Home Glossary of Travel Terms

Glossary of Travel Terms

Travel Jargon, International Terms, Hospitality Industry Glossary

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Check out our updated travel glossary HERE ->


1L, 2L, etc. - On a aircraft with multiple cabin doors and emergency exits, the cabin crew typically refers to the each in this fashion. The boarding door on most aircraft is “1L,” which is short for “One, Left.” If the plane boards from the starboard front cabin door, that door would be “1R,” for “one, right.”


À La Carte - When referring to food, perhaps in a room-service or restaurant menu, this indicates that each single item is priced separately. Menu items that are a la carte are priced per item, not as part of a set meal.

À la Carte Bar - Also known as a “Cash Bar,” a bar located within one’s hotel room that is pre-stocked with an assortment of snacks and beverages (and sometimes other things, like condoms, grooming kits, etc.) that will be billed to the room and guest upon checkout, if the items are used or consumed.

Accesible Tourism - Tourism that ensures that there is high availability in destinations, accommodations, attractions, products, and services to all people, especially those that are affected by physical limitations, mental disabilities, or age.

Adjoining Rooms - Two hotel rooms that have a door connecting them from the inside; may be booked separately, and in that case, each side can be locked for privacy.

Advance Purchase Requirement – The requirement that a ticket must be purchased a minimum number of days before the flight departs, usually to obtain a promotional fare. Many airlines, when having a sale, have a 7-, 14-, or 21-day advance purchase requirement in the promo fare rules.

Adventure Travel - Like its parent category(alternative travel), adventure travel means different things to different people. Dictionary.com says it best, “vacation or trip to a natural environment or remote location with the specific purpose of active physical participation and exploration of a new experience.” Some examples can include going to Alaska with the purpose of scaling Denali, or perhaps a trip to Tennessee to raft the Chattanooga River.

Adventure Traveler - Adventure travelers travel to destinations with the specific purpose of active physical participation and exploration of new experiences. This is the traveler who climbs ever-higher mountains and rafts ever-whiter rapids.

Aerobridge - See “Jet Bridge”.

Affinity Card - These are credit or debit cards issued by a banking institution in partnership and co-branded with a particular frequent traveler program, to incent bank’s customers to use the card by rewarding cardholders with points, or “miles”, in the affiliated frequent traveler program. Examples are Citibank, who has affinity cards with American Airlines, and Chase, who has credit cards that offer United Airlines’ “miles”. This is a win-win-win marketing strategy: The bank will probably get customers of the frequent traveler programs that they are affiliated with; the travel program sells the “points” or “miles” to the banks; and the frequent traveler earns rewards towards their favorite frequent traveler program through purchases that would have been made whether they had an affinity card or not.

Aft (directional) - Towards the rear of the craft, lengthwise, such as the stern of a ship or the tail of a plane. Opposite of “fore”.

Air Traffic Control (ATC) - Usually refers to the control tower at the airport, but may also be a control center somewhere else in charge of controlling an large area of sky to keep air traffic safe.

Airbridge - See “Jet Bridge”.

Airline Alliance - These are agreements of cooperation between groups of airlines. Alliances offer airlines more flexibility and larger networks, while giving travelers such conveniences as the ability to earn frequent flier miles on a partner program of the airline flown. The three largest airline alliances are Star Alliance, oneworld, and SkyTeam. For example, travelers who like to earn US Airways’ Dividend Miles can travel on an Air Canada flight and earn Dividend Miles, because they are both partner airlines in the Star Alliance.

Airline Designator - Abbreviated codes, most commonly referring to the ones assigned by the International Air Transport Association (IATA). On airline boards and tickets, usually these are coupled with the Flight Number, such as DL1234, where “DL” is the designator for Delta Airlines, and 1234 is the flight number.

Airport Code - Also define by IATA, this is a 3-letter designation for most major airports around the world(JFK, AUA, CGK, etc.).

All Call - A variation of the crosscheck, where all of the cabin crew reports to the purser of head flight attendant about the doors and slides being properly set.

Allemansrätten - Literally “everyman’s right,” this Swedish concept stands for a cultural issue as well as a legal one. Similar to “freedom to roam” laws in other countries, allemansrätten allows everyone to have access to nature and its resources for recreational use, whether the land is public or private, access to walk, cycle, ride, ski, and camp on almost any land, with few exceptions.

Allophilia - To go along with xenophilia is allophilia, which is to have a positive attitude for a group that is not one’s own.

Alternative Travel - Alt-travel can mean different things to different people, as it is quite the troublesome term. Some think of Alt-travel as travel that focuses on a certain theme or experience, such as gay travel, religious pilgrimages, or touring only breweries in Brussels. However, I think this is merely conventional travel with a priority, with a specific agenda. Just because it is still common for many to consider a gay lifestyle to be the alternative lifestyle, does not mean that one’s sexual orientation should determine the travel term used. A group of LGBT couples which organized a trip to Paris together to view the common sights are not, in my opinion, engaging in alternative travel; they are not alternative tourists. Likewise, fans of baseball who want to drive all over North America to check each professional ballpark off their lists are not traveling much differently than enthusiasts of New York City’s architecture.

Ambassador (Diplomacy) – The head of a state’s diplomatic mission in another state, usually with offices inside the main embassy; has some authority over the other consulates and consulates-general within the same host country.

Amenity - Any item or service included in a hotel room at the standard cost. Amenities may include coffee makers, hair dryers, etc.

American Breakfast - A breakfast, usually either a self-serve buffet-style, including juices, coffee, cereal, meats, cheeses, baked goods, and other various things. Much more food than the “continental breakfast”.

American Plan - Sometimes referred to as the Full American Plan, Full Pension, or Full Board, this is a plan where the room rate includes three full meals per day and per guest.

Amidships - The center of the vessel or aircraft, not a central point, but rather an area that is in the middle of the ship.

Ancillary Purchase - A purchase from a travel provider (airline, hotel, etc.) that is revenue to them from non-ticket sources, such as checked baggage fees, premium seat purchases, priority boarding, lounge memberships, Wi-Fi passes, in-flight food and beverage purchases, in-flight entertainment, unaccompanied minor fees, pet travel fees, ticket change fees, direct ticketing charges, administrative service charges, and standby upgrades purchased at the gate.

APEX fares - Advanced Purchase Excursion fares; typically the cheapest fare available, unless “Super APEX” is offered. Lower airfare prices existing due to highly restrictive prerequisites, such as availability, min/max stay requirements, and advanced purchase.

Apron - The area surrounding the gate areas of a terminal, generally used for parking and maintenance of planes.  Sometimes used interchangeably with the word ramp, though ramps may have a slightly different definition. Generally, the pre-flight activities are done on ramps, and aprons are areas for parking and maintenance.

ARC – Airlines Reporting Corporation (www.arccorp.com); industry organization which handles tasks such as supervising payments between travel agencies/websites and airlines, as well as standardizing and streamlining the process of delivering tickets to passengers/consumers.

Archipelago - An archipelago is a grouping of islands, essentially. Indonesia and Japan are both archipelago countries, as their borders are not connected to any larger body of land and each is made up of numerous islands.

Average Daily Rate (ADR) - The ADR is the total revenue income from rooms sold, divided by the number of rooms. For instance, if a hotel made $150,000 while selling 200 rooms, its ADR would be $150000 / 200 = $750. This is useful to determine the average costs of hotel rooms when searching for rooms by price.

