10 German Travel Words That I Wish We Have in English.


Okay. I am not a native English speaker but breathing English since birth makes me feel like one. Sure, moving to Germany and learning this awful language according to Mark Twain, I can now agree that whoever didn’t study it doesn’t have any idea how difficult it is to acquire it. As I eavesdropped my way to somehow understand it, I found myself developing a love-hate relationship with it. Most of the words actually don’t make sense when translated to English but diving deeper into it gave me more reasons to be fond of it especially these travel words that don’t have English counterpart.


With these words, I cornered my German boyfriend one Sunday morning after breakfast. I don’t know if he is just like a typical guy who doesn’t want to discuss nerdy, stupid things like this or it was too early to think in second language. Sure, I was able to force some answers from him but being a bonafide German speaker who uses it as verb and adjective, I felt that it will make more sense to ask my Filipino cousin who grew up in Germany who can easily switch to Tagalog, English and German seamlessly.


Wanderlust [vandɐˈlʊst]

Fact: did you know that our favorite travel word came from German words, wander which means to hike and lust which means desire. So wanderlust is actually the desire to be with nature through hiking that is now a very popular term to describe endless desire to travel.


German Travel Words




Reisefieber [raɪzəˈfi:bɐ]

I guess this should really be the English equivalent of Wanderlust. Reise means travel and Fieber is fever the sickness. My sources said Reisefieber is stronger. This isn’t just that kind of sickness you feel after your last trip and the pain of excitement for the next but emphasizes a stronger desire for not wanting to stop traveling.


German Travel Words




Fernweh [fɛrnve]

Fern means faraway and weh means sore or painful. This is the antonym of “homesickness” but this is that aching feeling of wanting to be somewhere far from home. “Farsickness” could be the more fitting word if that ever exist.


German Travel Words


Sehnsucht [zeːnzʊxt]

Sehn is to see and sucht is addiction or obsession and when put together, doesn’t just mean craving but also a longing, an unanswered question or the desire to have other experiences or deeper meaning.


German Travel Words



Kopfkino [kɔpfˈki:no]

Kopf means head and Kino is cinema or movies. I would say that this doesn’t have a lot to do with traveling but to have “movies” in your “head” simply suggests daydreaming. Your thoughts are flying somewhere far from reality.


German Travel Words



Zeitgeist [zʌɪtɡʌɪst]

From Zeit ‘time’ and Geist ‘spirit’. German Philosophy rooted from the 18th to 19th century that translates to “spirit of the age” or “spirit of the times”. This is that feeling of being in a different era and traveling through times.


German Travel Words



Torschlusspanik [tɔɹ.ʃlʊsˌpæn.ɪk]

Tor is gate, schluss is closed and panik is panic. Etymology says to close the city gates at night for safety and whoever comes late has no choice but to stay outside to be exposed to dangers. When translated to English, this means that fear of not having enough time to achieve your goals.

I will be BS-ing you if I will say that chasing my out-of-this-world dreams doesn’t scare the hell out of me even a little. In my country, the Philippines, I am already considered an old maid but here I am, still pushing myself out of my little comfort zone to grow and get more out of this life. Sure, in some part of the world, the gates might have closed for me but I am determined to open the ones that I like. No panic here. =)


German Travel Words


Sprachgefühl [ʃpraːxɡəˌfʏːl]

Though not really a travel word, this means the talent to quickly learn a language. Sprach is to speak and Gefühl is feeling or simply the feeling of a language. While the Germans who witness how I murder their language say I have talent with languages, I still disagree. I push myself so hard to learn because I realized that just to travel is not what I am after but culture. And to understand culture, knowing the language is essential.


German Travel Words


Schnapsidee [ʃnapsʔiˌde]

Schnaps is a shot of Vodka or any alcoholic beverage. Idee is idea. Literally a crazy idea.

How many stupid things have I done just because I got drunk? Sure alcohol has made my English and German way better but Schnapsidee is not a travel word. Who knows, the next best Schnapsidee will bring me to where I really belong.


German Travel Words


Gemütlichkeit [ɡəˈmuːtlɪxkʌɪt]

I asked a German what will he do if he was told to prepare something gemütlich and he said he will prepare the sofa with nice pillows, light some candles and watch some movies. He said he will wear sweat pants and get ready to just relax and enjoy the romantic atmosphere. Gemütlich is synonymous to the Danish word Hygge which means coziness. Wikipedia said that Gemütlichkeit was derived from gemütlich, the adjective of Gemüt, which means “heart, mind, temper, feeling” expressed by (and cognate with) English “mood”. Though not a travel word, gemütlich is now one of my favorite beautiful German words.

