We’ve all tried to find words to describe how we feel when we travel, and sometimes nothing seems to quite explain it right. I love discovering new ways to express myself, and over the years I’ve slowly collected the below list of travel words that are either not commonly used in English or are from another language and explain those travel emotions we go through much better. If you’re a bit of a Pinterest addict like me you might have heard some of these alternative words for travel before, but hopefully, some are new. After all, we could all use some other words for wanderlust!
These are just a few of my favourite words associated with travel. As someone who writes about travel all the time, I love finding new words for travel and to describe travel experiences. Everyone knows wanderlust, but are there words for wanderlust in other languages, or even just another word for travel too?
The unusual travel words you need to know:
Origin – Swedish
The tangled feelings of fear and excitement before a journey begins.
This is one of the most popular words associated with travel and all over Pinterest. We’ve all felt this. That jolt in your heart when you book your flights, when you tell your family and friends what you’re about to do, and now that feeling has a name. This feeling is for new travellers and old alike. I still feel it when I embark on new journeys, especially before I moved to Spain to teach English.
Farsickness. An urge to travel even stronger than wanderlust.
That feeling you get when you’ve been home too long and you ache to be out into the world again. Sometimes you don’t know where you want to be, but you know that it’s away. Sometimes you know where, and you want to get there as quickly as possible. This is that feeling. I’ve had a serious case of the post travel blues, and felt this to the extreme! It’s one of my favourite words related to travel, since it really does describe how I’ve felt on so many different occasions.
To drift unplanned, led only by the landscape and architecture around you.
The idea that even if you drift you will end up falling into a path that is lined out for you by your surroundings. This could describe life overall, but it also describes small journeys. When you’re wandering through a new city and you just happen to wander on a path that takes you to great discoveries. This happened to me in Stockholm, when I went to the archipelago and saw absolutely nothing of the city! This is a travel word I’ve seen less often, probably because many of us love to plan our trips, tick things off a bucket list and not miss out, but sometimes if you just allow yourself to wander you’ll find the most unexpected and best things of your trip.
Feeling both fearful and awed by what is before you.
I don’t know why but there’s something intriguing about finding Latin words for travel. Maybe it’s because it’s not a language we really use anymore, but it forms the basis for so much of ours now. There are quite a lot of words for travelling that are Latin based, or that we can turn into a word associated with travel.
Firstly referring to divinity, but I think it is a wonderful way to describe how you feel when you see things that are so amazing you’re not sure whether to be amazed or realise your own insignificance in the world. It’s the magical feeling when you see something truly awe-inspiring, be it the scenery before you, or just something amazing falls into place when you’re travelling.
Visiting the rice terraces of China was that moment for me.
Fear of crossing a threshold to embark on something new.
Ok so this German word isn’t traditionally a word related to travel but it could be used as one of those words to describe a travel experience now. Maybe referring literally to a door, but a great way to explain that feeling you might have before deciding to set out on a new journey. Did you make the right decision? Those questioning feelings now have a name. I thought I might have made a mistake in moving to Spain but really, it was just this feeling of fearing something new.
The joy of being able to say “to hell with it”.
A popular Greek word associated with travel! This is what you can do when you decide to quit everything, stop making excuses, and explore the world. Something you say when you book your flights or you decide to do something on your journey that you wouldn’t normally do. You’re travelling, who cares right?! Now you have a word related to travel for that awesome feeling.
A wandering or roaming journey.
An unpredictable idea, desire or action. Travelling without knowing the destination, and it doesn’t matter. I got completely lost with friends in the Alpujarras in southern Spain, and it didn’t matter one bit. This is another Latin word for travel that we should definitely bring back into our vocabulary!
A wistful longing and yearning in the heart for travels that have been and travels to come.
When you’re not travelling this can be an overwhelming feeling, or when you think about the travel you’ve done and you wish you could relive it all over again. This feeling is why you need to make the most of every moment! It’s why the more you travel, the harder it gets. This is one of those other words for wanderlust that we could use instead, although not as easy to say I admit!
The intense desire for freedom.
This is probably one of the closest words to explaining wanderlust in different languages. People often say that travelling makes them feel free, and eleutheromania is the desire for this feeling. We seem to find freedom in other cultures, or just in being outside the norm, and when you stop travelling, you crave it again. I think this is what led me to make the crazy decision to move abroad for the first time at 16! Definitely one of my favourite other words for wanderlust and a firm favourite on Pinterest when you look for travel words.
Someone who loves life deeply and lives it to the extreme.
Someone I try to be. One that takes chances, takes risks, and always chooses the adventure. This other word for travel could be used in place for wanderluster, nomad or traveller.
The freedom of being alone and having the ability to do what you want.
Travelling solo can be especially rewarding because it’s all up to you. You can make your travel journey exactly how you want it to be. No compromises, no one else to please. Just you and the road. You might meet amazing people when you travel, but being on your own is real freedom.
