Travelling vs Traveling: Which Is Correct?

We enjoy travel. We see places we have never been to, meet new people, see different cultures, see famous world historic sites and they help create memories. It creates joy and happiness from these memories.

While everything to do with travel is great, the spelling can make you annoyed and irritated. Travel is spelled the same universally but the confusion comes from “traveling and travelling”, “traveled and travelled” and “traveler and traveller”. These words create a lot of confusion for many people.

Traveling or Travelling: Which Spelling Is Correct?

Both are correct. The word “traveling” is mostly used in the USA and “travelling” is used in the UK and its commonwealth countries such as Australia. Many other words are different such as “color and colour”, “flavor and flavor” among many others.

The difference between the UK and USA English for this particular word is that for US English, whenever a word ends with a vowel and a consonant in that order the consonant is doubled only if stress in pronunciation falls on the final syllable. For instance, in the word “travel,” stress is on the first syllable there is no doubling of the letter l. Many other words share this fate.

You now know the spelling to use when writing an email, article or a college paper for someone or institution in the US you should use the shorter spelling traveling. If you are in the US and writing to someone in the commonwealth such as Australia you could choose to use the longer version which is what they use and prefer. Mixing the words may make you be called out for misspelling.

Where Did the Differences Between Traveling and Travelling Originate?

The reason behind the different spellings is because British English absorbed the spelling of words from other languages like German, and French. While American English is usually based on how the word is pronounced or spoken. Back in the 18th century, English spelling was inconsistent. American English followed Webster’s An American Dictionary of the English Language (“ADEL”, “Webster’s Dictionary”, 1828), while British English followed Johnson’s “A Dictionary of the English Language” (1755). This is the reason why the English Language today is spelled in several different ways.

The word “Travel” may have originated from an old French word “Travali” which at the time was synonymous to work, labor, and torture. The word also originated from Middle English “Travailen” and “Travelen” which meant torment, journey, labor, and strive. The reason behind this may have been due to the difficulty of going out to travel during the 14th century when technology wasn’t as developed, and when their life conditions were harder. It was a whole lot more difficult for people back then to get from one place to another. That’s why they aligned the word “Travel” with words related to torment.

The word “Travel” slowly transitioned into a different meaning during the 19th century when a network of railways were installed which made it easier to travel long distances, and during the 20th century when airplanes and airships took over. This made the whole concept of travel a lot more fun, and people began to see this as a leisure activity, rather than a challenging task. Because of that, “Travel” is no longer synonymous to labor or torture, given the fact that our generation today has more advanced and easier ways to travel compared back then. The word today has transitioned into a different meaning that we relate to leisure or pleasure due to the more convenient and comfortable options we have to travel.

Examples of Traveling vs Travelling

At that time, I was traveling to Texas, USA when I met my colleague at the waiting lounge at Heathrow Airport.

He traveled all the way to the Mexican border by road, slept in a local motel before embarking on the journey by train to the capital.

The UK soccer team will be travelling by road to the training ground because the scheduled flight has been delayed.

She travelled to the South of London last evening to visit her ailing sister. She will be back in Liverpool on Monday.

In Conclusion

Both American and British English are correct, however it should be used depending on where you are, or where your audience is from, and what type of English is being used, to avoid confusions or miscommunications. Language can be really confusing and complicated at times, but that is what makes it pretty interesting, it can be used in all these different and unique ways. It constantly changes, and varies from generation to generation. In 20 years, the word “Traveling” or “Travelling” may even mean something else by then, or even be spelled in a different way. We can never tell. It is a never ending process of evolution of words we all have to be willing to adapt to.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here