Conversation Lesson: Travel

ESL conversation lesson on traveling: fresh ideas

The Travel Lesson

This lesson focuses mostly on speaking but I have included some vocabulary exercises and a potential reading too. The idea of this lesson is to get students talking a bit more deeply about travel rather than just the generic holiday stories. A lesson that compliments this one nicely is the advice lesson:cultural norms. If you need more lesson ideas on a variety of contemporary topics that are not always found in coursebooks check the full collection here.

lesson time: 30-60min

Warm-up – Speaking

Not all classrooms have four walls

Put that on the whiteboard without an introduction, and ask students to briefly discuss what it means to them.  Get feedback asking students to explain their train of thought.  Establish that the lessons is about travel and then ask students to discuss briefly this: “Travel is the greatest form of education”.

That kick start should give you the momentum you and the students in particular need to progress through this lesson.  We need to keep a topic like this fresh because it’s covered quite often and so students have already discussed it many times and will get bored if they are talking about the same stuff over and over again.  In this lesson idea I’ll try to offer some fresh ideas that hopefully can help freshen things up on the travel front.

Start by posing these questions:

  • How often do you travel by air, rail, road, and sea?
  • What do you enjoy about traveling? What don’t you enjoy?
  • Put the following in order of importance to you when you travel.

Comfort               Safety                   Price                      Reliability                           Speed

  • Does the order change for different types of travel?


Monitor students and make sure they discuss what aspects of travel are not so enjoyable like maybe the actual part of traveling to the destination, or packing for a trip etc.  Ask students to justify their reason for a particular order of importance they prefer when traveling. Here’s one of my favourite lessons on justifying opinions. For the first question you can dig deeper by asking students to discuss how are the condition of the roads and rail service in their country and if it has improved.

Moving on….

Ask students in your ESL class to brainstorm as many different types of travel they can think of and make a list.  Get their list from a representative of each group.  The list should be quite long.  Surprisingly, in my experience, High School students have a difficulty coming up with many different kinds of trips. Help them along by eliciting any from this list I’ve compiled: all-inclusive vacation, cruise, sailing trip, camping, trekking/hiking/climbing, city sightseeing, adventure holidays, road trip, hitchhiking, couch surfing, house swap, skiing holiday, organized camping, beach holiday, bike trip, agro tourism, backpacking, Disney land, camp.  Boom, as you can see tons of ideas, maybe you got more? Please comment below with your ideas….

Ask students to discuss preferences.  Afterwards:

Post this on the projector or whiteboard:

To keep possessions to a minimum

To be more polite with strangers

To rise to a challenge

To have a more relaxed lifestyle

To save money

To plan carefully

To be more aware of the natural world

To be prepared to change an arrangement

Then ask students these questions:

  • In what circumstances could people learn these things when traveling?
  • Which are the most important lessons, in your view?


I realize there is only speaking here, hence the heading “conversation lesson”. However here is some vocabulary you incorporate in the lesson as you see fit:


  1. Not enough leg_________
  2. Lost or delayed_________
  3. Long___________ at check-in
  4. Poor quality__________ and drink
  5. No baggage____________ available
  6. Overbooking of___________
  7. Flight delays and ____________
  8. ___________ -lag

Match the words which have the same meaning, which is American and which is British:

Subway                                Motorway

City centre                           life

Carry-on baggage           public toilet

One way                              schedule

Return                                  economy class

Freeway                               single

Rest room                           parking lot

Elevator                               underground

Coach class                         hand luggage

Timetable                            round trip

Car park                               downtown


Additional words: be blown away by, on the spur of the moment, reserve (n), savor, select (adj), and substitute (n), tag along, run the risk of, tricky situation, to take off work, to soak up the atmosphere, to get away

You can incorporate these words into the lesson as you see fit, pre-teach some of these and get students to use them etc.



Finally, an old edition of Advanced CAE expert has a nice reading that I have included here, that you can use.  Though it is advanced you could just take one of the 4 short texts instead of all of them and ask general comprehension questions instead of very specific ones.  Emphasize general understanding if your students’ English level is a bit lower.  If they are Upper-intermediate or higher you can do this as a jig-saw reading and have students tell their partners what their text is about. Cover unknown vocabulary as you see fit.


There’s a great travel text that I have posted on the reading section of the website that is also worth a read and maybe even worth incorporating into a lesson as well. Scroll down and click on the “Seek your adventure, travel the world” article on the right-hand column.

That’s it.  Hope it helps.  Welcoming comments on this lesson idea if you have any additional ideas that can freshen up this enjoyable topic with some variety. Bon voyage for now peeps. Stay tuned….

Was this lesson idea useful? You can find more by checking out the whole collection here? Need more tips? Check out the YouTube channel with over 200 episodes on teaching and learning English.



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