Travel Vocabulary

Do you often travel for business or for pleasure? Learn this essential travel vocabulary before your next trip!

Planning your journey

Some people book online, while others go to a travel agent and read the holiday brochures before buying tickets or making a hotel reservation.

You need to decide how much you want to pay for your flights. First-class or business class is the most expensive, while most people travel in economy class.

It’s also a good idea to buy some travel insurance before you go – just in case you have an accident or miss your flight. Independent travellers like to organise everything themselves, to avoid going to the same tourist traps (places where lots of tourists go). But some people prefer to book a package tour , where everything is paid in advance.

Travel vocabulary for flying

Most people travel by air – especially for a long-haul destination (somewhere far away) or for a short weekend break or city break. If you are travelling a long distance, you might have a layover (or stop-over) for a few hours at an airport, or you might get a connecting flight (where you change aeroplanes).

When you arrive at the airport, you first check in at the check-in desk. If you have luggage for the hold, you weigh it here. Your luggage is taken onto the plane by baggage handlers (people who load the luggage on and off the plane.) You can take hand luggage with you onto the plane. You get a boarding pass (or boarding card) to get on the aeroplane.

After this, you go through security (where your hand luggage is x-rayed) and also through passport control, where your passport is checked. (You also go through passport control when you arrive at your destination.) In most airports you also see police and their sniffer dogs, who patrol for explosives. You can also go duty-free shopping, where you can buy things at a lower price. Check that you don’t go over ( = exceed) your duty-free allowance, or you will have to pay duty (tax) when you arrive at your destination.

When you are on the plane, the cabin crew look after you. There’s often an in-flight meal and the pilot usually makes an announcement about the flight route and flying altitude.

When you arrive, find out which baggage carousel your suitcases arrive on. Then when you collect your luggage, you need to go through customs and declare anything that you need to pay extra tax on. From there, you can take public transport to your hotel, get a taxi, or go to the car-rental desk – if you are going to hire / rent a car.

You can expect long queues in airports at certain times of the year, or if flights are delayed, for example. Sometimes, airport staff go on strike (stop work because of “industrial action”) which can also cause delays.

If the flying time is long, you can have jet lag when you arrive, as your body tries to adjust to the different time-zone.

Other means of travel

Here’s some more travel vocabulary if you are going somewhere by road, rail or sea.

If you take a road trip, you can go at your own pace. That means you can stop when you want. If you’re travelling in the UK, you can stop at the motorway services to fill up on petrol, get something to eat, or just for a comfort break (to use the toilet).

Travelling by rail can be a comfortable way to travel, especially if you have good seats and a buffet service (where you can buy food). It’s often cheaper to buy a return ticket (than two single tickets). Like travelling by air, you also have a choice of tickets: first class or second class.

If you travel by sea, you need to get to the port (for cruise ships) or the ferry terminal. Both cruise ships and ferries have different decks, with the upper decks for passengers and the lower decks for cars or cargo.

More essential travel vocabulary words and phrases

suitcase = a large bag which goes in the hold of the aeroplane

baggage / luggage (uncountable noun) = everything that you take with you on holiday.
“Do you have any hand luggage?”
“The baggage handlers are on strike.”

oversize luggage = when your bag is very big (for example, if you are carrying skis)
“There’s a special place to check in oversize luggage.”

handbag = a bag that women carry

backpack = a fabric suitcase that you carry on your back.

money belt = a fabric belt that you wear around your waist and where you put valuable things like your passport or money

travel documents = everything that you need to travel, such as passport and tickets

Travel Phrasal Verbs

Choose the correct answer.