Travel Glossary

Travel brochures (do you remember those) and websites are filled with travel words and expressions, many of which don’t need any explanation, but sometimes they do.

Here is a glossary that you can find some of the most common travel terms, and some not so common. It’s a travel glossary!


A-la-carte: Food that can be ordered as separate items, instead of being part of a set meal. It can be applied to both restaurants and tours.

A la Carte Bar: Also known as a “Cash Bar,” a bar located within one’s hotel room that is pre-stocked with an assortment of snacks and beverages.

ABC: A reference to the Carribean islands of Aruba, Bonaire, and Curacao, in the Netherlands Antilles, just off the northern coast of South America (Venezuela). Great for diving, snorkelling and other watersports.

Abeam: A directional term, used on ships and aircraft, which describes something off to the side of the vessel, such as the wings.

Accessible Tourism: Travel that ensures that there is high availability in destinations, accommodations, attractions, products, and services to all people.

Accessible Travel: Travel that ensures that there is high availability in destinations, accommodations, attractions, products, and services to all people.

Accommodation: Place to spend the night during a trip, like a hostel, hotel, or apartment.

Activities: Forms of animation that can be undertaken on the travel destination.

Actual Time of Arrival: Literally, the actual time of arrival. As opposed to the ETA (Estimated Time of Arrival).

Add-on: Supplementary to existing travel arrangements and products, such as luggage or tour activities. Add-ons generally come at additional costs.

Adjoining rooms: Rooms that are right next to each other. When family rooms aren’t available, adjoining rooms are usually available upon request.

Adoption Rate: The percentage of tickets issued through an online booking system compared to the traditional booking channel of agent-assisted reservations.

ADT: Atlantic Daylight Time; Alaska Daylight Time.
Advance Purchase Fare – airfare that requires the traveler to purchase the ticket a minimum number of days prior to departure.

Advance Purchase Requirement: APR, or Advance Purchase Requirement, is the requirement that a ticket must be purchased a minimum number of days before the flight departs.

Adventure tour: A tour designed around an adventurous activity such as rafting, hiking, or mountain climbing.

Adventure travel: A type of traveling that usually involves cultural experiences or physically challenging activities, such as sports and hiking. The term ‘adventure travel’ can also be applied to traveling to less-visited, remote destinations. 

Adventure Traveller: Adventure travellers travel to destinations with the specific purpose of active physical participation and exploration of new experiences.

Affinity Card: These are credit or debit cards issued by a banking institution in partnership and co-branded with a particular frequent traveler program.

Affinity Group: A group of people that share a common hobby, interest, or activity, or that are united through regular participation in shared outings. Also see preformed group.

Aft: Toward the rear of a ship.

After-departure charge: Charges that do not appear on the guest’s bill at checkout such as telephone or dining charges.

Agent: A person who has the power to act as the representative for another person.  Most frequently in travel, a specific kind of agent such as a travel agent.

AIO variables: Activities, interests, and opinions-used to measure and categorize customer lifestyles.

Air mile: A distance of approx. 6076 feet.

Air Miles: Points that are collected from frequent flying (usually by payment using a credit card) that can be used to pay for flights or upgrades.

Air/sea: A term referring to tickets, trips, fares, etc. that include both air and land-based travel arrangements, such as a cruise package with air included.

Airline Alliance: These are agreements of cooperation between groups of airlines. Alliances offer airlines more flexibility and larger networks.

Airport access fee: A fee paid by the car rental companies to the airport authority, for the use of shuttle vehicles etc. usually passed on to the customer.

Airport code: International three-digit code to identify airports worldwide. 

Airline fare: Price charged for an airline ticket. Several types of fares exist and can change with market conditions.

Airport transfer: A transport service to/from an airport to hotel, etc., normally prepaid as part of a package tour, but available separately as well.

Air Traffic Control: Usually refers to the control tower at the airport, but may also be a control center somewhere else in charge of controlling a large area of sky.

All Inclusive: Sold for one price that includes charges and fees that are often added separately.

All-inclusive package: A tour package in which most travel elements are purchased for a set-price. May also be called an all-expense package.

All-inclusive resort: Resort where the use of all amenities, meals, drinks, and most alcoholic drinks are included in the package price. Sometimes, activities and specific tours are included in the price as well.

