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037 Travel idioms and expressions for holidays

Hello and welcome to the Art of Business English. Well for those of us in the northern hemisphere it is August and most of us are heading off on holidays. If you haven’t already checked out our previous episodes on travel then take a look, I will put a link to them in the show notes. In today’s episode I want to share some travel idioms with you, so that you can impress your friends and family with your English knowledge.

Just imagine, you’re on an overseas trip where English is required to communicate and get around, and you bust out some of these expressions and idioms. You can impress your children, friends or family members with your dazzling array of English language skills and then share the translation with them.

So, in today’s episode we will be look at the following:

  1. Useful travel idioms for your next trip.
  2. Translations and contextual examples.
  3. Final tips on how to start using these expressions.

Let’s get started with some useful and interesting travel expressions and idioms.

Travel Idioms and Expressions

I’ll start by giving you the English expression and then the Spanish translation.

To get itchy feet
Inquieto/ con ganas de viajar
To be bitten by or to have/get the travel bug
Le ha entrado el gusanillo viajero
To catch some rays
Tomar el sol
To sit and watch the world go by
Sentarse y ver el mundo pasar
To pack a lot in
Hacer muchas cosas en el tiempo que tengas
To travel on a shoe string
Viajar con un presupuesto ajustado
To go all out
Darlo todo
To spare no expense
 Sin escatimar recursos
To live it up
Disfrutar de la vida
A culture shock
Choque cultural
To feel right at home
Sentirse como en casa
To travel light
Viajar ligero
To pack everything but the kitchen sink
Llevar mcuhisimo más de lo que sea necesario
To be up at the crack of dawn
Levantarse al alba/al amanecer
Off the beaten track
Apartado (Lejos de turistas)
To broaden your mind
Ampliar horizontes
He who travels alone travels fastest
Viaja más rápido quién viaja solo
To travel a country mile
Irse al quinto pino
In the same boat
Estar en el mismo barco
On the home stretch
En la recta final
To take the tube
Coger el metro
To kick back
Jump on the bandwagon
Subirse al carro/tren
Like ships passing in the night
Como barcos que pasan por la noche
Up shit creek without a paddle
Con la mierda hasta el cuello / En serios problemas
To hit the road
Ponerse en marcha/ ponerse en camino


OK, now that we have the expressions covered and their meanings, let’s take a look at some examples sentences in context. 

Expressions in context


Let’s start by looking at the common vocabulary. You should notice that in these examples I have added some further expressions and idioms. See if you can pick up on them. Take note of the new expressions you find.

When John finished university, he got itchy feet and started saving for a round the world trip.

When I was young I got bitten by the travel bug. I spent all my savings on traveling to exotic countries.

Let’s hit the beach and catch some rays, I really need to work on my tan.

One of my favourite things to do on holiday, is to find a quiet corner, order a coffee, sit and watch the world go by.

On my last trip, my wife and I packed a lot in. We did so much that we needed a holiday to recover from our holiday.

When you are young and traveling around Asia it is great to do it on a shoe string. I remember having a budget of $30 a day. It’s amazing how you make ends meet.

Now that I am older and have more money, I tend to go all out on my vacations. There is nothing better than a luxurious room, spa and massage.

Mary and John spared no expense on their honeymoon. It was a trip of a lifetime.

We work so much these days that when we have a holiday we love to live it up. For example, there is nothing better than splashing out while you’re on a trip to Ibiza.

Sometimes when you travel to new destinations you can receive a real culture shock. Some people enjoy this change, while others find it very unsettling.

There is nothing better than arriving at a hotel and feeling right at home. You feel comfortable while having all the services at your fingertips.

When you are backpacking around India and taking the trains, it is best to travel light. You find that you don’t need half as much stuff as you think.

Oh my god, this suit case is so heavy! What have you packed everything but the kitchen sink?

If you want to see the sunrise over Siam Reap in Cambodia, you have to wake up at the crack of dawn.

If you are well organized and adventurous there are many places to visit that are off the beaten track. Here you will no doubt have amazing experiences.

One of the best aspects of travel is that it broadens your mind and helps you to learn about other cultures and the way people live.

It is often said that he who travels alone travels fastest. I couldn’t agree more; other people can really hold you back.

This bus journey is taking ages, we really have travelled a country mile and we are still not even at our destination yet.

Our flight has been delayed, but there is no need to get angry, everyone else is in the same boat.

It’s been a long trek up the mountain, but the guide has just told me that we are on the home stretch and we should be arriving soon.

I think that it will be quicker if we take the tube, there is too much traffic to cross the city.

I am looking forward to nothing more than kicking back and relaxing for the next week.

This hotel used to be so quiet, but it seems that everyone is jumping on the bandwagon and now it is too busy.

My wife and I are like two ships passing in the night, we barely speak to each other. We really need a holiday to spend some quality time together.

Oh my god I have had my bag and passport stolen. I am really up shit creek without a paddle now!

Well, it has been lovely catching up with you, but I really have to hit the road and head home.

 I hope you understand these expressions now that I have added some context. Did you find the other expressions that I added to the examples?

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Let’s quickly review them, just to see if you are on the right track.

  • To work on something
  • To make ends meet
  • Trip of a lifetime
  • To splash out
  • At your fingertips
  • To hold someone back
  • To look forward to
  • To head home


Well, there are a few more for you, what I encourage you to do is look up there meaning and find out the translation.

Let’s move on to the final part of this week’s episode. 

Final tips

So, the first thing you should do is decide which expressions you like the most. In this episode there are nearly 35 expressions to choose from. Take a pen and paper or if you’re an AOBE member you can download a copy of the expressions. Note down your top 10 expressions and commit them to memory. If you are on holiday then you should have some free time to brush up on your English and you can take 30 minutes out of your day to learn them.

Once you feel comfortable with your top ten expressions, try and use them in your next interaction in English. You will be surprised how many situations will present themselves where you can slip one of these expressions into your conversation. 

Final thoughts 

Well, that brings us to the end of another episode. As you can see, there are some really great, interesting and fun expressions that you can use in your daily interactions in English.

Please feel free to share this episode with your friends and family. If you are on holiday, then have a great break and use every opportunity possible to practice your English. Remember, don’t be shy, the more interactions you have the better you will get at your English.

Finally, be sure to check out my other episodes on travel, which you can find in the show notes. Well, that is all from me, happy travels and I will see you all next week.

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Andrew is the CEO and founder of the Art of Business English. Besides teaching and coaching native Spanish speakers in Business English, he is also passionate about mountain biking, sailing and healthy living. When He is not working, Andrew loves to spend time with his family and friends.

Andrew Ambrosius

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