Average Published Rate (APR) - This is the rate obtained when a hotel averages all the various room-types they offer(single, double, suite, penthouse, etc.) throughout all the seasons of the year(different times of the year has different rates), in order to get one average rate for the hotel.


Back-to-Back Ticketing - An airfare booking ploy used by savvy fliers to circumvent high fares from airline’s fare system by purchasing two sets of R/T tickets for either one or two flights, while making use of knowledge that Saturday stays usually are cheaper than midweek R/T flights. There are two slightly different examples as to how this could work:

  1. Let’s say you live in Philly, and have two prospective job interviews in Boston; both are midweek($$$), and they are on two different weeks. So you need to make two costly midweek trips, PHL-BOS. Because you know that Saturday stays usually make a flight cheaper, you can book a trip that leaves PHL for BOS on Monday of Week 1, and returns Friday of Week 2. Then you book the exact opposite trip, leaving BOS back to PHL Friday of Week 1, and returning to BOS Monday of Week 2. However, you go for your first interview on Week 1 using PHL-BOS of the first leg of Trip 1 and returning BOS-PHL of the first leg of Trip 2. Then, for the next week, Week 2, you use the second leg of Trip 2, PHL-BOS on Monday of Week 2, and return on second leg of Trip 1, BOS-PHL on Friday of Week 2. It sounds more complicated than it really is; I tend to have a knack for that. Click HERE for a visual example.
  2. The other, less likely way that back-to-back ticketing has been used is when a buyer, only intending to fly once, buys two roundtrip tickets, but flies one leg of the first ticket and the one leg of the second ticket only. It was done by knowledgeable fliers for a time, but is much harder now, because the price for the same set of arrival/departure destinations do not vary as much in price like they used to, and also because now most airlines now require a traveler to fly each leg of the ticket in order as purchased; you can almost never fly the second leg of a roundtrip ticket without first flying the first leg. Though either strategy is not illegal, many airlines will penalize you if they catch on, by perhaps confiscating tickets or, more likely, cancelling frequent flier status. Be careful!

Backpacker - Usually denotes budget, independent, and international travelers, especially when two of the three are true. Backpackers received the name from the way that many of them travel, probably longer distances, with their backpack which has most of their necessities. Several stereotypes of backpackers include riding public transportation, the use of hostel accommodations, longer travel lengths, and a greater interest in the culture of the locals.

Baggage Allowance - The amount of baggage a passenger may transport without having to pay extra charges, determined by carrier.

Base Fare - Fare price of a flight before any taxes, fees, royalties, etc.

Bed & Breakfast - Typically, a home that a proprietor has converted into accommodation(s) for the public. Each room becomes a separate unit for rent. The breakfast part is where it is common for the host to include a family-style breakfast for all their guests. Typically, the breakfast is served at a specific time, and all guest are expected to sit around the table communally and participate.

Bed Night (or Bed/Night) - In the hotel industry, a bed night is a measure of occupancy of one person for one night.

Bed Tax - Also known as Transient Occupancy Tax, it is a City or County tax added to the price of the room.

Bellboy - Also called “Bellhop” or “Bellman,” a person that is hired by the hotel to assist guests, such as with luggage.

Bellhop - See “Bellboy.”

Bellman - See “Bellboy.”

Black Tourism - See “Dark Tourism”.

Blackout Dates – Dates where special fares or promotions do not apply, typically existing around holidays, peak seasons, or special events. Many frequent flier programs have blackout dates when rewards may not be redeemed.

Boarding Pass - Pass that allows you to board a plane or ship; should not be confused with a ticket, which is usually just the record in the airline’s system. Boarding passes are usually available about 24 hours in advance of the flight. It identifies the passenger, airline, flight number, date, scheduled time for departure, and departure and arrival airports. It may also include boarding time, frequent flier program number, boarding priority, and flight time, among other information. Electronic boarding passes, or “e-boarding passes” are gaining in popularity as the paper version slowly fades away.

BOB - Abbreviation for buy on board, BOB is used between the flight crew, rarely to passengers directly; usually a reference to the meals and drinks passengers can purchase in-flight.

Boutique Hotel - A type of hotel, usually smaller, that conforms to a niche. Though the definition is abstract, a boutique will usually offer fewer rooms, but more personalized service.

Bow (directional) - Front of a ship or the nose of an aircraft; specifically, the foremost point of the hull of the craft.

Bridge - On a ship, the command and navigation center.

Budget Traveler - Similar to a backpacker, a budget traveler is a traveler who is budget-conscious; they may stay in economy accommodations or hostels, eat cheap meals, and fly during off-peak seasons, among other things. Budget travelers differ from backpackers in the sense that they may not necessarily be staying for a long period of time, they lean towards budget hotels/motels rather than hostels, and usually their trip is not open-ended.

Bulkhead – A partitioning wall, usually referring to one within the cabin of an aircraft; it may be a wall that partitions the cabin from the restrooms, the galley, and between various cabin classes. May sometimes simply refer to a partitioning curtain or screen, in some cases.

Bulkhead Seat – Seats located directly behind a bulkhead wall separator. As these seats don’t have the benefit of a seatback in front of them, conveniences such as the IED (in-flight entertainment device), seatback storage pocket, and tray table may be positioned elsewhere. These seats often have more legroom than conventional seats, and without the inconvenience of having a reclining passenger in front of them.

Bumping - Regarding flights, the act where a passenger is denied boarding with a valid ticket due to an oversold flight. Many times, an airline will sell more than 100% of available seating, with the assumption that a small percentage may not show up(due to tardiness, cancellation, etc). Bumping may be voluntary or involuntary. Usually, when an airline acknowledges that a flight is overbooked, it first asks if any passengers will volunteer be bumped to a later flight. Passengers who get bumped can negotiate compensation, such as a voucher towards another flight, lodging and accommodations, and meals during the bumped period, especially if overnight. If an airline cannot get enough passengers to volunteer, a passenger may be bumped involuntarily, though these passengers would be allowed to get the federal minimum compensation for it. Some frequent fliers craftily get bumped on purpose, constantly looking to be bumped in order to receive a lot of compensation.

Business Traveler - Travels on their company’s dime to one or more destinations with some frequency; business travelers take in a bit of culture and language understanding as they continually return to the same or similar destinations.


Cabin (aircraft) - The section of the aircraft in which passengers travel. Cabins in an aircraft are pressurized to maintain a normal breathing environment at cruising altitude. Cabins may be divided by a wall or curtain between different travel classes. First class passengers will sit in the first class cabin, while standard economy passengers sit in the main cabin.

Cabin (ship) - A section in a ship or boat, usually referring to any room, though generally the room where a passenger sleeps.

Cabin Crew - The collective group of flight attendants and the purser as a whole.

Cape - A cape is a small version of a peninsula, usually long and narrow, that juts far out into a body of water.

Captain - The pilot in command (PIC), this is the person in the cockpit sitting on the left with 4 stripes on their shoulder epaulets, in a configuration when there is more than one person in the flight crew. The captain is legally in charge of everything and everyone on the plane while in the air, but does not necessarily need to have control of the plane at all times, though the captain will be held primarily responsible for anything that goes wrong.

