the detour is the story



The absurd: it peppers every trip. We thought this deserved more attention. Subtle bloopers, catty thoughts, the annoyances and thrills of transit at home and abroad. This mini-dictionary is the most collaborative column in Off Assignment, the fruit of years of conversations amongst like-minded travel writers.

AISLE-WADDLE: Walking with a wide, staggering, drunk-looking gait down the aisle of a moving vehicle.

BOREDEAUX: Yawning at the prospect of France, for no other reason than it excites everyone else. See also: Eiffelavoidance.

BOWELIPHILE: He who talks endlessly about the effect of third world travel on his bathroom use.

CAROUSELOUSY: The swell of envy one feels when fellow passengers lunges into action to fetch their bags.

CIAOBELLATERY: The enjoyment of catcalls in a foreign context that would royally piss you off back home.

CHECKMATE: The travel mate who proves clutch when it comes time to pee, saving you from wheeling your giant suitcase into a narrow bathroom stall.

CINNABONOTONY: Ordering precisely the same greasy food or in-flight beverage every single time you travel.

CLANTEXTINE: The sneaky traveler who uses her phone one last time, at the risk of stewardess reprimand.

DOCUFRISK: Touching yourself repeatedly and somewhat freakishly to be sure both passport and wallet are still on your body.

ECONOMY LAP DANCE: The elaborate hip maneuvers made while climbing over a fellow passenger who is sound asleep and blocking the bathroom.

FAKEOFF: On-time boarding only to face runway purgatory.

GLUTTINERARY: A schedule that gives up on monuments and museums to focus on just two things: feasts, and slow walks between them.

GRAZIETUITY: Knowing only the word for “thank you” in a foreign language and chirping it 4,000 times a day. See also: mercicessive, bonjourbastic. 

GEYSERGLOOM: The letdown one feels at a famous natural wonder when nothing wonderful naturally happens.

THE HAIL MARY SIP: The choice to ingest or drink a local delicacy knowing there is a 50-50 chance you are about to give yourself diarrhea.

HULK SHOCK: The surprise one registers upon reentering the United States of America and noticing that its citizenry is gigantic.

The Hot Seat. The empty plane seat adjacent to yours that you long for the beautiful person coming down the aisle to fill.

THE INDIA GIVEN: The three to five days you tack onto a trip to the subcontinent, trusting you’ll spend at least that much time bedridden in Bombay, Tums-popping in Agra, or preparing to die in Varanasi.

I.P.ANGRY: Acrimony felt by craft beer enthusiasts when traveling abroad due to a lacking international craft beer market.

JET LIFT: When crossing time zones weirdly works in your favor, enabling you to hoot with the owls, or finish your e-book.

“KEVIN!”: The sudden in-flight realization that you left something totally crucial at home.

KIMONOLUSION: Believing you will actually wear a banana leaf hat, sequined kurta, or pink guayabera that goes straight into your Halloween trunk.

KNIFENESIA: Forgetting you packed something in your carry-on bag that closely resembles a weapon.

LANDASY: Wishfully reading the signs of the limo guys at the airport in the hopes that someone has come to greet you, in a place you know no one.

LAZEOVER: The layover just long enough to chill out, take a nap, and miss your connecting flight.

LAGERDRATION: The practical choice made in a sweltering place where bottled water costs as much as beer.

LOCABENDER: Binging on so many of the delicacies you can eat nowhere else that you never want to eat pork baoza or flor de calavasa ever again.

McDOWNFALL: The low moment that follows weeks of daring eating, when the traveler seeks out the greasiest possible American food. See                                                                         also: Pizzalapse.

MAXIMINIMALIST: The noble traveler who packs so little clothing he must scrub his underwear every night with hotel soap.

MONOPOLIZING: Choosing to lose track of the currency conversion rate so you can throw around foreign bills like funny money. 

MIDDLEDEAD: The sinking feelings that come with the worst possible seat assignment.

NAANSEOUS: Queasy feeling caused by eating far too much Indian food. See also: Currie Colic.

THE NAGGING SHADOW OF GIZA: Deciding not to go see the thing everyone sees, only to think about it for your entire trip.

NAPALEPSY: A fit of naps in which the head is not supported and so bobs continually in a rest-thwarting and hard-to-watch way.

OBLIGAMENIOTY: Pools, hot tubs, saunas and gyms you wear yourself out trying to take full advantage of on vacation. See also: Fraught bath. 

OLIVER MOMENT: When an air traveler realizes he can get more biscotti, a second tea, peanuts by the fistful, simply by asking the stewardess for more, please.

PIEDPIPERING: Looking so alien that children come running.

THE PILLAGE INN: The hotel room you leave in total and shameful disarray, having no idea how that happened.

QUESTIONS OF CLASS: The wondering you do while passing business class passenger who look neither businessy or remotely high class. 

QUEUESASPERATED: When you cannot take, will not bear, actually tear-up at the sight of another line.

RECLIDIOT: The guy who suddenly leans all the way back on an airplane and clobbers your knees.

ROM-COM-A-THON: Filling the hours between Boston and Beijing with more Anne Hathaway films than you ever hoped to see.

SEUSS PRODUCE: Insane-looking fruits and Wonka-esque vegetables you will never describe, translate, or taste again.

UBIQUITHING: The unappealing trinket, service, or tour every tout calls out, twice, whenever you come into view. See also: Balloon-balloon, Cigar-cigar, Fuckie-fuckie.

UN-TAJ-ABLE: A site, natural wonder, or work of art that—no matter the crowds, hawkers, or tchotchke around it—cannot be diminished in awesomeness.

VISAVANITY: Opening your passport in an idle travel moment to gaze at your prettiest stamps.

WALK OF SHAME: Skulking into a Starbucks on the other side of the world.

WATTCRINGE: Reaching for the overhead light on a dark plane, knowing everyone’s about to resent you.

Have your own travel-isms to add? Share them with us: editors@offassignment.com

"WELL, FOLKS...": The preface to all bad plane news.

WESTERNOUNCEMENT: The drawling, mid-flight update that leaves you no choice but to imagine John Wayne in the cockpit.  

ZOOGASBOARD: Eating so far off the beaten track you draw spectators.