Travel Idioms

Transport and travel idioms are an interesting and fun way to learn English. These idioms are commonly used in everyday conversations, and knowing them can help you communicate better with native speakers. In this page, we will explore some of the most common transport and travel idioms and their meanings.

List of Travel Idioms and Transport Idioms

  • (Did Not) Come to Town on a Turnip Truck
  • (Not) rock the boat
  • (That) Train Has Left the Station
  • (To) Criticize the Paint Job on the Titanic
  • (To) Send Flying
  • (We’ll) Cross That Bridge When We Come to It (Get to It)
  • All Hands on Deck
  • Any Port in a Storm
  • Asleep at the Wheel (Switch)
  • Backseat driver
  • Bump in the Road
  • Burn One’s Bridges
  • Carry Coals To Newcastle
  • Circle the Wagons
  • Drive a hard bargain
  • Fall Off the Wagon
  • Fell off the back of a Truck/lorry
  • Fifth Wheel
  • Fly by the Seat of One’s Pants
  • Fly Highs
  • Give the Green Light to
  • Go Off The Rails
  • Go the Extra Mile
  • Highways and byways
  • Hit the road
  • In a Rut
  • In Someone’s Wheelhouse
  • In the Driver’s Seat
  • In the Same Boat
  • Itchy feet
  • It’s Not Rocket Science
  • Jump on the Bandwagon
  • Jump the Track
  • Just Around the Corner
  • Light at the End of the Tunnel
  • Lower the Boom
  • Miss the Boat
  • My way or the highway
  • Off His Trolley
  • On a Wing and a Prayer
  • On the Fly
  • On the home stretch
  • On the Right Track
  • Paddle one’s own canoe
  • Puddle Jumper
  • Put the cart before the horse
  • Rearrange the Deck Chairs on the Titanic
  • Rock the Boat
  • Run a Tight Ship
  • Run on Fumes
  • Shift Gears
  • Spin One’s Wheels
  • Take the High Road
  • Take The Wind out of Someone’s Sails
  • That Ship Has Sailed
  • Third Rail
  • Thirty-Thousand-Foot View
  • Throw Someone Under the Bus
  • Touch Water
  • Train Wreck
  • Turn the Corner
  • Walk the Plank
  • Where (When) the Rubber Meets the Road
  • Your Mileage May Vary

TRAVEL Idioms: 60+ Useful Transport and Travel Idioms in English

Travel Idioms with Meaning and Examples

Travel Idioms & Transport Idioms

(Did Not) Come to Town on a Turnip Truck

  • Meaning: To not be naive or easily fooled; to be knowledgeable or streetwise.
  • Example: You can’t fool me with that old scam—I didn’t come to town on a turnip truck.

(Not) Rock the Boat

  • Meaning: To avoid causing trouble or disturbance; to not challenge the status quo.
  • Example: I know you disagree with how things are done, but just this once, please don’t rock the boat.

(That) Train Has Left the Station

  • Meaning: An opportunity has passed, or a decision has already been made, and it’s too late to change it.
  • Example: I’d love to reconsider your proposal, but I’m afraid that train has left the station.

(To) Criticize the Paint Job on the Titanic

  • Meaning: To focus on trivial or minor details while ignoring larger, more serious problems.
  • Example: Complaining about the font size in the report is like criticizing the paint job on the Titanic—let’s focus on the real issues at hand.

(To) Send Flying

  • Meaning: To cause to move or be thrown forcefully; to scatter or disperse.
  • Example: The explosion sent debris flying in all directions.

(We’ll) Cross That Bridge When We Come to It (Get to It)

  • Meaning: To deal with a problem if and when it becomes necessary, not before.
  • Example: Don’t worry about potential problems with the project right now—we’ll cross that bridge when we come to it.

Travel Idioms & Transport Idioms (A)

All Hands on Deck

  • Meaning: A call for everyone to help, especially in a difficult situation or emergency.
  • Example: We have a huge order to fill by tomorrow morning, so it’s all hands on deck until we’re finished.

Any Port in a Storm

  • Meaning: In times of trouble, one must take whatever solution is available, even if it is not ideal.
  • Example: He wasn’t the roommate I would have chosen, but any port in a storm—I needed someone to help pay the rent.

Asleep at the Wheel (Switch)

  • Meaning: Not paying attention or not being alert to a critical situation.
  • Example: The security guard was asleep at the wheel, and the thieves took full advantage of it.

Travel Idioms & Transport Idioms (B)

Backseat Driver

  • Meaning: A person who gives unsolicited advice or direction, often in an annoying or interfering manner, especially to the driver of a car.
  • Example: I appreciate your input, but I don’t need a backseat driver telling me how to navigate the city.

Bump in the Road

  • Meaning: A minor problem or obstacle in a plan or project that can be overcome with relative ease.
  • Example: The team hit a small bump in the road when the software crashed, but after a quick fix, everything was back on track.

Burn One’s Bridges

  • Meaning: To destroy one’s path, connections, reputation, or opportunities, especially intentionally or recklessly.
  • Example: Be careful not to burn your bridges at your current job if you think you might want to come back one day.

