Vocabulary for Holidays & Vacations: For Travel Enthusiasts

Traveling can be one of our most enriching and exciting experiences, allowing us to discover new cultures, savor unfamiliar cuisines, and form friendships that transcend geographical boundaries. However, language barriers can sometimes hinder our ability to immerse ourselves in these experiences fully. This is why having a robust vocabulary specifically catered towards holidays and vacations is so important.

In this post, we’ll explore several holiday and vacation vocabulary categories, broken down by different aspects of the travel experience.

Table of Contents

1. Pre-trip Planning

Before embarking on a journey, travelers must plan and prepare. This section is dedicated to the vocabulary related to the preparation stage of a vacation.

Word/PhraseMeaning/UsageExample Sentences
ItineraryA planned route or journey“She organized her itinerary to include a visit to the Louvre.”
ReservationArrangement for a seat, room, car, etc. to be kept for use“I have made a reservation at the hotel for three nights.”
Travel InsuranceInsurance that is intended to cover medical expenses, trip cancellation, lost luggage, flight accident and other losses incurred while traveling“Before going on our trip, we purchased travel insurance.”
VisaAn endorsement on a passport indicating that the holder is allowed to enter, leave, or stay for a specified period in a country“I had to apply for a visa to visit China.”
BackpackingTravelling or hiking carrying one’s belongings in a backpack“We are planning a backpacking trip across Europe this summer.”
ExcursionA short journey or trip“We booked an excursion to the Grand Canyon.”
Round tripA journey to a place and back again“I bought a round trip ticket to New York.”
DestinationThe place to which someone is going or something is being sent“My dream destination is the Maldives.”
AccommodationA place to live, work, stay, etc. in“We need to find accommodation for our vacation in Rome.”
BrochureA small book or magazine containing pictures and information about something or promoting something“The travel agent gave us brochures about the tourist attractions in Paris.”
GuidebookA book of information about a place, designed for the use of visitors or tourists“I bought a guidebook to learn more about the history of Athens.”

2. Travel and Transportation

This category encompasses words and phrases related to the different modes of transport that one might use when on holiday or vacation.

Word/PhraseMeaning/UsageExample Sentences
DepartureThe action of leaving, typically to start a journey“Our departure time is 6 am tomorrow.”
ArrivalThe action or process of arriving“Our arrival in London was delayed due to bad weather.”
LayoverA period of rest or waiting before a further stage in a journey“We have a three-hour layover in Dubai.”
Jet lagFatigue caused by air travel across different time zones“I always get terrible jet lag when I fly to Australia.”
TerminalA departure and arrival building for air passengers at an airport“We need to get to the terminal two hours before our flight.”
CustomsThe place where your luggage is examined when you are going into a country“We breezed through customs without any issues.”
Passport controlThe place where your passport is checked when you are going into a country“Passport control was very busy when we arrived.”
TransferThe process of moving from one place to another“We took a transfer from the airport to our hotel.”
Direct flightA flight with no layovers“I was lucky to get a direct flight to Tokyo.”
CruiseA voyage on a ship or boat taken for pleasure or as a vacation“We’re going on a Caribbean cruise next summer.”
CharterA special hire of an aircraft, boat, or bus for a particular purpose“We chartered a boat for a day of deep-sea fishing.”

3. Accommodations

From booking a room to talking about hotel amenities, this section will cover vocabulary related to accommodations.

Word/PhraseMeaning/UsageExample Sentences
Check-inThe act of reporting one’s presence and registering, typically on arrival at a hotel or airport“Check-in at the hotel is after 3pm.”
Check-outThe act of leaving a hotel after paying and returning your room keys“Check-out is before noon.”
SuiteA set of rooms designated for one person’s or family’s use or for a particular purpose“We booked a suite with a view of the ocean.”
Double roomA room in a hotel with a double bed“I’d like to reserve a double room for two nights.”
Single roomA room in a hotel with a single bed“The single room is perfect for solo travelers.”
AmenitiesUseful features of a building or place“The hotel offers many amenities including a gym, swimming pool, and business center.”
ReceptionThe desk or office where guests in a hotel are received“You can collect your room key from the reception.”
Room serviceA service provided by a hotel allowing guests to order food and drink to be brought to their room“I decided to order room service for breakfast.”
HousekeepingThe management of household affairs, specifically cleaning and maintaining a hotel“Housekeeping comes in daily to clean the rooms.”
ReservationThe act of reserving a room in advance“I made a reservation for a king suite at the resort.”
VacancyA room or building that is vacant and available for use“The hotel still has a few vacancies for the weekend.”

4. Dining and Food

When exploring a new place, the local cuisine can be a highlight of the trip. This section covers vocabulary related to dining and food.

