IELTS Speaking topic - Travelling #3 -
IELTS Speaking topic - travelling 3 sample questions with answers and useful vocabulary, available as PDF

IELTS Speaking topic – Travelling #3

This is a sample response for IELTS Speaking Part 2 and 3. In addition to the model answer there are highlighted words and phrases. Teal is for vocabulary relating to this topic, yellow is for generally useful words and phrases.

IELTS Speaking Part 2

Describe a trip that presented a challenge to you.
You should say:

  • where you were going to
  • what kind of challenge it was
  • how you dealt with it

and say if you believe there was a better way of dealing with it.

Model answer

Last year my family decided to drive to the Mediterranean for a brief seaside vacation. We had been planning the trip all winter, so we thought of every possible eventuality and went prepared. We loaded the car with our bags, a spare tyre, some tools in case the car broke down and set off.

Two hundred miles into the journey, our car developed a strange knocking noise that we couldn’t really figure out. We pulled over at the nearest service station to have it inspected by a mechanic. It turned out my father had forgotten to tighten nuts on one of the wheels! It was a miracle that the wheel didn’t come off. The mechanic took care of that, made sure that the rest of the car is in working order and wished us good luck.

Eventually we made it to our destination in one piece. Looking back at what happened I think we should have done due diligence and had a more thorough look at the car. Ironically, my father is a big fan of “safety first” approach given that this oversight on his part could have costed us our lives. At the end of the day we learned a valuable lesson, came unscathed and had a great trip.

IELTS Speaking Part 3

Travelling in different times

Was it easier or more difficult to travel in the past?

It is safe to say that moving around nowadays is way easier than it used to be. First of all, there were fewer transportation options available. One was pretty much limited to either walking  or horseback riding. It really depends on how far back in time we go though. Eventually railroad network connected most major cities and that is when travelling became much quicker, safer and more comfortable. When we talk about intercontinental transit, then boats were the only option for the most part of human history. Going from Europe to the Americas would take months.

With the invention of civic aviation even the longest flight only takes half a day at most. The only aspect that became more complicated is all the papers one has to have on them, such as passports, visas, and more recently – vaccination certificates. All in all people in the past had a much, much harder time going from A to B.

In your opinion, what invention changed the way we travel the most?

The invention and subsequent wide adoption of cars has pretty much revolutionised travelling. The biggest impact it made was in the way we commute – which is still travelling, but in a broader sense of the word. They say that 8 out of 10 commuters in the US choose to do so by car. While not the most efficient way to do so, it is preferred by most for its comfort, convenience and flexibility.

Cars have also enabled people to have short and long journeys alike whenever and wherever. Hop behind the wheel and in three hour’s time you find yourself in another city one hundred miles away. Personal vehicles made long-distance travelling a common thing as well. Despite statistics saying otherwise, many believe cars to be much safer than trains and airplanes. To sum up, it is difficult to imagine what the travelling industry would have looked like had the cars been not invented (or made available to general public).

How can we expect travelling to change in the future?

There are two realistic scenarios here, both hanging on whether we learn how to deal with the ever-increasing carbon footprint. If we manage to harness cleaner form of energy then we might see a new era of carbon-neutral personal transportation. New sources of renewable, clean energy might not be cheap at first so only the select few are likely to afford it, but eventually it is likely to become accessible to most. Resources previously used to offset environmental damage could then be funneled into upgrading infrastructure for the new types of vehicles, further improving experience of travelling.

The second, more likely scenario is that humanity remains dependent on fossil-based fuels. This will entail stricter regulations and penalties for using cars, making personal transportation financially unviable for the majority. This is likely to lead in shift towards public transportation for most, an alternative many are unlikely to be happy with. Long-haul flights might seize to be an option for many for the same reason – carbon fees.

Travelling for different reasons

How the purpose of the trip changes the way you prepare for it?

We’d have to define the main reasons why one chooses to travel first. I guess it can be business-related, a leisure trip or a trip with no particular purpose in mind, something like a self-discovery journey. Embarking on a business trip you have to do your research about the customs and traditions of the destination country. You will most likely have to deal with your local counterparts and it is important not to come off as disrespectful.

When you travel for fun, then all you have to do is take it easy. Pack a change of clothing or two, pick a fun book with you and make sure to have enough money for all the souvenirs. I guess having an emergency fund is always a good idea when on a trip, regardless of its purpose. You can never know what kind of situation you might end up in. Oh, and finally if you go somewhere with no particular aim in mind, then no additional preparation is needed. Just make sure you have all your papers in order and enjoy the experience, I guess.

Some people believe that travelling without a good reason is irresponsible because of carbon footprint. Do you agree? Why/why not?

