Americans are dusting off their passports and seeing the world in big numbers.
In the first two months of 2012, 8.1 million U.S. citizens traveled abroad, a 6% increase over the same period in 2011, according to data released Wednesday by the U.S. Office of Travel & Tourism Industries.
Europe remains a popular destination for Americans, with travel numbers up 9% in the first two months of the year. But the biggest increases in foreign travel were to Central America (up 25%), the Middle East (up 19%) and the Caribbean (up 14%).
The only region of the world that Americans visited less this year is Africa, with 5% fewer U.S. travelers in January and February, compared with the same period in 2011, according to the federal agency data.