Alternative Tourism: Travel that is not conventional in nature, though that is hard to define. It can be a niche kind of tourism.

Alternative Travel: Travel that is not conventional in nature, though that is hard to define. It can be a niche kind of tourism.

Amenities: Any desirable feature you can find in an accommodation.

Amenity kit: Small pouch with toiletries, typically provided on long-haul flights.

AMEX: American Express (AX).

Amidships: Toward the middle of a ship- usually the most stable part of the vessel.

Apron: The area surrounding the gate areas of a terminal, generally used for parking and maintenance of planes.

Archipelago: An archipelago is a grouping of islands, essentially. Indonesia and Japan are both archipelago countries.

AST: Atlantic (or Alaska) Standard Time.

Attractions: An item or specific interest to travelers, such as natural wonders, manmade facilities and structures, entertainment, and activities.

Autobahn: High-speed equivalent to the US interstate highway system, in Germany and a few other European countries.

Availability: The total number of seats allowed to be sold at a particular rate.

Average room rate: The total guest room revenue for a given period divided by the number of rooms occupied for the same period.


B&B: Bed and breakfast; a type of accommodation where the guests get served breakfast. 

Babymoon: Relaxing holiday for couples before the birth of their child.

Backpacker: Traveler who travels light and carries all the luggage in a rucksack. Backpackers generally travel budget-friendly and stay in hostels.

Baggage Allowance – The amount of baggage a passenger may transport without having to pay extra charges, determined by carrier.

Bar: Counter in a cafe or hotel lobby where drinks are served. In some cases, snacks and meals are also on the menu.

Barbecue facilities: Establishment where you can do barbecuing around the accommodation. Generally, these include a grill and utensils.

Base: Flight crew term for their home airport; where the flights originate from and terminate at.

Base fare: The price of a ticket or travel service before taxes are applied.

Beach holiday: Leisure trip that’s primarily focused on beaches and water activities.

Bellboy: Also called “Bellboy” or “Bellman,” a person that is hired by the hotel to assist guests, such as with luggage, running errands, etc.

Benelux: Term for the countries of Belgium, the Netherlands, and Luxembourg.

Berth: A bed on public transportation, such as trains, buses, and boats.

Bespoke Tour: A tour that is customised, personalised and tailor-made for the traveller.

Blackout dates: Certain travel dates when discounts or special promotions regarding tours, airfares, or accommodation prices can’t be claimed. Broadly, these dates include holidays or periods in the high season.

Block: A number of rooms, seats, or space reserved in advance, usually by wholesalers, tour operators, or receptive operators who intend to sell them as components of tour packages.

Blocked space: Seats, rooms, and /or cabins helf on airlines, in hotels or aboard ships. Usually held speculatively and made available at reduced rates.

Boarding pass: A receipt with a seat number, now issued only at check-in at the airport. A ticket is not valid unless a boarding pass has been issued. A Boarding Pass is not a ticket, but allows you to board a plane or ship or other mode of transportation. Online travel agency, which is one of the largest booking sites in the world. It can be used for accommodation, tours, and car rental.

Boutique hotel: A generally small-sized hotel focused on a stylish interior with decorations and artworks. A boutique hotel tends to be quite upscale and chic.

Breakfast buffet: Spread of food items displayed in the morning in hotels and other types of accommodation. 

Bridal suite: Suite in a hotel dedicated to newly-wed couples.

Bucket list: A wishlist of enticing destinations travelers want to go to someday. 

Bucket list destination: A specific place travelers aspire to travel to. This could be countries, a national park, a resort, et cetera.

Budget-friendly travel: Travel to inexpensive destinations or economically travel to expensive countries.

Buffet breakfast: Variety of food items and drinks served on a counter or table in an accommodation. 

Bulk contract: An agreement whereby an airline sells large blocks of seats at a discount for resale by a third party.

Bumping: The airline practice of denying boarding to confirmed passengers who hold tickets on a specific flight, due to an oversold condition. The carrier will ask for volunteers to take later flights, and will normally provide some sort of compensation in the form of vouchers or tickets for future travel.

Bunkbed: A bed unit that consists of two beds, one being above the other.

