From sprawling cities to beautiful beaches and some of the most epic countryside in the world, there’s so much to see and explore in the US, that you could spend all your vacation time discovering different states.
But, if you want to travel internationally and explore new cultures, where’s best to go? We analyzed Google search terms for flights to a range of countries – as well as states – to see where’s the most popular amongst Americans.
So, if you’re considering booking some flights and jetting off to a new destination, take a look at the most popular travel destinations amongst US citizens for 2023.
The most popular international travel destinations for Americans
From Asia to Europe, Africa to Latin America, Australasia and beyond, there are so many continents and countries just waiting to be explored. But, there are five key countries that Americans can’t wait to jet off to.
With a staggering 49,500 monthly searches across the US for flights, Japan has proudly come in joint first place, making it the number one international travel destination in 2023 for American citizens. Not only that, but it was also ranked number one across a total of 18 states, including California, Georgia, and Texas.
With so many things to see and do in Japan, it’s no wonder it’s come out on top, and any trip is incomplete without spending some time in its capital, Tokyo. Start by heading up to Shibuya Sky, where you can take a photo of the iconic Shibuya crossing, before splurging on a shopping spree in Harajuku, and dining on mountains of sushi.
Once you’ve gotten your fix of Tokyo, catch a bullet train to Kyoto where you can admire the many temples, take part in a tea ceremony, watch a sumo wrestling tournament, or hike up the imposing Mount Fuji.
The second country to make it into joint first place with 49,000 monthly searches is Mexico – and, with it bordering four US states, it’s the perfect place to discover if you’re looking for beautiful beaches and cultural experiences, but don’t want to catch a long-haul flight.
Take your time discovering some of the many Mayan ruins, including the iconic Chichén Itzá, which is one of the New 7 Wonders of the World, go trekking in the Sierra Norte Mountains, or, if you time it right and are in Mexico at the beginning of November, you can join in the festivities of the world-famous Day of the Dead.
However, if it’s just a week of rest and relaxation you’re after, then that’s fine too! Just head to the areas of Cancun, Playa del Carmen and Tulum, which are known for having some of the most breath-taking beaches in the country.
The first European country to feature on the list, with 40,500 flight searches a month, and ranked number one in 18 states including Connecticut, Florida, and New York… it’s Italy!
From the glamorous shopping streets of Milan, to the romantic winding canals of Venice, and the many museums and historical attractions of Rome, Italy’s largest cities have so much to offer.
But, if you want to get away from the hustle and bustle, Italy can offer you an abundance of options. From the picturesque Lake Como and Lake Garda with their chic waterfront hotels and restaurants, to the sophisticated Amalfi Coast that makes for the most perfect Instagram backdrops; and the tranquil islands of Sicily and Sardinia, that offer some of the best beaches in the country, it’s clear that Italy really does have it all.
We’re continuing our stay by the Mediterranean coast, with the US’ fourth most popular international destination, which is Greece. At 33,100 monthly searches for flights, Greece and its surrounding islands offer the perfect mix of tradition, delicious food, and beautiful scenery, and has been ranked number one in eight states, including Illinois, Mississippi, and North Dakota.
You could spend a whole summer island hopping, but if you’ve only got a week or two to spare, you’re probably wondering which islands are the best to visit, and it all depends on what you’re looking for.
For picture-perfect sunset views set against traditional blue and white-washed buildings, there’s no better place than Santorini; whereas for chic designer shopping and luxury bars, Mykonos is your best option.
Alternatively, whilst every island has an abundance of beautiful beaches, if you want as many options as possible, then head to Zakynthos. From Tsilivi to Alykes and Kalamaki, pretty much all resorts on this island offer a beautiful beach or three for you to relax on.
Rounding up our top five with an impressive 27,100 monthly searches is India, which was also rated as the number one destination in New Jersey.
The Taj Mahal, Amber Palace, and Qutub Minar should be high up on everyone’s travel bucket lists, but there are so many things to experience in India, that one trip just won’t be enough.
