Improve your IELTS Vocabulary – Topic: Transportation

Improve your IELTS Vocabulary - Topic_ Transportation
Improve your IELTS Vocabulary - Topic_ Transportation

Welcome to our second post on expanding your IELTS vocabulary! In the first post of this series, we talked about the benefits of learning new words and phrases through common IELTS themes and explored vocabulary related to education. Today, we’ll be looking at expanding your vocabulary on the topic of transportation.

Vocabulary sets related to transportation

Talking about transportation is a frequent occurrence in everyday life, and the IELTS Speaking test is no exception. The theme of transportation is likely to arise in any of the three parts of the Speaking test. You may be asked to discuss your experience with public transport and daily travel, talk about a specific type of transport (e.g. boats), describe a journey you’ve made, or speculate about transportation in the future. In addition, transportation is also a common theme for Writing Task 2. Here you’re likely to be asked to analyze a specific problem related to transportation and, in some cases, identify possible solutions. So let’s take a look at five relevant sub-topics that we recommend you use to get your vocabulary sets started:

  1. Means of transportation
word/phrase part of speech meaning common collocations example pronunciation
tram noun an electric vehicle similar to a bus but goes along metal tracks on the road catch/go on/take the tram, get on/off the tram, miss the tram, tram service/system, tram stop, (travel) by tram In my opinion, the tram system is not as efficient as other means of public transport. /træm /
coach* noun a bus used to take groups of people on long journeys


private/air-conditioned/luxury coach, go/travel by coach, coach journey/trip/tour I’d like to tour the country by coach. /koʊtʃ/
yacht noun a boat used for travelling around for pleasure or racing luxury/private yacht, cruise on/sail a yacht, yacht club/marina, on/on board a yacht We spent our holiday on a private yacht in the Caribbean. / jɑt/
  • In the topic of transportation, coach can also be used to talk about the cheapest type of seats on a plane or train.


  1. Roads & traffic
word/phrase part of speech meaning common collocations example pronunciation
overpass noun a bridge that carries one road over another road freeway/highway overpass Traffic in the area significantly improved thanks to the new overpass. /ˈoʊ·vərˌpæs /
service road noun a small road next to a busier, faster road, that you use to drive to homes and shops on a/the service road In my city, truck traffic is not allowed on service roads. / ˈsɝː.vɪs ˌroʊd/
traffic jam noun a large number of vehicles on a road moving very slowly or not at all long/severe traffic jam, be/get caught/stuck in a traffic jam, traffic jam on the (road) I was stuck in a traffic jam on my way here. / ˈtræf·ɪk ˌdʒæm/


  1. Transportation & the environment
word/phrase part of speech meaning common collocations example pronunciation
emissions noun the amount of gas, heat, light that is sent out vehicle emissions, greenhouse gas/carbon dioxide emissions, cut/reduce/control emissions, emissions from (traffic) In my opinion, governments are not doing enough to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from traffic. /iˈmɪʃ.ən/
noise pollution noun noise, such as that from traffic, that is considered unhealthy for people to tackle/ease/reduce noise pollution, noise pollution from (type of transport) Noise pollution from trains passing through residential areas is a major concern in my country. / ˈnɔɪz pəˌluː.ʃən/
environmentally-friendly adjective not harmful to the environment environmentally- friendly vehicles/ transportation/ fuel/ alternative Electric cars are a more environmentally-friendly alternative. /ɪn.vaɪr.ənˌmen.t̬əl.i ˈ


  1. Travel
word/phrase part of speech meaning common collocations example pronunciation
abroad adjective in a foreign country travel/go abroad, to be abroad, to move abroad It’s much easier to travel abroad now than in the past. / əˈbrɔd/
business trip noun a journey taken for business purposes take/make a business trip, on a business trip I went to New York on a business trip. /ˈbɪz·nəs trɪp/
commute verb

(or noun)

to travel regularly between work and home daily/every day commute, to commute from/to (place) I commute to the city by bus every day. / kəˈmjut/


  1. The future of transportation
word/phrase part of speech meaning common collocations example pronunciation
space travel noun travel through outer space human/commercial space travel, the future of space travel, achieve space travel, to space travel There’s a lot of interest in space travel these days. / spās ˈtravəl/
autonomous vehicle (also known as driverless caror self-driving car) noun a car capable of driving itself be driven by an autonomous vehicle I don’t believe autonomous vehicles can keep us safe. /ɑːˈtɑː.nə.məsˈvi·ɪ·kəl/
high-speed rail noun a high-speed passenger train by high-speed rail, high-speed rail network/route/service, high-speed rail accident/crash/disaster In the future, high-speed rail networks will take over traditional rail systems. /ˈhɑɪˈspid reɪl/


Idioms related to transportation

When learning idioms related to transportation for your IELTS, keep in mind that many idioms in English include words related to transportation, but are not necessarily used to talk about transport (for example, the idiom to throw someone under the bus means to put the blame on another person). Here we’ll look at some idioms that you can use to talk about transportation on your IELTS test:

idiom meaning example
bumper to bumper with very little space between two cars in a line of cars The traffic’s usually bumper to bumper all the way to work.
backseat driver a passenger in a car who gives unwanted advice to the driver My wife’s very much a backseat driver – she always tells me to speed up or slow down.
hit the road to begin a trip I like to hit the road early when going on long journeys.
hitch a lift/ride to get a free ride in someone else’s vehicle After the festival, we hitched a lift back to the city.
beat the traffic to leave early to avoid traveling when the roads are crowded I always try to leave early in the morning so I can beat the traffic on my way to school.


Don’t forget to keep your vocabulary notebook nearby when preparing for the test in order to keep extending your vocabulary sets. If you think of other possible sub-topics that you can explore during your preparation time (e.g. at the airport), write them down and make sure to include the useful details shown above for each new vocabulary item.

Stay tuned for our next IELTS vocabulary theme – the environment!

By Andrea Castro – IELTS Canada 

Written By

Misbah Kagad is a Content Marketing Specialist, currently working as IELTS Trainer at Experience Expert with a demonstrated history of working in the education management industry. Skilled in Copywriting, Web Content writing, Management, IELTS and Research. Strong professional with a Diploma focused in Computer Science... Currently helping aspirants to crack IELTS, with tips and tricks to score a bandwidth of 8 and more. Handles the ideation and creation of compelling content including content for IELTS website, writing e-books and solving previous IELTS question papers…

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