Deciphering Travel Jargon

hero image
19 Dec 2018

The Jewish people have long been known as “The People of the Book.” Language, the meaning of words and phrases, and wrapping complicated concepts in shorthand terms, are familiar ideas to anyone who has gone through our educational system.

In fact, this week’s Parashah – Vayechi – has an interesting example of where Chazal knew that the literal meaning could be taken the wrong way. In Yaakov’s blessings to his sons, he says to Shimon and Levi, “ki b’apam hargu ish,” – “for when angry they slay men.” (Bereishit 49:6)

Megillah 9A tells us that when creating the Septuagint – the first Greek translation of the Torah – the 72 sages who were closeted in different rooms working on the translation independently each divined that this would be taken the wrong way by King Ptolemy, who had commanded the translation. They were therefore divinely inspired to change the wording to “ki b’apam hargu shor,” – “for when angry they slay oxen.” Language is important, and the change they made would protect the nation from the king who then had the power over the Jewish people.

Well, language in the travel industry is no different. There are all sorts of phrases which are very clear to those in the industry, but might confuse someone who doesn’t travel all that often. Here are some of the most common – feel free to email us if you’ve encountered any other confusing terms in your travel planning.

All-inclusive: Whether you’re at a resort or on a cruise, all-inclusive usually means lodging, three meals a day and some beverages. After that, policies vary. Some resorts may charge extra for premium alcoholic beverages and use of the golf course and spa. While cruise lines may include some beverages and most entertainment, travelers can expect to pay for specialty restaurants, a drinks package for alcoholic beverages and shore excursions.

Adjoining and connecting rooms: If you’re traveling with the family and want a separate room for the kids, be aware that these mean two different things. Adjoining rooms are next to each other but aren’t connected by a door. If you want to be able to check on the kids easily, make sure you tell your travel agent that you want connecting rooms.

Baggage allowance: Individual airlines set requirements for the number, size and weight of checked luggage and carry-on bags. Every airline has different policies and make sure you understand yours.

Generally speaking, for domestic flights airlines will charge you for even the first piece of luggage.

For international flights, airline policies will vary, but it is common in the industry that basic economy class tickets – which generally have major restrictions on tickets, changes, and don’t allow seat assignments before the flight – also have charges for checked bags.

Main cabin class tickets and premium economy tickets on international flights usually allow you to bring your first piece of luggage with you for no extra charge. (The difference between them is generally in space – you’ll have six to eight more inches of leg room in the premium economy seats. There’s a trend developing where some airlines are giving premium economy tickets wider seats, as well.)

Again, make sure you check beforehand – it is quite common that people who are not clear on these distinctions end up paying more than they expected once they get to the airport with their luggage.

Oceanfront and Ocean view: When choosing a hotel, it’s important to find out where you’ll be in relation to the water. An oceanfront room usually means that you’re directly facing the water. With ocean view, you may be able to see some water from your room, but that will depend on the angle to the ocean, and how steeply you can bend your neck!

Direct and nonstop flights: A direct flight goes between two airports, but may stop along the way to pick up additional passengers, although you won’t have to get off the plane. A nonstop flight will go directly to your destination.

Seat assignments: Nowadays, some airlines have basic, main cabin, and premium economy. The lowest-priced economy fare – basic – can mean having to wait until you’re at the airport to get your seat assignment. You also might not have access to overhead bin space for your carry-on. Main cabin and premium economy tickets will certainly allow for seating assignments in advance of your flight.

Ecotourism: This is an opportunity to become immersed in the natural environment of the destination, by staying at resorts that support conservation efforts and offer guests a chance to get up close to wildlife, while having low-impact on the natural areas.

Shoulder season: This is the time period between peak and off-peak seasons and can be a great time to get discounts on travel. Depending on your destination, there are shoulder seasons for spring and fall travel, generally mid-April through mid-June and September through October.

Wellness travel: A growing trend among travelers, wellness retreats promote healthy living through physical and spiritual activities. Those activities can include spa treatments, meditation and yoga, walking tours, hiking and biking, healthy eating and culinary events, outings and adventures in nature and volunteer opportunities.

Travel agents are used to questions – if you have any questions about what terms in a vacation package or reservation confirmation mean, ask them. They would much rather be asked at the front end to make sure that you will have a happy stay – no unexpected surprises! – then have you call them afterwards to fix the situation.

Getting back to the Parsha, did you notice that the very end of the Parasha involves travel plans? Yosef makes his brothers swear that after his death they re-inter him in Israel!

If you need help planning a spring break vacation – whether in Israel or anywhere else – contact

The words of this author reflect his/her own opinions and do not necessarily represent the official position of the Orthodox Union.