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115 Idioms About Travel: What They Mean & How To Use Them

IDIOMS ABOUT TRAVEL PHOTO OF A TOY PLANE.

If you have an upcoming trip to an English-speaking country you may hear a few idioms about travel along the way. In this post,  I have 100+ travel idioms so you will know what they mean and how to use them yourself! 

Whether you are taking time to learn English or know it well you will find these English idioms about travel fun to learn. 

Let’s begin with this list of common idioms related to travel.

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Idioms about travel Pinterest pin of toy plane. Text says idioms and phrases about travel.

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Idioms About Travel

Idioms about travel photo of the seats at an airport.

Here in this curated list, we’re going to dive into all the idioms related to travel. Whatever your preferred mode of transportation is when traveling, I have travel idioms for them all! 

So fasten your seat belt, it’s time to take off!

Hit the Road

When you hear hit the road it means to leave. 

Example: “We need to be at the airport by 8 AM. We better hit the road so we’re not late.”

To Pack Light

This is one of my favorite idioms about travel. I’m sure most travelers will find it hard like me to follow. To pack light means only bringing what you need and not overstuffing your luggage. 

Example: “For the road trip we need to pack light so all our luggage can fit in the trunk.”

Backseat Driver

When one is a backseat driver they tend to be that annoying passenger who tells the driver how to drive. It can also mean one who is controlling. 

Example: “Would you stop being a backseat driver? I know where I am going. I’ve driven around Paris many times.”

In A Rut

To be in a rut is being stuck in a situation that doesn’t seem to change. 

Example: “I feel I have been stuck in a rut with my job since I moved here to Los Angeles.”

Hit A Roadblock

Hitting a roadblock is when something hinders you from progressing. 

Example: “I was working on my novel every day, then I seemed to hit a roadblock and can’t write anymore.”

Carry Coals To Newcastle

Where some says carry coals to Newcastle it means to do something that is unnecessary. 

Example: “You don’t need to pack all those suitcases for an overnight trip, it would be like carrying coals to Newcastle. 

Catch The Sun

This is one of the idioms about travel we all have experienced before. Catching the sun means getting sunburned. 

Example: “I caught the sun bad on my vacation in Florida.

Paddle One’s Own Canoe

To paddle one’s own canoe is to be an independent person. 

Example: “Jane can paddle her own canoe. She likes to travel all over the world solo.

Live It Up

This is one of the idioms about travel we clearly all know so well. Live it up is to enjoy yourself and leave the worries of money or anything behind. 

Example: “We are going to live it up every night during our trip to Miami.

Idioms for travel photo of a woman in Florence, Italy.

Drive A Hard Bargain

When you hear drive a hard bargain means to deal with a tough negotiator. 

Example: “The farmers at the markets in Mauritius drive a hard bargain.” 

Any Port In A Storm

When you hear any port in a storm means being in a troublesome situation and taking any solution to fix the problem. 

Example: “Since our flight was canceled, we decided to rent a car to get home in time for work. We took any port in a storm for our situation”

Asleep At The Wheel

Asleep at the wheel is not paying attention or someone failing their responsibilities. 

Example: “Amy is always asleep at the wheel and she can never do her part when we are planning trips.

Shift Gears

When you or someone quickly changes what they are doing. 

Example: “I know we were planning a trip to Mexico this summer, but let’s shift gears and plan a trip to Guatemala instead.”

Wheels Fall Off

When you hear the wheels fall off, be prepared! This is when everything that was going well makes a turn for the worse. Things begin to turn to chaos. 

Example: “Our vacation took a turn during our hike and the wheels fell off from there.”

Cool One’s Jets

Cooling your jets means calming down. 

Example: “Even though the plane was delayed with will get home tonight. So cool your jets.”

Highways And Byways

This is one of the idioms about travel relating to life. It means the paths taken in life, referring to major or less-traveled roads. 

Example: “She moved to a village outside of Athens by highways and byways.”

Fly High

To fly high means to be extremely happy. 

Exampling: “We were flying high coasting the Greek Islands.”

Hitch Your Wagon To A Star

When you hitch your wagon to a star you or someone else is setting large goals. 

Example: “You can make money traveling the world, why not hitch your wagon to a star?”

