Ten Travel Terms That Need to Go Away – Forever

White House

The travel industry is the largest in the world and with more than 1 billion people crossing national borders every year, it’s inevitable that new travel related terms and phrases constantly appear and disappear. Some are great and others are just plain terrible. Here are my nominees for some of the worst offenders that need to be removed from our collective vocabulary without delay.

1. Anything ending with “-cation” – A popular travel editor inspired my initial dislike of the term Staycation, and that has stayed with me. What is even worse is how any type of trip must now come with its own “–cation” suffix. Smartcation, mancation, daycation, nearcation, divorcecation, E-cation, and Mousecation are just a few of the linguistic atrocities that have been committed, all in the name of coming up with a clever travel related epithet. Enough is enough people, just say you’re 1) going on vacation or 2) going on a trip. Is anything else really necessary? Matt's laptop

2. Flashpacking – This term had a place at one point and time, but now I think it’s largely moot. When first coined, a flashbacker was a backpacker with a slightly larger budget than a traditional backpacker who also traveled with a significant amount of tech and electronics. The term was then usurped by anyone who packs a lot of tech, moving away from the traditional image of a high-end backpacker. Unless I’m mistaken, which has been known to happen, I think this is how most people travel now anyway. Don’t most people take cameras and phones, chargers and iPads when they go on a trip? If this supposition is correct, then there is no reason to keep this word around any longer. farm sweden

3. WWoofing – This is the shorthand for Worldwide Opportunities on Organic Farms, another form of agri- and voluntourism. Simply put, WWoofing is when volunteers find unique opportunities around the world to spend their vacation time working on farms. While it’s not for me, I don’t have a issue with the practice per se, but the term must die. First, it looks idiotic when written out; more like a computer programming language than a travel style. Second, the term does nothing to portray what the concept is. At least with the “cations” you know travel is involved in some way. So why can’t you just say “I’m staying on a farm” or “farmstay”? There is absolutely no need for an extra term. 

4. Traveler – This harkens to the age-old traveler versus tourist semantic argument and I’m tired of it. Pretentious, self-important tourists refuse to consider themselves tourists so they started saying traveler, simultaneously looking down their noses at those who deigned to be a simple tourist. Well that’s crap. Unless you have taken up permanent residence in a new place, you are a tourist in that destination. There’s nothing wrong with it, own up to it and move on with your life.

Harbour Island

5. Babymoon – This is an instance when I really like the concept, but hate the name. Babymoon is when couples take a brief, last trip before the birth of their child. I think the idea is great; it’s a fantastic last hurrah before their little one comes, but the name is atrocious. Honeymoon is marginally ok, but when you start changing it things just get weird. I also recently heard the term Familymoon, so we need to act fast. We can’t let “–moon” become the new “–cation,” so please let’s all agree to stop creating new words along this theme.

6. Glamping – I think the intention here was a good one; to describe a luxury camping experience. Instead of pitching a tent and showering in a sink, permanent, high-end tent experiences are created for the discerning guest. However, there are actually very few of these glamping experiences around the world and the term has been hijacked by anyone who wants to add a touch of luxury to their camping experience. But the best reason to get rid of this word forever? Fellow blogger Sally from UnbraveGirl put it best when she said that it “sounds like an STD.” Enough said.

Santorini, Greece

7. Bucket List – This was added thanks to some great Facebook comments but still I hesitated including it on this list. I’ve long lobbied against the term, I don’t think it makes sense. I mean, I personally want to visit every place I haven’t been so why create a bucket list? Without arguing the true merits of the term, I think we can all agree that it’s been over used. Everyone seems to be creating a bucket list for every niche imaginable and it needs to stop. Instead just plan your adventures to places you want to visit and enjoy yourself. Don’t let a silly list dominate your travel planning and your expectations.

ocean nova

8. SKIing – No, it’s not what you think and before I put the call out for ideas on Facebook a few days ago I had never heard of it either. SKI is an acronym for, wait for it – Spending Kids’ Inheritance. Can you think of anything more absurd, pretentious, obnoxious and just plain awful? This takes elitism to a new level and frankly if I were the kids referenced, I’d be pretty upset.

9. Fashpacking – This is a very new term for me, yet one I hated almost instantly. As it was described to me it stands for Fashionable (or Fashion) Packing. I guess the intent of the phrase is to connote packing nice clothes when you travel so that you’re fashionable. Here’s my problem with it: does anyone pack for a trip with the desire to look bad? Do they throw in their dog walking sweats to wear out to fancy dinners? No, that’s insane. No one wants to look bad when they travel and they usually pack some of the best, and most comfortable outfits that they have. Instead this term is just another way for people who travel to separate themselves from others, to be pretentious and elitist and to make travel a question of class and socioeconomic status. That’s not cool. Sydney Airport

10. Airline fees – Ok, this is a bit of a cheeky addition, I’ll grant you that. Airline fees haven’t been around that long and yet they have completely changed the airline industry and how we as passengers travel. We’re thinking about weight limits in ways we never have before and considering all of the extras before booking a ticket. The fees have also been a financial boon for the airlines, taking them out of the red and into the black. But they’re annoying; very annoying. In my dream world these fees would be included in the price of a ticket and I wouldn’t be constantly bombarded with nickel and diming extras that just make my travel experience more complicated and less fun.

