60 Spanish Transportation Vocabulary Terms to Send You Full Throttle Towards Fluency
A few decades ago it would take you around five days to travel from Spain to Russia.
From London to South America? A month and a half!
Fast-forward to the present and you are able to cross Europe in three hours or travel to the USA from Japan in a little over half a day!
To me, that is pure magic.
Transportation has made our world a smaller place.
Plane tickets are getting cheaper by the minute, and if you have a car there is no place you cannot go.
We visit our friends all the way across the Atlantic because… why not?
We study languages abroad instead of at home, absorbing not only the grammar, but also the culture of the country that has temporarily adopted us.
The globalization of transportation is the reason more and more people are learning a second or a third language, and why more and more people are becoming fluent in Spanish.
This means that no matter which Spanish-speaking country you travel to, transportation is unavoidable. And so is talking about it!
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Why Learn Transportation Vocabulary?
So here we are. Your journey into the Spanish language has probably put a lot of obstacles on your way to fluency, be it because of the grammar, the vocabulary, the pronunciation or any other “surprise,” but you are not giving up.
You are probably getting ready to spend your holidays in Peru, or maybe you are visiting your best friend in Barcelona! Some of you may just be trying to learn some new words for your exam next month.
Whatever the reason that has brought you here, you have come to the right place! In this post, you are going to learn a whole lot of words related to transportation.
A Crash-Course in Transportation Vocabulary
I have divided this post into four main sections: means of transportation, public transportation, at the airport and useful expressions.
You might feel that some of the words could be in two or more categories, but I have tried to include each of them in the category where they fit best.
And why have I chosen these four categories?
The first one is pretty obvious. Means of transportation allow us to travel. They are the basics of any transportation vocabulary lesson. These words are used every day, everywhere. From cars to planes, and from subways to helicopters, here is where you will find the name of the main means of transportation in the world.
The second section includes vocabulary related to public transportation. Why? Because this is by far the most common way to get around when we go abroad. Not everyone has enough money to call a cab every time they need to go somewhere. Thanks to this section, you will be able to travel cheaply while being environmentally friendly. Way to go!
Airports have already stopped being that magical place we used to hear about but had never been to. Airfares are low and planes are the fastest and safest way to get from point A to point B and back to point A… even in the same day!
I am sure you will need some airport vocabulary when traveling to a Spanish-speaking country, so hopefully this third section will also be useful.
Last but not least, we have useful expressions. Of course we do! Learning words is necessary, but we cannot just utter individual words and expect another person to understand us! Thanks to the expressions included in this section, you will be able to get the information you need and communicate without issue while enjoying your time.
Now, fasten your seat belts and get ready for takeoff. Enjoy your trip!
Get Going! Spanish Transportation Vocabulary for People in a Hurry
Means of Transportation
Thanks to this first section, you will be able to learn how to name the different means of transportation in Spanish. Enjoy your ride!
Avión means “plane.” We also have the word aeroplano, which is very similar to the English term “airplane.” However, avión is much more commonly used than aeroplano.
This is easy. Tren means “train”! But do you know how to say “railroad” in Spanish? Ferrocarril! From ferrum (iron) and carril (track, rail).
3. auto / coche / carro
These three words all mean “car.” However, they come from different languages and are used to mean different things.
Auto, short for automóvil (automobile), comes from Greek, auto- (self), and Latin, mobilis (movable).
Coche comes from Hungarian, kocsi, which was a four-wheeled wagon.
Carro is derived from Latin carrus, which was a two-wheeled, horse-drawn chariot. Carro can also mean “wagon.”
When it comes to their use, coche is the word you would use in Spain to mean “car.” Auto is understood but very seldom used, and carro is used to mean “cart” or “carriage.”
In Latin America, my sources tell me that all of these terms are used and easily understood, however carro is the most common option, and coche tends to mean “stroller.”