Word/PhraseMeaning/UsageExample Sentences
CuisineA style or method of cooking, especially as characteristic of a particular country, region, or establishment“The restaurant offers a wide variety of Italian cuisine.”
ReservationArranging in advance to have a table at a restaurant“We have a reservation for dinner at 8 pm.”
MenuA list of dishes available in a restaurant“The menu at this restaurant changes seasonally.”
À la carteListing or serving food that can be ordered as separate items, rather than part of a set meal“I prefer ordering à la carte rather than getting a set meal.”
BuffetA meal consisting of several dishes from which guests serve themselves“The hotel offers a breakfast buffet with a wide selection of foods.”
TippingTo give a sum of money to someone who provides a service, as a way of thanking them“In the United States, tipping is customary in restaurants.”
SpecialtyA particular dish or food recommended by a restaurant“The seafood paella is the specialty of this restaurant.”
Wine listA menu of wines that are available in a restaurant“The restaurant has an extensive wine list.”
TakeoutFood prepared in a restaurant and taken by a customer to be eaten elsewhere“We decided to get takeout from the Thai restaurant near our hotel.”
Vegan/ Vegetarian optionsFood options that don’t include meat or animal products“Many restaurants now offer vegan and vegetarian options.”
AllergicHaving an allergy to a particular food or substance“I am allergic to shellfish, so I need to avoid dishes with prawns.”

5. Sightseeing

Touring and exploring new locations is a major part of the travel experience. This section provides vocabulary for sightseeing and tour-related activities.

Word/PhraseMeaning/UsageExample Sentences
LandmarkAn object or feature of a landscape or town that is easily seen and recognized from a distance, especially one that enables someone to establish their location“The Eiffel Tower is a famous landmark in Paris.”
Tour guideA person who shows tourists around places of interest“Our tour guide in Rome was very knowledgeable.”
Historical siteA place where an important event occurred that is preserved because of its cultural heritage“The Colosseum is a famous historical site in Rome.”
MuseumA building where objects of historical, scientific, artistic, or cultural interest are stored and exhibited“We visited the Louvre Museum in Paris.”
SouvenirAn object that is bought to remind oneself of a place one has visited“I bought a souvenir from each city I visited.”
ExhibitionA public display of works of art or items of interest, held in an art gallery or museum or at a trade fair“We went to an art exhibition in the local museum.”
AdmissionPermission to enter a place“The admission fee to the theme park is $50.”
AttractionA thing or place that draws visitors by providing something of interest or pleasure“The top attraction in Paris is undoubtedly the Eiffel Tower.”
Scenic viewA beautiful or picturesque view“We stopped at the lookout for the scenic view of the coastline.”
ExcursionA short journey or trip, especially one engaged in as a leisure activity“Our school planned an excursion to the local zoo.”
GalleryA room or building for the display or sale of works of art“We visited the modern art gallery in the city.”

6. Emergencies and Health

Sometimes, unforeseen circumstances or health issues may arise while on a trip. This section covers vocabulary related to emergencies and health.

Word/PhraseMeaning/UsageExample Sentences
First AidHelp given to a sick or injured person until full medical treatment is available“I always carry a first aid kit when I travel.”
InsuranceA contract which provides compensation for specified loss, damage, illness, or death in return for payment of a specified premium“It’s essential to get travel insurance before going on a trip.”
EmergencyA serious, unexpected, and often dangerous situation requiring immediate action“In case of an emergency, call 911.”
PharmacyA store where medicinal drugs are dispensed and sold, also called a drugstore“I need to find a pharmacy to buy some aspirin.”
HospitalAn institution providing medical and surgical treatment and nursing care for sick or injured people“He was taken to the hospital after the accident.”
ClinicA healthcare facility for outpatient care“I went to the travel clinic to get my vaccinations before the trip.”
MedicationA substance used for medical treatment“Don’t forget to pack your medication.”
SunscreenA cream or lotion to protect the skin from the damaging effects of the sun“Always apply sunscreen before going to the beach.”
AllergyA damaging immune response by the body to a substance, especially pollen, fur, a particular food, or dust, to which it has become hypersensitive“I have an allergy to peanuts.”
PrescriptionAn instruction written by a medical practitioner that authorizes a patient to be provided a medicine or treatment“I needed a prescription to get certain medications.”
DehydrationThe condition of losing more water than is taken in, leading to excessive thirst, dry mouth or skin, little or no urination, severe weakness, dizziness, or lightheadedness“Make sure to drink plenty of water to avoid dehydration.”


Armed with the above vocabulary, any travel enthusiast can navigate their way through various travel scenarios with ease. Having a good grasp of the terms related to holidays and vacations not only helps in effective communication but also ensures a smoother and more enjoyable travel experience.

So, the next time you’re planning a vacation, brushing up on your travel vocabulary could be just as important as packing your suitcase. Happy travels!

Niaj A A Khan is an ESL Instructor with over 7 years of experience in teaching & developing resources at different universities and institutes. Mr. Khan is also a passionate writer working on his first book, "Learn English at Ease."

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