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Travel Glossary – The ULTIMATE List of Travel Terms

Unravel the mysteries of travel terms, acronyms, and all the essential backpacking jargon.

Whether you’re a seasoned globetrotter or a first-time adventurer, The Broke Backpacker travel glossary is your passport to understanding the language of the road.

Will leaning on a colourful rickshaw/ tuk tuk in India with a field of sunflowers behind him and a pile of backpacks on the roof
“Psychedelia bruhhh!” – The Road, 2024©

Travel Glossary

A

Accommodation: The place where you’ll stay during your trip — your home away from home. This can range from a snazzy hotel suite to a bunk bed in a buzzing hostel.

Adventure Travel: Exploring off-the-beaten-path destinations and experiencing adrenaline-pumping activities. The type of travel for those who prefer hiking boots over flip-flops.

Airline Alliance: A partnership among airlines to provide passengers with extended networks, smoother connections, and often, better perks. Like a friendship bracelet, but for airlines.

Airport Code: The three-letter identity tag for airports around the globe, making booking flights and navigating airports simpler. Think of it as the airport’s nickname.

Airport Terminal: The specific area in an airport where you check-in, pass security, and board or disembark your flight. It’s the traveller’s hub within the travel hub.

B

Backpacker: A traveller known for carrying their life in a backpack, seeking immersive experiences, and often on a budget. Backpackers are known to be part wizard, part ninja, with their ability to pack light yet still have everything they need.

Broke Backpacker: A backpacker traveling the world on a tight budget, often hitchhiking, Couchsurfing and cooking their own food whilst camping out under starry nights. Broke Backpackers are resilient, kind-hearted and always find a way to hustle and make ends meet.

Begpacker: Someone who funds their journey by begging for money in the countries they visit. Not exactly the hero of our travel tales.

Bikepacking: Backpacking by way of bicycle. Travellers pack their things onto a luggage rack and cycle around — sometimes for weeks, and sometimes indefinitely.

Boarding Pass: Your golden ticket to board a plane. For some, a travel collectible of sorts; for others, a paper quickly forgotten in the seat pocket.

Budget Travel: Stretching every little bit of your hard-earned cash as far as it can take you — and seeing the world without breaking the bank. That is what a Broke Backpacker does, baby!

Business Class: A step up from Economy Class, usually with wider seats and better meals. A taste of the high life, often experienced courtesy of points or special offers.

Busking: The art of funding one’s travels (or saving for them) by performing in a public place in exchange for tips. Usually connected to street musicians.

C

Carry-On Baggage: The essentials you can take with you on the plane. Packing it is something many consider an art, fitting everything a close second to magic.

Checked Baggage: The luggage you trust the airline to transport in the belly of the plane. Also commonly referred to as a “test of faith” amongst the community.

Codeshare: An agreement between airlines where a flight is operated by one but marketed by another. Say you call your mate to take you on a ride, but he shows up in his neighbour’s car… sort of like that.

Couchsurfing: Staying with a host for free, usually sleeping on their couch or spare bed. A powerful tool in a Broke Backpacker’s arsenal, and a term made popular by the Couchsurfing travel app.

Customs and Immigration: The checkpoint at international borders where officials check your documents and luggage. It’s the final boss battle before entering a new country.

D

Digital Nomad: An individual who works remotely from different parts of the world, often in cafes, co-working spaces, or beach bars. They’ve mastered the art of making anywhere an office.

Domestic Travel: Travelling within your own country, aka something we should all do more often. Our backyard is right there, and it is probably hiding a shit ton of gold.

E

Eco Tourism: A type of travel focused on conservation, supporting local communities, and minimizing impact on the environment. Often associated with volunteering projects, but not exclusively.

Economy Class: The most common and budget-friendly travel class. Broke Backpackers rarely know any other, really.

F

Fare Alert: A notification service that alerts you to the best flight deals. Like having a personal scout for travel bargains.

First Class: The epitome of luxury in the sky, with gourmet meals and lie-flat seats. A rare gem for budget travellers, usually only spotted in daydreams.

man on empty plane flight
An economy row to yourself = A First Class upgrade. Same same!

G

Gap Year: A year of travel, often taken by students as a break between high school and college, but increasingly popular with adults seeking a career break or life reset.

Ghost Fares: Listed flight deals that vanish when you try to book them. Like chasing a mirage in the desert of internet deals.

Glitch Fare: An error in listing the price of a flight, often ridiculously low. This is what we live for, amigos!

Guest House: A cozy, home-like accommodation option, often run by locals. It’s where you get the warmth of home, without all the boring chores.

H

Haggling: A type of bargaining for the lowest possible price that tends to be the default way of shopping in many parts of the world, particularly when goods are not sold for fixed amounts.

High Season: The peak travel period with the highest demand and prices. It’s when everyone else has the same travel idea as you.

