10 magical travel words to add to your vocabulary

You leave, have an adventure then come home with a flurry of emotions. Suddenly, you just can’t seem to find the right words to capture the intensity of experiences you had and the feelings you felt. Something magical, something beautiful, something whimsical.

Here are ten foreign words that come pretty close to capturing those moments before, during and after travel that we sometimes just can’t seem to describe. You’ll want to add them to your vocabulary before your next adventure!  

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Fernweh (n): a yearning for travel. Being in a far away place.

Origin: German

Sometimes referred to as farsickness, fernweh is a powerful word used to describe an urge to travel that is often stronger than wanderlust.



Absquatulate (v): to leave without saying goodbye.

Origin: North America

Ever had the urge to suddenly pack up your things and just disappear to an unknown town far away? Maybe you’ve been dreaming about fleeing with all your things without saying goodbye?



Nefelibata (n): one who lives in the clouds of their own imagination and does not obey convention.

Origin: Portuguese 

One of the most beautiful words I can think of that perfectly captures the heart of a person who has their heads in the clouds! Sometimes referred to as ‘cloud walkers’, these kinds of people live in their own imagination and tend not to obey the norms of society. literature or art.



Resfeber (n): the restless race of a traveler’s heart before the journey begins.

Origin: Swedish

Venturing into the unknown always unleashes a myriad of emotions for any adventurer. You book your flight, sign that contract in a far away land or just receive your visa and then suddenly, you’re hit with a  tangled mess of fearful and excited feelings! It often occurs just before you embark on a new journey.


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Sehnsucht (n): a wistful longing and yearning of the heart for travels that have been and travels to come. 

Origin: German

Sometimes after an adventure has passed, you just can’t seem to shake the magic you felt while on your trip. You relive moments over and over in your head, reminisce, look over photos and just yearn for that happy time. Or, perhaps there a place you’ve always wanted to visit and you keep dreaming about all the things you want to do when you get there.



Sturmfrei (adj): the freedom of being alone. The ability to do what you want.

Origin: German

Better described as the freedom that comes with being alone and able to do what you want, as you desire and when you please. It’s the perfect word to describe solo travel, when you have the freedom to go where you want, when you want. You don’t need to wait for someone else to make decisions. It’s just you and an adventure.


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Trouvaille (n): a chance encounter with something wonderful.

Origin: French

Something lovely found by chance. Perhaps you found a quaint coffee shop while wondering down the little alleyways of The Netherlands or an unexpected forest  in Japan.



Flaneur (n): someone who strolls aimlessly and enjoyably… observing life and their surroundings.

Origin: French

This is something I love doing on the first day after arriving in a new city… wandering around aimlessly to see what’s around me. There’s no particular task or place I’m looking for, I’m just observing and taking in the local life around me.



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Novaturient (adj): a desire to alter your life. The feeling that pushes you to travel.

Origin: Latin

You know that feeling you get… when you just know that you’re not living your best life and there must be more out there for you. This is it.

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Thalassophile (n): a lover of the sea.

Origin: Greek

If the ocean seems to calm your soul and you could spend days on end listening to the breaking waves on a deserted island… then you’re a thalassophile.

What other magical travel words have you heard of? Would you use them?

Posted by

I'm Shalinee - a Geminian scientist who loves to travel, write, draw and eat chocolate. I've visited over twenty countries, published a Environmental Science encyclopaedia and somewhere along the way started a science communication company to help students and corporates translate that hard-to-read data generated in a lab. Other than that, I'm just searching for the magic still hidden in the world.

What are your thoughts?