Cash Bar - Also known as an “À la Carte Bar,” a bar located within one’s hotel room that is pre-stocked with an assortment of snacks and beverages (and sometimes other things, like condoms, grooming kits, etc.) that will be billed to the room and guest upon checkout, if the items are used or consumed.

Catholic - To be catholic is to be free from prejudice, embracing everything without bias.

Cay - Pronounced like “key” and also spelled as either “caye” or “key,” a cay is a type of island that is a low bank or reef made of accumulated sand, coral, or rock. Usually, if the accumulated sediments are predominantly sand, it is a cay; if it is predominantly rock or gravel, it is a motu. Well-known examples are the Florida Keys and Heron Island of Australia’s Great Barrier Reef.

Chancery – The physical building that houses an embassy and its diplomatic delegation.

Change of Equipment - See “Equipment Change.”

Citizen – A person who has full and complete legal status in a country. A person may be a citizen by birth or by a citizenship process. For a deeper look at this and similar terms, read: 

Codeshare - An agreement between two airlines to share the same flight, though with different flight numbers. An ticket may be purchased on one airline, but the plane may be from a different airline. A flight from JFK to San Salvador (SAL) was in the past available to purchase via Delta(Ticket #DL 1235). The actual flight and crew were from TACA airlines(Ticket # TA 636), which had also offered tickets to the flight. A way for one carrier to partner up with another airline to increase the places that they fly to. Passengers are allowed to earn rewards in whichever frequent flier program they choose(which is codesharing the flight), no matter the purchasing carrier.

Competitive Travel - Travel for sport. Basically, it is travel to see how many places one can get to, or how many stamps one can accrue in their passport, perhaps before a certain age; broadly, this term covers any travel taken for the sake of merely accumulating locations traveled to. Instead of traveling for a long-awaited reprieve from work, or a holiday to visit friends and family, competitive travel has a goal of collecting destinations one’s been to. See this article for more ->

Computer Reservation System (CRS) - A system for reserving and booking seats on commercial flights electronically, as well as storage and retrieval of itineraries. Several airlines own and market such systems, which are used by travel agents. A few include: Sabre(produced by American Airlines), Amadeus, and Worldspan.

Concierge - An employee of the hotel whose primary task is to serve as the liaison between the hotel and non-hotel attractions, facilities, services, and activities; may have a desk separate from the general check-in counter.

Concourse - The area(s) in an airline terminal where the gates are located.

Confluence - This is the meeting point of two flowing bodies of water, such as streams or rivers; the place where they come together. It can also be where a smaller body of water or tributary comes into a connection with a main body of flowing water. Also known as a conflux.

Consul – Head diplomat of the consulate.

Consul-General – Head diplomat of the consulate-general.

Consulate – Essentially a satellite office of the embassy, but its roles are limited in scope, usually pertaining to and prioritizing the interests and concerns of its people and businesses abroad. The head of a consulate is called a consul. If a country hosts both an embassy and one or more consulates, the consulates will take over those consular duties from the embassy.

Consulate-General - A mix between a regular consulate and a full-fledged embassy. Located in most of the major cities where the embassy isn’t, a consulate-general may handle consular duties for its region, as well as additional items, such as promoting its country’s cultural events and activities in the host city. The head diplomat of the consulate-general is called the consul-general, and this diplomat may be in control of other, smaller consulates in the same host state.

Continent - Large landmasses that the world is divided into, by convention, although it is generally-accepted that there are seven. The continents are (from largest to smallest): Asia, Africa, North America, South America, Antarctica, Europe, and Australia.

Continental Breakfast - A small breakfast including items such as coffee, tea, juices, pastries, bagels, rolls, and fruit. Typical in lower-rate hotels and motels, as well as in Europe.

Continental Plan - A hotel rate that includes a continental breakfast, but no other meals.

Control Tower - Often referred to as simply the tower, the people in the Control Tower oversee aircraft movements at the airport, including ground traffic, inbound aircraft, and departing aircraft.

Conventional Travel - Centered more on the person(s) doing the traveling, whereas alternative travel, in its many variations, usually refers to a journey where the focus is on the destination and the traveler(s) get involved, either physically, educationally, or consciously. Conventional travel would include “commonplace” travels, such as sightseeing in Paris, a family trip to Disney World, or a honeymoon in Bali.

Cosmopolitan - To be cosmopolitan is to feel comfortable anywhere around the world, or with people and cultures from anywhere around the world.

Couch Surfing (or Couchsurfing) – This is a neologism(maybe this is another word you can learn at the same time; a neologism is a word, term, or phrase that is newly coined) that, though around for a bit now as a description for staying with friends, is just recently starting to enter common travel parlance. Couch surfing, the travel version, is when a traveler, often due to budget restrictions, stays at a private house in a spare room or on the couch while visiting, hence “couch surfing”. The traveler may have met this Samaritan through friends or family, or through an online site, such as couchsurfing.com. A great way to experience the true culture of the place where you are visiting, because you will experience the daily life of a local and taste more authentic food.

Crosscheck - This is simply one person of the cabin crew verifying another member of the crew’s actions, such as making sure the cabin doors are armed; trusting two people is safer than trusting one.

Cultural Tourism - This is travel with regard to a region’s culture and history. It has been defined as ‘the movement of persons to cultural attractions away from their normal place of residence, with the intention to gather new information and experiences to satisfy their cultural needs’(Richards, G. (1996) Cultural Tourism in Europe. CABI, Wallingford). It can include trekking into urban areas, while checking out museums and other cultural institutions that tell the story of the native peoples; it can also be more focused, such as journeying into territories “off the grid” to see how an indigenous tribe may live.

Culture – Similar shared traits or characteristics unique to an ethnic group, region, or nation. For a deeper look at this and similar terms, read: 


Dark Tourism - Also referred to as “Black Tourism” or “Grief Tourism”, it involves travel to places that have a grim history, such as past battlefields or prison camps. An instance of this would be the Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum in Cambodia or the Auschwitz-Birkenau Museum, on the site where over 1.1 million Jews lost their lives during Nazi Germany.

Deadhead - A crew member, usually uniformed, flying while not working, often to get back to their base; this crew member is considered to be deadheading.

Demi Pension Plan - See “Modified American Plan”.

Demonym - an adjectival word that describes the people of the place in question. A person from New York is a New Yorker; a person from Bolivia can be called a Bolivian. But, this rule doesn’t work in all cases – the term for the people of La Paz, Bolivia, is a PaceñoRead more about demonyms HERE.

Dépaysement - Feeling that comes from not being in one’s home country. (a French word with no comparable English counterpart)

Deplane - To disembark, or get off, a plane.

Diaspora – A flung-out population that comes from the same national or ethnic origin (depending on the usage).

Diplomatic Mission – An agency, like embassies or consulates, which sets up shop in one country, state, or governing body to represent the citizens, politics, and interests of another.

Direct (Flight) - Flights that must keep the same flight number throughout, though it may stop for a change of aircraft (equipment). Differs from nonstop flights, which travel directly from the originating airport to the final destination without stopping for connections or layovers.

Disaster Tourism - Tourists who go to an area that may be or may have been affected by natural disasters, civil strife, or warfare. This is a voyeuristic approach that is often seen as unethical, as many people go to such disaster areas merely to satisfy their curiosity or seek thrills. If not done out of curiosity, it can be termed more appropriately as “disaster learning”. Visitors arriving to assist sometimes can be referred as “voluntourists”.

