Travel Vocabulary

24 Jun 2019

Most of us travel every year, whether it’s for work or for pleasure. And wherever you travel abroad nowadays, English is the most common language people use.

What are the most common travel terms you need to know? Here are some useful words and phrases that will help you.

Travel, trip or journey?


You travel when you move from one place to another. For example,

How often do you travel for work?


journey is the noun for travelling from one place to another. For example,

The journey from my home to work takes an hour.


trip is when you go somewhere, usually stay for a short time, and come back. For example,

Ms Moreira is on a business trip. She’ll be back on Friday.


voyage is a long journey, usually by boat. It’s not often used in modern English. For example,

The sea voyage from Europe to America in the past was long and hard.


When you buy a ticket for any journey, you can either get a one-way (or single) or a round-trip (or return) ticket. A one-way ticket includes one journey from A-B. A round-trip ticket includes two journeys from A-B and from B-A.

If you are a student or a senior citizen (over 65 years old) you can often have a reduction off the full price. This means you can spend 30-50% less. In some countries, children and senior citizens travel for free.

On some train journeys and flights you can reserve a seat. This means you can choose where you sit, usually paying a small additional cost.

Trains and planes often have two or more different classes – economy classbusiness class, and first class. Economy class seats are always the cheapest, while in the more expensive first class you can often have more comfortable seats and extra services included in the price.

Sometimes you might not be able to travel on the train or flight of your choice because there are no seats left. This means that all of the seats have already been sold. Some airlines do overbooking which means they sell more tickets than seats available. If all the passengers who bought a ticket arrive on time, the people who don’t have a seat are often offered an upgrade on the next flight – a seat in a higher class, e.g. first class. 

Some useful phrases for buying tickets

Can I have a ticket to the city center, please?

How much is a one-way ticket to San Francisco?

Can I make a seat reservation?

Are there any seats left on the next flight to London?

At the train station

You can buy a ticket at the ticket office or from a ticket machine. Once you’re on the train you’ll need to show your ticket to the ticket inspector. You get on and off a train from the platform. This is the area next to the railway line. Most train stations have at least two or three platforms. You can see which platform your train leaves from by looking at the arrival and departure board. This is a board which lists all the trains, their destinations and expected times. You can normally wait for your train in the waiting room.

For example:

Excuse me, can you tell me which platform the train to London leaves from?

Yes, it leaves from platform 2. You can take the steps over there.

Do you know if it’s on time?

I think there’s a ten-minute delay. I’d wait in the waiting room. It’s cold today.

At the airport

When you arrive at the airport you need to go to the right terminal. Big airports often have two or more terminals which are separate buildings for flights to arrive at or depart from. When you arrive at the terminal you need to check in – show your passport and ticket at the airline check-in desk. And if you have a lot of luggage (a big suitcase), you need to leave it here where the suitcase(s) will be put in the hold (the lower part of the plane). If you only have a small bag you can often take it on board as cabin luggage. When you have your boarding pass you can proceed to the departures area. This involves going through security where attendants check everything you have with you. When you have passed the security check you can wait in the departures lounge. There are often shops, restaurants and bars here. You can see when your flight is ready by looking at the departures board. This indicates the gate which is the place you you need to go to in order to get on your plane.

When your plane is reading for boarding (the moment passengers enter the plane), you need to show your ID and boarding card. When the plane is ready to leave, it will take off (leave the ground) on the runway (the special ‘road’ where planes arrive and leave the airport). When the plane reaches its destination it lands (touches the ground).

Other travelling options

If it’s more suitable for you, you can rent (or hire) a car. This means paying a car rental agency to use one of their cars for a limited period of time.To do this, you usually need your driving license.

If you need to travel across water but want to take your car, you can get a ferry. This is a boat which carries people and vehicles.

Many big cities have a subway – an underground system of trains which can take you all over the city quickly and usually quite cheaply. Alternatively you can use transport above ground like buses or trams. Some cities also have bicycles you can rent.

If you want to save money when you travel long-distance, you can take a coach. A coach is like a bus but more suitable for longer journeys.

Knowing these words will make it much easier for you the next time you travel abroad. Practice them now by doing this quiz.