“Where are you going on vacation next?” and “How was your trip?” are probably the two most common lunchtime topics here. On dating websites, absolutely everyone lists “traveling” as one of their hobbies, and there are inevitably pictures of them scuba diving in a tropical ocean somewhere, soaking up some sun on a pristine white sand beach, or posing somewhat awkwardly in front of an iconic landmark. It’s not something that distinguishes anyone here. I find myself scrutinizing these profile photos and speculating as to whether the guy is just a hobby traveler or whether he’s actually lived overseas and whether he’s really truly an internationally-minded guy. Of course, a photo can’t give me these answers, though in typical fashion I like to convince myself that it does (that’s a whole other topic, and oft-debated idea for this blog… e.g. whether I want to go down the rabbit hole of writing about dating in Germany).
But without going too much into my judgments regarding the actual nature of a person’s global experiences, it’s not an over-exaggeration to say that most Germans travel a lot. And most of them have been traveling their entire lives, and will bring up their children to value travel as well.
I think there are four main reasons for this:
- Germany is a relatively small country, so even if one lives on the opposite side of the country from his or her family, it is still possible to go home for a weekend visit. So they can see their family a lot, and they don’t need to save much of their vacation time for family visits.
- As we all know, Germans have A LOT of vacation time and holidays. 30 days of annual vacation, plus public holidays, influences people to do something interesting with that time… why not explore another part of the world? Or escape a dreary winter for some sunshine and relaxation?
- And Germans have the means to do it. This is a comfortably middle class society, and little luxuries like a trip abroad are affordable for most people. Also, there are a lot of budget-friendly and family travel deals. It’s just not a huge thing to take your family off to Majorca for a week or two.
- Everything is closer. Not only other European countries, but Africa, and most of Asia, and even Australia is about the same distance from the East Coast of the US as it is from Germany.