4. autobús / autocar
Both these words mean “bus.” It is very interesting to see how the English word “car” has been absorbed by the Spanish language to form the word autocar, although the word autobús, or even its shorter form bus, is the most commonly used in Spain.
However, “bus” is one of those words that can be said in many different ways depending on the country you are traveling to. It would take a lot of space to include all of them here, so if you want to check how to say this word when visiting a specific country, have a look at this list of slang for bus in different countries.
This word is basically universal and does not need any explanation. Un taxi is “a taxi.”
When in Spain, look for taxis with a green light. That means they are libres (free, available). If the light is red, they are ocupados (busy, taken).
6. camión / camioneta
I have included both words here because they are quite similar in meaning. Both camión and camioneta mean “truck,” but while a camión is a standard truck or big rig, a camioneta is normally a pick-up truck or a light truck.
7. motocicleta / moto
Both moto and motocicleta mean the same, motorbike. Moto is just an abbreviation, and much more common than the longer motocicleta.
8. bicicleta / bici
The same happens with the words bicicleta and bici, both of which mean, of course, bicycle. Bici is the abbreviation of bicicleta. The younger you are, the more often you use the shorter form, though!
9. barco / bote
Both words mean the same in general (boat), but a barco is bigger than a bote.
Well… easy: helicopter. And how do you say “heliport?” Helipuerto! (Yes, a port is a puerto).
Ambulance. Or ecnalubmA hahaha…
12. barco de vela
A barco de vela is a sailboat.
As a means of transport, cohete means “rocket.” It can also mean “fireworks” in its plural form.
14. transbordador (espacial)
I am almost sure you will not be taking the space shuttle every day, but just in case, now you know what to call it in Spanish.
It may be a little embarrassing, but I knew the English translation of this word, hovercraft, before I learned what it is called in Spanish.
A metro is a subway.
Tranvía means “streetcar,” which is a word I inexplicably love!
It is time to learn a few words regarding public transportation. They will help you find your way around the city!
A billete is a ticket. Other ways of saying billete, especially in Latin America, are pasaje, tiquete or boleto.
19. oficina de información
This means “information office.” It can also be called Oficina de atención al viajero, which could be translated as “Travel information center.”
20. salida / llegada
A salida is a departure, while a llegada is an arrival. They derive from the infinitives salir (leave, set off) and llegar (arrive), respectively.
Schedule. Always remember to check it when traveling!
The word andén can have different meanings, but when it comes to transportation, it means track or platform:
El tren sale del andén 5. (The train leaves from track 5.)
A parada is a stop. You will mainly see this word related to buses, trains, subways and streetcars.
A vía is a train track or rail.
Quite a universal word. Remember that we say el mapa in Spanish, not la mapa!
Trip. Its infinitive is viajar (to travel).
Pasajero means passenger. Any passenger.
Here we have a false friend! Conductor means “driver” in Spanish. The English word “conductor” is translated as “director de orquesta,” that is, an orchestra conductor.
Equipaje means baggage. Do you know how we say “hand baggage?” The answer is easy: equipaje de mano.
Out of the different meanings this word has, the one that matters here is “class” or “category.” When you buy your tickets, remember to mention if you want primera clase (first class), segunda clase (second class), clase turista (economy class) or clase ejecutiva/preferente (business class).
Route. You will normally see it in buses and streetcars.
Carriage, coach (referring to trains). Here you have another false friend, because the English word “wagon” is translated as carro, as we saw before.
33. ventanilla / pasillo
Ventanilla literally means “small window,” and it refers to a window seat. Pasillo means “corridor, aisle,” and it refers to an aisle seat.
34. coger / tomar el autobús
This expression means “to catch the bus.” Run, so you do not miss it!
Watch out, because the verb coger can have a very vulgar meaning in South America!
35. subir / bajar
These two verbs have many different meanings, and they can be used when referring to almost every means of transport. While subir means “get on, get in, get aboard,” bajar means the opposite: “get off, get out of, disembark.”
