back on I for Immigration for the numbers.  We travel to visit uncles, aunts, cousins, parents.  We travel for weddings, funerals, births, 50th birthdays.

I’ve been to Bali, Japan, the UK, New Zealand, the USA (5 times now), Nigeria and Qatar.  I don’t count the two days spent in South Africa (there and back from Nigeria), I didn’t see anything!

Are you from a nation of travellers?  Where have you been?  How long did it take you to get there?

Visit http://myatozchallenge.com/ to find more countries and articles on the A – Z Challenge.  Check out the A – Z of Australia Menu for other articles on this site.

28 comments on “O for Overseas

  1. Great to remind people where we are. One trip I did with a child of 4 and one of 12 Months “non-stop” (in the sense of no stop-overs) from Armidale to Philadelphia took 46 hours.

    As an aside, I always wondered why the top article for all time on my blog was “Where’s Asia?”


    I finally figured it out by doing some tracking. Turns out my nice blank maps of Asia were exactly what geography/history teachers wanted for their teaching material.

    So much for brilliant bloggery…. 🙂

    Keep writing, Robyn.

    Denis @deniswright


    • Thank you Denis! Practice makes perfect, so they tell me – or was that perfect practice makes perfect? 🙂

      I don’t think I could face 46 hours with two small children. I bow to your superior travel/parenting skills on that one. I don’t think I would survive the journey. I did the three hours to New Zealand with an 18-month old and THAT was bad enough!

      One of my top ones is the Qatar sex one – you can guarantee it gets read every single day! I wish I’d known better back then!

      You can consider your Asia post a pillar post though! You never know what else those same teachers may read once they land on your site. 🙂


  2. Australia is far but on my list of places to see in this lifetime… I love travel and would do it in a heartbeat. 😉


  3. I am walking part of El Camino in Spain right now. (Well, I am sitting at breakfast, to be precise.) I have read about people walking across Australia but I probably won’t do that!


  4. I would travel anywhere anytime if I had the money!! though 24 hrs in a plane makes my legs go weak just thinking about it!

    Oh and Robyn I have updated my Nigeria posting to include embassy details etc and have emailed the UK High Commissioner in Nigeria and the Nigerian in London.. cant’ just let this one go.. I slept little last night as you might imagine..


    • Trust me Helen, legs go weak doing it!

      Good idea re the contact detals. I’ll pop over and have a look. Have you had many views on that article? I think it is such a confronting topic, many prefer to turn away from it, sadly. We need international condemnation. I do wonder how much of that sort of behaviour was learnt during the days of the “colonial masters”, when you consider how the “natives” were often treated. Australia’s record pretty damn bad on that score.


  5. I traveled much more when younger ~ France, Belgium, England, Canada, Mexico, St. Thomas, the Bahamas, and lots and lots of states in the US.

    At the moment, I don’t have a passport and, after hearing about your jet lag, have no plans to get one. 😆


  6. I was born in the UK and have been to Nigeria 🙂 India, Borneo and Peninsular Malaysia, Ghana, Morocco, Zimbabwe, Botswana and Zambia. Also Turkey and a few European countries. I’m planning to got the the US next summer for the first time, but prefer more unusual travel really. If I could afford it I would spend all winter travelling and summer here in Devon!


  7. My goodness Australians sure do travel a lot and what a huge expense that it. I’ve never been drawn to traveling off the North American continent but I have seen quite a lot of North America.


  8. I lived in Guam for 8 years and trip home to the Mainland U.S. took between 25 and 30 hours, including lay overs and all the other fun stuff.


  9. I have travelled quite a lot in my life but nowhere as far as Australia!
    I was born in the UK, lived in Germany for 2 years, then Singapore for 2 years (my father was in the Army). Emigrated to Australia in the 60’s with my boyfriend who later became my hubby but got homesick and returned to the UK. We eventually made it back to Australia with 3 kids in tow, and here to stay!
    Like you, I have two passports.
    I went back to the UK last year to see my sick mother and other family members and next year we plan to do the same, flying via Malaysia and USA, visiting friends in both countries.
    We sure are a nation of travellers!


    • Yes we are and I think you are classic example of why we are a nation of travellers! You have certainly raked up the air miles!


    • Spouse and I did the opposite Barb – we married and that week left Melbourne for five years OS. Mostly working in Israel and Britain, but also travelling (without working) in one slow trip driving from Tel Aviv to London. I have been to the northern hemisphere many times since, but the BEST trip was that 5 year stint away.

      Every trip to the northern hemisphere takes us about 25-26 hours. The longest was Melbourne-Auckland-LA-Montreal in 32 hours.


  10. Wasn´t aware such a big percentage of Australians had passports or travelled. Since coming to Australia, my two overseas trips have been to Europe with about 19 hours flight time, plus a few more airport time. It´s the only drawback to living here I find!


    • Yes, Sami, getting around is an adventure. I know someone who travels here from the UK every couple of months. I once met someone who travelled to the USA every three weeks.

      I couldn’t do it!


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