This isn’t traditionally a word associated with travel either, but instead with being in a place alone or without supervision from your parents, so like when they leave you at home for the weekend as a teenager. But isn’t that slightly giddy feeling of being able to do whatever we want similar to how we feel when we travel? No one’s watching, so you can be who you want and let go!
The kind of traveller many of us are. Solo travel has exploded so much that it is no longer out of the ordinary. As most solo travellers know, you’re not alone for long as you make your friends on the road. But sometimes, it’s the wandering journey you take alone that is the most rewarding. This is a word for someone that travels a lot or someone on a solo journey.
Nostalgia and the love that remains. A desire to be near to something or someone distant.
This is a travel word for after your journey ends and you just want to be back where you were, or with the people you met on the way. It’s the feeling that’s left after it all ends. It’s what makes you want to return to your favourite place, even if you know it might not be the same.
An awareness of the universe that triggers emotional responses too deep and mysterious for words.
That feeling when it’s dark and you look at the stars and your wonder for all the things in the world wells up inside of you. I felt like this when I saw the northern lights in Iceland during the wintertime. It was the most amazing experience and if I had any word to describe it then this would be it!
The idea that it is impossible to truly comprehend anything.
Acatalepsy is a word that we can associate with travel. Can you truly understand your travels, the things you see, and how they affect you? Sometimes it takes time to process how travel might have changed your life, and sometimes we never truly know why we take the journeys we do and what they’ll mean for us until afterward. We can reflect on amazing travel moments, but never fully know their impact.
Origin: In doubt
The realisation every person is living their own vivid life.
I stumbled across this word and fell in love with the meaning, as it’s something I sometimes think about. How each person’s life is as full of different connections, memories, and possibilities as my own. Although research tells me Sonder may not be a real word, the concept is beautiful and I think it can be a word closely associated with travel. When we’re travelling we realise how everyone is living their own different and vivid life, sometimes close to our own and sometimes on a completely other level!
Something lovely found by chance.
A street, cafe, an experience stumbled upon by luck. I love when this happens in my travels. A moment drinking coffee under a lemon tree in the south of Spain, a garden or a lake or a swimming hole discovered with no one else around. I love finding alternative words to describe a travel experience, and this is a great one!
The cosy feeling you get while you’re enjoying the good things in life with friends.
When you’re out for a meal with people you met during your travels, and you feel content and right. That feeling that you’re right where you’re meant to be. This isn’t traditionally associated with travel and has become much more popular in recent years as a word describing a Danish way of living. But when I first came across it I’d never heard of it before and to me to sounded like a word to describe the experiences I’d had while travelling, when I’d met an amazing group of people and we were enjoying a shared meal together at the end of an awesome day of exploring.
Origin: The Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows – John Koenig
Awareness of how little of the world you’ll experience.
When you’re staring at the departures board and wishing you could go to all of those places at once. It’s possible that the more you travel the harder it gets, and this is one of the reasons why. You can live abroad to try and travel more, but there’s still only so much to be seen. This travel word is a little different, in that it isn’t from another language but instead from a book. However, it is another word that describes travel in that you’ll never reach the end of your exploration. Travelling just makes you realise how much of the world there is still to see, and fuels your wanderlust even more!
A desire to change and alter your life.
This word for travel lovers describes the feeling that pushes you to travel. When you know you’re not living the life you could be and there must be more out there for you. It’s time to go and find it.
Yoko meshi (n)
The stress of speaking a foreign language.
Literally translates to, “a meal eaten sideways”, and how I felt about speaking Spanish when I moved to Spain! When people would tell me to “just start speaking” and it’s really not that easy. Can you really learn a language just by moving abroad? Maybe not, but you can try. Just be prepared for this feeling that you now have a travel word to describe!
Origin: Old English
Strange and uncommon, the way you see things when you travel. Everything seems different and foreign, and it’s a good thing. We travel to seek out the things we don’t have at home. This is another word that we can make into a word for travel, even though it doesn’t traditionally mean that. Is it one I could kind of see myself using to describe the odd things I’ve come across while travelling!
The contented happy state.
That bursting feeling in your chest when you travel when it all feels right. The constant change in travel often puts our senses in overdrive and the highs are higher than ever. Learning to dive on the Great Barrier Reef was one of the best experiences of my life, and I won’t soon forget this feeling.
This Greek word is actually related to a philosophy that has been translated as meaning happiness or well-being, but I think that it’s the way we often feel when we travel, so it’s a word for travel lovers too!
Origin: English slang
To travel purposefully towards a vague destination.
When you have an idea of where you’re going, but it doesn’t matter how long it takes to get there. The road doesn’t have to be a straight one. In fact, sometimes it’s better when it’s not. I love this travel word because I can imagine an old English gentleman discussing his latest “coddiwomple”!
Someone who strolls aimlessly but enjoyably, observing life and the surroundings.
This is what I love to do when I get to a new city, or through the countryside. When we travel we seem to have fewer worries in general, allowing us to place ourselves more IN the moment. Plus walking a city and people watching is a great way to learn about a new culture!
“Cloud-Walker”. One who lives in the clouds of their own imagination, or who does not obey the conventions of society, literature or art. An unconventional person.
