Picture this, it’s your last day in a city halfway across the world and you’re leaning in, idly picking on the remaining bits of a meal – while your table for two has an empty seat, keeping you quiet company. You have a feeling, a vacant one, a feeling that best resembles a teary smile and you do not know what to call it. Not yet, at least.

There are travel dictionaries and Google Translate and guides on a thousand different ways to say hello, but as words connect us to other people, they also connect us to places. A word…a collection of letters, a jumble of alphabet, a whispered sound, can bind a part of our hearts to an idea, a memory, a banged-up old souvenir from adventures long past.

Sylvia Plath had once said, “It’s never enough to leave, you have to stay gone.” While it’s entirely up to us, whether we want to stay gone or leave only to come back, there’s no denying that travel is therapeutic, delightful, and every now and then, life-changing. So here’s to the words that tie us to thumb-tacks on a wall map, that give voice to a mood, that give us the permission to feel.  

1. One For The Wanderlust-Max Traveller 

dIllustration by Urja Kaulgi

Fernweh a momentous word denoting an urge even stronger than wanderlust, to travel. It’s German for ‘far-sickness’, Fernweh is a yearning, a deep desire to visit the unknown, the unseen, the singularly distant. So the next time you visit someplace obscure like South-Western French country (think Lyon), leave this word scribbled on the wall of your dorm (or on a post-it perhaps) for the next occupant to smile at.

2. One For The ‘It’s-Time-To-Quit-My-Job’ Traveller

hIllustration by Urja Kaulgi

Another frenetic entry, Strikhedonia narrates the sheer joy of being able to say, “to hell with it”! Such conviction is not an everyday occurrence, neither is Strikhedonia an everyday word. A word of Greek origin, scream Strikhedonia into the black of the night, right before you strike a new path. Invoking raw, unbridled pleasure, this is a rebel of a word, much like you.

3. One For The Travel Influencer

vIllustration by Urja Kaulgi

Eudaimonia gracefully echoes the contented state of being happy and prospering. Etymologically Greek, Eudaimonia translates to blessedness. It’s what you’d experience if you travel for a living (how fortunate are you!) and are totally in love with your job, this word might be for you. Eudaimonia is actually for each one of us, in our constant pursuit of happiness. Leave it sprayed somewhere, wedged between wall graffiti and inspire people.

4. One For The Melancholic Traveller

bIllustration by Urja Kaulgi

Hiraeth is Welsh for homesickness. Just the sound of it, is enough to make you want to master the art of saying it and if you’re already dying to use it on your ‘Gram’, welcome to the club. But this is no ordinary homesickness. It’s a languish, for a home to which you may not return, a home which perhaps never was. The nostalgia, the yearning, for all your lost places past. If that’s not poetry, what is?

5. One for the Tripper And The Mood-Traveller

hIllustration by Urja Kaulgi

Portuguese for Cloud-Walker Nefelibata personifies the one that lives in the clouds of their own imagination, suspended in mid-air, levitating over societal conventions.  Moving cities, jobs, leaving with a one-way air ticket, if you’ve romanticized all of the above, we’re with you. If you’ve longed to travel just for the love of travel, Nefelibata is a great sign-off for you, to a postcard sent from absentia.  

6. One For The Traveller That Needs To Hear This

bIllustration by Urja Kaulgi

Komorebi is a Japanese word that describes the sunlight that filters through the leaves of trees and so minimally too. You who’s travelled far and wide and you too, who’s yet to do so, or even you who’s constantly oscillating between whether or not, here’s the thing. There are cracks and spaces and all kinds of gaps in everything, but there’s also the sunlight to enter through them. Take heart, one of these days, you’re leaving for sure.

Our list of Travel-Words is honestly for every one of us, to draw inspiration from, use in conversation or just plain appreciate (for even existing in language). And the next time you’re thinking what to call your wanderer self, try saying Jajabor, it’s Bangla/Bengali for Nomad.