Wranglers rounding up horses in bend, Oregon.

Dude ranch in shoulder season: 8 weird travel terms

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TRVL News Dude ranch in shoulder season: 8 weird travel terms

As with nearly all professions, the guild of travel agents doesn’t hesitate to throw in a jargonistic jewel every once in a while that may strike some people as, well, rather odd.

Joan de Haart
Joan de Haart

So, do you know your bellhops from your flophouses? Your chits from your shoulder seasons? Here are 8 picks from our very own TRVL Agent Handbook for your delight and delectation. How many of them did you know already?

An inevitable, unpredictable, and unreasonably severe event caused by natural forces without any human interference, and over which a travel provider has no control and, hence, no legal responsibility. Think of events such as an earthquake, a flood, a hurricane, lightning or a snowstorm whose effects could not be prevented by the exercise of reasonable care and foresight.


A young man employed by a hotel to assist guests by carrying their luggage, taking messages, doing errands, etc. "Why is a bellhop called a bellhop?", you might ask. Well, because he ‘hops’ into action when the bell is rung! Note: you might not want to look this one up on Urban Dictionary...

Cattle class

A jocular name for the cheapest seats on the plane in which passengers have little space to move.


A piece of paper or a voucher that can be exchanged for food, drink, or other amenities. Where does chit come from? From an 18th-century Hindi word meaning letter or note. Close enough, we think.

Dude ranch

A type of ranch in the US where you can enjoy the Wild West experience and live like a cowboy by going horseback riding, fishing, hiking and all manner of other rugged, outdoorsy pursuits. The name ‘dude ranch’ has nothing to do with The Big Lebowski or people calling each other ‘dude.’ It goes back to the time of Theodore Roosevelt, who was Harvard-educated and fascinated by the American West. He came out to the frontier and operated a Dakota ranch. He was called a ‘dude’: a well-born Easterner not accustomed to the rough cowboy life of the West.


A very cheap hotel where people can stay when they have very little money. Origin? It is believed that the word derives from the idea of a place having a cheap bed that you could ‘flop’ yourself down onto.


A place that many people want to visit for a particular reason. It attracts people like a magnet. Origin? Well, Mecca is a mecca, right?

Shoulder season

A travel season between peak and off-peak seasons, especially spring and fall, when fares tend to be relatively low. Where does the term come from? Not a clue – you tell us. And while you're at it, how can you drift from the highway onto the shoulder?

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