Probably the way people have described me on occasion! For those who don’t travel, or don’t know how to begin, the idea can seem fantastical and unconventional. But these days there are so many people breaking free of “cubicle” life and working as digital nomads with the world as their office, working different travel jobs, saving to move abroad, or taking a year off to travel. It may be unconventional to some, but for the rest of us, it’s life.
Of gray skies and winter days, filled with heavy clouds or fog.
This may be a travel word you only use if you travel to the United Kingdom! It’s well known as the land of rainy days and fog, and I’ve experienced first hand. However, I visited the Isle of Skye, one of the beautiful places in the UK, in the wind and rain and it was no less amazing. So really, I don’t mind if I have to describe some of my travels this way.
The joyful, intense anticipation that comes from imagining future pleasures.
When we book a new trip and in the time before we go, this is the way we often feel. We can think about the people we’ll meet, and all the exciting things we’re going to experience.
Heartwarming, something that stirs and moves you.
I love finding new words that don’t translate into English. This one is a prime example of a word that is difficult to explain, but the best I can do is heartwarming, something that moves you to tears in a good way. Maybe you’re wondering how this relates to travel… crying?! Well, I’ve definitely shed a few tears over travel, from the good to the bad, and I’ve definitely been moved and awed by the things that I’ve seen.
Travel or wander around from place to place.
A pretty simple word that we could use to describe our travels and yet it seems to have fallen out of favour.
“We peregrinated around the Scottish Highlands.” It works right?!
A haunter of woods, one who loves the forest and it’s beauty and solitude.
There’s something magical about walking through the woods, and even more so in a foreign country. When I lived in Canada on a study abroad one of my favourite things to do was wander through the huge forests there. So much so new friends and I once got lost for 8 hours…
The place where you are your most authentic self, from where strength is drawn, where you feel at home.
I’m so excited to have a Spanish word, after learning Spanish while giving in Spain. This word comes is related to the verb querer, which is to want or desire. It can be associated with bullfighting, as it is also the name for the area of the bullring where the bull takes its stand.
The sunlight that filters through the leaves of trees.
If you’re on those forest walks when you’re travelling like above, then this is hopefully what you’ll see! Another unusual word that doesn’t translate directly into an English word.
A homesickness for a home to which you cannot return, a home which maybe never was. The nostalgia, the yearning, the grief for the lost places of your past.
Homesickness isn’t quite the right translation for this beautiful Welsh word, it’s more than that.
Literally “place of wild strawberries” a special place discovered, treasured, returned to for solace and relaxation; a personal idyll free from stress or sadness.
When I went to Luleå in the north of Sweden last summer we discovered wild strawberries growing on an island in the middle of the archipelago. That’s what I think of when I see this word because what better place to be? These are often the kind of places we discover when we travel.
The reflection of the moon on the water.
Something I only seem to see or see the most when I’m travelling. It reminds me of being by the sea, of the Full Moon Party in Thailand and of the early darkness when I lived in the Gold Coast, Australia.
Origin: Possibly English or Greek
A person who loves photography and light.
This one is a little in dispute. It could originate from the word for organisms that love light, “photophilic”, but have been adjusted to fit with photographers too. Or, it could come from the same origins as “hodophile” in that “phos” means light and “philos” means friends. I can’t find concrete evidence either way, but that’s the beauty of finding new words!
Photophiles carry their camera wherever they go, and many travellers now do the same. I used to have an old point and shoot camera, and then I stuck to mostly iPhone before finally getting a “proper” camera. I’ve been testing it out in Spain at places like the Alhambra, and in Portugal around the streets of Lisbon. But there was nothing quite like the midnight sun in Luleå last summer.
Feeling that comes from not being in one’s own country. Being out of your element, a fish out of water.
Living abroad has often made me feel like this, especially in the early days. Sometimes we can idealise moving abroad and not realise how it will affect us, but eventually, a place will feel like home, even if it’s a different concept of home than before.
“Lover of roads”. One who loves to travel.
Does this travel word really need an explanation?
Origin: An English word with French origin
Imaginary land of luxury and idleness; the land of plenty.
This word originates from a medieval myth, a land of plenty where society’s restrictions are defined and the harshness of life in medieval times does not exist. Although we’re not in this time anymore, we could use this word to describe our ideal land of plenty now. One where people are not persecuted for their religion or race, one where equality reigns supreme, maybe one we will all be able to travel to one day?
Someone who travels, especially on foot.
Maybe not as unusual a word as some on this list, and one that you may already know. I considered making this my blog name when I started blogging! It’s a word that makes me think of older times when people travelled in a more whimsical way that had nothing to do with social media. You went wherever the wind took you!
Origin: North American English
To leave without saying goodbye.
Invented in the US in the 1830s as a word that sounded vaguely Latin, to make it seem older. It means to make off with someone or something without having announcing you’re going! The way many of us might feel we want to leave for our travels. No fuss, please!
Have you heard of these travel words and would you use them? Do you think they explain things better than we normally can?
If you liked them, pin them!