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Phrasal verbs in action: travel

TRAVEL is a key topic in the IELTS speaking test - you could be asked where you went on your last trip in Part 1 or you might have to describe your ideal holiday in Part 2.

In Part 3 you might be asked to express an opinion on the advantages and disadvantages of tourism or to describe the personal benefits of travelling.

So, it’s a good idea to revise some topic-based phrasal verbs that you could use to answer those types of questions.

Here are 5 very useful ones to get you started!


There are many reasons you might TAKE OFF for another place. Maybe you are fed up with the cold winter weather in your country so you decide to TAKE OFF for somewhere hot, or maybe your country has a very hot and humid summer season and you wish to take off for somewhere with a cooler climate:

EXAMPLE: “My brother took off for 2 weeks on a Greek island without telling anyone where he was going.”

Q.1 Have you ever taken off somewhere at short notice, possibly without telling anyone? Where did you go?


It’s common to STOP OVER in a city for one night instead of taking a connecting flight the same day. Another reason is so you can spend some time visiting a new place instead of just passing through it or over it. You can even STOP OVER at a friend’s house for the night if it’s late and you don’t want to drive or walk home.

EXAMPLE: “When I flew to Australia I had to stop over for a night in Singapore.”

Q.2 Have you ever STOPPED OVER in a city between a late night flight and an early morning one?


Different people have different reasons for going on holiday. Some want to learn about the local culture, to experience a different place and some just want to get a suntan. All of them can say they want to SOAK UP something.

For instance, a traveller in France enjoying a coffee and croissant in a Parisian cafe looking out at the Eiffel Tower while listening to French music on the radio is definitely SOAKING UP the local culture.

Q.3 Where would you go to SOAK UP the culture? Or how about a hot place to SOAK UP the sun?


One thing many people do when they go travelling is to buy souvenirs and gifts for friends and family back home. In touristy cities, there are often many shops and stalls selling souvenirs and at different prices.

It’s a good idea to SHOP AROUND to find the shop with the best souvenirs at the lowest prices. This is possible in big cities but in a small town or tourist site with only one shop, it isn’t.

Q.4 Do you normally buy souvenirs when you travel? Do you prefer to SHOP AROUND for the lowest price or do you buy the first thing you see?


Travelling is interesting because it is always full of surprises. You never know what you will find or who you will meet. You could COME ACROSS a great museum, a beautiful landmark or even a souvenir for a friend.

EXAMPLE: While strolling through the backstreets of Naples we came across some fantastic underground Roman ruins.

Q.5 What was the best thing you CAME ACROSS on your last holiday?

Over to you now!!

Answer our 5 questions using the phrasal verbs - enter your replies in the comments box (include your name and email address) and win a FREE iPass vocabulary course!!

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