Fall Off The Wagon

Falling off the wagon means returning to destructive behaviors, such as drugs, alcohol, or overeating. 

Idioms about travel photo inside an airplane.

Fork In The Road

When you have to make a decision between two different choices you come to a fork in the road. 

Example: “I reached a fork in the road. I can’t decide if I should take that job in New York or Los Angeles. What do you think I should do?”

Rock The Boat

Rock the boat is causing harm or problems in a situation. 

Example: “Jane and Robert are getting along since they returned from their trip. Hope one of them doesn’t rock the boat.”

On A Shoestring/ On The Cheap

Being on a shoestring is having to be tight with finances. 

Example: “We were on a shoestring while backpacking through Europe.”

At The Crack Of Dawn

Waking up at the crack of dawn is waking up very early. 

Example: “Let’s wake up at the crack of dawn so we can catch the sunrise on the beach.”

Call It A Day Or Night

Whenever you call it a day or night it means to go home or end an activity. 

Example: “We stayed at that rooftop bar until 1 AM before calling it a night.”

Thirty Thousand Foot View

When you are looking at something with a thirty thousand foot view it means seeing the whole picture or perspective of the situation. 

Example: “From a thirty-thousand-foot view, Miami is very hot during the summer season. However, it is cheaper to visit then and less crowded. 

Ship Has Sailed

If the ship has sailed, it means you missed your opportunity. 

Example: “I have always dreamed of becoming a flight attendant, but the ship has sailed on that one.”

Off The Beaten Track

To go off the beaten track means to travel the route or a remote location. 

Example: “We went off the beaten track during our road trip to Switzerland.”

Your Mileage May Vary

If you hear your mileage may vary, it means getting different results. 

Example: “I heard the milage varies when booking flights. I heard it’s cheaper to book on Mondays than Saturdays.”

Put The Brakes On

Putting the breaks on means to slowing something down. 

Example: “We should put the brakes on how we spend money so we have money for our trip.”

Friends in a VW van.

Fifth Wheel

Having a person around that is not welcome is known as a fifth wheel. 

Example: “My sister said she feels like a fifth wheel when she goes to dinner with us.”

Rocky Road

Rocky road means going through a difficult time or situation. 

Example: “It was a rocky road getting over my fear of flying.”

Catch The Red-Eye

Catching the red-eye is one of the idioms about travel we have all experienced at least once. This means taking a flight leaving late at night. 

Example: “Since I am catching a red-eye I will be sure to stay awake so I can sleep on the plane.”

In The Same Boat

Being in the same boat as someone means experiencing the same situation. 

Example: “I think we’re in the same boat feeling this jet lag.”

Jump/ Leap/ Climb On The Bandwagon

Whether you use to jump, leap, or climb on the bandwagon it means following the current trend. 

Example: “I guess I will jump on the bandwagon with you all buy those shoes.”

Live Out Of A Suitcase

If you’re living out of your suitcase it means staying in several places for a short length of time. No need to unpack because your stay is so brief. 

Example: “I have been hopping around Europe and living out of my suitcase.”

Road Trip

When you break the journey it means to stop and take a rest somewhere during your travels. 

Example: “We will break the journey in Texas for a night before continuing to New York.

Road Hog

Drivers who consume the road and make it difficult to pass are road hogs.

Example: “That road hog is driving down the middle of the road! Look he’s causing traffic since no one can pass him.”

Make Your Way Back

When you visit a place again or come back to a task, then you made your way back to it. 

Example: “It took a while, but I  made my way back to Greece this year.”

Hustle And Bustle

To hustle and bustle means being busy. 

Example: “We planned on relaxing during our trip to Mexico, but we hustled and bustled.”

Travel idioms photo of a world map.

Country Mile

A country mile means going a long distance, especially when you expected it to be shorter. 

Example: “We thought the drive from Miami to Key West was short, but it turned out to be a country mile.”

Travel Broadens The Mind

This idiom means you can broaden your perspective about the world through traveling. 

Example: “I was stuck in my ways for so long, but after exploring other countries travel broadened my mind.”

Put The Pedal To The Metal

If you ever hear put the pedal to the metal, be sure to buckle up. This means driving fast!

Example: “We were able to arrive in Fort Lauderdale from Miami quickly. Jack really put the pedal to the metal.”