Business class: While amenities vary based on the airline, business class generally falls between first class and coach.


Cabin: The section of the aircraft in which passengers travel or a sleeping room on a ship.

Cabin Crew: The collective group of flight attendants who are responsible primarily for handling the duties within the cabin.

Cabin steward: The person responsible for manintaining/cleaning the cabin.

Cancellation fee: An additional payment that comes into effect after the deadline for cancellation has passed, and a traveler wishes to cancel nonetheless.

Cape: A small version of a peninsula, usually long and narrow, that juts far out into a body of water.

Carrier: A generic term for any company that transports passengers and/or freight.

Carry on: Baggage that doesn’t have to be declared at the check-in counters of an airport, but can be brought by the passenger to the cabin instead.

CDW: Collision Damage Waiver; extra rental vehicle insurance to cover damage or loss of the vehicle.

Chancery: The physical building that houses an embassy and its diplomatic delegation.

Charter: Motorized vehicle rented by a private person or group.

Chauffer driven tours: A chauffeur tour is a tour driven by a chauffeur employed to drive a passenger motor vehicle, especially a luxury vehicle such as a large sedan or limousine.

Checklist: List of things to pack or things to do before the travel date.

Circle trip: Any trip that involves more than a single destination, but which returns to the point of departure.

City guide: Travel book or brochure aimed to inform travelers on an individual city anywhere in the world. A city guide features places to eat, nightlife, activities, and cultural venues for travelers to visit.

City trip: A – generally – short holiday which is aimed to visit one or several cities.

Coach: The “economy” section of an aircraft, which may have literally scores of different fares for the same flight.

Coffee bar: Cafe in the lobby of a hotel or attached to the hotel.

Commission: Money paid to a travel agency by suppliers for generating bookings.

Complimentaries (comps): Items provided free of charge, such as rooms, meals, tickets, airfare, gifts, souvenirs, etc.

Compression bag: Small sack within a backpack or suitcase that can fit more luggage than regular bags, as it doesn’t contain air.

Concierge: Caretaker in holiday accommodation who takes care of the needs of the guests.

Conditions: The section or clause of a transportation or tour contract that specifies what is not offered and that may spell out the circumstances under which the contract may be invalidated (in whole or in part).

Confirmed reservation: An oral or written statement by a supplier that he has received and will honour a reservation. Oral confirmation have virtually no legal weight. Even written or faxed confirmations have specified or implied limitations. For example, a hotel is usually not obliged to honour a reservation if a guest arrives after 6 p.m., unless late arrival has been guaranteed.

Confluence: A confluence, also known as a conflux, is the meeting point of two flowing bodies of water, such as streams or rivers; the place where they come together.

Connecting flight: Flight from a destination other than where the journey started. The passenger has to change airplane to reach the final destination. 

Connecting room: Rooms that are next to each other, and connected by a private door. Connecting rooms can be requested by families if their company is too large for one room. 

Consumer: The actual user of a product or service.

Consumer protection plan: A plan offered by a company and/or association that protects the customer’s deposits and payments from loss in the event of company bankruptcy.

Continental breakfast: A light breakfast in a hotel or restaurant which usually has hot pastries, bread, spreads, and hot beverages. Sometimes optional eggs, cereals, meats, and cheeses are available.

Continental climate: Dry climate characterized by hot summers and cold winters.

Control Tower: Often referred to as simply the tower, the people in the Control Tower oversee aircraft movements at the airport, including ground traffic.

Corporate Travel: Corporate Travel is travel arranged by a business for business purposes. A division or department of a travel agency devoted to such travel.

Couchette: Train compartment wherein seats can be converted into berths.

Cruise: Holiday or tour on a ship that docks at a variety of destinations for sightseeing purposes.

Cuisine: A style or method of cooking typical for a particular country or region.

Customized tour: Travel itinerary that’s designed by and arranged for an individual traveler or traveling family. 


Database: A computerised, organised collection of individual customer information.

Day rate: Also called a day room. A reduced rate granted for the use of a guest room during the daytime, not overnight occupancy. Usually provided on a tour when a very late-night departure is scheduled.

Day tour: An escorted or unescorted tour that lasts less than 24 hours and usually departs and returns on the same day. See sightseeing tour.

