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MM: Confusing Travel Terminology

MM: Confusing Travel Terminology


Since I’m travelling today, I thought I’d address some of those travel-related words that can get confusing. So please, make sure your safety belts are securely fastened and that your hands are safely on your keyboards, and let’s begin!

  • Plane vs Plain:
    • Plane, of course, is short for “Airplane” and describes those nifty machines that fly through the air (when the airlines let them).
    • Plain describes a flat geographic area, often monotonous, like most of the center of the United States.
  • Train:
    • One word with two meanings.
    • (1) Train (n): The first describes that locomotive that travels on prelaid tracks and used to go choo-choo in the old days when it ran on steam.
    • (2)Train (v): The second meaning describes what you need to do to get the tallest, strongest person of your travelling party to automatically pick up the heaviest pieces of luggage without your needing to nag.
  • Board vs Bored:
    • Board is what you do when you’re finally allowed onto a plane, train, or bus after hours in the terminal.
    • Bored is the emotion you feel while waiting to do so.
  • Sail vs Sale:
    • Sail is what you do on one of those pretty boats with the pieces of cloth filling with wind. (I’m told by people who know more about the water than I that a motor-powered boat such as a ferry or a cruise ship does not officially count as “sailing.”)
    • Sale is what you look for while on vacation so that you don’t spend too much of your hard-earned money on cheesy knick-knacks and t-shirts. (Buying them is one thing, but spending full-price? Tsk.)
  • Inn vs In:
    • Inn is a quaint name for a hotel, or bed-and-breakfast, or whatever type of lodging you prefer. They can be large, modern hotels (like Hampton Inn), or they can be charming little Victorian houses that have been converted to money-making opportunities by idealists with a flair for doilies. Or, really, anything in between–if they take money and let you sleep there, they can basically call themselves an inn.
    • In is what you need to be to get a reservation at the trendiest restaurants, get into the coolest clubs, or just INto the swimming pool at your inn.
  • Wine vs Whine:
    • Wine: Visiting wineries while you travel can be a pleasant way to spend a few hours (and even more money), because once you’ve tried the wine-tasting at the end, your resistance to the sales pitch will be low. And, really, what could be a better travel souvenir than a delicate bottle filled with a liquid that does not travel well?
    • Whine: The high-pitched, annoying sound often eminating from the back seat of the family car on long drives. “Are we there yet?” “He’s touching me!” “She’s on my side!” “I have to go to the bathroom!” Whines may also be heard from adults by the end of a long day of shouting, “Don’t make me turn this car around!”
  • Tour vs Tourist:
    • Tour is what you do when you visit a new place or a museum. Usually headed up by a tour-guide to point out interesting features and to warn you about keeping your hands and feet inside the vehicle. Depending on the location, the guide, the scenery, the weather, and the script, these can be either a fabulous and informative use of a few hours or one of the deadliest, most boring places to be trapped on your precious vacation.
    • Tourists, on the other hand, used to be just people who were on tours, but have since transformed into obnoxious strangers, often with funny accents, who carry cameras everywhere (even though they don’t have blogs), and block traffic while standing in the middle of the street with a map trying to figure out where they are.
    • In other words, going on tours is okay, but being a tourist is dreadful.
  • Holiday:
    • Another one of those confusing words with more than one meaning.
    • (1) To a British person, “Holiday” means the actual trip–getting on that plane, lying on that beach, touring that museum. Holidays are something they “go on.”
    • (2) To Americans, “Holiday” is the word for time off from work. Fourth of July (sorry, Brits) is a holiday. Christmas is a holiday. A long weekend can be a holiday. But the trip you stood for four hours in the airport to take? That’s a “Vacation.”

I hope you’ve enjoyed this little tour of some of the more confusing, travel-related words in the English language. All gratuities can be left in the tip-jar. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to go load the car with luggage, catch a ferry, and spend the next 6 hours or so after that driving home along I-95 with my Mom and my tends-to-get-carsick dog. That rush-hour and Tappan Zee Bridge part is going to be FUN.

Can you think of anything I missed? Come on, chime in, folks!

14 thoughts on “MM: Confusing Travel Terminology

  1. JC

    A ship, before getting under way, must first weigh anchor. Thus one hears the phrase “anchors a-weigh” before going away.

  2. Cheryl

    Fun post. I remember those trips when my parents were on “vacation” during “holiday” periods such as Christmas or the 4th of July when we’d take family trips in the car. I don’t know how they survived our “whining”! It’s a perfect description.


    Cheryl’s last blog post..Affiliate Marketing as a Retirement Income

  3. --Deb Post author

    Well, Karen, some of the British colonies kept more of the “Briticisms” than others…. (grin)

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