German Travel Words to Add to Your Dictionary

August 12, 2015 3 min read

Oh, I know, a lot of people make fun of the German language. They say it sounds harsh, rough and well, brutal. Yes, sometimes German has a hard and, well, honest way to say things. Like the German word for airplane: “Flugzeug”, which actually can be translated into“flying thing“. Or“Fahrzeug“ for a vehicle, which—yep, you guess it—is a“driving thing“.
The thing is…German is actually a beautiful language. With many poetic words and wonderful ways to describe emotions. Especially when we’re talking about traveling. So here are my favorite German words without an English equivalent and that’s why you should start using them now.

Fernweh [fɛrnve]
You all know the word“homesickness“ but have you ever heard of “farsickness”? In German we use “Fernweh” to describe this aching feeling when you miss being far away from home. When you get “Fernweh” it’s not necessarily a special place you’re missing but it’s the feeling you get when you’re sitting back home and just wish to be somewhere else.
Reisefieber [raɪzəˈfi:bɐ]
“Reisefieber” is that sickness you get shortly before your next upcoming trip, when you on the one hand are more than excited to finally go out there and explore and on the other hand are nervous about what will happen.
Wanderlust [vandɐˈlʊst]
I bet most of you have heard of “Wanderlust” before, but did you know it’s a German word? It actually describes the feeling when you lust after going for a hike. It’s the constant itch you have to go out into nature and put one foot in front of the other. You might use it in English for having the travel bug, but in German it is closely attached to nature and hikes.

Geborgenheit [gəˈbɔrgənˈhaɪt]
When you’re feeling completely safe and cozy and you just want to snuggle into that moment and keep that feeling forever, then you’ve reached the status of “Geborgenheit”. There’s actually no fitting English translation for that. “Geborgenheit” has a twin word in the Danish language you might have heard of before: “hyggelig”, which actually more or less means the same kind of feeling. And that’s actually a feeling I often get while traveling, when walking feels like walking on clouds and the problems of everyday life are soooo far away.
Innerer Schweinehund [ɪnɐrɐˈʃvaɪnəhʊnd]
Okay, the “Innerer Schweinehund” is not really a travel-related word, but it’s pretty handy to use in many travel situations. “Innerer Schweinehund” can be translated with “inner pig-dog” and it’s the tiny voice in the back of your head that is holding you back from doing so many amazing things and makes you stay back home on your sofa. You have to overcome your inner pig-dog to get out of your comfort zone and do the things you actually know you want to do. Just tell your inner pig-dog to shut up.

Schnapsidee [ʃnapsi:de:]
Sometimes your inner pig-dog will try to hold you back from doing things and tell you it’s a “Schnapsidee”, which actually can be translated with “booze idea”. They’re the kind of crazy ideas you normally get when you’re a tiny bit tipsy and braver than you normally are. Some people might say that “Schnapsidee” are ideas which will never work out and are just plain stupid. I say, these kind of ideas are the best ideas ever. Go for it! They might finally get you to where you belong. And, well, you know: in vino veritas. (In wine/booze truth).
Kopfkino [kɔpfˈki:no:]
This is also a word that isn’t used specifically for traveling. “Kopfkino” is actually what’s happening when you’re daydreaming. All of a sudden there’s a cinema (Kino) in your head (Kopf) and it’s playing your favorite movie. The movie that is playing in my head at the moment is starring Ryan Gosling and me on a beach in Thailand…hmmm…need some popcorn.
Yvonne Zagermann
Yvonne is the publisher of JUST travelous, an award-winning travel blog that focuses on unique experiences, adventure travel, and flashpacking. Yvonne surprises readers with unique experiences which show you the world from a different angle—whether she’s falling from a camel in Oman, surviving a cobra attack in South Africa, or getting a tattoo by a Buddhist monk. JUST travelous is written in English and German, and in addition to being one of the best travel blogs in Germany, it’s one of the Top 100 international travel blogs.

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