Deal: Airfare, accommodation, or other travel service offered at a discounted price for a limited amount of time.

Deck: The floor area of a ship. Some cruise liners have as many as 11 to 14 decks or more.

Deck plan: Map on a cruise ship that shows the layout of the vessel.

Demand-based pricing: Price that fluctuates based on the number of people interested in a specific service or product.

Demographics: Population measures, such as age, gender, income, education, race/ethnicity, religion, marital status, household size, and occupation.

Departure point: The location or destination from which a tour officially begins.

Departure tax: Fee collected from a traveller by the host country at the time of departure.

Deposit: A sum paid to a booking agent, hotel, or tour operator as an installment. 

Destination: A place to venture for a holiday. 

Destination wedding: Celebrating a wedding outside the own country or at least 100 miles away from home.

Diet menu: Food and drinks list in hotels that are adjusted to dietary needs and wishes of the guests.

Dine-around-plan: A meal plan, usually prepaid, that allows one to dine at various restaurants in an area.

Direct Flight: A flight that goes from a traveller’s origin to their final destination with no stops.

Disclaimer: A legal document that advises clients that a travel agent acts only as a middleman in the sale of travel products; any liability ultimately lies with the supplier, i.e. airline, hotel, car rental company, tour operator, railway, etc.

Domestic airport: An airport that exclusively handles flights within the same country it’s located in. 

Domestic travel: Seeking a leisure trip within the own country.

Dormitory: Bedroom with sleeping space for a number of people. Commonly, dorms have bunk beds, and they are most present in hostels.

Double occupancy rate: Price based on two people sharing the same room. In general, the double occupancy rate is lower than the rate for an individual traveler.

Double room: Room that sleeps two people. A double room houses two single beds or one double bed. 

Downgrade: To move to a lesser level of accommodations or a lower class of service.

Duty-free imports: Item amounts and categories specified by a government that are free of tax or duty charges when brought into the country.


Early Check-in: A perk that allows a guest to check in at an earlier time than the standard check-in time.

Eco-friendly travel: Traveling in a way that doesn’t harm the environment, but instead aims to preserve nature and educate travelers about its importance. 

Economy class: The most cost-friendly class for traveling on a train or airplane.

Ecotour: Tour, which directly raises awareness for preserving the environment.

English breakfast: A type of breakfast commonly served in hotels and resorts, which consists of bacon, baked beans, sausage, egg, tomato, and mushrooms.

En-suite: The bathroom that directly adjoins the bedroom and forms one complete set with the other room(s).

Entertainment program: Schedule with activities for children, initiated by a team hired by the holiday accommodation.

Excursion: Commonly a short (day-)trip for leisure purposes, enjoyed from a holiday destination.

eTA: Electronic Travel Authority; entry requirement for visa-exempt foreign nationals for certain countries.

ETA: Estimated time of arrival. 

E-ticket: Ticket that’s generated online and can be shown upon check-in without the use of paper.

Exchange rate: The price of a currency in terms of another type of money.

Executive suite: Term often used in hotels for a completely furnished, apartment-style dwelling.

Exhibition: Display of any kind in museums.


Facilities: Desirable features in an accommodation. 

Familymoon: Post-wedding holiday joined by the children of the newly-weds. 

First-class: Most expensive and luxurious class within train and airplane travel.

Flashpacker: Backpacker with a larger budget that wants to travel with more comforts.

Fly-drive package: Package holiday that often includes flights, a rental vehicle, and accommodation at the holiday destination. Generally, these packages are cheaper than booking each product separately.

Full Pension / full board: Accommodation that – besides sleeping – offers three meals per day, and sometimes tea, coffee, and snacks.

Fun park: A park that features a bundle of attractions, usually specially designed for children. 


Gift shop: Shop attached to a hotel where guests can buy souvenirs and other items. The term can also be used for general gift shops.

Glamping: Portmanteau of glamorous and camping. Glamping is camping with the level of luxury some holiday homes would offer.

Group rate: Price for a travel service based on the attendance of at least two persons. Group rates are usually relatively lower than individual rates.

Group tour: A tour that consists of an assembly of travelers with the same itinerary.


Half pension: Accommodation which offers breakfast plus one additional meal (usually dinner). This term is most commonly used at European destinations.

