Essential Travel Vocabulary – Improve Your English

It’s so much fun to travel, practice your English, and learn new things! Traveling is a lot easier if you know some essential English travel vocabulary. These are words you really need to know before you go! Ryan is going to share 17 of these necessary vocabulary words for traveling.

Hi everyone! Traveling is one of my five great passions. I love:

  1. Working with kids
  2. Sports
  3. Learning new languages
  4. Meeting new people
  5. Traveling

Some of the best things I’ve ever experienced happened while I was traveling! I’ve been to:

  1. The Great Wall of China
  2. The Fos de Guasso in Brazil
  3. I’ve met amazing people
  4. I’ve even fallen in love!

All while traveling! So today, I want to share with  you 17 essential travel vocabulary words I use when I talk about my adventures and my travels. Use them to talk about YOUR adventures and YOUR travels, too!


17 Essential Travel Vocabulary – Words 1-5


1. Book (a flight)

A book is something you read (a noun), but the verb “to book” means “to reserve.” If you “book a flight,” that means you reserve a flight.

I booked a flight to Buenos Aires.
Now I need to book an accommodation.


2. Accomodation

An “accomodation” is a place to sleep. A hotel, an Airbnb, a hostel, even couchsurfing, are all accomodations.

Do you have an accomodation in Buenos Aires yet?


3. Make a Reservation

To “make a reservation” means to reserve the use of something –  this can be anything! You can “book” an accomodation, specifically, a house or a room to sleep in. To “make a reservation” can also apply to a room, but it can also be a rental car, or a tour. You can fly around the city in a hot air balloon, but you need to make a reservation!

For example, I could say:

I want to go on the dungeon tour. I need to make a reservation.
If I want to stay at the Luxor Hotel in Las Vegas, I need to call or go online and make a reservation.

So I’ve booked a flight, I’ve found my accommodation, and I made a reservation for a car rental.  Now it’s time to fly!


4. To Take Off

The verb phrase that we use to describe this is “to take off.”

My flight takes off at noon.
Has your flight taken off yet?


5. To Land

The verb “to land” is the plane arriving at its destination.  “To land” can also refer to anything that is flying, then comes to the ground. I could say:

The butterfly landed on my shoulder.
The plane takes off at 8:00 am and lands at 5:00 pm.

You can also use the verbs “take off from” and “land in” to talk about when and where you are going. For example:

I take off at 7:00 am.
I take off from New York. (I leave from New York.)
I take off from Berlin and I land in Singapore.

If you are very lucky, your flight will not stop. It will go directly from “a” to “b” – from Berlin to Singapore. However, sometimes you have to stop. For example, the flight goes from Berlin to Singapore, but it might stop in Doha, Qatar.


Essential Travel Vocabulary – Words 6-10

6. Connection or Layover

When I stop in Doha, it is called a “connection,” or a “layover.” So when you are talking about airplane flights, the word “connection” means a city that your flight stops in before you reach your final destination. There are even more words to describe this!

Do you have a connection, or do you have a direct flight?
Yes, I have a connection in Doha.


7. Leg (of a Trip)

If you have two flights to get to one destination, for example, Berlin to Doha and Doha to Singapore, each flight is called a “leg” – just like the legs I have above my feet!

The first leg of my trip is from Berlin to Doha.
The second leg of my trip is from Doha to Singapore.


8. Layover

Another word for a connection is a “layover.”  A “layover” is simply when you have to stop for a few hours in your “connecting” city. Either one of these sentences is correct:

I have a connection in Doha.
I have a layover in Doha.


9. Stop Over

If your layover is very long, it’s called a “stop over.” This just means that you will stay in that connecting city for many hours – usually more than four hours.

Last year, I had a stop over in Ankara for 12 hours!


10. Travel Backpack

Before you travel, you need a backpack. Not any type of backpack – you need a “travel backpack.” A “travel backpack” is much bigger than a normal backpack. You have room for lots of clothes, a computer, some toiletries, packing cubes – for lots of things!