Doom Tourism - Travels to places that are potentially endangered, or “doomed” towards extinction, due to natural and/or man-made causes. Such sights may include the rapidly-disappearing coral of the Great Barrier Reef, or the melting glaciers of Patagonia.

Double Double Room - A “Double Room” that is guaranteed to have two beds.

Double Room - A basic room, but outfitted to easily and comfortably accommodate two guests, usually with one Queen-sized bed or two double- or twin-sized beds. Since a “Double Room” has no guarantee of two separate beds, to differentiate, those with two beds are sometimes called a “Double Double Room.”

Dromomania - traveling fugue; an uncontrollable, psychological urge to travel.


E-Key - Key that is used to prevent hotel guests from entering their rooms. May be used when a guest goes over the house limit and doesn’t pay.

E-Ticket - “Electronic Ticket”.

Early Check-in - A perk that allows a guest to check in at an earlier time than the standard check-in time.

Eco-Conscious/Eco-Friendly Travel - Though often interchangeable, being “eco-conscious” literally means that one is simply aware of their environmental impact, while being “eco-friendly” usually goes a step further by implying that the travel is aware and making decisions which do not hurt the environment. These terms are used to describe two different segments of your journey; not only does it refer to how “green” you are to the environment at your destination, but it also implies that your mode of transportation both there and back were at least considered. People who take an eco-conscious trip, may start a week or more before the trip by cancelling magazines and newspaper subscriptions, to cut down on paper waste. Some travelers pack quite a bit more lightly, as the heavier their luggage, the more fuel required by an aircraft, and thus more pollution. Most travel agencies have by now partnered with an organization to which you can pay a small fee to offset your carbon footprint(they plant trees to counter the damage done by the plane’s carbon emissions). At the destination, low-impact accommodations are a staple, while many often take public transportation to get around.

Eco-Friendly Travel - See “Eco-Conscious Travel”.

Ecotourism - Tourism directed at exotic and/or endangered destinations while fostering an environmental understanding and conservation. Directed more towards nature, ecotourism often includes activities such as kayaking, bird watching, and hiking through rain-forests.

Ecotourist - Similar to voluntourists, ecotourists are eco-conscious individuals who travel primarily to observe or preserve; they may go to observe wildlife as a study aid or preserve an endangered species actively.

Electronic Ticket - Regarding airlines, an electronic ticket is the digital version of a paper ticket, issued via email, SMS, or MMS. It allows much more flexibility than its paper counterpart, such as remote check-in and the ability for a passenger to use an airport kiosk to check in. An e-ticket must still be accompanied by a boarding pass for entry onto the plane.

Embassy – Sometimes referred to as a permanent (diplomatic) mission, and often confused with consulates, embassies are the more important representative body. Embassies represent their country or state abroad in diplomatic interests, as well as the interests of its citizens that may be living, working, or visiting the host country. To be completely technical though, embassy is defined as the diplomatic delegation itself, though most people harmlessly call their physical building such; the name for the building is actually a chancery. Its head is called the ambassador.

Enplanement - The total number of passengers boarding a flight, including origination, stopovers/layovers, and connections.

Enplane - To load a plane with passengers, though not commonly used.

Equipment - Technical term for the plane itself.

Equipment Change - Term used by airlines meaning that the equipment (plane) will be changed for a different one, possibly because of mechanical failures or other issues.

Estuary - A body of water connecting a flowing river and a larger body, such as a sea or ocean. Because it is the transition point, an estuary is subject to both the tides of the sea or ocean as well as the mixture of the fresh water with salt water that happens. A good example is the New York City region, which sits in an estuary body of water, as the Hudson River drains into the Atlantic Ocean.

Ethnicity - A term that groups people together with a similar cultural identity; unlike terms such as nationality, ethnicity is more ambiguous. An ethnic group may have a similar religion, common language, etc. For a deeper look at this and similar terms, read: 

Ethno-Tourism - Focusing on exploration of indigenous populations and their respective culture and traditions. Ethno-tourists usually seek to learn more about native peoples and their livelihoods. Though authenticity is key, the more tourists that come to look for these things invariably and slowly factor out the authenticity. As these indigenous peoples realize the financial opportunities to be gained from tourists, events and traditions may become more choreographed, while foods become “watered down”, in an attempt to satisfy the wealthy visitors.

European Plan - A room rate that includes no meals.

Extended Stay (hotel type) - This is a term that usually means that the hotel or resort property quotes their prices in longer segments than daily rates. Usually, the property will quote per week, and this kind of accommodation is more suitable for families or groups, as it typically has more amenities; extended stay properties usually must have a kitchenette that includes a stove-top burner. Generally, a 5-night stay is the minimum for an extended stay hotel.


Familymoon - A term used to describe a type of honeymoon a newlywed couple can make along with their children from previous relationships.

FBC - See “Fare Basis Code”.

Fare Basis Code - The letter designation used by almost all airlines to determine fare rules and class.

Fare Rules - To differentiate fare levels from one another(F, J, T, etc.), the airlines assign special purchasing rules and restrictions. Generally, the lower the fare, the more restrictions a fare has (such as 21 day advance purchase, Saturday night stay, or non-refundable status).

Fika - A Swedish concept and institution which essentially boils down to taking about a half hour to sit down with a coffee (usually) or other beverage, accompanying it with something sweet, such as a cinnamon bun, muffin, or cake. It is meant to be somewhat social, whether it be with friends or family or coworkers; often, fika can also be used as a simple date. The most important aspect of fika, though it revolves around the coffee/beverage and sweets/food, is the communion and socializing aspect of it.

Final Approach - This is a reference to the landing sequence when the plane has made all necessary maneuvers and is directly in line to land, without needing to turn or maneuver again.

Final Boarding - Last call to board before the jet bridge closes and the flight departs, leaving late passengers stranded.

First Officer - The pilot in the cockpit sitting on the right with 3 stripes on their shoulder epaulets, often referred to as the copilot because they are the second in command. First Officers are always fully qualified to operate the flight, and may “take the wheel” often to allow the Captain to do other things.

Flashpacker - A term used to describe a traveler with more disposable income; flashpackers tend to carry more electronics, stay in decent accommodations, and take taxis, though they share some characteristics of regular backpackers such as the intrigue for the local culture and lifestyle, longer travel length, and perhaps an open-ended itinerary.

Flight Attendant - Commonly referred to as stewards/stewardesses and air hosts/hostesses, flight attendants are available to ensure the safety and comfort of passengers while flying. FA’s also may help with any customs forms, provide drinks/snacks/meals, ensure cabin security before takeoff and landing, and answer any passenger questions.

Flight Crew - Sometimes called the “aircrew,” the flight crew consists of everyone hired by the airlines on a flight, including pilots, pursers, and flight attendants.

Flight Deck - Term the airlines and their employees use to refer to the cockpit.

Fore (directional) - Towards the front of the craft, lengthwise, such as the bow of a ship or the nose of a plane. Opposite of “aft”.

Frequent Flier - Technically, one who flies frequently. However, it has evolved into more of a specific definition, involving a traveler who usually flies in a particular frequent flier program so as to earn rewards on that particular program.

Frequent Flier Program - A program that a traveler can enroll in that earns them rewards such as free flights on a particular airline for being a loyal customer of that airline. Airline frequent flier programs have now involved many other industries, and may reward members of the program for buying products from other companies through their site or by using an affiliated affinity card, where in both instances, the airline gets a small commission for encouraging the business. Most refer to the currency of the frequent flier program as “miles”. These reward miles can be redeemed for seats on a flight, as well as many other things, depending on the airline.

Frequent Lodger - The hotel industry’s equivalent of a frequent flier; one who stays at a particular hotel chain of properties, mostly to reap rewards from a frequent lodger program.

Frequent Lodger Program - The hotel industry’s equivalent of a frequent flier program; one who stays at a particular hotel chain of properties can reap rewards from a frequent lodger program. Following in the footsteps of many frequent flier programs, many frequent lodger programs have now embraced other industries by offering affinity cards, as well as having special shops and offers where frequent lodgers may purchase various things unrelated to the hotel to earn rewards in their program.

Full American Plan - See “American Plan”.

Full Board Plan - See “American Plan”.

Full Pension Plan - See “American Plan”.

Funnel Flight - Now this is what I consider a shoddy scheme that some airlines pull. A funnel flight is one where a flight changes planes at a certain stop, though usually billing itself as a nonstop flight. The plane may leave an airport(usually a smaller, lower-key destination) flying to another, but stops off at an airport close to the departure(probably more of a major airport) to “feed” or “funnel” the passengers onto another plane. The flight will keep the same flight number on both segments, and still counts as only one leg flown. Fliers who travel often hate this tactic, as they do not get the extra mileage or qualified segments in their frequent flier accounts, though most people believe this should count as a layover.

Fuselage (Aircraft) – The aircraft’s main body section, the cylindrical, central piece that contains the cabin and holds the crew and cargo.


Gap-Packer - A type of backpacker who may tour several countries in one, single adventure during a school/work hiatus, such as a gap year.

Gap Year - Also known as a Sabbatical, it is a time set aside to travel, usually while transitioning between life stages, such as after earning a degree but before starting a career. Gap Year may also refer to a year taken off from university to travel abroad. Started in the U.K. in the 1960′s, where a student might take a year off to see the world or volunteer abroad while still young.

Gate - The specific area in an airport where passengers board a plane for a flight. Gates are located in concourses, which are found in terminals of the airport; each flight will have a different gate number, though a gate can be used again after a flight departs.

Gateway City - A city with an airport, usually an international hub airport, that serves as an arrival and departure point for further connections to outlying cities and/or countries.

GeoTourism- According to National Geographic, this is “tourism that sustains or enhances the distinctive geographical character of a place – its environment, heritage, aesthetics, culture, and the well-being of its residents.” Money is often spent discerningly, so that the proceeds return to someway support the attraction or destination for future travelers.

Ghetto Tourism - See “Poverty Tourism”.

Grief Tourism - See “Dark Tourism”.

Ground Stop - Stoppage of flights at an airport, possibly because of air traffic congestion that needs to be cleared out before aircraft can land.

Group Rate - A negotiated rate on travel, perhaps a stay or vacation plan, that incentivizes for a large crowd that books together.

Groupie(s) - Those, typically in their late teens to early 30′s, who like to travel in groups of their friends, but with an intention to simply party, relax, and/or blow money at the destination. Think Vegas-style bachelor/bachelorette trips.


Half-Board - In hotel parlance, a rate that includes one or two meals, usually breakfast and lunch, or a brunch.

Half Pension Plan - See “Modified American Plan”.

Heritage – Usually, the ancestors and ancestral background of an individual. For a deeper look at this and similar terms, read: 

Hidden City Ticketing - One more tactic, similar to throwaway ticketing, where the traveler buys a roundtrip ticket with a layover, and the layover is the intended city of travel. The rest of the ticket is not used. This is for when A ticket with a layover at the intended destination is cheaper than a booking the flight right to the intended destination. For example, I was looking for tickets recently to Panama City, Panama (PTY). At the same time, I always am on the lookout for tickets to Bogotá, Colombia (BOG), so I can visit my girlfriend. The tickets to BOG were about $577 at the time, while tickets to PTY from JFK were about $640. I found a ticket to BOG for $577 on United, which had a layover in PTY. Only problem is, if I didn’t fly leg 2 and 3 of this flight, they wouldn’t let me fly home from PTY on leg 4. Always be careful (and never check bags!)!

Hiraeth – A homesickness or longing feeling for a past time in one’s life or for a place which cannot be returned to. (Welsh)

Holding Pattern - When a landing slot is not yet available, due to congestion or other incident, flying a holding pattern is requested from the control tower, which is essentially like a car circling the parking lot until a space becomes available.

House Limit - The maximum amount the the hotel will allow on credit before requesting payment.

Hub (Airline) - An airline hub is the central part of the Hub and Spoke Model. An airline’s hub is where that particular airline has a heavier presence, usually in cities that also feature the airline’s headquarters or other administrative offices. If an airline has a large presence in a city that is not home to offices, it is usually referred to as a focus cityor a secondary hub. Airlines that have their hub in a particular location usually offer some of the most competitive pricing on flights, either inbound or outbound. JetBlue has its HQ in Queens, New York, and has a hub at JFK. When flying with JetBlue, you will notice that most of their special offers relate somewhat to JFK. Another example is Delta, which has their HQ and primary hub at Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson Int’l Airport, and likewise offers great rates on destinations to and from ATL.


IATA - See “International Air Transport Association”.

IED – See “In-flight Entertainment Device.” Hopefully, for travelers, IED doesn’t translate to Intermittent Explosive Disorder or, worse, and Improvised Explosive Device.

Identity – The way a person chooses to be accepted and viewed as. Culturally, linguistically, ethnically, and nationally, they may be pre-defined, but identity is up to each person themselves to define. For a deeper look at this and similar terms, read: 

In-flight Entertainment Device – A computer, usually mounted on the seatback of the chair in front of the passenger, that offers entertainment options such as movies, music, games, an in-flight map, and more. Usually available on longer-haul flights to avoid passenger restlessness. For passengers without a seatback in front of them, it may be mounted on a bulkhead (wall) or elsewhere.

In-flight Service - Entertainment(movies, television), meals, beverages and other items made available during a flight.

Incidental Charge - Items and services billed to a room after their use, such as movies, phone calls, etc.

Initial Approach - Usually called out over the intercom, it is just an FYI for passengers and the cabin crew that the plane is starting its descent into the destination airport; may be a while before touching down on the runway occurs.

Intercontinental – Having to do with two continents. In travel, transit from one continent to another. Not to be confused with transcontinental.

Interline Agreement - Agreement between two airlines that enables passengers to book multiple segments on multiple carriers to allow for a greater share of coverage by both airlines. Baggage is transferred through the interline connection to the final destination. Differs from a codeshare in that the operating carrier of each segment may not have the codeshare agreement which allows the other airline to sell tickets under their name. Also differs from a codeshare agreement in that only the operating carrier of each segment will distribute rewards to their respective frequent flier programs, though the ticket may have been booked through another airline.

Interline Connection - Connection between two different carriers participating in an interline agreement; Change of planes that also requires a change of carriers. An interline connection is one usually made when a passenger buys a ticket from one airline, differing from an offline connection, which would be a change of carriers resulting either from tickets purchased separately or tickets purchased at one time for airlines that do not share an interline agreement.

