Vocabulary for Travelers: Words and Phrases on the Go

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Traveling opens up new horizons and presents opportunities for enriching and enlightening experiences. To make the most out of these experiences, having a basic understanding of travel-related vocabulary can prove to be incredibly beneficial. This article is designed to enhance your travel vocabulary, making it easier for you to communicate while on the go.

Table of Contents

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Basic Travel Terms

In this section, we cover some fundamental travel-related words and phrases that you might use in a variety of travel situations.

Word/PhraseMeaning/UsageExample sentences
DepartureThe act of leaving a place, especially to start a journey.Our departure time is at 10 AM.
ArrivalThe act of coming to a place, especially at the end of a journey.Our estimated arrival time is 8 PM.
ItineraryA planned route or journey.I have just finished planning our itinerary for the trip.
DestinationThe place to which someone or something is going or being sent.Our destination is the Grand Canyon.
TransitThe act or process of moving from one place to another.We will be in transit for about 12 hours.
LayoverA period of rest or waiting before a further stage in a journey.We have a 2-hour layover in Chicago.
Jet LagA physical condition caused by crossing time zones during travel.I have terrible jet lag after flying from New York to Tokyo.
BackpackingTravel or hike carrying one’s belongings in a backpack.I went backpacking across Europe last summer.
ExpeditionA journey or voyage undertaken by a group of people with a particular purpose.They went on an expedition to the Arctic.
SightseeingThe activity of visiting places of interest in a particular location.We went sightseeing in Rome.
TouristA person who is traveling or visiting a place for pleasure.The city was full of tourists.

Accommodation Vocabulary

Finding the perfect place to rest your head is crucial. Here are some words and phrases related to accommodations.

Word/PhraseMeaning/UsageExample sentences
ReservationAn arrangement to have something (such as a hotel room) held for your use at a later time.I have a reservation at the Hilton.
Check-inThe act of confirming your arrival at a hotel, airport, etc.The check-in time at our hotel is 3 PM.
Check-outThe act of leaving your hotel room at the end of your stay.The check-out time is 11 AM.
Double RoomA hotel room that has a bed large enough for two people.We booked a double room.
Single RoomA hotel room that has a bed for one person.I need a single room for my stay.
SuiteA set of rooms designated for one person’s or family’s use or for a particular purpose.We booked a suite for our honeymoon.
HostelA budget-oriented, shared-room (“dormitory”) accommodation that accepts individual travelers.We stayed in a hostel to save money.
InnA small hotel or pub, especially in a rural area.We stayed at a charming inn in the countryside.
Bed and Breakfast (B&B)A small lodging establishment that offers overnight accommodation and breakfast.We stayed at a B&B on our road trip.
AirbnbA company which operates an online marketplace for lodging, primarily homestays for vacation rentals, and tourism activities.We rented an Airbnb for our vacation.

Food and Dining Vocabulary

Trying new foods is one of the most exciting aspects of travel. Here are some words to help you navigate local dining experiences.

Word/PhraseMeaning/UsageExample sentences
MenuA list of dishes available in a restaurant.Can I see the menu, please?
CuisineA style or method of cooking, especially as characteristic of a particular country, region, or establishment.Italian cuisine is my favorite.
VegetarianA person who does not eat meat, and sometimes other animal products, especially for moral, religious, or health reasons.Do you have any vegetarian options on your menu?
VeganA person who does not eat or use animal products.I’m a vegan, so I can’t eat this cheese.
AllergicHaving an allergy to a particular substance.I’m allergic to peanuts.
Waiter/WaitressA man/woman who serves customers at their tables in a restaurant.Could you get the waiter’s attention, please?
TipAn amount of money that is given to a worker such as a waiter or waitress who provides service.It’s customary to give a 15-20% tip.
BuffetA meal consisting of several dishes from which guests serve themselves.The hotel offers a buffet breakfast.
A la carteListing or serving food that can be ordered as separate items, rather than part of a set meal.We ordered a la carte.
ReservationAn arrangement to secure accommodation at a restaurant or hotel.We made a reservation for dinner at 7.

Vocabulary for Sightseeing

Here are some terms that might come in handy when visiting tourist spots or attractions.

Word/PhraseMeaning/UsageExample sentences
LandmarkAn object or feature of a landscape or town that is easily seen and recognized from a distance.The Eiffel Tower is a famous landmark in Paris.
MuseumA building where objects of historical, scientific, artistic, or cultural interest are stored and exhibited.We visited the museum to learn about local history.
Art GalleryA room or building for the display or sale of works of art.The art gallery had an impressive collection.
Heritage SiteA natural or man-made site, area, or structure recognized as being of outstanding international importance and therefore deserving special protection.The Great Wall of China is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Tour GuideA person who provides assistance, information on cultural, historical and contemporary heritage to people on organized tours.The tour guide explained the history of the castle.
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 exhibition of ancient artifacts.
Admission FeeThe amount of money that you pay to enter a place.The admission fee for the park is $10.
SouvenirSomething that is kept as a reminder of a person, place, or event.I bought a souvenir from every country I visited.
Scenic RouteA route that is chosen because it is more beautiful and enjoyable, rather than the quickest way.We took the scenic route through the mountains.
Tourist TrapA place that has been created to attract tourists and encourage them to spend money.The city center is a bit of a tourist trap.

