The ever-evolving language of travel

new travel terms and wordsWhile it is clear that travel itself has evolved in many ways in the past decade or so, it appears that travel language has, too. It is something that seems to happen overnight, without anyone really noticing that new vocabulary words are being invented but using them anyway. Check out this list of some relatively new lingo that has stuck in the language of travel.

Couch Surfing

While at one time we would have just said that we were “staying with friends”, there is now a global resource for travelers that has really made an impact on the niche. Couch Surfing allows backpackers and budget travelers to stay with local people in the regions they are visiting, as well as host travelers who come to visit their native land, for free.

Voluntourism

This is a specific type of trip that allows travelers to not only visit another region, but also help out a cause or organization while they are there. Some of my favorite resources for voluntourism include International Volunteer Headquarters and SE7EN.Agritourism

This type of travel involves staying with locals in a rural area. Basically, it is a farm stay or rural retreat.

WWOOFING

Related to agritourism is World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms (WWOOFING). It is a global network that connects travelers with organic farms. The gist of the program is that in exchange for room, board, and the chance to learn about organic farming and local lifestyle, travelers help out with the daily work.

Digital Nomad

This term is used to refer to someone who is location independent and can work from anywhere in the world using technology such as smartphones, laptops, iPads, WiFi and other gadgets. Actually, an entire separate article could be written on the new technological terms for travelers that have come about in the past decade or so (hmmmm…).

Flashpacker

Staying on the topic of technology and travel, this term refers to the more affluent type of backpacker. While most backpackers are thought to be on a tight-budget, flashpackers tend to have a large disposable income and also carry lots of tech gadgets with them, such as laptops and smartphones.

Staycation

This type of travel became popular during the financial crisis of 2007-2010 and refers to relaxing at home or taking trips to nearby attractions.

Glamping

This is a type of trip for those who want to experience the great outdoors while not roughing it too much. For example, instead of staying in a basic tent, someone who is glamping will use more high-end camping gear, such as a tent with electricity and an air mattress.

Slow Travel

Slow travel is the idea of traveling more slowly to enjoy each place and experience it in more depth by, for example, spending a week in one city or opting for a vacation rental home.

Mancation

This term refers to a “men only” vacation (think girl’s weekend or all-girl’s getaway for guys). With the trend catching on, travel packages are now catering to this type of travel. Interested in a mancation of your own? Urban Navigator can help you book packages that include things like golf, camping, and hiking.

Crossing Japan in a day with National Geographic’s Digital Nomad

With its unique culture, diverse landscapes, and rich history, Japan has long been a popular destination for travelers visiting Asia. The country offers everything from sprawling high tech cities to beautiful countrysides, and is as captivating for its food and art, as it is for its people. National Geographic’s Digital Nomad Andrew Evans has been traveling through Japan for several weeks now, posting on everything from the country’s love for baseball to the therapeutic experience that comes with a “sand bath.”

One of the more interesting aspects of traveling through Japan is the bullet train, so named because of their distinctive shapes and the fact that they routinely hit speeds in excess of 150 mph. The trains are well known for being safe, efficient, and on time, making them a popular way to get around the country. Recently, Andrew, who has written for Gadling on numerous occasions, wanted to see if he could cross the length of the country by train in a single day – a journey of more than 1200 miles. The result is the video below, which gives us a glimpse of the urban landscapes that dot Japan, while providing insights into what its like to travel on their famous trainssushi box and all.


South by Southeast: New directions in Southeast Asia

What is it about Southeast Asia that so captivates our attention? For many Westerners, Southeast Asia has attained an identity of exoticism and escape, enchanting travelers as a destination “off the map” of global tourism. It’s a myth readily fed by popular culture. From Graham Greene’s The Quiet American to Alex Garland’s The Beach we’re painted a picture of a magical world, unsullied by the realities of real life – and we’ve taken the bait, hook, line and sinker.

Southeast Asia, we’re told, is where we’ll go to forge new identities. We’ll quit our jobs back home, find a bungalow on the beach in Thailand, and live out our days drinking 25-cent beers, sunning ourselves under a palm tree. Our problems back home? Distant memory. For anyone struggling with the vagaries of career and post-collegiate life, it’s a powerful fantasy, bandied about during late-night drinking sessions or anytime life becomes “too much of a drag.”

But what’s it really like to travel through Southeast Asia, circa 2009? Does our fantasy match the reality? Though plenty is left to explore, the romanticized destination of deserted beaches and bumpy bus rides is experiencing a dramatic shift, further connecting itself to global tourism and the world economy. Luxury boutiques dot the streets of “communist” Vietnam. Thousands of travelers show up for Full Moon Parties on the beaches of Koh Pha Ngan. Even Lonely Planet’s hugely popular Southeast Asia on a Shoestring, the defacto “bible” for independent travelers, is nearly 25 years old and 14 Editions in print. How does the region today look after this huge influx of new money and visitors?

It was these very questions that had me thinking. Was there still adventure to be found in Southeast Asia? And how did it match with the visions of escape and personal reinvention I had in my mind? Encouraged by books like Rolf Potts’ Vagabonding, I left behind my full-time job in New York and created a plan. I would spend the next few months traveling through the region. After a stopover in Seoul, I head to Bangkok and then on to wherever luck will have me. Not only is it a chance to reinvent the direction of my own life, it’s also an opportunity to observe the rapidly changing direction of this fascinating destination.

Over the next few months, I encourage you to join me as I investigate Southeast Asia with a fresh eye. We’ll return to familiar stops on the “Southeast Asia tourist trail” to survey the terrain, and introduce you to places you never knew existed. We’ll also be taking a closer look at the art of long term travel, and some of the rewards and challenges encountered along the way. We hope through our mistakes and successes you’ll have a chance to truly understand what traveling through Southeast Asia is all about. Ready to go? Let’s chart a course, South by Southeast…

You can read future posts from Gadling’s travels “South by Southeast” through Asia: HERE.