Travel Idioms & Transport Idioms (C, D)

Carry Coals To Newcastle

  • Meaning: To do something superfluous or unnecessary; to offer something to a place or person that has a surplus of that thing.
  • Example: Selling ice cream to an ice cream shop is like carrying coals to Newcastle—they have more than enough already!

Circle the Wagons

  • Meaning: To unite and prepare for a challenging or difficult situation, often by defending against a common threat.
  • Example: When the company came under media scrutiny, the management team circled the wagons to protect its reputation.

Drive a Hard Bargain

  • Meaning: To negotiate in a determined and forceful way, often achieving a favorable outcome.
  • Example: You certainly drive a hard bargain, but I’ll accept the deal as you’ve outlined it.

Travel Idioms & Transport Idioms (F)

Fall Off the Wagon

  • Meaning: To resume drinking alcohol after a period of abstinence.
  • Example: He had been sober for years, but during the holidays, he fell off the wagon.

Fell off the Back of a Truck/Lorry

  • Meaning: Used to describe goods that have been acquired illegally or are likely stolen.
  • Example: These designer bags are so cheap, they must have fallen off the back of a truck.

Fifth Wheel

  • Meaning: An unnecessary, extra, or unwanted person or thing; someone who is superfluous to a group.
  • Example: I felt like a fifth wheel on their date, so I left early to let them have some time alone.

Fly by the Seat of One’s Pants

  • Meaning: To do something by instinct without a plan or guidelines; to improvise.
  • Example: We didn’t have any time to practice, so we just flew by the seat of our pants and hoped for the best during the presentation.

Fly High

  • Meaning: To be very successful or enthusiastic; to be at the peak of one’s success or abilities.
  • Example: After the successful product launch, the entire team was flying high.

Travel Idioms & Transport Idioms (G)

Give the Green Light to

  • Meaning: To give permission or approval to proceed with a project or action.
  • Example: The city council finally gave the green light to the new park renovation project.

Go Off The Rails

  • Meaning: To behave in an unacceptable or wildly inappropriate manner; to lose track of norms or expectations.
  • Example: The meeting went off the rails when the two managers started arguing in front of the staff.

Go the Extra Mile

  • Meaning: To do more than what is required or expected in order to achieve something.
  • Example: She always goes the extra mile for her clients, ensuring that they are completely satisfied with the work.

Travel Idioms & Transport Idioms (H)

Highways and byways

  • Meaning: All over the place; everywhere, including the most remote locations.
  • Example: They traveled the highways and byways of the country, experiencing every town and hidden village.

Hit the road

  • Meaning: To leave or depart, especially to begin a journey.
  • Example: We have a long drive ahead of us, so let’s hit the road early in the morning.

Travel Idioms & Transport Idioms (I)

In a Rut

  • Meaning: Stuck in a monotonous, unchanging pattern or routine that can be hard to escape.
  • Example: I’ve been doing the same thing at work for years and feel like I’m in a rut.

In Someone’s Wheelhouse

  • Meaning: Within one’s area of expertise or interest.
  • Example: Graphic design is really in her wheelhouse, so she should lead the project.

In the Driver’s Seat

  • Meaning: In control of a situation; in a position to direct or determine the outcome.
  • Example: Now that she’s been promoted, she’s in the driver’s seat and can shape the company’s future.

In the Same Boat

  • Meaning: In a similar situation or predicament; facing the same challenges.
  • Example: We’re all in the same boat when it comes to the new regulations—we’ll have to learn them together.

Itchy feet

  • Meaning: A desire to travel or move on to new experiences or places.
  • Example: After two years in the same job, she’s got itchy feet and is thinking about working abroad.

It’s Not Rocket Science

  • Meaning: It’s not complicated or difficult to understand.
  • Example: Just follow the instructions to assemble the furniture—it’s not rocket science.

Travel Idioms & Transport Idioms (J)

Jump on the Bandwagon

  • Meaning: To join others in doing something that has become fashionable or popular.
  • Example: As soon as the product went viral, everyone jumped on the bandwagon and started using it.

Jump the Track

  • Meaning: To suddenly change course or go off on a tangent, often in a conversation or line of thought.
  • Example: We were discussing our budget, but we jumped the track when we started talking about last year’s holiday party.

Just Around the Corner

  • Meaning: Occurring soon
  • Example: New Year’s Eve is just around the corner. Have you made party plans yet?

Travel Idioms & Transport Idioms (L, M)

Light at the End of the Tunnel

  • Meaning: A sign of hope or a positive outcome after a long and difficult period.
  • Example: After months of treatment, we’re finally seeing a light at the end of the tunnel for her recovery.

Lower the Boom

  • Meaning: To punish someone severely or to issue a severe reprimand.
  • Example: The teacher finally lowered the boom on the students for their constant disruptions in class.

Miss the Boat

  • Meaning: To miss an opportunity or fail to take advantage of a situation in time.
  • Example: If you don’t buy the tickets today, you might miss the boat—there aren’t many left.

My Way or the Highway

  • Meaning: An ultimatum stating that someone must agree to a specific course of action or leave; no room for negotiation.
  • Example: The new manager’s philosophy is ‘my way or the highway,’ which has caused some friction with the staff.

