Navigating travel lingo
Published August 2015

Navigating Travel Lingo

Decoding 9 travel terms that get a lot of mileage


Before you even arrive in another country, some common travel terms may sound like a foreign language.

“Like any industry, travel agents have their own vernacular when it comes to flights, hotels, airlines, and cruises,” says Amy Moreno, senior travel manager for AAA Arizona. “It’s helpful to have a working knowledge of some common travel terms to make your plans go smoothly.” 

Below, AAA experts offer explanations for common travel jargon:
  • BAR: Short for “best available rate,” it’s the lowest nonrestricted rate available for a hotel room. Nonrestricted means the rate has a flexible cancellation policy.
  • Day guest: Travelers who have an extra-long layover can opt to pay a reduced day rate for a temporary hotel room to shower, recharge, or use the property’s amenities or spa.
  • Open jaw: This is a type of flight where a passenger flies into one city and out of another, but the city of origin remains the same. Open-jaw flights tend to be more popular overseas but can take place anywhere.
  • Rack rate: This is the regular price of a hotel room before any promotions are put into effect.
  • Red eye: Quite simply, a red eye is an overnight flight.
  • Repositioning cruise: When a cruise line needs to “reposition” its ship to a port of call that is on the opposite side of the world (often in a location that is experiencing a completely different season from the current port of call), it will create a repositioning cruise. Travelers can take advantage of prices that are less expensive than traditional cruises because more of the days are spent only at sea. An example of a repositioning cruise is Alaska to Caribbean to the Panama Canal.
  • Shoulder season: This is the time period between peak and low season when travel demand is less. Rates tend to be lower and crowds are fewer, but travelers might not experience the region’s best weather during their vacation.
  • VAT: Short for value-added tax, this type of consumption tax is most often used in Europe. It is similar to a sales tax that adds a fixed percentage of taxation on products and services at each step of production. For example, if you purchase luggage or a purse in Europe, your final cost will include a tax on each material used to make the item.
  • Wave season: This “season” takes place the first three months of the year when cruise lines heavily promote the year’s booking options. While great promotions often are available during this time, it still depends on the location and time of the cruise for the best time to buy.
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