Wanderlust! We are all now familiar with this pioneer among travel words. Today, nearly every language in the world has its variation of this word. It doesn’t matter how it defines or explains the word wanderlust, but we all get the meaning or the implication. In English, wanderlust translates to having a strong impulse or desire to wander, travel, and explore different parts of the world.
For those who love traveling, wanderlust is not only real but an overwhelming feeling. It’s a nagging in your head or heart that keeps on telling you; book that flight, get on that train and go. It doesn’t matter whether your bank account is saying something else. You must travel, wander, discover, and enjoy! And today, we have a plethora of travel related words that are growing in popularity and numbers
Table of ContentsOpen
Unique Travel Words You Are Likely To Encounter
The world of travel is now littered with new travel words like fernweh, resfeber, saudade, dérive, solivagant, and sonder, among many others. As we travel around the world, we are discovering more travel-related words that so aptly describe or mean what we feel or experience. If you love discovering the world as we do, you will increasingly meet new words, and that is why we have assembled some of the most commonly used ones.
And the words are not restricted to the English language. A couple are well known, but many others may be new, and some in different languages. These are modern travel words that excite and inspire travel.
The German language has many unique travel words. Fernweh refers to that ache to get away, the powerful urge to travel to some distant place. This is something even more powerful than wanderlust. If you think wanderlust was perhaps not poetic enough, try fernweh. This German word can be loosely translated as “distance-sickness.”
While someone experiencing wanderlust might contend himself with sitting at home and happily fantasizing about all those exotic places they might visit one day, someone with fernweh feels a deeper sense of longing; some sort of “homesickness”, not for home but foreign lands.
Resfeber ranks among the most widely used words related to travel. If you are on Pinterest, you might have come across it already! It’s a feeling; that jolts in the heart when booking that flight, or when you inform friends and family that you’re about to embark on something, finally.
Now that feeling of excitement can be given a tag: resfeber! It’s that tangled feelings of excitement, anxiety, and fear you feel before embarking on a journey. It’s a feeling experienced by old and new travelers alike. Being regular travelers, we call it a ‘travel fever’; it can manifest as a ‘healthy illness’ whose only cure is to travel.
Words related to travel can be in any language. Saudade is a Portuguese word used in describing a state of emotional nostalgia, a yearning for something or someone distant. Saudade can also be the love that remains in you after someone or something is gone. It’s the recollection of experiences, feelings, events, or places that brought happiness and excitement. But now they trigger your senses anew, making them live again.
This word describes the feeling one experiences when alone in the woods. This is one of those travel words that bring to mind nostalgic images of Hansel and Gretel as they wander through the tangled and twisted paths of Germany’s Black Forest. Imagine light streaming through the thick trees, and the fresh, crisp air richly scented with pine. Isn’t that dreamy? Waldeinsamkeit is when you walk alone in the woods, lost in your inner fairy tale.
Dérive means to drift; a kind of spontaneous journey where the avid traveler leaves everything behind for a time and lets the spirit of the landscape attract and move them. At times, when you just allow yourself to roam, you'll likely find the most unexpected, most interesting, and the best things.
The idea behind dérive is that even if you just wander, you will finally fall into a path that has been set out for you by your landscape or surroundings. While this travel word could as well describe life in general, overall, it also describes those small journeys or trips very well. Picture yourself wandering through a new town city. Just allow yourself to wander, and you might make some great discoveries.
The word sonder defines the realization that every random passerby we encounter is living a complex and vivid life as vivid as your own. Therefore, if we accept that each person we meet is living a life as important as our own, then our world becomes a much brighter and better place.
Have you ever passed a group of strangers, speaking a foreign language that you don’t understand what’s being said and realize just how incredibly wide the world is? The travel word that best describes that feeling is sonder.
A word that defines a person that is fond of forests; one who haunts the woods. We are not describing a spooky ghost. It's about that guy or traveler who enjoys spending his weekends in the woods writing poetry while sitting under an old oak tree, drinking black coffee from a vintage thermos flask.
Dépaysement is French travel word referring to a sense of disorientation that often sets in the moment you venture outside your normal, outside your comfort zone. This is the kind you feel when you leave your country. If you have traveled abroad you will recognize this strange feeling.
The word dépaysement could literally mean to be “uncountried” if such a thing exists! Depending on you, it could either be due to gladness or disorientation or gladness — some people are glad to leave their home country!
May not be as unusual as some of the travel words on this list, and you may already be familiar with it. This English expression refers to someone who travels, particularly on foot. It brings to mind the earlier days when people traveled on more whimsically. You simply went wherever the wind carried you.