Be In The Driver’s Seat

Being in the driver’s seat is having control of a situation. 

Example: “My sister took the driver’s seat planning our trip to Hawaii.

Throw Someone Under The Bus

To throw someone under the bus means to harm someone for personal gain through deceit. 

Example: “My co-worker is being considered for a promotion. She threw me under the bus when I called out sick and I wasn’t. I don’t know how she found out I really went for a day trip to Key West.

Have Itchy Feet

One who is experiencing itchy feet has a strong desire to travel. 

Example: “I haven’t taken a vacation in a while. I’m getting itchy feet to so somewhere. 

Drive Someone Up The Wall

If someone is really irritating you then they have driven you up the wall. 

Example: “The guy kicking my seat on this plane is driving me up the wall.”

A Wheel Within A Wheel

When one is dealing with a wheel within a wheel it means having to handle a difficult situation. 

Example: “I can’t figure out how to work this camera. It’s a wheel within a wheel. Do you know someone who can help me?”

Cross The Bridge When We Get To It

To cross the bridge when you get to is dealing with the problem if/when it occurs. 

Example: “I am worried our flight will be canceled due to the weather. We will have to cross that bridge when we get to it, but let’s think positively. 

Float One’s Boat

If one ever floated your boat, then they made you really happy. 

Example: “We have visited Hawaii several times and I really don’t want to go. But, whatever floats your boat. 

Idioms about travel photo of a man on a mountain alone.

Bump In The Road

When you hit a bump in the road a problem has occurred. 

Example: “There was a bump in the road when our plane was delayed. We missed our connecting flight. “

Cover One’s Tracks

Covering one’s tracks is to hide the evidence of your actions. 

Example: “We need to cover our tracks so the flight attendants won’t’ know we stole those snacks.” 

To Jump Ship

When a person jumps ship they abandon a task. 

Example: “My sister jumped ship and bailed on our yearly Europe trip.”

Just Around The Corner

Just around the corner, it means something is going to happen very soon. 

Example: “My trip to Munich is just around the corner.” 

Wheels Fell Off

This idiom about travel is about dealing with a problem that occurred unexpectedly. 

Example: “Our vacation in Vienna started off well, but then wheels fell off. The second day we lost all our money. “

Run A Tight Ship

When a person keeps a tight ship,  they are keeping things organized and in order. 

Example: “Annie runs a tight ship when she is travel planning.” 

Take Someone For A Ride

If you have ever been swindled or conned, you have been taken for a ride. 

Example: “I should have known that girl would take me for a ride.”

On The Home Stretch

On the home stretch means the journey is coming to an end. 

Example: “We are on the home stretch. Zurich is our last stop before heading home. 

Hit The Beach

Hit the beach means to go to the beach. 

Example: “We’re planning to hit the beach every day when we’re in Miami. 

On A Wing And A Prayer

On a wing and a prayer means when you rely on hope during a difficult situation. 

Example: “We are on a wing and prayer that our flight home doesn’t get delayed again.”

Vacation idioms photo of a window view from the plane.

Miss The Boat

Miss the boat is an idiom travel expression meaning you missed your chance. 

Example: “I should have booked that flight yesterday. We missed the boat on that price.”

Train Of Thought

Train of thought is one’s pattern and sequence of thinking. 

Example: “I forgot what I was going to say. You interrupted and ruined my train of thought.”

On The Fly

When you have to think very quickly and are not able to put in much thought, you are thinking on the fly. 

Example: ”I need a day to think about what I’m packing, it’s not so easy to think on the fly for this trip.”

Send Flying

Sending something flying is something is getting tossed in the air or somewhere around. 

Example: “That guy at the airport bumped into me so hard it sent my passport flying.”

Take The High Road

Despite how someone might have treated you poorly,  you still take the high road and respond ethically and rationally. 

Example: “Even though Megan treated me poorly on the trip, I decided to take the high road and not get even with her.”

Turn The Corner

When things to a corner mean there is an improvement when dealing with a difficult situation. 

Example: “After being lost in the mountains for days, things turned a corner when we bumped into a hiker on the trail who helped us.”

Pit Stop

Travel idiom phrase manning to take a short break during a trip. 

Example: “When we reach Dallas, let’s take a pit stop and fill up on gas and grab some snacks.”