What are some terms and phrases that you think should be added to the list?

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.

28 thoughts on “Ten Travel Terms That Need to Go Away – Forever”

  1. If I’m not staying at one place the full 1-2 weeks, I’m traveling… So I will stick to call myself a traveler! Bad for all those tourists out there! hahaha ;-)

  2. Interesting. I agree on almost everything, with two exceptions.
    1) traveler: to me, it’s not a matter of ‘looking down my nose’ as you say, to tourists. It’s just that to me the two words mean different travel styles. I don’t claim my travel style to be better, only different. But there’s a difference, though.
    2) bucket lists: I’m not a big fan of the word, but I like the concept behind. Again, it’s a very personal matter. For some people, the destination or the experience don’t really matter, for others it does. As for me, I noticed that the older I get, the more I have ‘bucket lists’. One life is not enough to see all the place I’d like to discover, so I have to chose. And I want to :-)

  3. Traveler: Agree that it’s somewhat pretentious but it depends on the source. I strive to be a traveler, someone who’s not an obnoxious tourist and bothers to treat people respectfully, learn the language, etc. So in that way, if more people want to be travelers, rather than tourists, it’s a good thing. I agree though. If it’s said in a holier-than-though way, I get really irritated.

    Completely agree on bucket list. I don’t get the point of these lists. I go where the wind takes me. I want to see and experience everything too.

    I always thought babymoons were to make a baby. Way worse than honeymoon. What about maritalmoon for when you just take a trip with your spouse? Or a pupcation, for when it’s you and your dog? Next thing you know, there will be an end-of-life-moon.

    So sick of the term selfie – doesn’t have to do with travel, but I hate it. You’ve given me a lot to think about. Thanks!

  4. Totally agree with other commenters about traveller versus tourist.

    A tourist books a resort hotel in Nuevo Vallarta and spends nearly all of her or his time interacting with other tourists. Interactions with locals are almost entirely limited to commercial transactions. “May I have another Margarita, please?” I am not against this type of travel. Sometimes we just want to relax.

    In contrast, a traveller buys a bus pass in South Africa and sets out to explore out-of-the-way places not crowded with other foreign visitors. There is no expectation of a familiar environment.

    In my opinion, a so-called backpacker who spends most of her or his time with other backpackers is a tourist.

    “Traveller” and “tourist” are simply not interchangeable.

  5. Okay so I totally agree with this entire list. A “tourist” and a “traveler” are just not the same thing. I’ve always defined a tourist as someone who simply visits an area and makes no attempt to acknowledge the local culture, cuisine and religious values. Whereas a traveler does exactly that; they want to “learn” from their trip, not sip on Mai Tai’s all day and gorging themselves on Bon Bon’s next to the pool.

    As far as a flashpacker goes, I would like to call myself one but that’s only because I’ve learned and used the term in a TOTALLY different manner. If I were to describe a flashpacker, it would be someone who carries their work on their back. In other words, a travel blogger would be a “flashpacker”. That’s the way I’ve always heard the term used anyways, what are your thoughts?

    1. Ron, how do you know tourists make no attempt to talk to the locals? it makes me laugh when I see those so called travellers killing themselves to chat to the locals, just not to be a tourist. it always better when the things happen naturally, don’t you think?

  6. A tourist is a person who is traveling or visiting a place for pleasure and the problem with “pretentious and self-important people” like Melvin is they fail to realize they’re a tourist regardless of how they define themselves.

  7. Alright some of these I totally agree with – Glamping? Like we need a word for people who camp in RVs… But traveler? That’s not a stupid term-it’s just a word and I don’t think anyone wants to be a tourist (I don’t know why-we all are inevitably), so we should all just replace that with traveler and save people from feeling marginalized. Oh and I’m totally with you on airline feeds. Jerks.

  8. I didn’t realise SKI trips were so popular. My parents are big travellers and we joke about the term, but I’ve never heard it used by anyone else. I’ve also never been upset by either them travelling or the use of the word, so perhaps it isn’t as bad as you suggest.
    As for the rest of the list: Spot on. I think the traveller/tourist debate in the comments further backs up your suggestion that we all need to get over ourselves and move on. I would like to think we’re all too busy “engaging with local cultures and learning new languages” to be bothered how we’re labelled while doing that.

  9. Wait, wait, wait. You mean to tell me #8 and #9 are actual things??? Who comes up with this stupidity? Can we just go back to basics of camping, bumming around, and simply traveling?

