Travel, Trip or Journey?

22 February, 2019

In today's Ask a Teacher, our reader Leopoldo asks about three commonly confused travel words. Here is the question:


Hi! Can you explain when it is correct to use "trip," "journey" or "travel"? Thank you for your answer. – Leopoldo


Hello, Leopoldo!

Are you traveling anytime soon? If so, where are you going on your trip? I hope the journey goes smoothly and that you have a great time.

Did you note how I used the words? I used "travel" as a verb and the other two words as nouns. That is how we use them most often.

Now, we will explore each word, beginning with "travel."


"Travel" is a verb that means "to go to a place and especially one that is far away." Far can mean long distances within the same country or to other countries.

For instance:

I have a friend who travels abroad a lot for work.

"Travel" can also be a noun that relates to the act or activity of traveling in general. For instance:

The future of U.S. travel is not likely to include high-speed rail.

A common mistake with "travel" is confusing it with "trip," like this:

I bought this souvenir on my travel to California.

We rarely use "travel" with "my," "your," "a" or other determiners.

A "road trip" is a long-distance journey made by car or other automobile.


The word "trip" is a noun that means "the act of going to another place and returning." For example:

I bought this souvenir on my trip to California.

We also often use the verbs "go on" or "take" with "trip," like this:

I took a long trip to California last year.

And, we say things like "day trip," "business trip," and "road trip" to describe different kinds of trips.

We do not use the word as a verb for travel.


The word "journey" is a noun that means "the act of going from one place to another."

But, we use it in two specific ways:

One is to talk about a trip that takes a long time, especially if there are either difficulties or discoveries in transit. For instance:

I hope to take a journey across America by car one day.

The other is to talk about a trip that does not involve physical distance, but instead is a process of learning or self-discovery, as in this:

A 10-day vipassana is a kind of spiritual journey.

We rarely use "journey" as a verb except in some styles of writing.

And that's Ask a Teacher.

I'm Alice Bryant.

Do you have a question for Ask a Teacher? Write to us in the comments area and tell us your name and country. If you would like, you can also tell us one thing about yourself.


Words in This Story

abroadadv. in or to a foreign country

souvenirn. something that is kept as a reminder of a place you have visited or an event you have been to

determinern. a word that comes before a noun and is used to show which thing is being referred to

vipassana n. meditation involving concentration on the body or its sensations, or the insight which this provides