Right Up One’s Alley

Having something right up your alley means it’s of your interest.

Example: “I am not into city destinations, secluded beaches are right up my alley. “

Just The Ticket

Just the ticket means getting exactly what you wanted. 

Example: “I’ve got just the ticket to cheer you up. We’re going to Mauritius!”

A Mile A Minute

If you’re going a mile a minute, you are going very fast. 

Example: “That taxi driver was driving a mile a minute.”

Travel idioms photo of a woman looking at glaciers.

Get One’s Wings

Idiom for when a pilot gets his license. 

Example: “After all that training, I finally got my wings!” 

Pull Up Stakes

When you pull up stakes you are packing up and leaving the campsite. 

Example: “After spending 3 days camping, it’s time to pull up stakes.”

Tire Kicker

When someone pretends to be interested in buying something but doesn’t have intentions to buy anything they are a tire kicker. Also, one who wastes people’s time.

Example: “Let’s just plan the trip without Joanne. She is not going to contribute, we know she is a tire kicker.”

Feet On The Ground

Being able to remain calm in unpleasant circumstances. 

Example: “Blake always has bad luck on a trip, but he is always able to keep his feet on the ground.”

Take The Wind Out Of Someone’s Sails

When you take the wind out of one’s sails it means to discourage them and others. 

Example: “Amy was showing so much progress with her travel blog until Robert came and told her he didn’t like her writing. That really took the wind out of her sails. 

Be In One’s Wheelhouse

This idiom about travel means to be in your comfort zone. 

Example: “You always visit Vienna. Get out of your wheelhouse and explore other countries.”

Road Rage

When a person has road rage they are a very angry driver and can exhibit violent or aggressive behaviors. 

Example: “I don’t want Blake driving when we are in Dallas. He has terrible road rage.”

Jet Set

Jet set is a group of wealthy and trendy people who frequently travel the world. 

Example: “I am dreaming of the day to becoming a jet set.”

Hitch A Ride

To hitch a ride means getting a free ride. 

Example: “I hitched a ride from France to Switzerland.

Train Wreck

If something is a train wreck, it’s a complete failure and disaster. 

Example: “That airline is a train wreck! They are always losing my luggage and have delayed flights.”

Light At The End Of The Tunnel 

When you reach the light at the end of the tunnel a difficult situation is coming to an end. 

Example: “After having my luggage lost for a week the airline called and said it’s found. Now, they just have to get it to me, so I’m seeing the light at the end of the tunnel.”

Idioms about travel photo of a carry on at the airport.

Give The Green Light

Giving someone the green light is giving permission to move forward and proceed. 

Example: “The pilot gave the green light to the flight attendants to prepare for landing.”

All Hands On Deck

When orders are given for all hands on deck, every crew member on the ship must report to the deck. 

Example: “I was about to have lunch, but then the captain announced all hands on deck.”

Bad News Travels Fast

When bad news travels fast, means it gets around to others rather quickly. 

Example: “How does everyone know I got arrested in Mexico? I guess bad news travels fast.”

Neck Of The Woods

This means a place nearby. 

Example: “Hey, I will be in your neck of the woods tomorrow. Would you like to meet for lunch?”

Be Off One’s Trolley

When one is off their trolley, they are exhibiting crazy behavior. 

Example: “You must be off your trolley taking all those suitcases for an overnight trip.”

Running On Fumes

Telling someone you’re running on fumes means continuing to do something although you’re extremely tired.

Example: “We have been hiking for hours, I am running on fumes.”

Desert A Sinking Ship

To desert a sinking ship means leaving the situation when you know it is going to fail. 

Example: “I hate to be the one who deserts a sinking ship, but I don’t think that is a wise decision for me.”

Walk It Off

When one has an injury, one will make an attempt to walk to feel better. 

Example: “After hurting my ankle at the beach yesterday, I tried walking it off, but it didn’t help. 

Hit The Ground Running

Hit the ground running is to begin something with lots of excitement. 

Example: “Jane hit the ground running promoting her group tour.”

Go Off The Rails

To off of the rails means to begin behaving strangely. 

Example: “John went off the rails when his flight got delayed again.”

Make Headway

When one makes headway it means they are making progress. 