TRAVEL Idioms: 60+ Useful Transport and Travel Idioms in English

Travel Idioms & Transport Idioms (O)

Off His Trolley

  • Meaning: Behaving in a confused or crazy way; not thinking rationally.
  • Example: He must be off his trolley if he thinks he can finish that project in one day.

On a Wing and a Prayer

  • Meaning: To continue doing something when there is little chance of success; relying on hope and luck rather than on a reasonable plan.
  • Example: We were running out of fuel and on a wing and a prayer, we managed to make it to the nearest gas station.

On the Fly

  • Meaning: Doing something quickly, while in the middle of another activity, often without stopping to think or make plans.
  • Example: We didn’t have time to organize a meeting, so we decided on the fly.

On the Home Stretch

  • Meaning: Approaching the end of a task, activity, or event; nearing completion.
  • Example: We’re on the home stretch with this project, just a few more days of work and we’ll be done.

On the Right Track

  • Meaning: Proceeding in a good direction; making progress towards a desired outcome.
  • Example: Your research is on the right track, but you’ll need to dig a bit deeper into these sources.

Travel Idioms & Transport Idioms (P)

Paddle One’s Own Canoe

  • Meaning: To act independently and with self-reliance.
  • Example: After years of relying on others, she decided it was time to paddle her own canoe and start her own business.

Puddle Jumper

  • Meaning: A small, often old, aircraft used for short flights.
  • Example: We took a puddle jumper from the main island to one of the smaller, remote islands for the day.

Put the Cart Before the Horse

  • Meaning: To do things out of the proper order or sequence.
  • Example: By designing the cover before writing the book, he’s putting the cart before the horse.

Travel Idioms & Transport Idioms (R)

Rearrange the Deck Chairs on the Titanic

  • Meaning: To do something pointless or trivial in the face of an impending disaster.
  • Example: Trying to optimize the code before fixing the server issue is like rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic.

Rock the Boat

  • Meaning: To cause trouble or disrupt a stable situation.
  • Example: She didn’t want to rock the boat by asking for a raise during the company’s financial difficulties.

Run a Tight Ship

  • Meaning: To manage an organization or a team in an orderly and disciplined manner.
  • Example: The new manager runs a tight ship, so I expect our productivity to increase.

Run on Fumes

  • Meaning: To continue to operate with very limited resources or energy.
  • Example: I’ve been working all night, and now I’m just running on fumes.

Travel Idioms & Transport Idioms (S)

Shift Gears

  • Meaning: To change one’s approach or attitude; to move from one thing to another.
  • Example: After realizing the strategy wasn’t working, the team shifted gears and tried a new approach.

Spin One’s Wheels

  • Meaning: To expend effort but make little or no progress to achieving one’s goal.
  • Example: He’s been spinning his wheels on that project for months but hasn’t made any real progress.

Travel Idioms & Transport Idioms (T)

Take the High Road

  • Meaning: To choose the most ethical course of action, avoiding stooping to insults or bad behavior.
  • Example: Even though she was treated unfairly, she took the high road and didn’t retaliate.

Take The Wind out of Someone’s Sails

  • Meaning: To deflate someone’s confidence or enthusiasm.
  • Example: When he learned that the promotion was no longer available, it really took the wind out of his sails.

That Ship Has Sailed

  • Meaning: An opportunity has been missed; it’s too late to change the situation.
  • Example: I was thinking of applying for that job, but I heard it’s been filled. That ship has sailed.

Third Rail

  • Meaning: A subject or issue that is considered dangerous to address or touch upon due to its controversial nature.
  • Example: Social security reform is a political third rail in the current climate.

Thirty-Thousand-Foot View

  • Meaning: A broad, general perspective on an issue or problem; an overview.
  • Example: Let’s start with a thirty-thousand-foot view before we dive into the details of the project.

Throw Someone Under the Bus

  • Meaning: To sacrifice someone else, often a colleague or friend, to save oneself or gain personal advantage.
  • Example: He threw his teammate under the bus to avoid taking the blame for the mistake.

Train Wreck

  • Meaning: A disastrous or chaotic situation with potentially catastrophic results.
  • Example: The meeting was a complete train wreck; nothing was accomplished, and everyone left angry.

Turn the Corner

  • Meaning: To move past a difficult period and start to improve.
  • Example: After months of declining sales, it looks like the company has finally turned the corner.

Travel Idioms & Transport Idioms (W, Y)

Walk the Plank

  • Meaning: To be forced to accept the consequences of a failure or wrongdoing, often by losing one’s job or being ostracized.
  • Example: After the company’s massive financial loss, the CEO had to walk the plank.

Where (When) the Rubber Meets the Road

  • Meaning: The point at which a theory or idea is put to a practical test; the crucial or critical point.
  • Example: It’s easy to make a plan, but where the rubber meets the road is in its execution.

Your Mileage May Vary

  • Meaning: Results or experiences may differ from one person to another; often used to indicate that a given piece of advice or product might not work for everyone in the same way.
  • Example: This method worked well for me, but your mileage may vary, so be sure to tailor it to your own needs.