Whenever I get to discussing the former U.S. Route 66 with friends and family who haven’t traveled it or don’t know much about it, they’re always shocked to discover just what a big deal the road is to foreigners. In an era when America and American’s aren’t exactly that popular in many places around the world, Route 66 surprisingly is. It’s the iconic wide-open American road trip, the one everybody secretly wants to travel. It represents what a lot of folks envy about us: the sheer immensity and freedom of the place, its vast resources, and just how lucky we are to be here.
You’d think there would be a lot more statistics about foreigners traveling the route, given its popularity, but no, the hard numbers are kind of scarce. That should actually bother a lot of marketers reading this. Sure, the Route 66 museum in Pontiac collects numbers regarding its visitors, as does the Joliet Area Historical Museum, and a few others in other states … but that only provides a count of those who stopped at those particular points. It doesn’t necessarily tell you who traveled the road and stopped for lunch or other amusement, pit stops, etc., instead of hitting a museum. Nor does the Illinois Route 66 Scenic Byway have much in the way of hard numbers on Route 66 tourism.
This is kind of a problem for all of us who are Route roadies.
Sure, we know anecdotally and by the sheer volume of YouTube videos and Facebook, Twitter and Instagram snaps of foreign visitors’ travels on Route 66 just how popular the road is (a YouTube search for “route 66” came up with more than 394,000 results!). But it’s entirely another thing to prove what we know.
I looked at our statistics today to get an idea of who’s been reading our blog and where they’re from. At best, they’ll provide only a very rough guide, seeing as how our readership is still building. In the 16 months since we began writing this blog, our readership has been overwhelmingly from the U.S. (no surprise there); but I was interested to see that the country I figured would come in second (Canada) didn’t. In order of frequency of hits, here are the next 10 countries form which our readers originate: France, the UK, Canada, Germany, Mexico, Spain, Brazil, Australia, Italy, and India. In slots 11 to 15 are Ireland, the Netherlands, Sweden, Poland and Norway, but it’s the next five in spots 16 to 20 that really boggle the mind: Slovenia, Albania, Greece, Portugal and Panama – ! Japan, which I expected would rank higher, came in at 23.
In all, people from 87 nations have been reading this blog. Wow. You just never know who’s going to be interested in historic Route 66 and American road trips in general. So while we’re on the subject, here to amuse the homebound is a ‘drive-lapse’ video that condenses the entire roughly 2,442-mile trip into 3 minutes and 28 seconds. Note: it’s really not as much fun as traveling the road yourself and taking a week or two to do it in a fine car, but it’ll give you the idea. Enjoy!
Until next time, fellow roadies!
your travel muse, Marie