Everybody loves to travel, so it’s no surprise to find that the English language has plenty of words you can use when you’re going on holiday. Words to describe long trips round the world, to short getaways that let you take a little break from the stresses and strains of everyday life, the words and phrases below are all figures of speech that you can use to liven up your conversations and writing style when you’re talking about travelling in English.
Hit the road
When Ray Charles tells Jack to hit the road he’s telling him to get out of town. Hit the road is a slang term for setting out on a journey. In this phrase, ‘hit’ refers to the physical contact between your feet and the road – the pavement you walk or drive on. This phrase is actually quite versatile and has a few meanings besides going travelling. You might say it when you’re thinking about heading home – “It’s getting late, so I think I’m going to hit the road” – or, like Ray Charles uses this phrase in his song, it can be a command telling someone to leave you alone – “Hit the road, I’m not looking for a boyfriend.”
This is a word used to describe someone who’s going on a long journey around the world, and a globetrotter is someone who travels a lot, and all over the world, especially for sightseeing. However, people also use it when they’re talking to anyone they know who’s going on holiday anywhere. Even if your friend is only going for a short holiday across the border you might say “Oh, you’re such a globe-trotter!” – in a jokey way, almost to tease them. The –trotting part comes from the word trot, which is the gait of a horse or other four-legged animal that is somewhere between a walk and a canter – a pleasant pace at which to travel. It’s also a word that’s been made famous by the New York basketball team the Harlem Globetrotters.
Take off or jet off
If your friends find out you’ve booked a holiday, they might ask where you’re taking off to. Or if someone spots you carrying a suitcase they might say “Where are you jetting off to?” This does make it sound like they’re talking to you as if you’re a rocket about to be launched, but really it’s just a figurative term that refers to the flight you’re going to catch. We all daydream about jetting off somewhere, especially when the weather’s bad and we’re stuck at our computer in the office!
Get a little R&R
No, not ‘rock n roll’. When people talk about taking some time out to get a little R&R, they’re talking about getting a little rest and relaxation. Many of us are looking to do just that when we travel on holiday. This acronym actually comes straight out of the US military. The army uses many acronyms, and in the US army R&R can stand for rest and recuperation or rest and recreation too. It’s the term given to the free time a soldier has while on leave, and like many military slang terms it’s crossed over into everyday civilian language too.
Here’s one to use when you’re truly travelling for pleasure. To gallivant, or go gallivanting, means to wander from place to place seeking pleasure and amusement – so definitely not to be used when you’re going on a boring business trip. Its first known use dates back to 1823, and originally it mean to go about indiscreetly with members of the opposite sex – essentially being free and easy with your time. Its original meaning is thought to come from the word gallant, a word used to describe a man who is charmingly attentive and chivalrous to women. Along the way its meaning has softened, and it’s used to describe anyone who’s travelling in search of fun – “He’s been gallivanting all over the country instead of looking for a job.”
Article related: Travel English: Holiday Accommodation