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A colleague of mine recently reached out to me. I asked if he would like to meet up sometime to which he notified me that he would be traveling the remainder of this week. In what context is it okay to use the expression safe travel or safe travels? Does it depend on the method of travel (seeing as for flying this could come off as ominous)?

Thank you for your quick reply.

Safe Travels,
John Doe

  • As a letter closing? @Hugh – sudobangbang Jul 16 '15 at 12:39
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    In this case "travels" is likely correct, and possibly more so than the singular version. The implication is that the person being addressed is (or will be) engaged is some sort of extended traveling (method does not matter) and hence more than one "travel". For the case of a simple trip, however, "Have a safe trip" would be more idiomatic. And note that using the plural of "travel" is somewhat archaic and mainly used in salutations and the like. (And normally "travels" should not be capitalized in a salutation like that.) – Hot Licks Jul 16 '15 at 12:39
  • I think what we're looking at here is a non-native speaker's non-idiomatic variant of [have a] safe journey, and I see little point in poring over it for syntactic "correctness". – FumbleFingers Jul 16 '15 at 12:49
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    I always avoid saying have a safe journey or safe travels. I tend to say things like enjoy your meanderings or some such inconsequential remark. Wishing safe travel merely adds to the disproportionate perception of danger that most people maintain. – WS2 Jul 16 '15 at 13:23
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    Anecdotally...I read this question yesterday, and today heard three separate people wish someone safe travels. All three were native speakers of (American) English, academics, and speaking to someone who would be travelling over the winter break. – 1006a Dec 22 '16 at 2:58
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"[I wish you] safe travel." uses the uncountable form of the noun. It refers to an amalgamation of all of the travels one might undertake in the specific time period.

"[I wish you] safe travels." uses the countable noun. We understand that a number of separate travels will occur, perhaps in a single trip with stopovers.

Notes:

  1. Although I have added 'I wish you', that doesn't mean I endorse the phrases that way - it's just to make the grammar clear.

  2. The expression "Safe Travels" as a valediction seems perfectly acceptable to me. It may not be what most native speakers would say but it is polite and meaningful.

EDIT

A better known phrase is "Travel safely!" This is a friendly imperative. You'll find lots of examples online. Try searching Google Images for example.

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Technically, you are to assume that he will be traveling at least twice. Once to his destination and once back. So I would stick with "safe travels" as you have done.

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Safe travels - is a polite way of wishing someone a safe journey, where ever they may be headed, as well as a good time. Bad traveling accommodation can be an attributing factor to someone having an awful trip or vacation... here's a poem from New Yorker entitled "Safe travels"

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Personally...I like safe travels; it encompasses all method of travel and covers all locations that may be traversed.

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