Which is the most popular country to visit in the world right now? What about the most recommended European city? Or the bucket list destination people want to tick off most? Well, I’ve asked the great travelly people of the internets to take part in the Big Fat Travel Questionnaire 2018, to discover the answers to all these questions and more!
The Big Fat Travel Questionnaire 2018 is now closed for entries, but the results are in! The votes have been counted and verified (by my boyfriend, who works in market research and shook his head when he saw the awful pie charts in my first draft of this post) and Dermot O’Leary may even make an appearance to announce who won the Amazon voucher (that’s a lie, he won’t, sorry).
The Big Fat Travel Questionnaire 2018, The Results
Disclaimer: the Big Fat Travel Questionnaire received 76 entries during January 2018, mostly from social shares from this blog. I’m well aware that the participants are hugely biased and I’m working on a rather small sample, but hey! It was fun seeing what people had to say about what could be big in travel this coming year…
1. Which best describes you?
How best to start off the Big Fat Travel Questionnaire results reveal than with a huge dollop of bias? This may come as a shock to some of you, but Page Traveller is a travel blog and therefore I know a fair few other travel bloggers. In fact, I shared this questionnaire with them.
Therefore, let’s begin the analysis by acknowledging that this questionnaire not representative of the global population (even though sometimes it may feel like 42% of the global population are travel bloggers). However, I do believe this questionnaire reveals a little taster of where people who love to travel love to travel to.
2. Which is your home country or countries (including where you currently live or are based)?
I was actually quite surprised by the results to this question. As a European (yep, Brits are still Europeans, Brexiteers), who has spent most of the last decade in Asia, it was interesting to see where the Big Fat Travel Questionnaire spread to – and the answer is 26 different countries, to be exact, which is a pretty varied response for only 76 participants!
Interestingly, a lot of North Americans took this questionnaire, but that may not be too much of a surprise as Google Analytics tells me that the majority of this blog’s readership is US-based (which in itself is a weird little nugget of information).
Also, hey to that one person in Africa! Thank you for diversifying this questionnaire!
3. Which countries did you visit in 2017?
OK, now down to the nitty gritty. We started off by asking where people travelled to in 2017. The answers totalled a whopping 303 visit to 108 different countries! That’s nearly four international trips per participant in 2017. If nothing else, I feel like this proves I hang around with a lot of people who love to travel.
To analyse these results, I tallied up the number of visits to each country and subtracted the number of people who lived there (I noticed most people counted their home country as somewhere they had travelled to – of course, you can travel within your own country, but I wanted to show where people had chosen to travel abroad to, rather than exploring where they are based).
I discovered the following things:
- – As you can see, the numbers are quite low because the answers were very diverse, so even the top 10 visited countries range between only 5 and 2 visits. Guess what – people like travelling to different places!
- – British people do not count travelling within the United Kingdom as travel. Participants from the UK were the only people who did not count their home country as a place they visited in 2017, which meant that when I subtracted the people living there from the total visits, the UK received a minus score. I feel like that says something about us Brits.
- – Mexico, the Netherlands and Canada hit the top 10, but as I’ve indicated with some asterisks in the above bar chart, that’s probably because I travelled to Mexico, the Netherlands and Canada myself last year. So, by sharing this questionnaire on social media, I have most likely reached the people I met there or travelled with.
As you may have noticed, the majority of the top 10 countries visited in 2017 were in Europe, followed by Asia. This shows that people are hopping across continents, as well as countries. If you compare this to the above question on where people are based, it’s interesting to see how North America drops, whereas Europe increases and Asia more than doubles.
4. Which resources do you use when making travel plans?
For this question, participants could tick as many as were applicable, so each resource had a maximum score of 76. Therefore, we can say:
- – The majority of people use search engines, travel blogs, other travellers, travel websites, friends and family, and social media. This shows that digital research, as well as word of mouth from friends, family and fellow travellers, are the resources we trust most.
- – More traditional means of travel planning, such as print media, guide books and travel agencies were on the other end of the scale. Have these become too old-fashioned and irrelevant in the wake of convenient digital content that we can access at the touch of a button and is constantly updated?