36. conducir / manejar
These two words mean “to drive.” Conducir is used in Spain, while manejar is used in Latin America.
37. estación de ferrocarril
Quite a difficult way of saying railroad station. Sorry, guys!
38. estación de metro
This one is easier to remember. It means “subway station.”
A taquilla is the place where you buy your billetes, so it can be translated as “ticket window” or “ticket office”. The word ventanilla, which as mentioned before means little window and refers to a window seat, can also be used in this context, similar to the English “ticket window.”
At the Airport
Traveling does not necessarily mean you have to use the plane, but if you are planning to visit a Spanish-speaking country, it is more than likely that you will be traveling by air.
Here you have some words that will come in handy when in an airport:
This one is obvious, but necessary. How else can you tell your taxi driver “Please, take me to the airport?” By saying: “Por favor, lléveme al aeropuerto”!
You probably recognize this word and you know it means “door.” When talking about airports, puerta means gate!
This one should be easy, since it is also “terminal” in English.
43. recogida de equipaje
One of my least favorite things to do in an airport by far. It means “baggage claim” and I dislike the waiting so, so much…
44. embarque / embarcar
Embarque is a noun meaning “boarding.” As you may have guessed, the infinitive embarcar means “to board.”
45. tarjeta de embarque
You would not be able to board a plane without your tarjeta de embarque, or boarding pass.
46. sala de embarque
And where do you head to when you have to board? Exactly: to the sala de embarque, or boarding lounge.
47. despegar / aterrizar
I am afraid of flying, but I love these two words. Despegar means “to take off,” while aterrizar means “to land.” You may recognize the word tierra (land) in the verb aterrizar.
48. billete de avión
This is a plane ticket, something you see less and less these days. Now we only have boarding passes, or just check in using our phones. I miss them sometimes. It was so elegant to have a plane ticket!
Another one for the easy list. This means pilot!
50. auxiliar de vuelo
We used to have azafatas (stewardesses). Now we are politically correct, so we have flight attendants.
This is possibly the most dreaded word for all of us, no matter which means of transport we are using. It means delay.
I am sure if you use a little bit of logic you will easily conclude this word means airline.
So… learning words is fun, and sometimes even easy! But you would not travel too far by using just single words.
Learn the following expressions and you will be able to get the info you need whenever you need it:
53. ¿A qué hora sale/llega…?
What time does… depart/arrive?
Use this with trains, buses, subways and streetcars:
¿A qué hora llega el siguiente autobús? (What time does the next bus arrive?)
54. ¿A qué hora aterriza/despega…?
What time does… take off/land?
Use this when referring to planes:
¿A qué hora aterriza tu avión? (What time does your plane land?)
55. ¿Cuánto tiempo dura el viaje?
How long does the journey take?
56. ¿Cuál es la próxima parada?
What is the next stop?
57. ¿Con qué autobús/tren/metro puedo llegar a…?
Which bus/train/subway line can I take/catch in order to arrive to…?
58. ¿Es este el autobús/tren/metro que llega a…?
Can I arrive to… with this bus/train/subway?
59. ¿Cuánto cuesta el billete?
How much is the ticket?
60. ¿Dónde puedo comprar un billete?
Where can I buy a ticket?
There you go: 60 useful words and expressions you can use when traveling to a Spanish-speaking country, planning your holidays, talking to your Spanish friends about your last trip, etc. I am sure these words will be more than enough to help you solve any problem or doubt you can have when dealing with transport in Spanish.
Consider this a starting point and add as many words as you want to this list until you feel you have everything you need for your next trip. But before doing that, make sure you memorize these 60 terms and know how, when and where to use them.
I hope you have enjoyed reading this post as much as I have enjoyed writing it.
And as always, happy learning!
Download: This blog post is available as a convenient and portable PDF that you can take anywhere. Click here to get a copy. (Download)