Heritage trail: A walking or cycling route that shows culturally significant features of a certain area.

Hideaway: Secluded place to go to for relaxation, meditation, or enjoying nature.

Honeymoon: Holiday spent by a newly-wed couple.

Hotspot: Country, region, or town that has a high concentration of tourists.

Hub: Central point of a country often used a nerve center of transportation. 


Infinity pool: Swimming pool that mingles with the surrounding landscapes thanks to the scenic views enjoyed from the pool.

In-flight entertainment: Entertainment provided on screens on board of long-haul flights. Typical forms of in-flight entertainment are movies, music, digital games, and e-books.

Infrastructure: Network of roads, railways, and air connections.

International airport: Airport which handles flights to destinations in foreign countries.

Island hopping: Traveling from one island to another. Most of the time, this is part of a short excursion or holiday.

Island life: Temporary or long-term stay on an island. Typical expressions of island life are spending time at the beach and watching sunsets.

Itinerary: Travel route or list of activities that are planned beforehand.


Joint fare: One-way journey broken by a stopover in a transit country. Joint fare can apply to a journey undertaken with two different airlines.

Junior suite: A junior suite is a suite that’s usually smaller than a regular suite, and it lacks an apparent separation between the living area and bedroom(s). 


Kid-friendly hotel: Hotel with facilities that make it pleasant for children to stay there. This includes hotels with a pool, board games, baby beds, et cetera.

Kinderhotels: Hotels aimed at families with children through their facilities, atmosphere, and surroundings. German term you’ll mainly encounter in Germany, Switzerland, and Austria.

King size bed: Largest sized bed in accommodations. Sizes, however, depend on which part of the world you are in.


Layover: A break before the next part of the journey starts.

Leisure travel: Travels intended for relaxation. The primary motivation is to seek a routine different from all-day life. 

Long-haul flight: Commercial flight that covers a distance of 4000 kilometers or more.

Low season: Time of the year when the number of tourists is small in a travel destination.

Loyalty program: A marketing strategy that rewards customers with discounts or other advantages when they are regular customers.

Luggage storage: Space in an accommodation where you can put baggage before check-in or after check-out.

Luxury travel: Indulging in a destination with few limitations, for example, by customizing a travel itinerary with a wide range of unique experiences. 


Meet and greet: Service that hotels or tour agencies provide to pick up travelers from an airport or station. 

Minibar: Small fridge in a hotel room filled with drinks. Usually, the beverages need to be paid for, but they can be free of charge on occasions.

Minimalism: Deliberately packing light for travels.

Multi-city flight: Flight with stops in several cities worldwide, which enables travelers to explore several destinations on one advanced ticket.

Multiple-entry visa: Visa that allows entrance to a foreign country for at least two times.

Museum: Building that displays exhibitions of any kind (usually art, historical subjects, or nature subjects).


Niche travel: Travel specializing in a specified destination or type of activities, For example, gastronomy travel, wildlife travel, and luxury travel. 

Nightlife: Entertainment and social activities available in a place in the evening hours.

No-frills: Low-budget traveling by eliminating all non-essential services and goods.

No-show: Keeping nor canceling a reservation or booking.


Off-peak season: Season with the lowest tourist numbers in a specific destination.

Open-jaw: A traveler arrives at one destination and flies back home from another travel hub.

Overstay: Staying in a country longer than the visa allows.


Packing list: Pre-made list of what to bring on a holiday.

Patio: Paved outdoor area right next to a holiday house or hotel room, commonly used for relaxation.

Per pax: Per passenger.

Pet-friendly hotel: Hotel that allows pets to stay and has pet-friendly facilities, such as food trays and kennels.

Plunge pool: Modestly-sized but deep swimming pool, typically used for a cool down after a sauna visit.

Premium-economy class: Middleground travel class between economy class and business class in an airplane or train. Premium economy comes with perks such as more legroom and upgraded meals compared to economy class.

Private parking: Parking space adjoining accommodation, available exclusively for guests.

Private tour: Guided tour for one party exclusively: 


Queen size bed: One bed size smaller than a king-size bed. Sizes, however, depend on which part of the world you are in.


Rafting: Traveling down a river on a raft by way of sports.

