Five years ago, I wrote a post that was slightly tongue in cheek highlighting just some of the many ridiculous terms that pervade the travel industry. Some were created out of necessity but, more commonly, over zealous marketing professionals are usually to blame. Looking for new ways to rebrand old products, we’ve been left with a new 21st century lexicon full of absurd and even meaningless terms. Today I want to update that list not out of an abundance of anger, but to hopefully put a smile on everyone’s face and to force all of us to laugh at some of the crazy things that take place in this normally fun and always changing industry.
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. That’s actually a fairly common occurrence in the travel world. One person creates a term that does indeed describe their unusual business, but it is then taken over by the rest of the world in an effort to co-opt it. Plus the term is just an ugly one – there should be a nicer way of describing the experience.
Words with “-cation” and/or “-moon”
It started out simply enough, create a new portmanteau that instantly conveys the type of trip. Babymoon is one last fling before the arrival of a baby, a staycation is taking time off but not going anywhere and so on. But it is now completely and totally out of control and the result is an array of linguistic atrocities that has to stop. Enough is enough, from now on just say you’re going on a trip and leave it at that. No one needs to know the reason why you’re booked for a week at Sandals Jamaica.
Anything with “Bro-“ Brocation, Brotelier, etc.
This phenomenon is obviously closely related to –cations and –moons but is so incredibly annoying I feel that it deserves its own entry. I’m not a big fan of so called Bros. You know the type; super guyish men who use the word “Dude” a lot and probably pronounce the word Bro “Bruh.” They’re terrible, but even worse is the apparent types of trips they take. Urban dictionary defines a Brocation as a vacation amongst male comrades, or ‘bros’ as they are known. Generally a road trip to a desirable spot that allows for good bonding and all sorts of unchecked shenanigans. I’ll just leave this here for now.
Fear of Missing Out (FOMO) started out innocently enough on social media. One would see an incredible image of a friend in a beautiful locale and suddenly one wishes to be there. Since then travel companies have embraced what is actually an unhealthy emotion and now even market new products using the FOMO term. If said flippantly, FOMO is ok but if that’s how one actually feels, then I think we have some problems. Jealousy has no place in the travel world and while we may wish we were on that sunny beach in Bora Bora, it’s also ok that we’re not. I don’t really believe in the concept of a bucket list trip, I think that every travel experience is special and that with hard work and determination any trip is possible. So stop pining after those Instagram photos and instead start planning your own adventure.
Anything Instagram related
I used to really love spending time on Instagram. It was the only social media platform where I could truly express not only my own creativity and personality but also share in a unique way what the travel experience is all about. Sadly in the last few years Instagram has changed considerably and it’s no longer the fun community that it once was. I still enjoy the platform though, and do spend quite a bit of time exploring it. What I don’t like though is everything that has sprung up all in support of the social media app. Hotels and museums are now creating new spaces just to be featured on Instagram. Terms like Instagram tax, Instagram husband and more have all permeated our collective vocabulary and a disproportionate number of people are actually dying – DYING – in an effort to get the perfect selfie. If this isn’t a sign that the end of days is near, then I don’t know what is. Instagram is an icon on our phones, nothing more. Treat it that way.
There have been a variety of different terms relating to backpackers and nomads in recent years, but this may be simultaneously one of the most accurate and annoying of them all. Simply said, a bratpacker refers to (typically) young, obnoxious backpackers who have no regard for or interest in local cultures and traditions and instead seem to be traveling just for the parties. If you’ve ever been in Southeast Asia, then you’ve seen them in droves. Young kids with buckets of beers on the beach, gradually stripping off their clothes and being more obnoxious than anyone thought possible. I don’t know why they’re traveling, it’d be cheaper just to stay at home and drink, but there they are, ready for the Full Moon party and a night they won’t remember but will regret.
This is one of the worst terms in recent memory because it doesn’t actually mean anything. When the online universe of travel bloggers started, terminology was an issue. No one was quite sure what to call us, but blogger seemed to make the most sense. Then we evolved. We learned how to take nice photos, shoot proper video and started sharing more on platforms like Instagram and YouTube than on our blogs. We were no longer bloggers, so the terminology once again needed to change. A few years ago influencer started to be used more and more and, at the time, it was largely accurate. Those of us who have been doing this for a long time are influential. We have engaged audiences who value our opinions. The problem is that the term influencer started to be used generically to refer to anyone online. Suddenly people without a web site and a few hundred social media followers were “influencers.” If used properly, the term is ok although I don’t really like it. But, more commonly, when used to refer to anyone online, it does a lot more harm than good.
This is another term with a terrible name and is actually horrible to witness first hand. Even if you’re not familiar with the term, I have no doubt that you have seen the phenomenon at your local airport. Sitting near your gate, everything seems calm and friendly until about 10 minutes before the flight starts to board. Then, suddenly and out of nowhere, scores of people appear and start crowding the gate, completely ignoring whatever orderly boarding process is in place. It’s an obnoxious practice and one that actually slows down the boarding process since gate lice can be so thick that they block others from boarding the aircraft. Do me a favor the next time you fly, stay seated until your group or zone is called. It’ll be fine, I promise.
Sustainable, wellness, luxury, blah blah blah
The travel industry is the largest in the world and there is plenty of competition in all segments. That means companies try fervently to stand out, to be unique and special and so their marketing gurus come up with a variety of terms all designed to do just that. If used correctly, these terms are fine and helpful. There are indeed experiences out there that deserve the monikers of luxury, sustainable and so on. The problem is that many other companies use these terms just for the cache, regardless of whether or not they’re truly accurate. Luxury in particular is overused to an almost irresponsible level. Suddenly every hotel, cruise line, resort and airline is a luxury experience. In reality, that’s just not true. The number of true luxury experiences, while growing, is still small in comparison to the rest of the industry. The same holds true for almost any other niche travel category, forcing companies to create even more terms to further differentiate themselves. It has to stop and we as consumers have to do our due diligence to figure out who is telling the truth.
What are some of the travel terms and habits that annoy you the most?