Travel vocab ESL

Give your student the language they need to complete holiday tasks such as checking into a hotel, hiring a car or negotiating an airport with this vocabulary.

Don’t forget to practice the target language with questions, making sentences or a role play. You’ll find speaking practice suggestions throughout the article.

PDF download for your student

Once you have taught your student the majority of this language, give them this worksheet with all of the vocabulary to keep.

General vocabulary

To book a holiday / to make a booking – to reserve a holiday.

‘It’s important to book flights in advance because they get more expensive in the high season.’

Journey – the experience of traveling from point A to point B.

‘We went to London the other day. The journey took us two hours by train.’

Passenger – a person on transport going to a destination.

To pack your suitcase – not, ‘to make your suitcase.’

‘How long does it take you to pack a suitcase?’

To travel – verb

Trip – noun.

‘I travelled to New York last month. It was a fabulous trip.’

Traveller – a person who travels.

Types of holidays

Holiday(s) – UK word for ‘vacation’.

Vacation – US word.

A city break – a short holiday (often only a weekend) to a city.

To go backpacking – to travel around the world with a backpack.

A spa break – when you visit a spa for relaxation purposes (not ‘termes’)

At the airport

Aisle – the path down the centre of the plane.

To arrive (verb) arrivals (noun) – to arrive at a place.

Baggage/luggage collection.

To board an airplane – to get on an airplane.

To depart (verb) departures (noun) – to leave a place for a destination.

To fasten your seatbelts.

Flight attendant.

To get off an airplane / to disembark and airplane – to leave an airplane.

‘Disembarking an airplane is often more difficult than boarding.’

To land / the landing – when a plane arrives at the airport.

Overhead luggage compartment.

Passport control – where security guards check passports.

Plane tickets.

Rows – the lines of seats in a plane.

To take off / the take off – when a plane flies up into the air

Speaking practice

Ask your student how many of these things and situations they can name.

PDF download: Airport and plane


Bed and breakfast – a small, family hotel where you receive a room and breakfast.

‘Outside of cities, most hotels are family-run bed and breakfasts.’

To check into a hotel – to get your room key and sort out paperwork with the receptionist.

To check out of a hotel – to give back your room key.

Hostel – basic accommodation when you are backpacking.

‘When staying in a hostel, you often share a room with other people you don’t know.’

Motel – a basic hotel by a large road where people stop for the night.

Room service – food and drink are brought to your room.

Speaking activity

Get your student to tell you all the steps to going on holiday from booking their flights, packing their bags, boarding an airplane, fastening seatbelts etc, until they reach the hotel or apartment at their destination.


The day before yesterday – past yesterday.

The day after tomorrow – past tomorrow.

‘Today is the 5th July. The day after tomorrow is the 7th July and the day before yesterday was the 3rd July.’

To be an hour ahead/ behind – the time zones of other countries.

‘The UK is an hour behind Europe.’

Jetlag – when you feel tired at strange times of the day due to moving to a different time zone.

Things to do on holiday

To sightsee / to go sightseeing – to see monuments and museums.

‘When on a city break, most people like to go sightseeing.’

To do a guided tour of the city – to do an organised trip around the city.

‘The quickest way to see a city is to do a guided tour by bus.’

To go + gerund – for outdoor sports activities.

To go hiking, skiing, kayaking, climbing, surfing, sailing.

Speaking activity

The tutor is going on holiday to the student’s region. The student must explain to the tutor all the best things to see and do in that area.

Hiring a car

To hire a car.

To take out insurance – insurance in case the car gets damaged.

‘Hire car companies often want customers to take out extra insurance.’

To get a scratch – a ‘line’ which damages the paintwork of a car.

‘Before you hire a car it is important to check the car for any scratches in the paint work.’

To get a crack in the windscreen – a ‘line’ which damaged the window of a car.

‘Once a windscreen gets a crack you should replace it immediately.’


To catch a bus, plane, train, boat.

To take a taxi, car.

To get on/off + large transport that you can walk around.

‘To get on a bus, plane, cruise ship, boat.’

To get in/out + small transport which is more like a box.

‘To get in a car, taxi, elevator.’

Speaking practice

Give your students the following nouns and ask them to respond with the appropriate ‘get’ verbs.

Note: Make sure they say both the enter and exit verb such as: ‘To get on and off a bus.’

To get on and off: A bus, a bike, a skateboard, a horse, a plane, a ship or large boat, stage.

To get in and out: A car, a bed, a box, a shower, a cupboard, a bath, a lift/elevator, rowing boat, a submarine.

Final thoughts

For more inspiration on how to teach travel vocabulary check out our other article Phrases to talk about your holiday. Also, if your student is going to London, this is a great article to help them with the difficult pronunciation of many of the city’s boroughs.

Happy teaching!