  10. I think I’m alone with this one but the term ‘beaten track’ has been overused so much I cannot stand to hear it anymore!
    Oh and not necessarily travel related but ‘game changer’ used in any article will instantly make me stop reading!

  11. I agree with so many of these! I particular #4. I don’t think that being a tourist is necessarily a bad thing. I spent 4 days in Paris a few years ago. I slept in a hostel, travelled by public transport, visited loads of museums and ate in local cafes. Since it was a short break I would say I was a tourist. I didn’t however pitch up at a hotel, take a guided tour (not that there’s anything wrong with these as I’ve had some excellent tours when I’ve been short of time) and only spend my time with other ‘tourists’ – I was actually travelling solo so didn’t spend my time with anyone else at all really. It really grates on me when people look down their noses at tourists or suggests that tourists are not at worthy as travellers. Totally agree with you Matt.

  12. Sounds like someone needs a relaxcation. I’ve also found it weird how all these terms have popped up to describe different travel styles. Before they were flashpackers we just called them “that guy with the laptop.” Pretty soon the non-flashpackers will have their own name for themselves. Maybe slackpackers or hackpackers (“hack” is another word that needs to go away when inappropriately applied). Eventually there’ll be more words than there are people, and then we’ll realize we can just say hello and talk to them instead of trying to figure out what they are.

  13. Funny article, you make some great points. Just the other day someone told me they used to have a fancy digital SLR camera like mine but bought a tinier more mobile camera because the large digital SLR just “makes you look too much like a tourist”. I was so confused because I do call myself a traveler but how ridiculous is it to not think you are not a tourist too? I carry a camera because I am tourist, no way around it, no shame in my game.

  14. great post Matt, you’ve stirred up some good debate. I personally don’t see any real difference between traveller and tourist, I always have a good chuckle when I see people defining their style as ‘travel’ and everything else as ‘tourism’ – vive la difference.
    I am all for flashpacking and glamping however – where I come from flashpacking has little to do with the tech you carry, it is when you still carry a back pack and take public transport, but stay in trendy little boutique hotels (or at least your own room and bathroom) and eat both street food and at places with famous chefs. I’ve never heard glamping re RV’s, it’s usually luxury tented places in the middle of stunning natural scenery (often very ecologically conscious as well) of which there are quite a few around Australia/NZ/Asia -I’ve been lucky enough to try a couple and I loved them :)

  15. I’ve been both a traveler and a tourist over the years. But I’ve always distinguished between the two by: A tourist has more money than time and a traveler has more time than money.

    As a tourist, you’re usually on a vacation and everything has to click. You make reservations for everything. Then, in two weeks you’re back to work.

    As a traveler, you’re usually longer term and reservations are almost never made. Getting into the local culture is usually the goal, not laying around the pool at a resort enjoying doing nothing.

    And, I don’t know why a DSLR can’t be had by both.

  16. I must admit, I actually learned a lot of these from your list. Also, I agree that English is making some weird words, and the more they’re used the more they don’t really make sense. Maybe it’s because we’re trying to find shorter and shorter ways to say things to accommodate our shorter and shorter attention spans?

  17. Great list! SKIing and WWoofing in particular are obnoxious! Here is my pet peeve, I am a woman who is about to embark on a solo 8 month trip. I cannot tell you how many times people have said, after hearing my itinerary that I must be doing the whole “eat, pray, love” thing. It is utterly annoying – yes, Bali and India are among the several countries I plan to visit, but there the similarities end – it seems an easy catch-all for those who can’t understand the concept of taking a backpack and exploring our world on her own for the sake of just doing it. Still working on a pithy comeback to these people!

  18. I dislike most of these. My most hated one is “wanderlust”. I think the term has been raped. My suggestion is that it be replaced with either “Walk-Horny” or “Life-Libido” great post!

  19. Agree with everything, especially #4! We are all tourists now! If you think that just because you carry a backpack and don’t stay at resorts, you are a traveler, well, what can I say? For me, travelers were people traveling and really exploring the world on their own, before Lonely Planet and other traveling guides and well, the web. I have never in my life met a traveler, only tourists and locals. I was born too late for that. If you think that being called a tourists is a pejorative term, think again! And I ignore tourist agencies and guides, always travel on my own, do my own reservations and planning and do not ever join a tour or a group – not made for that. And I’m a tourist. And so are you, with a backpack or not.

  20. You know what, I like ‘traveler’ vs tourist. Maybe it’s because we’re in the biz and about the last thing we want to see when we travel is “tourists” :- ) Agree with you on “glamping” though. Yuk! Have to admit, I do like a yurt, cottage or cabin option in a park. Maybe it’s my boomer status. Just wrote about a post about some of these in Canadian parks.

  21. If you aren’t a native, you’re a tourist. If you groom her dog, she’s a customer, not a client. Cut the pretension.

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