- – However, I was surprised that people don’t tend to use locals as a source of travel information? Perhaps we think that locals can be blind to the best things to do and see, if they see them all the time?
- – Not surprisingly, travel bloggers use travel blogs to plan their trips, with 31 out of 32 of travel bloggers checking this option.
5. How important are the following when you are deciding where to travel?
So, we know what methods people use to plan their travels, but what are they looking for? This question asked participants to rank the importance of different factors that they consider when planning where to travel to, ranging from very important (above, orange), to not important at all (above, purple).
- – As expected, language was a low ranking factor. As this questionnaire is in English and English is the most widely spoken language in the world, it can be assumed that anyone taking part in the Big Fat Travel Questionnaire must have a level of fluency in the language. Similarly, I expected Visas to be low ranking, as many of the participants of this questionnaire hold strong passports (as indicated in question two), so travel visas may not be an issue for most participants.
- – However, Popularity was an equally low ranking factor, which is intriguing because in the question above, participants stated they used word of mouth from friends, family and other travellers to decide where to travel to. Perhaps we don’t like to think ourselves as hopping on the bandwagon when we visit somewhere that lots of people recommend?
- – Budget was the highest ranking factor, which makes sense because for most people it really dictates where you can go! Hats off to the few who answered that budget wasn’t important for them – can I go on holiday with you, please?
- Culture and Safety ranked as fairly important, followed by History. Then, all the other factors ranked somewhere in the middle.
6. Where do you predict will be the next BIG travel destination in 2018?
This question only required one answer, which was allowed to be a country, a state, a city, a destination or other. So, as you can imagine, the answers were as specific as they were generic. I tallied these up by country and as you can see from the low numbers above, the answers were diverse, but also surprising.
Here are a few things I learned:
- – As much as thought maybe my North American participants were being stereotypically patriotic, the predictions for destinations in Canada and the US were not suggested by people from those countries any more than they were by others.
- – Myanmar is fifth on this list. Aside from this being a bit of a curve ball (I feel like Canada, the US, Spain and Indonesia are already big on the tourist radar, in comparison), I’m also a bit conflicted about this. As someone who visited Myanmar back in 2016, I’m in no position to judge anyone who chooses to go, but I personally regret visiting Burma because I didn’t educate myself enough on the genocide going on against Rohingha Muslims there and I no longer recommend Myanmar to other travellers. So, I’m a little shocked that this has made the top five as a destination people predict will be more popular in the coming year?
- – Three people thought Africa would be the next up-and-coming destination. Yup, the whole of Africa, which is a lot of territory to cover.
- – One person said “Free of Terror.”
7. Name three places you have been to that you would highly recommend.
OK, so perhaps that ‘Travel Prediction’ question put people on the spot a little, so next I asked for three places that people had personally travelled to and would recommend. This took a long time to go through because the answers were incredibly specific and my geography was obviously not as good as I thought it was.
- – People love Europe, especially southern Europe. European destinations accounted for 40% of all recommendations (next up was Asia with 25%) and as shown above, five out of the top nine countries people recommended were European.
- – USA! USA! USA! People may love Europe, but they love the US of A most of all. The recommended places in the US varied between states, cities, landmarks and areas of natural beauty e.g. The Grand Canyon, but – as seen in the bar chart above – the US was recommended significantly more than any other country.
- The specific destination people recommended most was Scotland (yes, I know Scotland is a country, but I’ve used the UN’s list of recognised countries in this questionnaire for consistency*). This was followed by the following cities, which all scored the same: Istanbul, Barcelona, Krakow, St, Petersburg and Amsterdam.
*For more on why there is no one definitive list of countries in the world and how this is problematic, I highly recommend you read my post How Many Countries Are There & Other Reasons Why I’m Not Counting.
8. Name three places that you haven’t been to, but would love to visit.
So many places, so little time! Next, I asked for three places (again, countries, states, cities, destinations, other) that people haven’t been to yet, but would love to visit in the future. This was much easier to analyse, as participants mostly named countries.
- – Hello New Zealand and Antarctica, where have you been? Shooting to the top of the list, these two destinations weren’t mentioned in the previous two questions at all, but suddenly became the most popular.