Travel Safety Vocabulary

Safety is a major concern when traveling. Here are some words related to travel safety.

Word/PhraseMeaning/UsageExample sentences
Travel InsuranceInsurance that is intended to cover medical expenses, trip cancellation, lost luggage, flight accident and other losses incurred while traveling.I always buy travel insurance before a trip.
EmergencyA serious, unexpected, and often dangerous situation requiring immediate action.In case of an emergency, dial the local emergency number.
EmbassyThe official residence or office of an ambassador.If you lose your passport, contact your embassy immediately.
ScamA dishonest scheme or fraud.Be aware of common travel scams.
PickpocketA thief who steals goods out of a person’s pockets without them noticing.Beware of pickpockets in crowded areas.
Lost and FoundThe place where lost items are kept until they are reclaimed by their owner.I left my hat on the bus, but luckily it was in the lost and found.
First Aid KitA collection of supplies and equipment for use in giving first aid.I always carry a first aid kit when I travel.
VaccinationTreatment with a vaccine to produce immunity against a disease.I got all the necessary vaccinations before my trip.
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 for my trip to China.
CustomsThe place at a port, airport, or frontier where officials check incoming goods, travelers, or luggage.I had to declare my purchases at customs.

Vocabulary for Shopping and Souvenirs

Last but not least, shopping is an integral part of travel for many. Here are some phrases you might need while shopping abroad.

Word/PhraseMeaning/UsageExample sentences
BargainAn agreement between parties settling what each will give and take or perform and receive in a transaction.I managed to bargain the price down to $20.
Duty-FreeGoods that are exempt from duty when bought at an airport or on a ship.I bought some perfume from the duty-free shop.
CurrencyA system of money in general use in a particular country.What’s the local currency here?
Exchange RateThe value of one currency for the purpose of conversion to another.What’s the exchange rate for dollars to euros?
Souvenir ShopA shop where tourists can buy gifts and mementos.I bought a postcard from the souvenir shop.
Sales TaxTax on sales or on the receipts from sales.Is sales tax included in the price?
ReceiptA document acknowledging that a person has received money or property in payment.Can I have a receipt, please?
RefundPay back (money), typically to a customer who is not satisfied with goods or services bought.Can I get a refund for this?
Credit CardA small plastic card issued by a bank, business, etc., allowing the holder to purchase goods or services on credit.Can I pay with credit card?
CashMoney in coins or notes.Do you accept cash?

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Sample Conversation: Discussing Travel Plans and Vocabulary

Situation: At a cafe, Maya and Alex are planning their backpacking trip across Europe.

Maya: Hey Alex! I’ve been researching some itineraries for our trip. It seems like starting in Lisbon and then making our way east could be a great route.

Alex: That sounds exciting! I’ve heard that the hostels in Prague are pretty affordable and centrally located. We should definitely check them out.

Maya: Absolutely. I’ve also been brushing up on some essential phrases in various languages. You know, the basics like “hello,” “thank you,” and “how much?”

Alex: That’s a good idea. Being able to ask for directions or understand public transport schedules can be a lifesaver. Plus, the locals appreciate it when you make an effort with their language.

Maya: Definitely! Oh, and I found this app that helps with currency conversion. It’ll come in handy when we’re budgeting or shopping.

Alex: Perfect! With all this prep, our journey is set to be smooth and memorable. Can’t wait!


This article aimed to provide you with an extensive travel vocabulary to enrich your journey and ease your communication while traveling. Familiarizing yourself with these words and phrases can greatly enhance your travel experience and make your journeys more enjoyable and efficient. Happy travels!

1. What are “itineraries” in the context of traveling?

An itinerary refers to a planned route or journey, detailing the places one intends to visit and the sequence in which they’ll be visited.

2. What does “hostel” mean?

A hostel is a budget-friendly accommodation option, often with shared rooms and communal facilities, popular among backpackers and solo travelers.

3. Why are “essential phrases” important for travelers?

Knowing essential phrases in the local language can help travelers navigate unfamiliar places, interact with locals, and handle emergencies.

4. How are “directions” typically given in foreign countries?

Directions can be given using landmarks, street names, or using terms like “left,” “right,” “straight ahead,” and “around the corner.”

5. What does “public transport” include?

Public transport refers to transportation services available to the general public, including buses, trains, subways, and trams.

6. Why is “currency conversion” important for travelers?

Currency conversion helps travelers understand the value of foreign currency in terms of their home currency, aiding in budgeting and transactions.

7. What are “landmarks” in a city?

Landmarks are recognizable and historically significant structures or places within a city, often used as reference points.

8. How can travelers avoid “tourist traps”?

By researching destinations in advance, seeking local recommendations, and being wary of overly commercialized areas, travelers can avoid places that are overly expensive or inauthentic.

9. What’s the difference between a “guided tour” and “self-guided tour”?

A guided tour is led by a local expert or guide, providing insights and information. In contrast, a self-guided tour is where travelers explore on their own, often using maps or apps.

10. Why is understanding “local customs” important?

Being aware of local customs ensures travelers are respectful, avoids unintentional offenses, and enriches the travel experience by immersing in the local culture.

Niaj A A Khan is an ESL Instructor with over 8 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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