13 words to satisfy your wanderlust

2 min read

Without any travel plans on the horizon, it’s easy to find yourself dreaming about an exotic getaway or a weekend escape outside town. Even if you can’t jump on a plane right now, you can still boost your vocabulary in preparation for your travels.


This early 20th-century German word has a very literal interpretation. The two words it’s comprised of: “wandern” and “lust," together mean a desire for wandering in both German and English.


Although the Germans in the 20th century might have invented the expression wanderlust, Germans today more frequently use the word “fernweh.” It has no direct English translation and has a slightly different tone than wanderlust since it refers to a sense of longing or homesickness for a place not yet visited.


The French have a lot of great travel words. This one is even pronounced similarly to the word travel. It means, “Something lovely discovered by chance,” which is pretty much the definition of what one hopes to experience when globetrotting.

Yoko meshi

Traveling isn't always idyllic. The Japanese coined this term to describe the stress of attempting to speak a foreign language. The next time you’re trying to order a dish and feel like you’re butchering the pronunciation, at least you’ll know you’re not alone in this awkward feeling!


Is it excitement or jitters? Before starting a trip, most of us experience butterflies in anticipation of the journey ahead. This Swedish word literally translates to "travel fever," but it’s meant to reflect the antsy sense of excitement before traveling rather than sickness.

Bon voyage

This French expression dates back to the 1670s and means a pleasant journey. The French word “bon” means good, while “voyage” has become part of the English lexicon to describe a long trip. The phrase was popular when transatlantic steamships were a primary form of transportation and plenty of French citizens were crossing the seas.


The most direct translation of this ancient Greek word is happiness, but many scholars suggest that it’s more akin to personal flourishing or prosperity. It’s often achieved by prioritizing your own well-being — leading to a sense of contentment. We often feel this when traveling to destress.


The literal translation of this Swedish word is "a place of wild strawberries." The more common meaning behind it, however, is a place you consider special or treasured and desire to return to — just like your favorite travel destinations.


Do you ever have that feeling on a trip when you wish you're back home in familiar territory? The French have a word for that. It suggests feeling out of your element like a fish out of water.

Yu yi

This Chinese expression refers to a desire to see things as you did when you were younger with a fresh set of eyes. It’s also exactly why travel can be so thrilling since you experience new corners of the Earth with that same childlike awe and wonder.


This Danish word is kind of like the fear of missing out (FOMO). Consider that there are only about 200 people recorded who have visited every country in the world and you may experience onism — the realization of how little of the world you’ll actually get to see in your lifetime.


Calling all travel lovers! This Greek word means someone who is a lover of roads or more broadly, someone who loves to trek the roads less-traveled.


This Latin expression crosses paths with hodophiles, but with a singular twist. If you’re a solivagant, you like to hit the road solo.

Photo Credit: David Marcu/ Unsplash

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