- – I’d argue that all these results represent ‘bucket list’ destinations (e.g. Machu Picchu in Peru, or New York City in the US), which are more one-in-a-lifetime experiences, or would be where people would travel to if money and time wasn’t an issue.
- – Five people answered South America. No other continent (other than Antarctica) was mentioned by name, which is interesting. Again, I believe that people have backpacking South America on their bucket list.
What do questions 6, 7 and 8 reveal about trends in travel?
Although there are certainly places that cropped up in the answers to all these questions, there were also noticeable differences between where people recommended, where they wanted to go and where they predicted would be popular in the future. So, I combined all three questions for a ‘grand total’ figure (which may or may not really work, but still) and discovered the following:
- – The USA is the overwhelming ‘winner’ of where people want to travel to most.
- – I feel like these answers aren’t too surprising. I thought this questionnaire would reveal some secret spot that was about to witness a huge travel boom in 2018, but actually I think this questionnaire has confirmed that some places are evergreen in terms of tourism. I wasn’t shocked about any of the above answers…
- – …Except for Myanmar! As mentioned above, I feel a bit conflicted about this. Let me know if you think this is a curve ball or not.
- – I’ve visited nine out of twelve of these countries, and would highly recommend eight of them. So, I guess I’m also quite a predictable traveller…
After tallying up questions six, seven and eight, I then took things one step further and added in answers from question three (where people travelled to in 2017). I wondered if adding in where participants had actually travelled to in the past year, to where they would recommend, where they want to go and where they predict will be popular in the future, it could reveal more of a trend of which are the most popular countries to travel to.
This question mega-mashup remix revealed the following:
- – Myanmar, Indonesia and Peru were bumped out of the top twelve.
- – Mexico, Thailand and Germany made a comeback (note: I was in Mexico for three months of 2017, so this may have skewed question three, as mentioned above).
- – Do people hate Germany? It’s the only place in the top table that people visited in high numbers (it’s the number 1 place people visited in 2017, as seen in question three), but no one gave Germany any kudos for question 7 (where you want to go) or question 8 (where you predict will be popular in 2018).
9. What do you love the most about travel?
After all those spreadsheets, graphs and number crunchings, we ended on a high, revealing all the reasons behind why we love to travel.
- – People love the adventure, making memories and learning about the world the most.
- – The two answers for ‘Other’ included “Discovery” and “Feeling Alive”, which I thought were also very good answers.
10. Most importantly, who won the Amazon voucher?
Congrats to Kara Patterson! I’ll be contacting you separately about your voucher, so look for an email from me.
The Big Fat Travel Questionnaire 2018 Winners!
So, what did we learn after all that? And the winners of the Big Fat Travel Questionnaire 2018 are…
- – Most popular country to visit in the world: The United States
- – Most popular country to visit in North America: The United States
- – Most popular country to visit in Europe: Italy
- – Most popular country to visit in Oceania: Australia
- – Most popular country to visit in Asia: Japan
- – Most popular country to visit in South America: Peru
- – Most popular country to visit in Antarctica: Antarctica
- – Most popular country to visit in Africa: South Africa
- – Most popular country to visit in Southeast Asia: Indonesia
- – Most popular countries to visit in the Middle East: Egypt and Iran
- – Most popular country to visit in Central America: Mexico
- – Most popular country to visit in the Caribbean: Cuba
- – Most popular countries to visit in Eastern Europe: Slovenia and Kyrgyzstan
- – Most popular country to visit in Scandinavia: Norway
- – Most popular cities: Budapest, Hungary and Amsterdam, the Netherlands
- – Most popular non-capital city: Barcelona, Catalan, Spain
- – Most popular islands: Galapagos and Bali, Indonesia
- – Most popular US states: New York and Hawaii
- – Most popular landmark: Machu Picchu, Peru
Do you agree with the results above? Did any of the revelations surprise you? Are there any questions you’d like to see more detailed answers to, or completely different questions you’d like to suggest?
Let me know in the comments or hold your breath for the Big Fat Travel Questionnaire 2019, in which I plan to compare these results to next year’s (data nerd)!