Travel backpacks aren’t essential, but they are so practical and useful!


Essential Travel Vocabulary – Words 11-17

11. Clamshell or Suitcase Style Opening

A travel backpack can open like a suitcase. This is also called a “clamshell” opening – meaning it opens like a clam – on three sides. This is important because it allows you to pack very quickly, and to quickly access all your things.


12. Packing Cubes

“Packing cubes” are simply little bags to organize your things inside the travel backpack. For example:

I have my shirts in one packing cube.
I have packing cubes for my shoes, my socks, and even the clothes I need to wash!


13. Toiletries

Now, the last packing cube you need is for your “toiletries.” “Toiletries” is essential travel vocabulary for things that you find in the bathroom, like a toothbrush.

Toiletries might include mouthwash, toothpaste, lotion, and shampoo.
It’s a smart idea to put your toiletries in a clear bag, because that will make the security people very happy.


Let’s Review!

  1. You made your reservation.
  2. You booked an accomodation.
  3. You have a travel backpack with packing cubes and toiletries.
  4. You are ready to go!
  5. You take off from Buenos Aires.
  6. You land in Paris.

Now you are feeling really sleepy. This is called:


14. Jet Lag

“Jet lag” is the feeling of being tired after you travel because your body is used to a different time zone.

Sometimes when I travel from Europe to Asia I get jet lag.


15. Sightsee

This is a simple verb that just means to visit, or to look around. If I just landed in Shangai, I could say:

I really want to sightsee downtown!
I really want to sightsee around the People’s Square!

If I’m traveling with a friend, I can ask:

“Hey, Foofy, do you want to sightsee around Stockholm tomorrow?”

You can also say to “go sightseeing,” if you don’t have a particular destination in mind.

“Hey, Foofy, do you want to go sightseeing?”


What’s Next?

  1. You’ve been sightseeing; observing the city and taking it all in.
  2. Now you’re ready to go to a new city!

You can book a trip on a bus, or make a reservation for a flight, or you could try:


16. Hitchhiking

“Hitchhiking” is when you put your thumb up and ask people for a ride! I’ve “hitchhiked” almost 100 times in many countries, and I’ve always had great experiences. You can have fun conversations and meet really cool people. It’s not always the most fun way to travel, because the weather might be bad or people might be rude, but it’s worth a try!


17. Bucket List

Hitchhiking was on my “bucket list.” A “bucket list” is a list of things you want to do before you die. It comes from an English idiom “kick the bucket,” which means “to die.” Here are some things on my bucket list:

  1. Visit Antarctica
  2. Learn 10 languages
  3. Become a father
  4. Teach sports and English at a kids’ camp


What’s on your bucket list? I’m curious! Let me know in the comments below! I’d love to hear what you think.

Now that you know how to get where you want to go, check out this post to help you save money along the way!

if you want to continue on your English journey, we have a great ebook for you called Travel English Expert. ​​

The Travel English Expert is a collection of 50+ recorded conversational lessons with a text guide. Everything is directly related to real world travel. This course will give you templates to practice your listening & speaking skills – including more essential travel vocabulary – even if you aren’t planning an awesome trip to Singapore any time soon!

I hope these 17 Essential Vocabulary Words for Traveling were helpful for you! Be sure to leave a comment, and check back soon for more great English tips!


Picture of Gabby Wallace, M.Ed TESOL

Gabby Wallace, M.Ed TESOL

About the Author
Gabby Wallace is the Founder of Go Natural English, where you can quickly improve your confidence speaking English through advanced fluency practice. Even if you don't have much time, this is the best place for improving your English skills. Millions of global intermediate - advanced English students are learning with Gabby's inspiring, clear, and energetic English lessons. Gabby has a Masters Degree in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages from Boston University and 20+ years experience helping students become fluent through her online courses and membership program.

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