If there are words related to travel that sound so apt, its grey nomad because of who they are referring to. Perhaps we all aspire to be a grey nomad one day! The term refers to a mature aged traveler possessed of a keen sense of adventure. He travels around the world, staying in a tent, caravan, or campervan for a reasonably lengthy period.
This is one of the travel words commonly used in New Zealand and Australian, but you can use it elsewhere.
The Japanese use yoko-meshi to describe the unique kind of stress you experience when trying to converse in a foreign language. The hard translation is ‘horizontal (yoko) and ‘boiled rice’ (meshi) which sort of means ‘a meal eaten sideways’ — the metaphor refers to the fact that writing in the Japanese language is done vertically and not horizontally. Yoko-meshi brings a uniquely Japanese twist to our collection of words related to travel.
The French travel word trouvaille translates to a “lucky find.” You can use or apply the word to that flower-lined street, cool cafe, or quirky craft store you once stumbled upon by chance as you wandered through a small town. It’s the kind of moment or feeling that makes travel worthwhile.
The feeling you get after returning home after a foreign trip only to sadly find it fading away fast. This is despite the fact that it felt so vivid only a couple of days ago. Such a feeling makes you wish it were possible to smoothly cross-dissolve back into your everyday life. Or indefinitely hold the shutter open and let one memorable scene become superimposed on the next in such a way that all your days run together.
Imagine never having to recall, it just comes flowing back, that’s Rückkehrunruhe!
An irresistible and intense desire for freedom. Who doesn’t want to be free? Many travel words attempt to describe that freedom, but Eleutheromania does it best. It describes a person with a strong obsession for freedom.
A popular Greek word related to travel. Strikhedonia is what you say when you mean “to hell with it”. You are quitting everything to explore the world, no more excuses. You say this when you decide to do something you normally wouldn't do. You are saying, “Strikhedonia, who cares!”
Literally means wandering alone. A solivagant is a solitary adventurer who wanders or roams the globe alone. However, not all who wander are lost, but those who wander alone are certainly solivagants. The original word, solivagus, is derived from Latin and means solitary or lonely. Solivagant, therefore, describes one who enjoys roaming meandering around new territories or countries alone, just taking it all in.
A Japanese word that denotes happy recollection of a memory or event. Originally, the adjective described the desire to keep something close or wanting to express closeness or fondness for something. This is different from the typical nostalgic longing. It’s more of a joyous remembrance of a happy memory, like something that happened to you in a certain location during your travels.
A Latin term that describes an experience you had that makes you fearful yet awed, fascinated, yet overwhelmed, attracted yet inspired. This is a very powerful and personal feeling. For example, imagine you are in the National Park, and round the corner, you come face-to-face with a towering black bear. The fear, the awe, and the feeling of being overwhelmed, awed!
What stirs this kind of emotion in you? Perhaps the majestic view you get after reaching the peak of a high mountain” The extraordinary view and sense of power, yet realizing how small you are! And then the fear that you might never see that image again.
Perigrate a beautiful word that loosely denotes love to travel, freedom to roam, and allure for everything unknown! It has Latin roots, peregrinus which means “foreign”, also where the Peregrine Falcon (Pilgrim Falcon) gets its name. To peregrinate is to travel, roam, and wander from place to place, particularly on foot. We particularly love ‘peregrinating’ through those old narrow cobblestone streets of ancient cities.
This is a word used to describe the frustration you feel for being stuck, eternally, in just one body. A body that can only inhabit one place at a time, capable of only doing a single thing at a time. Simply put, onism refers to the inability of being everywhere.
Onism is the awareness or sad reality of how just little of the big world you'll experience in a lifetime. Imagine for a moment visiting all these places you've ever dreamed of. That, sadly, would probably take hundreds of your lifetimes. So, I guess we'll just have to settle for this one lifetime, and, yes, make the max of it!
The hard-to-pronounce travel word, Sehnsucht can be described as a nostalgic yearning or deep longing in the heart for past travels and future travels. You can describe it as an inconsolable longing for a far-off country, but one which you cannot identify. Sehnsucht is also felt after much traveling and wishing you could start all over again and re-experience every moment just like you did in the first place.
Shinrin-Yoku is Japanese travel word that means “forest bathing”. This therapeutic activity is considered a stress reliever and a form of natural medicine. Today, forest bathing clubs are running in many countries, but you may want to experiment with it yourself on the next camping trip. We recommend you take deep breaths, close the eyes, and slowly take in the sounds and smells of the forest. You will love the healing effect.
Bonus Travel Word - Wanderlist!
Our travel words glossary must sadly end. Wanderlist concludes our glossary of words related to travel. We have been to many places and cannot think of a better travel word to describe what you want to accomplish as you travel. It’s like a bucket-list of sights and activities you want to do or experience, a to-do list but much better; wanderlist
So, have you prepared your wanderlist?