Am I going on a trip, travel, tour, voyage or journey? Holiday or holidays?

With the Easter break just around the corner (and a 4-day weekend if you live in Spain!) you might need to know the difference between these words; especially if you're planning to go further afield. We'll look at each of them one-by-one.

The first we'll study is 'trip'. This noun is countable and refers to the whole holiday (or business) experience which usually lasts a relatively short period of time. Eg. They went on an amazing two-week ski trip to the Pyrenees. To help you remember this, think of the website Tripadvisor. There, you can read reviews of travellers' experiences. Remember! Although the verb 'to trip' does exist, it has nothing to do with holidays: it means tropezar.

The next, however, is a verb and a noun with more or less the same meaning. The uncountable noun 'travel' refers to the concept of moving around in general. Eg. Travel abroad is now more affordable thanks to low-cost airlines. As with all uncountable nouns, 'travel' can never be used with the indefinite article (a). Nevertheless, in certain instances, it's found in the plural; like in the title of the book Gulliver's Travels. But if you use 'travel' like any other uncountable noun, you'll never be wrong. 'To travel' is the standard verb which we use to refer to getting about. Eg. I'm travelling to Seville on Easter Thursday to spend the weekend with my family.

'Tour' can be used when you're talking about visiting several different sights within a city. For instance, a sightseeing tour of Stratford-upon-Avon, my hometown, would involve visiting the various Shakespeare houses. Without trying to sound too much like a tour operator click here if you'd like more information on this. A tour can also describe visiting different cities within a country or even several countries around the world. This is very often used when talking about famous performing artists. Eg. Adele's world tour kicks off in Barcelona, Spain.

The physical meaning of 'journey' exclusively expresses the travel from one place to the destination. In other words, from A to B. For this reason, 'journey' is often combined with means of transport. Eg. The bus journey from my house to work takes half an hour. However, can also be used in an abstract context to describe an emotional experience. Eg. As part of a spiritual journey, some people practise yoga or meditation.

For longer journeys of several weeks or months, 'voyage' is used. This word is only really reserved for long sea or space journeys, so unless you're a sailor, pirate or astronaut, you're not likely to use 'voyage' on a regular basis. As with 'journey', a 'voyage' is only used to describe the route to arrive at your destination; therefore cruises don't count as voyages!

And finally ...... holiday or holidays?

This is a question asked by many students of all levels. My advice is to treat 'holiday' like any other countable noun in English. If you're talking about one holiday then use the singular noun preceded by the indefinite aticle (a). If you're discussing holidays in general or various ones you've been on, then, logically, the plural noun is necessary.

The only exception with the plural noun is when we talk about periods of the year during which everyone has time off; so we talk about the Easter/Christmas/Summer holidays. I think this is a throwback to a time when 'holiday' actually meant 'holy day' (día sagrado) and when people's holidays only coincided with the Church calendar. Historically speaking, people would have had four Easter 'holy days' and therefore it's a quirk of the English language which hasn't been adapted for modern usage.

As the title suggests, all the nouns discussed in this article can be used in the set phrase 'to go on a.....' except for 'travel', as it's an uncountable noun. Be sure to learn how to use the vocabulary correctly, otherwise you might find yourself 'tripping around the world' (¡tropezando por el mundo!). Or sounding like Jack Sparrow because you say you're 'going on a voyage to the Caribbean' when really you've booked a cruise! 😅

Happy travels!

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