After spending a large portion of this year away from home, I’ve come to consider myself a travel junkie, the kind that nobody invites to parties unless they want to hear endless “you had to be there” stories about [insert European country here]. It was only a matter of time before my worldly interests collided with my wordly interests. (Little known language fact: you are, in fact, allowed to make up words like “wordly” if you need it to make a bad pun like I just did.) So, with that, here are some words you need to add to your travel vocabulary.
1. Resfeber (n.): the restless race of the traveler’s heart before the journey begins, when anxiety and anticipation are tangled together; a travel fever that can manifest as an illness
If you couldn’t already tell by the way it ties your tongue in knots, resfeber is a Swedish term whose very specific meaning has been the subject of countless artsy Pinterest posts featuring photos of sunsets and laughing couples on empty highways or grassy fields. (Why such photos never portray the other side of traveling, I don’t know. The TSA line would look great under a Nashville filter.) An easy way to describe resfeber is “that jolt in your heart the second you officially purchase your plane tickets.” The excitement and fear floods your mind all at once, creating an overwhelming mixture of emotions that can leave you feeling anxious or physically ill.
2. Sonder (v.): the realization that each random passer-by is living a life as vivid and complex as your own
The full definition, taken from The Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows (a title too good not to share), reads:
Not directly related to travel, of course, but it’s a feeling I would imagine happens when you pass groups of strangers, speaking a language that is completely foreign to you, and realize just how incredibly big the world is. At this very moment, there are humans across the world waking up to start their day as a chef/skydiver instructor/kitten handler. The people you see in travel brochures and stock photos are real humans, wandering through life unaware that people out there are pondering their very existence. That’s sonder.
3. Solivagant (adj.): wandering alone; (n.) a solitary wanderer
Not all those who wander are lost, but all those who wander alone are definitely solivagants. From the Latin word solivagus, meaning lonely or solitary, solivagant describes anyone who enjoys meandering around new countries, alone, in order to take it all in. Solivagants are the kind of people you see on the side of the road, slugging along without a backpack or their thumb in the air. If you see one, don’t be scared: they don’t bite. Just throw them a smile or a Clif bar and let them go on their way.
4. Wanderlust (n.): a strong, innate, impulse or desire to travel the world
While many of the words on this list are “real” in the sense that they’ve earned a non-sexual entry in UrbanDictionary (which would make “blind Tindering” and “tumblrhood” real words, too), this one has a spot in the grand ol’ Oxford Dictionary, so it’s a tad more legitimate. In addition to being the movie that brought together Jennifer Aniston and Justin Theroux, wanderlust is also a word for “a strong desire to travel the world.” Think of it as a “lust” for wandering, or as the word that travel nuts will tattoo across their body and slather across their walls.
5. Fernweh (n.): “distance-sickness”
If wanderlust was not poetic enough for you, though, allow me to present fernweh, a German word that literally translates to “distance-sickness.” While someone with wanderlust might sit at home and happily fantasize about all the places they might go, someone with fernweh would feel a deeper sense of longing, like homesickness but for other places.
6. Coddiwomple (v.): to travel in a purposeful manner towards a vague destination
I never thought I’d find a word that so perfectly summarizes my life. And yet, here we are. Though to some people, coddiwomple is just a slang word, to others like myself, it is a gift from the heavens. No longer must I describe my semi-aimless walks around campus with hogwash terms like “semi-aimless.” Gone are the days where I must explain my venture out into a foreign country with no formal itinerary. Now, such questions can be answered with a simple “I’m coddiwompling.” Whether you choose to interpret it figuratively (“I’m coddiwompling through life”) or literally (“I’ll have a ticket for the next available flight. I don’t care where it is, I just want to travel. . .”), coddiwomple is an invaluable vocabulary word.