German Travel Words


I’d love to learn from you. What are your favorite beautiful foreign travel words?



Read Next

Learning German: A Love-Hate Relationship

10 Things That I love About Germany

Please Share

Beautiful German Words


Beautiful german words


beautiful german words


27 thoughts on “10 German Travel Words That I Wish We Have in English.

  1. Loved learning about these German worlds! I completely agree about loving to travel! It’s not just about visiting the places, but knowing the language and experiencing the culture too. ☺️

  2. I don’t think I pronounced even a single word correctly, but I enjoyed trying. Laughed really hard a couple of times as well hearing how I was sounding, as I was trying to pronounce out loud. I like the word “zeitgeist”, knowing what it means, for some reason. This was a such a fun post! 🙂

    Quirky ||

    1. lol pronouncing German words taste bitter in my mouth and you’ll see it in my face every single time. lol Zeitgeist is one of those words that never fail to give me goosebumps. I get you. =) Thank you so much for reading. =)

  3. Ich liebe deutsch! I absolutely agree – we need to adopt more words like these. It’s so obvious, but I didn’t know wanderlust was originally German (or that the English definition doesn’t match the words original meaning). Thanks for such a fun article ?

  4. German sounds like Dutch, which I speak. However, German is the most difficult language to speak…

    I’ve been to Germany many times before, and it always seems like they are yelling. Even when they just start a conversation, they are like shouting. I don’t know if it’s the culture or pronunciation, but it’s weird when you come from a country where everyone speaks in a monotone way. German people are lovely, nothing to say about that. But I’m sure I will not ever be able to speak fluent German. 🙁 I always try, but whenever I try something else then ‘ich’ , my mind says it’s physical not possible haha.

    Btw, I love the word viajando. Which is Spanish for ‘to travel’..

    1. Dutch is also very difficult. I have tried Dutch and I’ve lasted 2 days. lol But you’ll learn German faster than I will for sure because it’s nearly the same with Dutch.

      Viajando sounds enticing. =) Aren’t you writing about beautiful Dutch travel words yet? =)

  5. I actually studied German as a kid in Finland–so fun to see these words and hear their meanings! I would love to study it again and then travel to Germany, but I know it would be much more difficult as an adult!

    1. You’re right. I’m struggling with German as an adult learner but it makes more sense than acquiring it younger. I would love to see Finland too but I’m sure if I will learn the language. I’m sure it is as hard as German.

  6. Reisefieber- This word resonated to me the most. I just got back home and I can’t wait to travel again. It’s like the world is calling and I must answer the call. Unfortunately, the job is calling, too. 😛

  7. I use to travel quite a lot, and every time I go to a new country, I try learning the basics. I’m usually doing this with a language learning app (I’m currently using Mondly premium) but also with the help of Google translate.

    I usually have a set itinerary, so I know beforehand where I’m going and what I need to learn. So I usually prepper in advance with words and phrases for hotel interactions, taxi interactions and so on.

  8. Oh my God, I actually was not aware of the fact that Wanderlust is a real thing in English! Now I finally understand better why I kept seeing it used in English!

    Funny words though, some of them I didn’t even know! Torschlusspanik for example… I have never heard it before, but I somehow like that word…!

    Love, Claudia

    1. Hi Claudia,

      First of all, I love the word Torschlusspanik but after knowing what it means, I kind of want to hate it for me being 32, still single and childless. lol But we are in Germany so 35 is the new 25 that makes me 22. haha

      I also didn’t know what Wanderlust really is until I started learning German. I am starting to see how sweet the language is. well, somehow. I only wish I can speak it even without alcohol. haha


  9. Very beautiful post and good explanations. Two small things though: The “Sehn” in Sehnsucht is not from “sehen” (to see) but from “sich sehnen” (to long for) and while “wandern” in modern German is most often =hiking it does also describe the same things as the engl. “to wander” – and does de facto not just include lust for hiking but also a desire to change locations and not to linger in a place.
    Loved to see what you chose as your favorites of these, especially Torschlusspanik (which until now I somewho though was actually Torschusspanik – apparently to much football in my early education ^^).

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *