Confusing words: travel, a journey, a trip, a voyage

The words travel, journey, trip and voyage can easily be confused by learners of English.

I suppose it’s a good time of year to look at these words, as the spring and summer holiday seasons will soon be starting for many people.

Travel (noun)

The noun travel is a general word, meaning to move from place to place, usually over long distances.

We can say: air travel, food and travel, space travel, business travel, a travel agency.

  • Air travel is getting more expensive.
  • The magazine is a food and travel guide.

We can also say travels, which is a plural noun:

  • Where did you go on your travels?
  • Jack Kerouac wrote many books about his travels.

Travel is also a verb:

  • I travel 20 km to work every day.

Journey (noun) 

A journey means moving from one place to another, especially in a vehicle. It is a single piece of travel. A journey can also be a regular thing.

Here is an example. Let’s say we go from London to Leeds then back again. That is two journeys (London to Leeds is the first journey, Leeds to London is the second journey).

We can say: a bus journey, a train journey, the journey to school, my journey to work.

Be careful with the plural: journeys NOT journies.

  • How long does your journey to work take?
  • Did you have a good journey?
  • Did you have a good travel?

Trip (noun)

A trip describes the whole process of going somewhere and coming back. (It is more than one journey.)

Once again, let’s go from London to Leeds then back again. As I said above, that is two journeys, but it is one trip.

Some examples: a day trip, a round trip, a round-the-world trip, a boat trip and a business trip. We say go on a trip.

  • We went on a three-week trip to Scotland.
  • He’s gone on a business trip to Germany.
  • Let’s go on a trip to the mountains this summer!
  • The trip there took three hours. The journey there took three hours.

Voyage (noun)

Voyages are less common nowadays. A voyage is a very long trip, usually at sea or in space:

  • At the age of twenty-three, Sir Francis Drake made his first voyage to the New World.
  • A voyage around the world often took four or five years.

The French Bon voyage! translates into English as Have a good trip! or Have a good journey!

I hope that’s clear. Here’s a quick exercise for you to test your understanding:

questions go herescoregoes here

If you found this article helpful, please share it with friends and click the ‘Like’ and ‘G+’ buttons below. You can also leave a comment or ask a question. Thanks.

Stuart is an English teacher and runs the Speakspeak website. He currently lives in Prague and has been teaching for over 20 years. Follow Stuart and contact him by subscribing to his monthly newsletter.

28 Comments

  1. sareh - April 16, 2012, 11:28 pm Reply

    that was so helpful
    thank you

  2. Amelia - February 20, 2013, 1:07 pm Reply

    Hi !

    The explanation is very nice but I could not find the “quick exercise” you mention at the end.
    Thanks.

    • Stuart Cook - February 20, 2013, 7:05 pm Reply

      Thanks, Amelia.
      Some users have told me that the exercises are not visible in certain browsers (older versions of Internet Explorer, for instance). They’ll definitely work if you use the Chrome browser.

  3. MARIA DEL MAR - May 31, 2013, 8:53 pm Reply

    hello,….
    Your website is really usefull, now I can understand some differents thing … I hope it will be more successful than before.. and I wish improve my english too. 🙂

  4. Allabergan - September 1, 2013, 11:01 pm Reply

    I really liked this website. Thx . But what about <>???? Please, explain it also?! thx in advance

  5. Allabergan - September 1, 2013, 11:02 pm Reply

    I asked about ” tour”.

    • Stuart Cook - January 21, 2014, 7:44 am Reply

      A tour is when we visit several different places on a long trip and is usually for pleasure. A tour can also be an official visit to inspect a place, e.g. They gave the Prime Minister a tour of the new factory.

  6. Blanca - January 20, 2014, 10:31 am Reply

    Le agradecería me aclarara si es un error en la página o es que estaba yo confundida, porque aprendi que no se dice ‘Travel is much faster and cheaper nowadays…’ como se indica en la pagina como correcto, sino: ‘TRAVELLING is much fuster and cheaper …’ Por favor ¿puede confirmármelo? Muchas gracias por adelantado po su amable respuesta.

  7. Blanca - January 20, 2014, 10:40 am Reply

    Excuse me, I put the question in Spanish without realising where you could be located. I put it again in English,excuse me.