Hitchhiking: The art of catching free rides with passing vehicles, usually by sticking your thumb out on the side of the road. It’s a gamble of patience and luck, with stories for a lifetime.

Homestay: Staying with a local family, experiencing their way of life. Be a guest, not a tourist.

Hostel: Budget-friendly accommodations, often with shared rooms and communal spaces. A good hostel is a home, and one where stories and friendships are as plentiful as bunk beds.

Hub Airport: A major airport that serves as a central point for connecting flights. Think London, Dubai, Singapore… the grand central stations of the skies.

L

Layover: The waiting period between connecting flights. An unscheduled mini-adventure, some would say.

Legroom: The space available for your legs on a flight. Often feels like a luxury in economy class.

Long-Haul Flight: A flight covering a long distance, usually over six hours. On long-haul flights, time truly becomes an illusion, and time zones mere suggestions. Reality is not the same anymore.

Low Season: The travel period outside of peak times, offering fewer crowds and often better deals. It’s the introvert’s prime time to travel.

Low-Cost Carrier: Airlines that offer no-frills flights at lower prices. They’re the unsung heroes for budget travellers. If you’re based in Europe, I’m sure you’re familiar with Ryanair and their crazy deals.

M

Money Belt: A sleek, secret weapon that expertly hides your cash inside of an inconspicuous-looking belt. Money belts are top-tier backpacker safety tools.

O

Off Season: Similar to Low Season, a time when travel is less in demand. It’s when destinations breathe a sigh of relief and welcome you with open arms and cheaper prices.

Off-The-Beaten-Path Travel: Exploring places that are not on the typical tourist radar. It’s for those who view the road less travelled as a personal invitation or a challenge.

One-Way Flight: A flight not returning to the origin point. One could say that’s exactly the kind of ticket you should be booking… but that’s just me. 😉

Overbooking: When airlines sell more tickets than there are seats. The airline industry’s version of musical chairs.

Overland Travel: Travelling across land, often through multiple countries, by bus, train, or car. Overland travel is the scenic route to adventure and there’s little that can beat it.

man riding a motorcycle in the karakoram mountains
Am I right or am I right?

P

Package Tour: A pre-arranged travel package including flights, accommodation, and sometimes meals and tours. Travel on easy mode!

Packing List: The checklist of essentials for your trip. You can look at it as the line between “I have everything” and “I forgot my toothbrush.”

Peak Season: The busiest travel season, with the highest demand. When your favourite spots become everyone’s favourite spots.

R

Responsible Tourism: Travel that minimizes negative impacts on the environment and local communities. The idea is that you ALWAYS leave places better than you found them.

Revenge Travel: The surge in travel after periods of restrictions or lockdowns, like what we experienced after the decade-year of 2020. The world’s comeback tour is on!

Rural Tourism: Exploring the countryside, away from the city hustle, and finding beauty in the serene and the simplest of things.

S

Shoulder Season: The sweet spot between peak and off-peak seasons, offering a balance of good weather and lower prices. It’s the savvy traveller’s dream season.

Sleep System: Core essentials of any broke backpacker’s tool kit that allow one to sleep anywhere. We’re talking sleeping mat, sleeping bag, and pillow type of setup, but not all systems are built equal!

Solo Travel: The art of travelling alone, discovering the world, and perhaps a bit of yourself along the way. It’s where independence meets adventure.

Souvenir: A memento from your travels, ranging from the classic fridge magnet to the more eclectic and exotic goods. Some more entrepreneurial travellers even manage to turn it into a business.

Sticky Place: A destination you keep returning to, because some places just stick with you.

Stopover: A break in your journey, allowing you to explore a city before continuing on. It’s like a travel bonus level.

Sustainable Travel: Travelling in a way that ensures destinations are preserved for future generations. It’s about treading lightly and caring deeply.

danielle and harvey extending visa in krabi, Thailand
Go slow, low-impact, and give ’em the smiles!

T

Transit Visa: A visa required for passing through a country to a final destination. It’s the paperwork pit stop of your journey.

Travel Hacks: Tips and tricks to make travel easier, cheaper, or more enjoyable. A cheat code for the travel game.

U

Urban Exploration: Discovering the hidden gems and secrets of urban environments, often accompanied by some form of outlaw defunct urban space invasion. Epic.

V

Visa: A travel document that is required to enter certain countries. Visa policies will differ wildly depending on the destination and your nationality.

Visa Waiver: An agreement allowing travellers to visit a country without a visa for a short period. It’s the travel equivalent of a hall pass.

W

Wild Camping: Setting up camp in unmarked spots in the wilderness. It’s about as close to nature as you can get without becoming a bear.

Work Exchange: Volunteering your time in exchange for food, accommodation, or experience. The barter system meets backpacking.

World Heritage Area/Site: Locations recognized for their cultural, historical, or scientific significance. It’s the world’s way of saying, “This place is awesome.”

X

Xenophilia: A love for foreign cultures. The heart of every true traveller.

mubarak village pakistan
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