Head out on the open road with Tim Bowen as he introduces you to some new travel-themed expressions.


‘Travel broadens the mind’ so the old saying goes, or, as American author Henry Miller put it, ‘One’s destination is never a place, but a new way of seeing things’. 

At this very moment, you may be on your travels, perhaps on a road trip or maybe on the trip of a lifetime to a destination you’ve always dreamed of. Before you hit the road (set off), you will need to consider whether you are going to travel light (not take many things with you) or take everything but the kitchen sink (take far more than you need). 

If you are driving somewhere, you will probably want to avoid the company of a backseat driver (someone who constantly criticizes your driving and tells you what to do) and, similarly, you will hope you are not on a winding road somewhere stuck behind a Sunday driver (someone who drives annoyingly slowly and well below the speed limit). You will also hope to avoid road hogs (people who drive dangerously and make it difficult for other cars to pass them) and, even worse, boy racers (young male drivers who drive very fast and recklessly). 

With a bit of luck, you’ll be able to enjoy the open road (a long stretch of road that doesn’t pass through any towns or villages) and put your foot down (drive faster than you had been up to that point) from time to time. When you finally reach your destination, hopefully you won’t be running on empty (almost out of fuel or almost out of energy). 

Teaching tip: ask learners to use an English-English dictionary or a search engine to find examples of idiomatic phrases related to train, boat and plane. Have them present their findings to the class. Ask them which phrase is the most interesting and why.