International Air Transport Association - International airline industry trade group, headquartered in Montreal, Canada, with executive offices in Geneva, Switzerland. IATA represents 230 airlines from over 140 nations, accounting for 93% of all international air traffic. The IATA has numerous duties, including setting prices and ensuring safe and secure transit for its customers. IATA also assigns 3-letter airport codes and 2-letter airline designators.

International Date Line - Opposite the Prime Meridian, the International Date Line is another arbitrary line going from north to south that advises where one calendar day ends and another begins. Unlike the Prime Meridian, it does not go straight north to south, but rather goes around several island groups for logistical reasons. Traveling east over the Int’l Date Line will cause one to go back one day, to the previous calendar day by about a full 24 hours.

Itinerant – Traveling from one place to another, or a person who does so.

Itinerary - The schedule of an entire trip.


Jet Bridge - An enclosed, movable connector which extends from a terminal gate to a plane, allowing passengers to board and disembark without having to go outside.

Jetway - A registered trademark of JBT AeroTech for a certain kind of aircraft loading bridge which allows passengers direct, protected access to an aircraft from the terminal. This is the common term that most passengers use to refer to a Jet Bridge.

Junket - A trip that is usually sponsored by another party, outwardly resembling a business trip, at times, but really for pleasure and enjoyment. Many casinos will sponsor junkets to some high rollers, to get them to come back to their casino and gamble money by comping their rooms and meals.


Knot (kn) - The term for a unit of speed equaling one nautical mile per hour. A nautical mile is about 1.151 miles, so a nautical mile an hour is about 15% faster than a mile per hour.


L’appel du vide – Literally “the call of the void,” an urge one might feel to jump or fall from a high place, though not suicidally; perhaps a non-destructive longing to try to fly from a cliff or tall building. (French)

Lagom - In Swedish tradition, lagom is quite an important concept; Loosely translated, it means something along the lines of “just the right amount” or “in moderation.” A Swedish-to-English dictionary might define lagom as “sufficient” or “just right,” yet these are inadequate definitions for this complex idea.

Land Arrangements – Arrangements other than the flight portion of a travel plan, including hotel accommodations, car rentals, and attraction reservations.

Late Check-out - A more exclusive perk for some guests that allow a few extra hours to check out from the normal hours.

Long Haul - A relatively long distance traveled; usually international, though a flight from Miami to Kingston would be considered “short haul”. Most consider a long haul flight to be six hours or more.


Mattress Run - Similar to a mileage run, a mattress run is executed when a traveler, who is a member of a hotel chain’s frequent stay program, stays a few nights at a hotel with the sole purpose of bulking up on whatever points the hotel’s program offers. The benefits of doing mattress runs include possible free nights earned, higher status in the program, and more amenities, services, and upgrades offered as the result of the higher status. Hotels typically have offers where guests can earn an increased number of points for stays during these promotions, which are when a lot of mattress runs are undertaken.

Maximum Stay – The longest period of time a traveler can stay at the destination while still qualifying for the promotional or discounted fare.

Medium Haul - A relatively average distance traveled; most consider a medium haul flight to be between three hours to six hours in length.

Metal - Similar to equipment, it is the aircraft of the airline controlling the flight. With the multiple codeshare agreements today, one flight may have numerous airlines’s numbers on it; for example, Air France flight #8 (Paris CDG to New York JFK) is also marketed as a codeshare to Delta (as DL #8554) and Tarom (as RO #9529). The flight is Air France metal here, because their plane with their logo is the primary one.

Midships - See “Amidships”.

Mileage Run - Unofficial term adopted by many veteran frequent fliers that distinguishes flights flown for the sole purpose of earning the most “miles” or points in one’s frequent flier program. Most fliers who do mileage runs do so on the weekend, when they have time off of work. Mileage runs are done in earnest towards the end of the year, as fliers scramble to gain the required “miles” needed to ensure the airline status they want for the next year. A representation of this would be a frequent traveler who, in November, realizes they need 9000 more SkyMiles on Delta Airlines so that they can continue as a Gold Medallion for the next full year. The traveler then decides to do a mileage run on one weekend, to earn the miles that they need, while paying the least amount of money. Leaving Friday after work, they do a trip, from ATL-BOS, while making a stop in LHR, SAP, IAD, and CDG(bad example, but you get the point). After returning, the flier now has sufficient SkyMiles to ensure Gold Medallion status on Delta for the next year. One more note, many fliers who do mileage runs may never even leave the airport; if done on the weekend, a roundtrip flight with 2 or 3 layovers each way, which are typical in mileage runs, can leave very little time to leave the airport’s secured area with time enough to get back in for the next flight out.

Mizpah – A bond between two people that remains strong even over long distances or death. (Hebrew)

Modified American Plan - A rate plan where breakfast and dinner is included in the price, but not lunch. Also called half pension or demi-pension plan.

Motel - A combination of “Motor Hotel,” this is a kind of hotel that is generally cheaper and with less frills, and most often rooms that are accessible from the outside, not from within a central lobby.

Motor Hotel - See “Motel.”

Motu - a type of small island that is a low bank or reef made of accumulated coral, gravel, or rock. Differs from a cay, which is usually predominantly made of sand.


National – A person born in a territory that is under the administration of another sovereign entity; for example, Puerto Ricans are considered to be U.S. nationals.

Nationality – The country where one holds citizenship and/or a passport, usually; however, some people who may have left their country of birth and hold citizenship elsewhere may say that theirs is their place of birth, though they may have no legal ties there anymore. For a deeper look at this and similar terms, read: 

Nautical Mile -  Unit of length that is about one minute of arc of latitude along any meridian, but is approximately one minute of arc of longitude only at the equator. International agreement has it as exactly 1,852 metres (approximately 6,076 feet).

Neologism - Neologisms are coined words and phrases, usually used by a group of people sharing similar interests. A word/phrase is generally a neologism until it enters more common usage. They tend to be new in the language’s lexicon, formed primarily through linguistic creativity rather than having been borrowed from another language. *Many words in the present-day independent traveler’s lingo are made up of neologisms, such as many of the words/phrases in this glossary, which is why this word is included here.

No Show - A customer or guest, such as at a restaurant, hotel, or flight, that does not arrive for their reservation and does not give warning of their change of plans. A no show may be charged a fee or could lose some or all of their deposit, in some cases.

Nomad - A nomad is the long-term traveler, generally with no set destinations, end date, or plans. Nomadic travelers are wanderers, not interested in society’s general career ladder and not afraid to be alone, as they tend to travel independently. Nomads are basically extreme backpackers.

Non-Resident Mission (Diplomatic) - A diplomatic organization seeking to represent the people and interests of its state in another, though its host does not fully-recognize the sovereignty or existence of that state which it represents. An example of a non-resident mission might be Somaliland’s Representative Offices, which has outposts in cities such as London and Rome; Somaliland is recognized by most of the international community as a part of the country of Somalia, though it functions as a sovereign state, self-declared.

Nonstop (Flight) - Flight that travels directly from the originating airport to the final destination without stopping for connections or layovers. Differs from direct flights, which only must keep the same flight number throughout, though it may stop for a change of aircraft.


Occupancy - A percentage rate used by places of accommodations that indicate the amount of rooms sold per night.

Off-Peak (Season) - Slowest travel season.

Offline Connection - Connection between two different carriers that is a change of planes which also requires a change of carriers. An offline connection can be a change of carriers resulting either from tickets purchased separately or tickets purchased at one time for airlines that do not share an interline agreement. This differs from an interline connection, where a passenger buys a ticket from one airline for all segments, including those on other carriers. In an offline connection, baggage will not go all the way through to the final destination; it must be picked up during the stopover and checked with the next airline.