Relocation cruise: Cruise that terminates in a harbor different from the departure point. Relocation cruises take place mostly when the tourist seasons change in various locations around the world.

Rental agreement: Contract regarding the rental of a holiday house or vehicle between the property owner and the renter.

Resort: Holiday accommodation where people go for enjoyment.

Responsible tourism: Tourism that reduces the negative impact on the environment and improves local people’s well-being.

Road trip: Long-distance journey with a car or motorbike, primarily to do sightseeing.

Round-the-world ticket: Pre-arranged flight tickets with two or more destinations around the world.

Round trip: A trip to a place and returning from there to the original departure point.


Safari: Excursion intended to see wildlife in their natural habitat, often undertaken from a car or boat.

Safety box: Small safe in a hotel room where the guest can store valuables for safekeeping.

Segway: Two-wheeled transportation device regularly used on city tours. 

Shopping arcade: Collection of shops under one and the same roof.

Shore excursion: A tour on land operated for cruise passengers and available when the ship docks.

Short-haul flight: Commercial flight that covers a distance of 4000 kilometers or less.

Shoulder season: The season between the touristic high season and the low touristic season.

Shuttle bus: Bus service between two places with a regular schedule.

Sightseeing tour: Expedition to bring tourists to points of interest in the concerning area.

Ski pass: A pass that allows skiers and snowboarders to use the ski facilities and ski fields in a specific area.

Ski piste: Slope used for skiing and snowboarding.

Smoking room: Room in a public building designated for smokers.

Star rating system: A ranking system developed by organizations to indicate what level of luxury and facilities guests can expect in a hotel. Hotel ratings range from one to five stars.

Staycation: Celebrating a holiday in your own country rather than going abroad.

Step-on guide: Guide that gives a tour on board of buses. 

Suite: Connecting rooms that form a dwelling within a hotel.


Terrace: Outdoor area beside or on top of accommodation.

Ticket service: Accommodation provides help with booking tours and activities.

Tour desk: Designated counter within an accommodation where tickets, tours, and other activities can be booked.

Tour guide: Escort for a group of tourists during an excursion.

Tourist card: Type of visa that can be obtained prior to departure to the concerning country.

Tourist tax: Small fee tourists have to pay to a municipality through the accommodation. The amount is based on the number of nights the traveler spends in the city. 

Train travel: Undertaking a journey to or at your holiday destination by train. 

Transit visa: Visa which allows the holder to pass through a country rather than to stay for a longer time.

Travel agency: Firm that makes arrangements for travelers.

Travel dictionary: Pocketable dictionary with essential words and sentences in a foreign language. 

Travel restrictions: Limitations to traveling due to certain circumstances, such as conflicts, natural disasters, political quarrels, et cetera.

Travel scam: People making money by performing a deceptive act. 

Travel sickness: Sense of sickness one develops onboard a moving vehicle. Travel sickness is also called motion sickness. 

Trekking: Journeying by foot over mountainous terrain.

Triple room: Room which sleeps three people.

Tropical destination: Destination near the equator, characterized by warm weather and a lack of extreme change in seasons.

Turndown service: Staff of the accommodation prepares the bed early in the evening for the guests to sleep in. Sometimes, the addition of sweets or chocolates on the pillows is complementary.

Twin room: Room which sleeps two people. A twin room has two single beds.


UNESCO: United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization; an institution that’s been introduced to protect and preserve natural and cultural treasures around the world.

Unlimited mileage: The travelers can drive as many miles as they wish with a rental vehicle, without any additional fees.

Upgrade: Move to improved services or stepping up accommodation.


Voluntourism: A type of tourism in which the traveler is involved in voluntary work.

Voucher: Accounting document with a balance that can be exchanged for products or goods.


Wellness facilities: Health services that improve physical and mental conditions, from skin treatments to sessions aimed at weight-loss. 

Workaway: Online community for volunteering work and cultural exchange.

World Heritage Area: Cultural or natural point of significance that’s listed on UNESCO’s World Heritage List.

Worldschooling: Education of children by exposing them to foreign cultures, nature, and history by traveling to these places.

WWOOF: Online community for organic farm work that brings together hosts and volunteers. 


Zoo: Park with wild animals for displaying and/or researching purposes.