Ten Travel Words That Weren’t Around Ten Years Ago

Agritourism farm

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.

Zip line travel word

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?


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By: Matt Long

Matt has a true passion for travel. As someone who has a bad case of the travel bug, Matt travels the world in order to share tips on where to go, what to see and how to experience the best the world has to offer.

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37 Responses

  1. Jeff Titelius

    What a great reference guide to the travel lexicon my friend. I have never heard of WWoofing before but love the concept.

    Thanks for your enlightenment!!

  2. Lisa @chickybus

    Great post! So true. I just saw WWoofing recently and had no idea what it was–reminded me of a subwoofer.

    How about ‘locationless’? Same idea as ‘digital nomad,’ I suppose…

  3. Kelly ~HipTraveler

    Great list Matt. Funny stuff! I’d add…

    Glamping : merging the great outdoors camping experience with comfortable indoor luxury surroundings; for people who want to see the beauty of nature without actually being inconvenienced.

    Babymoon : the growing trend for married couples to take one final extravagant getaway before the baby arrives.

    Daycation : a one-day vacation, usually close to home due to limited travel time.

    Mancation : continuing the trend of the suffix “cation” ~a mini vacation of male bonding, similar to a stag weekend (or the guy’s equivalent of a girls’ holiday).



  4. Andi of My Beautiful Adventures

    Wow I would have never had guessed wifi and zip line to be on that list! I love flashpacker. When did the word “blogging” come into language?

  5. Iain Mallory

    Interesting list Matt, zip-lining is an interesting term for me especially, as used to supervise and even build them over quarries etc whilst still serving. It usually consisted of building an ‘A’ frame at the top & bottom though often the bottom maybe attached to a 4 ton vehicle instead.

    Originally it was known as a death-slide by us but this soon became banned and the British military at least usually refer to them as aerial slides.

    • Matt Long

      Thanks, yeah zip lines for sport are just a little bit different. 🙂 I’ve noticed that outside of the US, far fewer people know the term or call it something else, like flying fox.

  6. Rain of Rain's Travels

    Great list! I am likewise surprised that zipline is included. I’ve seen a lot of zipline/flying fox facilities here in the Philippines and in SE Asia and thought that tourists have been doing this for a long time.

    Anyway, are “freehiking” and “weather tourism” fairly new travel words?

    • Matt Long

      weather tourism is new to me, do you mean like tornado chasing?

  7. DisarmDoors

    Variation on a theme here…But I don’t think anyone was taking Fakations 10 years ago:

    • Matt Long

      Very true. There’s been an absurd preponderance of words using -cation at the end lately. I say we ignore them all. 🙂

  8. Joe Sylvester

    Aloha Matt,
    Fun list and some great contributions. Also surprised to learn that steel cable had been invented when Iain Mallory was in the employs of military service 🙂

    I would add ‘Volunteer Tourism’- Spending time on holiday contributing to a worthy cause.

    • Matt Long

      That is definitely a great addition, thank you for suggesting!

  9. Kevin S Hawley Eyetravelsolo

    First time I heard “Daycation”, when I take one of these I call it a ” Sanity Check.” 🙂

  10. asia girl


  11. Nina

    Staycation, Ecotourism, boutique, Oneworld Alliance, co-share, in-flight power, prestige class, smartphone app, mobile check-in to name a few

  12. Jackie

    Loving the word flashpack and never heard of WWoofing.

    Great post and thanks for educating me.. I need to keep up.

    Best Wishes


  13. Sarah Pye

    How about Grey Nomad? Not sure if you have that one in the US… it’s a big term in Australia!

    • Matt Long

      Just heard that one recently, it’s been added to my vocab. With all the great comments on this post, I think a follow up is in order.

  14. Mohammad

    Great article, just increased my travel vocab 🙂

  15. Nina

    Additional travelisms – Bleisure travel – mixing business & leisure travel, Weddingmooners – multitasking couples who marry on holiday and mancation – guys-only holiday

  16. Gerard ~ GQ trippin

    I think voluntourism is another one. If not, it will be.

  17. Donald

    Thrillaxing is supposedly the hot new travel portmanteau.

    • Matt Long

      Yeah, I don’t see myself using that one anytime soon.

  18. Gareth Sear

    Good article – but are you sure about zip wire? I’m sure they had one in Christchurch when I was there 12 years ago! Perhaps they called it something else? And Wwoofing?

  19. Andy

    I think it’s soon time to add ‘in-flight wi-fi’ as this is gaining momentum (especially here in Europe, it’s free on many Norwegian flights). And soon that last bastion of mobile phone-free space will be gone, as they are bringing coverage to the subway systems. Don’t know what that’s called though, any suggestions?

  20. Gemma | Gap Daemon

    Great post… what about Burma? Voluntourism?

  21. Yumna

    Flash packer:) and glamping are the newest 1 I’ve come across.. 1! Kelly got all the funny ones I was thinking. Great article!

  22. Heather - the kiwi travel writer

    Flashpacker was first used to describe backpackers with credit cards .. usually older than the usual “backpacker’ but still with bp attitide .. slow budget travel 🙂

  23. wftristan

    Great list – last year I took a “Greycation” which was fun (most of the time)
    I wrote about it here http://blog.world-first.co.uk/2552/the-family-greycation-how-was-it-for-you

    Flashpacking sounds great to me

  24. Jo

    Great post Matt – loved all these new words to describe our travel world

    I don’t think “she wee” was around 10 years ago either!

    • Matt Long

      huh, that’s a new one for me too, going to have to look it up…

  25. Leyla

    Hey Matt… how about a few more indirect allusions to travel… like iPhone? and iPhoneography? And of course, Instagramming… there there’s travel blogger – not many around ten years ago I think. And that verb of all verbs, Friending? I could go on and on and it’s scary to see how quickly things have changed… Great list and good thinking exercise!

  26. Jerome Shaw

    I have to disagree with the inclusion of Agritourism on the list.

    Agrotourism has definitely been around a lot longer than 10 years. I first heard the term in New Zealand in the mid 80’s referring to farm stays. The term Agritourism dates back at least another 10 years from that.

    “Staycation” and all of its permutations are a blight on language and I refuse to use them without quotation marks. It seems to me that this term came into common usage during the 2008 economic downturn. It was then a marketing fabrication by state tourism agencies to get locals travelers to fill the void created by the general lack of vacation travel. I personally blame Colorado Tourism but I am sure many other tourism bureaus are also at fault.

    As mush as “staycation” hurts my ears, “mancation” is even worse. I hope ten years from now all of these vacation mashups will have faded from memory.

    Interesting article.

    • Matt Long

      Thanks so much Jerome! And while agritourism may have been around, I was writing in reference to inclusion in dictionaries. With language it’s so hard to pinpoint the origination of words and terms!

  27. Kellie

    Great post and so relatable! I only recently heard the dreaded ‘staycation’ and am keen to try out Wwoofing for myself. I am planning another year of travelling next year and was just thinking how things have changed even since my last year off in 2009/2010. My kindle has created a lot more room in my backpack, and my smart phone will be coming along!

  28. Chris (Amateur Traveler)

    smart phone


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