On-Time Performance/Percentage - the average time of arrival within 30 minutes of schedule, by departure time band; higher % equals better on-time performance.

Open Jaw - A trip to where a passenger flew to one destination, but returned from another. For example, SFO to JFK there, but LGA to SFO on the way back. Though JFK and LGA are both in NYC, they are two separate airports, thus and open jaw arrangement.

Overstay - A guest who stays past their expected check-out time without properly altering the reservation.


Pampadour - To a greater extent than the flashpacker, a pampadour is a luxury traveler; he/she travels the world for the indulgence, pampering themselves in every way possible throughout. Generally fashion-conscious and professional, they may steer clear of “troubling” areas, like places catering to kids, families, adventure, etc. Differs from a vacationer in the sense that luxury probably awaits for the pampadour once they return home.

Paperwork - When you hear, “we’re just completing some final paperwork,” it means the flight crew literally is awaiting paperwork, such as a log or the weight and balance record so that it can finally push back.

Passenger Walkway - See “Jet Bridge”.

Peak (Season) - Primary travel season.

Peninsula - Also called a byland, it is a piece of land that is connected to a mainland or larger piece of land on only one side, while the other sides are surrounded by water.

Peripatetic – Adj., Traveling from place to place, especially for working or being based in different places for shorter time periods. Noun, a person who travels from place to place, usually staying for short periods of time at each.

Person Trip Visit - A term that is used to denote every time that a single traveler goes over 100 miles or stays overnight away from their primary domicile; whether for business or for leisure, a person doing completing either of the two is making one person trip visit.

Pilot in Command (PIC) - The pilot in command (PIC) is usually the Captain in a configuration when there is more than one person in the flight crew; the pilot would be the PIC if they were the sole operator. The PIC is legally in charge of everything and everyone on the plane while in the air, but does not necessarily need to have control of the plane at all times, though the captain will be held primarily responsible for anything that goes wrong.

Poorism - A term coined with negative connotations referring to ghetto/shanty/slum/poverty tourism. Also used to negatively describe the tourism undertaken by people who go to these blighted places simply to learn and observe.

Port (directional) - When facing forward, the side of the ship or aircraft that is on the left; this is not necessarily always the left side, as the left side can change when facing rear. Port is always port, no matter which way the ship is facing; starboard is its opposite, the right side of the ship when facing forward.

Poverty Tourism - Not the ‘Bronx and Harlem Hip Hop Tour’. Somewhat similar to disaster tourism, in the sense that tourists are visiting blighted areas. However, there is not so much of a negative connotation here, as most people do it to learn and become more socially and culturally aware. There is still some debate as to the ethical boundaries crossed, because mostly, the tourists are crossing both class and racial boundaries, though usually simply to learn and sympathize.

Pre-Board - This is when boarding begins, when families with children or persons with disabilities can board the aircraft to allow them extra time to settle in, before calling the rest of the passengers.

Press Trip - Travels where the main purpose is to write about the destination visited, usually sponsored (in whole or in part) by another party.

Prime Meridian - An imaginary and completely arbitrary line that runs on a north-south axis. By convention, the Prime Meridian separates the East and West Hemispheres and passes through the Royal Observatory, Greenwich in southeast London, United Kingdom. It is located on the opposite side of the earth to the International Date Line.

Property - A general term that may be used by a place of accommodation that denotes the facility.

Purser (Airline) - On a flight, the purser is the head flight attendant, responsible for overseeing the attendants and making sure travelers are content and taken care of. The purser keeps detailed reports as a log, and also ensures that refreshments are served in a timely fashion.

Purser (Cruise) - On a cruise ship, the ship purser ensures that all ship attendants are taking care of the guests, and may help customers fill out any necessary customs forms, though most attendants help with that.

Push/Push Back - When an aircraft pushes back, it is when it is finally disconnected from the jet bridge and backs up from the gate. Normally, a tug or tractor is responsible for the aircraft pushing back, because though aircraft can push back by reverse-thrusting their engines, it wastes a lot of fuel.


Quad - A hotel room that can accommodate four people.

Querencia – A place where one draws inspiration or strength from, or the place where one feels most comfortable and true. (Spanish)

Quin - When referring to hotel rooms, it is a hotel room that can accommodate five people.


Race – A term similar to ethnicity, race is a determining variable in society, with no exact accepted definition; people of a shared race may have biological similarities, such as skin color and genetic traits. For a deeper look at this and similar terms, read: 

Rack Rate - The list price of a hotel room before any discounts or promotions.

Ramp - The area where a plane maneuvers directly outside of the gate area, and where pre-flight tasks are carried out, before getting to the taxiway and runways. It is called a ramp because, back in the day, many planes were seaplanes with skids; when this kind of plane wasn’t in the water, it was on the ramp, and that term came to be used for all planes. Sometimes used interchangeably with the word apron, though aprons may have a slightly different definition. Generally, the pre-flight activities are done on ramps, and aprons are areas for parking and maintenance.

Record Locator Number (Airline) - A unique confirmation number issued by an airline/carrier when a reservation is booked.

Resident Mission (Diplomatic) – A diplomatic mission (representative body) where the state or nation that plays host to the diplomatic mission recognizes the sovereignty and existence of the state that it represents. This is the usual kind of diplomatic mission one refers to, such as embassies and consulates. It has a permanent representative office in its host state.

Responsible Travel - Travel that extends beyond being merely environmentally responsible, to being culturally-conscious and economically-aware, locally. Travelers who want to do so “responsibly” make sure that their activities, decisions, accommodations, and transportation are the least damaging to the environment. These travelers are culturally-conscious by respecting local traditions and customs. The economic awareness comes in when purchasing items or food from a local, responsible travelers pay a fair price for their products so as to lessen poverty, provide for the ethical treatment of these workers, and promote such environmentally sustainable practices, especially in developing regions(similar to Fair Trade).

Retrouvaille – A happiness felt when one meets an old friend after a long while, or sometimes a joy at rediscovery or a beloved item from the past. (French)

Revenue Passenger Mile (RPM) - One paying passenger flown one mile; the principal measure of airline passenger traffic.

Room Night (or Room/Night) - In the hotel industry, one room per one night.


Sabbatical (or Sabbatical Year) - A hiatus from school or work, usually for two months to perhaps over a year in length. Sometimes referred to as a career break or gap year, it differs from a gap year because it does not necessarily imply time set aside to travel; gap years imply travel time set aside, usually while transitioning between life stages, such as after earning a degree but before starting a career.

Saturday Night Stay - A term used by almost all airlines which refers to this as a requirement for obtaining certain promotional fares. A R/T flight that has a Saturday night stay is usually more economical than a midweek flight.

Seatback – Literally, the back of the seat; in relation to a passenger, the one in front of them is usually the one that matters, which may have a tray table, IED (in-flight entertainment device), and/or a storage pocket for their convenience during the flight.

Second Officer - A title for a pilot who is third in command, the Second Officer usually holds a relief role on long-haul flights. The Second Officer is often a flight engineer who is also licensed to pilot the craft.

