To some of us it may seem that travel is fairly similar to the way it was ten, even twenty years ago. But in fact a lot has changed and many of the words and phrases we use every day have in fact been around for less than a decade. Here are some of my favorites.
1. Couch surfing – Although the term has been used for many years as a description of staying with friends, its entrance into the travel world is a relatively new phenomenon. Today student travelers, backpackers and budget travelers use couch surfing as a free way to stay in cities around the world while at the same time getting closer to the people who live there.
2. Digital nomad – Only made possible by certain technological advances since 2000, a digital nomad is someone who uses this technology and the internet to work or blog from anywhere in the world. Digital nomads are location independent and use smartphones, netbooks and WiFi to travel and usually earn money at the same time.
3. Agritourism – Only recently added to dictionaries, this is a type of tourism in which tourists stay with local people in rural areas abroad.There is some disagreement about the origin of this term. For reference, I based its emergence on its official acceptance by the Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary in 2006. As with some of these terms, they have been in existence well before their addition to a dictionary.
4. Staycation – A dreaded term amongst travel enthusiasts, Mirriam Webster adopted it in 2009, in the middle of the global recession. Of course a staycation is simply a vacation spent at home or nearby.
5.WWoofing – Related to agritourism, WWoofing, otherwise known as Worldwide Opportunities on Organic Farms, is still an up-and-coming travel trend. Volunteers find unique opportunities around the world to spend their vacation time working on farms. I’m not quite sure why anyone would do this, but it is becoming more popular.
6. Zip line – Introduced in the 2009 dictionary, along with staycation, is the popular adventure travel activity – the zip line. Perhaps predictably, the rather boring entry for this exciting activity is a cable suspended above an incline to which a pulley and harness are attached for a rider.
7. Baggage fees – If you were to travel back in time and tell the fine travelers of 1999 about the rich variety of travel fees soon to be imposed, few would have believed it. The king of these fees is the one which affects the most number of people, baggage fees. These are fees airline passengers must pay for the luxury of checking their luggage.
8. Wi-Fi – Ok, technically this was coined in 1999, but it certainly didn’t become part of popular culture until the 2000s. Wi-Fi is a branded standard for wirelessly connecting electronic devices and is the traveler’s best friend. This simple concept has forever revolutionized not only the way we travel, but the way in which we do everything. Many free Wi-Fi spots can be found around the world, although typically not at hotels, most of which charge outrageous sums for connecting to the internet.
9. South Sudan – The youngest country in the world, this small African nation become official on July 9, 2011. South Sudan arose from decades of fighting while still a region within the Republic of Sudan. South Sudan’s capital is Juba and its tourism bureau already has a Twitter presence.
10. Flashpacker – This is a backpacker with a larger budget than a ‘normal’ backpacker who, in addition to having more disposable income, also usually travels with a lot of tech gear.
What’s your favorite ‘new’ travel term?