Example: “It was difficult to  make headway sailing because of the tide.”

Go The Extra Mile

This idiom about travel means doing more than what is expected. 

Example: “That airline always goes the extra mile for their passengers.”

Woman paddling in a canoe alone.

Old Stomping Grounds

When one visits their old stomping grounds it means to visit a familiar or favorite place. 

Example: “It’s been a while since I visited my old stomping grounds. I used to visit Greece every summer.”

Part Ways

When you part ways one is separating or going in different directions. 

Example: “After working for the airline for 20-years, I decided to part ways.”

In Full Flight

If one is in full flight, they are leaving something or someone quickly. 

Example: “I was in full flight to catch the plane during my layover.

Set Up Camp

Setting up for camp is to prepare or set up. 

Example: “We need to set up before we go on our hike.”

Clear Sailing

Clear sailing means when a situation is clear of problems. 

Example: “We didn’t have any delays or issues with our flight. It was clear sailing.” 

At A Good Clip

Being a good clip means going very fast. 

Example: “Wow, we walked around the city at a good clip. What’s next?”

Without A Hitch

When one has no problems they are without a hitch. 

Example: “The flight went without a hitch.”

Where Rubber Meets The Road

When one is where rubber meets the road, their skill are being tested.

Example: “During my first solo trip I had many moments where rubber meets the road.”

Get The Show On The Road

Getting the show on the road is when you start something. 

Example: “Vacation is here! Let’s get this show on the road.”

Fly By The Seat Of One’s Pants

When one has to fly the seat of one’s pants, they are depending on their own instincts. 

Example: “I got lost in Los Angeles and was flying by the seats of my pants to find the hotel.”

Circle The Wagons

When one becomes defensive they are circling the wagons. 

Example: “Don’t circle the wagons. I know you know where we are going, I just made a suggestion for another route. 

Walk The Plank

When one has to accept the consequences of their actions. 

Example: “I said you didn’t need all those suitcases. Now, you must walk the plank and carry them all yourself.” 

Travel idioms photo of a woman looking at a USA map.

Spin One’s Wheels

Spinning one’s wheels is wasting time on something or someone.

Example: “She is just spinning her wheels at that job. She will never get promoted.”

Fly Under The Radar

When something or someone does something without being noticed. 

Example: “Lilly never stays until the party ends. She flys under the radar when she leaves. 

Road Trip

When you go on a short or long trip by car. 

Example: “Let’s take a road trip from Miami to Key West.

My Way Or The Highway

If one says my way or the highway, it means you do what I say or leave. 

Example: “Sally makes all the travel arrangements. She makes it clear it’s her way or the highway.”

At A Crossroads

When one has come to a point where a choice has to be made they are at a crossroads.

Example: “I’m at a crossroads deciding where to spend the holiday. Should I go to Vienna or Munich?

Sail Close To The Wind

If you said close to the wind you are doing something risky or even dangerous. 

Example: “John likes to climb some of the tallest mountains alone. He is sailing too cost to the wind.”

Have a One-Track Mind

One who is preoccupied with one particular topic. 

Example: “Laura has a one-track mind. Travel is the only thing she ever talks about. 

Lose Track Of Someone Or Something

When one forgets, misplaces, or doesn’t pay attention to someone or something. 

Example: “I lost track of Amy after she moved to Panama. 

Step It Up A Gear

Stepping up a gear is to work on something with more enthusiasm and energy. 

Example: “I decided to step it up a gear studying for my pilot’s license.”

Smooth Sailing

One is smooth sailing when they can work on a task free from difficulties. 

Example: “Planning our world trip was stressful, but with Google maps, it turned out to be pretty smooth sailing.”

Sunday Driver

A Sunday driver is one who drives obnoxiously slow on the road.

Example: “Don’t have Tom drive us to dinner. He is a Sunday driver and we will miss our reservation.”

Idioms Travel List Wrap Up

I hope you enjoyed these idioms about travel.  Learn them quickly by using these travel idioms as much as you can when speaking with others. I’m curious to know which of these travelling idioms were your favorite? Let me know in the comments below. 

Keep these idioms about travel handy with you, especially if you’re learning English, and download your travel idioms pdf here. 

If you enjoyed these vacation idioms, check out these other related posts: 

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