Sehnsucht – An unidentifiable longing or yearning, often for a place or home; missing a place far away that one can identify as their home. (German)

Short Haul - A relatively short distance traveled; usually domestic, though a flight from Boston to San Francisco would be considered “long haul”. Most consider a short haul flight to be three hours or less.

Shoulder Season - The time between high and low seasons, or peak and off-peak seasons. Usually rates are lower than high season, but with temperature and crowds that are similar. Cynics might say that the shoulder season is a term that hotels and airlines use to charge the high rates of peak season, while being able to offer attractions, staff, and resources typical of the off-peak season.

Single Room - A room that is only guaranteed to comfortably accommodate one guest. May also be called a “Standard Room.” Will usually have one double- or Queen-sized bed.

Single Supplement - an additional charge added to a solo traveler, when prices were originally quoted for dual occupancy. It is usually tacked on to anything that includes a room, such as cruise packages or vacation packages. When looking at prices, check to see if there is a phrase such as “based on double occupancy”. The price for one person for the same package may be considerably higher, to offset the cost of only one person utilizing a room, instead of two.

Shanty Tourism - See “Poverty Tourism”.

Slum Tourism - See “Poverty Tourism”.

Smörgåsbord - A Swedish customary feast, essentially a gluttonous meal that is usually celebratory, eaten on special occasions with friends or family over. Numerous hot and cold dishes are part of the traditional smörgåsbord. A Christmas version exists as the julbord.

Sommelier – A wine professional, usually hired by the most upscale restaurants and establishments, on staff to primarily suggest wine and food pairing to patrons.

Standard Room - This is usually the cheapest room in a hotel; the most basic room sold, with the most basic amenities. May also be called a “Single Room.” Will usually have one double- or Queen-sized bed.

Standby - Referring to a passenger who does not have a confirmed seat on the intended flight, such as in overbooked flights, and must “stand by” until a seat becomes available or otherwise the next flight.

Starboard (directional) - When facing forward, the side of the ship or aircraft that is on the right; this is not necessarily always the right side, as the right side can change when facing rear. Starboard is always starboard, no matter which way the ship is facing; port is its opposite, the left side of the ship when facing forward.

Stern (directional) - Rear of a ship or the tail of an aircraft; specifically, the aft-most point of the hull of the craft.

Subcontinent - A geographical landmass that is large enough and distinct enough to be separately distinguished from its larger body, the continent itself. The Indian Subcontinent is a perfect example, since it is quite large and distinct, in that it takes up most of southern Asia.

Suite - A fully-equipped room, usually including a bedroom separate from the living room area. A suite will most likely have a small kitchenette, and perhaps a bar or dining table to eat at.

Sustainable Travel - Every aspect of the holiday process has some negative impact on the environment, from booking flights on the computer, to making three takeoffs and three landings each way due to two layovers. Sustainable travel is travel where the impact on the environment is actually a net beneficial gain, or at least neutral. Basically, it is traveling somewhere and leaving it a better place than when one first arrived. National Geographic has a great resource for more information here.


Tarmac - Originally defined as the material used to pave roads and runways, made of little, broken pieces of stones and tar mixed together, it is now common to refer to the runway(s) of an airport as the tarmac. However, most runways do not use this mixture anymore, as “tarmac” becomes soft in hot weather; the word’s meaning as a runway sticks nonetheless.

Through Passenger - Passengers who are not disembarking at a specific stop. When a trip has a layover, at the layover airport the traveler is a “through passenger”. Other passengers on the same flight may be at their final destination. This is useful to know in airports when disembarking a plane on a layover. There may be two separate paths, for either through passengers, or passengers who have reached their final destination. Going down the wrong path may cause a passenger to leave the secure area, in which case they would need to go through the security checkpoint again.

Throwaway Ticketing - Another, more popular ruse, where a traveler, only intending to travel one way, buys a roundtrip ticket that is cheaper than the intended one way ticket alone. Then, the other half of the ticket is simply not used, or “thrown away”. This one won’t get you in as much trouble as back-to-back ticketing, but it is advised that travelers wishing to use this form of ticketing use the first leg; you can almost never fly the second leg of a roundtrip ticket without first flying the first leg. Though it is in more of a gray area, airlines may still seek to penalize you if they become wise to it; better to be safe by researching the fine print, or not trying it at all.

Ticket - In travel transportation, the ticket is the record of a passenger’s information and flight schedule purchased in the airline’s computer system; must not be confused with boarding pass, as a ticket will not allow you on a plane without the boarding pass. A ticket confirms purchase and can be used to obtain a boarding pass. May be issued as a paper ticket or as an E-ticket, which is growing in popularity.

Tourist - This is the majority of adult travelers, when not vacationing. Tourists may be couples, families, or just a person or two who visit locations and like to take in history, culture, local food, etc. Tourists are stereotyped to be more naive, purchasing expensive guidebooks, visiting the most famous of attractions, and perhaps suckered into purchasing souvenirs at a high price and with no relevance to the place (t-shirts, key chains, etc.).

Tower - See “Control Tower.”

Transcontinental – Having to do with crossing a continent. For example, travel of this sort would be from one end of a continent to another, as in New York City to San Francisco. Not to be confused with intercontinental.

Transient - A person who stays in a place for just a short while; not a permanent resident, such as a visitor or tourist.

Transient Occupancy Tax - Also known as Bed Tax, it is a City or County tax added to the price of the room.

Traveler - One who travels; In many cases, it is one who travels often.

Triple - A hotel room that can comfortably accommodate three people.

Trundle Bed - Bed that stores itself under another bed, usually on casters.


Uitwaaien – Literally “to walk in the wind,” it is to take a brief break in order to clear one’s head. (Dutch)

Urbane - This word can sometimes have more of a pretentious connotation, but an urbane traveler is a well-traveled one, one who has been to enough cities to understand the customs of city life; urbane travelers are sophisticated and civilized due to their travels.


Vacationer - These people usually travel only to vacation. They might be couples, families, or just a person or two who want to go somewhere to get pampered for a short time before returning to their normal lives. May set aside a little time (an hour or three) to take in some culture, but probably not.

Volunteer Vacations - See “Voluntourism”.

Voluntourism - Also known as “volunteer vacations”, this movement is quickly gaining traction, especially among teens and young adults. Some define the two terms differently, as voluntourism is usually shorter(1-2 weeks), while volunteer vacations are usually months-long to more than a year. Volunteers usually coordinate with a service that puts them to work abroad in a developing region or a disaster area. The volunteers are not paid, but actually usually pay a fee to offset the rooming and food costs. The vacation/tourism part comes in on their time off, such as on the weekends, where the traveler can tour the city or region more closely. A great way to meet the “real” local population and learn the native tongue, while living with locals and eating delicious local fare!

Voluntourist - A neologism for volunteer travelers. Voluntourists enjoy traveling to different cities and countries that have been hard-hit, such as natural disaster areas, third-world destinations, war zones, etc. These travelers often receive little or no compensation, and often pay for their own lodging, food, and transportation, just to help a struggling area or group of people. Voluntourists may also be those that travel to donate time and energy to saving and protecting land and animals.

Vorfreude – A feeling of ecstatic joy when considering or anticipating an upcoming pleasure or thrill, such as a future vacation. (German)


Waldeinsamkeit – The feeling of being alone in the woods. (German)

Wheels-Up Time - The time the aircraft is scheduled to be airborne.


Xenophilia - An attraction to foreign peoples, foreign cultures, and/or customs.