Vocabulary for Talking About Tourism & Travel

The following pages explain popular expressions for talking about tourism and travel. These are great for building your vocabulary for exams such as IELTS or TOEFL, but they might also help in everyday conversation and even in job interviews.

Travel Light

To ‘travel light’ means to travel with very little luggage or to bring only what you need somewhere.


Go off track/off the beaten track

To ‘go off track’ means to go away from the main route or road. To go ‘off the beaten track’ means to take a different route or path than everybody else. You might want to go ‘off the beaten track’ to see areas when you travel that are not touristic and to get an authentic experience.


Watch your back

If someone tells you to ‘watch your back’ they mean ‘be careful’ or ‘pay attention’. In some cities and places you might need to watch your back to avoid being scammed or to avoid crime.


Mind your belongings

You will often see signs or hear announcements reminding you to ‘mind your belongings’ in busy tourist areas. This means you have to look after your bag, wallet and money in case someone steals them or to warn you that pickpockets are around.


Get up bright and early

When you ‘get up bright and early’ you wake up in the morning soon after sunrise, so you can make the most of your day.


First thing

If you say you are going to do something ‘first thing', it means you intend to do it in the morning as soon as you wake up; or that it is the first thing on your list to do.


Drop someone off

When you ‘drop someone off’ you take someone by car and leave them at their destination. Your friend might ask you to ‘drop them off’ at the airport if they have an early flight, for example.


Thumb a lift

When you ‘thumb a lift’, it means ‘to hitchhike’ or to stick your thumb out in the hope that a car will stop and offer you a lift or a ride in a car or vehicle.


To ‘pick somebody up’

When you ‘pick someone up’ it means to collect them by car: “I can pick you up after work, if you give me a call.” Be careful, some people use this phrasal verb incorrectly and say ‘I will pick you’ - this is incorrect. The phrasal verb is ‘to pick up’. So:

  • Pick me up

  • Pick you up

  • Pick him/her up

  • Pick us up

  • Pick you up

  • Pick them up


To get away

Informally, English speakers use ‘get away’ to talk about going on holidays. So you could say, “Will you get away this year?”, or you could say, “I am planning to get away in July”.

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