I think these people are right, and justifiably so. It is no wonder that the vast majority of travellers use form of transportation that is not very eco-friendly. Let’s face it – nobody travels between cities or countries on a bike. Most choose cars or planes for their convenience. As a result, travelling for joy generates CO emissions that could have easily beeen avoided. However, I don’t believe people should be blamed for doing things they like. Human life is essentially a never-ending series of concessions and compromises. Maybe one day a travelling scientist gets inspired to create a more eco-friendly mode of transport and it will all be worth it? You just never know.

Travelling vocabulary

Set off (phr v) – to start a journey, to get on the way. We set off in the morning because we had a 14 hour drive ahead of us and we wanted to reach our destination before it got dark.
Two hundred miles into the journey – a construction like *number* + “into” is used to show how much of something was covered/done etc. Two hours into the meeting we came to the conclusion that sales managers will never accept our terms.
Pull over (phr v) – to move to the side of the road to make a stop. Jamie had to pull over because the road was too slippery.
To make somewhere in one piece – to arrive somewhere safely, without accidents.
Intercontinental transit – a way to go from one continent to another. Business people who have foreign partners overseas have to use various means of intercontinental transit.
Civic aviation – commercial and state aircrafts that are used to transport people (civilians) as opposed to military aviation.
Commute (v) – to go to and from work or place of study regularly. If you work from home you don’t have to commute – and that is one of the big advantages.
Carbon-neutral (adj) – producing no harmful gases. Carbon-neutral society is every environmentalist’s dream.
Renewable (adj) – (usually about a resource) something that is infinite, as opposed to finite, i.e. something that can run out. Some examples of renewable energy sources are wind, solar and tidal energies.
Fossil-based fuels – fuels such as petrol, diesel and others that are made of oil. Fossil fuels are likely to run out during our lifetimes and we will witness the drastic consequences of this fundamental change.
Long-haul flights – flights that take a lot of time, such as intercontinental ones. One way to overcome the sheer boredom of long-haul flights is to take some sleeping pills.
Self-discovery – process or activity of “finding yourself” – that is, understanding what you are and what you want to do with your life.
Embark (v) – very similar to ‘set off’. To start something, a journey or an activity. Sarah embarked on her quest of becoming a self-employed specialist.
Emergency fund – an amount of money you save and only use when something unexpected happens, i.e. you need to pay for an unplanned surgery.
CO emissions – emissions of carbon monoxide – a gas that is produced by humans and their actions and which contributes to global warming.

General vocabulary

Eventuality (n) – something that can possibly happen, usually in the negative meaning. It’s impossible to plan for every single eventuality.
Spare (adj) – additional. Have some spare change on you in case we have to tip somebody.
Nut (n) – (here) a part that is screwed onto bolt to hold something in place, in this case a wheel.
In working order – functioning properly, without malfunctions. To make sure that my laptop was in full working order I took it to a service shop to have in cleaned and inspected.
Do due diligence – to thoroughly research, investigate and analyze something or someone before making an important decision. When buying a flat it is worth doing due diligence about the building, area it is in and even your prospective neighbours.
Oversight (n) – a situation when some flaw or mistake goes unnoticed or when somebody fails to do what they should have done. Due to severe security oversight an armed man managed to get onboard of the plane.
Come unscathed – to come unharmed out of a dangerous situation
Subsequent (adj) – following, something that comes next. The subsequent questions only proved my suspicion that they had no idea what they were talking about.
Adoption (n) – (here) acceptance of something by people in general. Adoption of mobile internet changed the way we communicate forever.
Harness (v) – to gain control of something, to use something to your advantage. Harnessing the power of atom, humanity managed to gain access to clean and relatively safe source of energy.
Select (adj) – the best of something or somebody. These select individuals will be representing our school at the Math contest next month.
Offset (v) – to undo harm caused by something. In order to offset our losses this quarter we had to fire several people.
Funnel (v) – to focus something such as resources or effort on a particular thing. Since the beginning of fiscal year most of our funding has been funneled into clean energy projects.
Unviable (adj) – not able to succeed, survive or be useful. The strategy you have suggested is unviable because we simply don’t have the resources to spend the next 12 months without seeing any profits.
Counterpart (n) – (here) a person or a thing that has the same function, but in a different place, company or country.
Come off as – to create an impression of having a certain quality or trait of character. He might come off as intelligent, but in fact he is anything but that. He’s quite dull, between you and me.
Justifiably – acceptable or right because it is reasonable in the current situation. Justifiably, Jane shouted at her assistant because he was simply unable to perform even the basic of duties.
Concession – an act of giving something up in order to make a compromise possible.

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