Mumbai or New Delhi is likely where you’ll fly into and start your vacation, and both offer hundreds of things to see and do. If you’re in Mumbai, then why not start by touring the city in a rickshaw, before checking out the city’s most imposing building – the Taj Mumbai. Finally, end the day watching a sunset over the waters at the Gateway of India.
Alternatively, if you’re in New Delhi, then make sure you sample some delicious street food – from tang chaat papdi, to treacle-y jalebis, the city has it all. Once you’ve gotten your fill, marvel at Humayun’s Tomb, where its Persian influence will be instantly obvious, or head to Lodi Garden for some peace and quiet – bring a picnic blanket and a book, and you can spend a whole day there.
The most popular states amongst Americans
Now we know the most popular international travel destinations amongst Americans, it’s time to see which states are the most popular to visit. With two-thirds of US citizens not owning a valid passport, a lot of vacation time is spent domestically, exploring the natural beauty and big cities each state has to offer.
With 201,000 monthly searches for flights, Michigan is the joint most popular state amongst Americans, which, whilst it might not be the most obvious choice, when you dig a little deeper, you soon realize there’s so many things to explore.
Make your first stop a ferry ride over to Mackinac Island, where you’ll be transported to days gone by… the only mode of transport here is a horse and cart! Alternatively, if you want to pretend you’ve hopped across the pond to Europe, then spend the day on Windmill Island in Holland, where you’ll feel like you’ve been transported to the Netherlands.
Situated in the center of the Pacific Ocean, Hawaii is the furthest away from the mainland states you can get, whilst still being in the USA. If you choose to vacation here, you’ll get to enjoy island life to the max – wherever you decide to visit.
For hiking and watersports, you can’t beat Maui – whether you love snorkeling, or an adrenaline-filled afternoon of jet-skiing or kiteboarding, Maui’s guaranteed to have a beach for that. If you prefer to stay on land, head over to the volcanic Haleakalā National Park, where you can hike to the summit, or discover the bamboo forest.
Alternatively, Oʻahu may be the most-visited Hawaiian island, but there’s more to it than the overcrowded Honolulu. It boasts some of the best beaches, including the tranquil Lanikai Beach, with its crystal-clear calm waters and white-sand shores. It makes sense therefore, that across the US, there’s around 201,000 monthly searches for flights to Hawaii.
3. New York
There was no doubt New York was going to feature on this list, with New York City a major destination for fashion, food and nightlife; and 165,000 searches for flights each month. Whether you’re more Brooklyn or Manhattan, you could spend a whole week checking out key sights like the Statue of Liberty and Brooklyn Bridge, or you could spend your time discovering the hundreds of independent bars, coffee shops and restaurants that are just waiting to be tried.
But upstate New York has lots to offer too. Travel north and you can visit the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, the Woodstock Farm Sanctuary, which is dedicated to rescuing farm animals; and even Niagara Falls, which, whilst not as big as the Canadian side, is still pretty impressive!
The sunshine state has made it into a very respectable fourth position, with 110,000 monthly searches. From the theme parks of Orlando that are perfect for families and thrill-seekers, to the latin-esque nightlife of Miami that draws in partygoers and spring-breakers; and the pristine beaches of Key West, Florida is a great vacation spot year-round.
Finishing in fifth place, with 49,500 monthly flight searches in the US, is Pennsylvania. Philadelphia is a great place for a long weekend: catch a glimpse of the Liberty Bell, pose with the Rocky Statue, which can be found outside the Philadelphia Museum of Art, and make sure you sample an authentic Philly cheesesteak.
Alternatively, if you’re in Pittsburgh, then spend an afternoon at the Carnegie Science Center, before strolling through Point State Park, where three rivers meet, and then catch the cable car at Duquesne Incline to enjoy sunset views of the city.
If you now want to book a vacation away somewhere after all that travel inspiration, then the only question left to ask is… where are you going to go?
Once you’ve booked your flights, don’t forget to sort your airport parking, so that you don’t need to rely on public transport, and if you’ve got an early or late night flight, why not book an airport hotel too, so you don’t miss out on your beauty sleep?
We used Google search terms for country + flights, and state + flights, breaking this down into individual states, and we then look at YoY change of search volumes.