Travel Expressions and Idioms

As you travel the world, you’ll hear common travel expressions or travel idioms. An idiom is basically a common expression that means something different to the literal meaning of the individual words.

As a non native English speaker, I didn’t know a lot of idioms about travel, but the more I traveled, the more I heard different English phrases about travel. In this post, you’ll find the most popular ones and their meaning.

Road trip

Bump in the road

Meaning: When there’s a problem or a setback.

Example: We hit a bump in the road when we realized we needed a special license to drive there.

Break the journey

Meaning: To stop somewhere for a short period of time during a long trip.

Example: We made a stopover in Dubai to break the journey.

Hit the road

Meaning: To start the journey or to leave.

Example: I’m getting bored here, it’s time to hit the road.

Hit the beach

Meaning: To go to the beach

Example: It’s sunny today, should we hit the beach?

Jet set

Meaning: Refers to a fashionable and luxurious way of traveling.

Example: We spent two weeks jet-setting around resorts in the Maldives.

To be on track

Meaning: When something goes as scheduled or planned.

Example: We landed 20 minutes earlier than expected, so we’re on track for the next flight.

To have itchy feet

Meaning: When someone has a strong desire to travel.

Example: I’ve been here too long, it gives me itchy feet.

Travel light

Meaning: When someone is traveling with a small bag and doesn’t bring lots of things with them.

Example: I didn’t pay for extra luggage so I’ll travel light.

To miss the boat

Meaning: Missing out on an opportunity.

Example: We wanted to join, but we got here too late. We missed the boat on that one.

To hitch a ride

Meaning: To get a free ride in someone’s car. 

Example: I’m on a budget, so I’ll just hitch a ride to get there.

To part ways

Meaning: When people go in different directions and split.

Example: We traveled together for a month and then we had to part ways.


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To set up camp

Meaning: To prepare for sleeping outside. (Like camping)

Example: This seems like a good spot to set up camp tonight.

Off the beaten track

Meaning: Visiting a remote location or a place where most people don’t go.

Example: I don’t like the tourist crowds, so I’m heading to visit the tribes up north because it’s off the beaten track.

On a shoestring

Meaning: When someone is traveling on a budget and doesn’t spend a lot of money.

Example: I’m traveling on a shoestring, so I’m volunteering on farms to enable me to travel longer.

On the fly

Meaning: Doing something quickly.

Example: I’m tired, I’ll just cook something on the fly.

Pit stop

Meaning: Taking a short break during a road trip so you can put more fuel in the car, get food or rest.

Example: We’ve been driving for three hours, let’s take a pit stop at the next exit.

Road rage

Meaning: Angry behavior when driving.

Example: There was too much traffic, the driver had a severe case of road rage.

Make your way back

Meaning: Returning home or to the starting point.

Example: It’s getting dark, it’s time to make our way back.

Rocky road

Meaning: Having a difficult time.

Example: We had a long rocky road ahead of us when we moved to Bulgaria.

Smooth sailing

Meaning: Having an easy time with no difficulty.

Example: It was relatively smooth sailing when we went through customs.

Jump ship

Meaning: To abandon something whilst in the middle of it.

Example: It started raining halfway through our trek so we decided to jump ship.

To live out of a suitcase

Meaning: When someone travels to different places and only has a suitcase with them.

Example: Before settling down in Bulgaria, I was living out of a suitcase for years.

Final Thoughts

And there you go – you finally know the most popular English travel expressions and idioms. Don’t be surprised if you hear them during your travels.

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