    I learnt that the correct sentence would be: ‘TRAVELLING is much faster and cheaper..’ but in the site here the answer that appear as correct is ‘TRAVEL is much faster and cheaper..’

    Could you please be so kind to confirm me if it is a mistake of the system or if I was wrong and in fact in this case is more correct to say travel than travelling?

    Thank you very much in advance for your reply.

    • Stuart Cook - January 20, 2014, 11:03 am Reply

      Blanca,
      It’s also possible to say Travelling is much faster and cheaper. The reason travelling was not given as an option in the multiple choice quiz is that we are looking at the differences between the nouns journey, trip and travel here. I see that this may be a bit confusing, so I have changed the last question in the exercise to air travel.

  8. Luisa - January 21, 2014, 1:51 am Reply

    Hi! I don´t find the question number 10 that you mentioned in your comment. Could you tell me if the exercise is incomplete?
    Thanks a lot.

    • Stuart Cook - January 21, 2014, 7:49 am Reply

      Hi, Luisa
      The travel / journey / trip exercise has seven questions, not ten. You can see it at the end of the article above.

  9. Rogerio - March 20, 2014, 5:35 pm Reply

    Thank you for your help and congratulations for the iniciative of keeping this site in the web.

  10. azam - May 7, 2014, 6:04 am Reply

    Hi
    thank you very much.
    could you tell me how I can speak better please? When I speak English, I wanna get nervous and forget everything. my teacher told me ” don’t be shy” but he didn’t tell me how. please teach some exercises.

  11. Alexandre Spindola - May 12, 2014, 5:41 am Reply

    Dear Mr. Stuart Cook,

    I’d like to thank you very very very very much for this explanation!!!
    I am Brazilian, and I have never had the opportunity to learn the difference among these confusing words.
    Now, thank you, I finally know that.
    I’m so happy and satisfied, thank you!!!

    Best Regards,

    Alexandre Spindola

    • Stuart Cook - May 12, 2014, 7:07 am Reply

      Hi, Alexandre

      I’m really glad you like the site and find it helpful. Good luck with your studies!

  12. Pouya keikavous - May 26, 2014, 10:08 am Reply

    Lots of thanks for explanation

  13. regor ngavouka - September 9, 2014, 2:34 am Reply

    Hi, i’m a congolese i’m so happy to have discovered the real and clear explanations of them. Thank you for having brought more light on the confusion that seemed to be as tough as a stone. But now thanks to you,

  14. Aristia - September 25, 2014, 11:32 am Reply

    Brilliant work! Thank you

  15. Heine - February 23, 2015, 11:34 am Reply

    thank you. this is very helpful.

  16. Tiago_Dos_Santos - April 8, 2015, 11:41 am Reply

    Extremely helpful! Thank you! 🙂

  17. Venya Gangwani - October 11, 2016, 5:18 am Reply

    This is a very good page but I need to ask that :
    A voyage is for pleasure or for business?

  18. Aurélio Loiola - November 2, 2016, 10:56 pm Reply

    This time I shall learn the differences between travel, journey, trip and voyage.
    On my future trip, I’ll take three flights because I’ll go to three different cities. In the middle, I got confused to say if I scheduled my journey to Recife or if I scheduled my travel to Recife on 28. I know I could only say I scheduled my flight from Fortaleza do Recife. But considering journey and travel which is right?
    Thanks a lot.

  19. Fariba - February 10, 2017, 2:48 am Reply

    Hi
    That was so useful & helpful. Thanks.
    Can we say: “go on a travel” ?

  20. Pro Inglis - March 28, 2017, 9:34 pm Reply

    Very Helpfull!
    Can you include Crossing and Fight??

  21. Anonymous - May 25, 2017, 10:33 pm Reply

    Thank you for your explanation, It really helped me understand the context in which I can use them.

  22. Nassimah Reynolds - October 17, 2017, 7:28 pm Reply

    Great work, Stuart Cook!
    I’m an English teacher myself and have to explain these words very often. But your explanation is very clear and concise, and illustrates the wonders of the English language : ) Thanks!

  23. Nouran - December 2, 2017, 9:34 pm Reply

    Thank you for this wonderful site . It helped me alot.

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