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What Does Domestic Travel Mean? Definition + Examples

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What does domestic travel mean? You are about to find out in a variety of ways, including examples and types, to help you understand the difference between domestic and international trips.

Many people travel domestically to get from one place to another. The definition is any journey that doesn’t cross an international border or any trip within a country that does not include traveling outside its borders.

These are also what I would call ‘local’ trips. This type of travel can be done on foot, by car, boat, airplane, train, or bus. Renting a car for the weekend may be what you need to explore someplace new in your state or province while still staying close to your home base and all your familiar comforts.

If you’re worried about getting lost in the big world of adventure, this might be right for you. You’ll have plenty of time to get your bearings while visiting what some would call the “greater metro area.”

Domestic Travel Meaning & Definition

Inside view of Charles De Gaulle Airport terminal with passengers and airplanes, reflecting the lively Parisian atmosphere.
Kyle Kroeger / ViaTravelers

Domestic travel is a term used to describe traveling within one’s own country, excluding international destinations. It encompasses various travel experiences such as weekend getaways, family vacations, business trips, or exploring one’s native culture and heritage.

Engaging in domestic travel means journeying within the geographical boundaries of your home nation. This provides a close-to-home yet enriching experience, often characterized by comfort, convenience, and familiarity.

That said, while most people don’t classify this type of trip as “travel within their own country,” it’s still important to understand that some locales in America—specifically, Hawaii and Puerto Rico—are outside the borders of one or more other American territories.

There may also be a time when a person goes from abroad to Canada, uses a credit card for expenses, withdraws money from an ATM, or performs transactions at a Canadian bank.

Nevertheless, if they only cross the border but stay exclusively within Canada, then their trips within Canada will be considered domestic travel.

Domestic Travel Examples

As for what examples can be considered domestic travel, here are a few that come to mind:

  • A flight from Atlanta to Dallas, then into New York City, is considered domestic air travel because it’s the same country, the US
  • A flight from Los Angeles to Cancun after spending time in Florida is not a domestic flight because it’s outside the US
  • Train travel from New York City to Los Angeles is domestic travel because it’s inside the US
  • Bus travel from San Francisco to Seattle, WA, is domestic travel because it’s inside the US
  • Driving or walking across the border into Canada but not staying in Canada does not constitute domestic travel. It only becomes domestic once you’ve spent time there
  • Boating or sailing from Miami to the Virgin Islands is not domestic travel because it’s outside of US borders

I hope these examples help you differentiate between traveling between cities and international destinations.

What is a Domestic Flight?

First-class cabin interior on Delta Air Lines with blue leather seats and the airline's logo visible, reflecting the upscale ambiance on a domestic flight.
Kyle Kroeger / ViaTravelers

Air travel can also be domestic, so if you need to get from one U.S. state to another, the airline you choose may fly domestically rather than internationally. A domestic flight is air travel within the same country’s borders.

Domestic flights are usually cheaper than international air travel because international flights include “transit” fees, taxes that other countries charge for airports, and airspace usage while traveling through their respective airspace on an international flight route.

Not what many people would consider a ‘fee’ in what they expect at an airline ticket price. But it’s what the governments require anyway out of fairness since this is how they generate income.

See Related: How Much is a Trip to Italy

So, what’s the difference between domestic and international flights?

Efficient airport security checkpoint with streamlined queuing system and passengers waiting for screening.
No Security Line at Schiphol (Kyle Kroeger / ViaTravelers)

International travel is typically related to traveling outside the country or geographic region one lives in. For example, a traveler from the United States may travel internationally while traveling in another country. Domestic travel is what most people think of when they hear “travel.” Domestic travel is going between cities within a particular country or area of the world.

For instance, a domestic traveler might want to visit New York City and Washington D.C. in the United States. Sometimes, domestic travelers also seek out nearby destinations, which are places within driving distance from one’s starting location—for example, driving upstate New York to Niagara Falls on an overnight road trip with multiple stops.

Many prefer domestic and international travel because it’s faster and more convenient. They can choose which cities to visit without worrying about what visa they need or whether another country’s government will accept their passports.

However, for those who love seeing new places and cultures, traveling internationally is also important because it allows them to learn more about what’s beyond what they already know.

The biggie is that on a domestic flight, your bags don’t go through customs or immigration inspection since you’re still in the same country (or your home country) – they just get checked at the gate before you board like normal and then go to the baggage carousel with everyone else’s luggage when you land.

If you’re flying internationally, the baggage has to be checked through customs and immigration at a specialized facility within international airports, so what you can bring with you is limited because of what they have to weed out as far as what you’re allowed to bring into your destination country.

Domestic flights are typically shorter than international flights that cross multiple time zones or go to a different country, so they usually won’t serve in-flight meals.

See Related: Best Day to Book Flights

Cheaper than what exactly?

Holding and Counting Money

Domestic flights usually cost less than international flights. How much less depends on various factors, like the time of year and the airline you choose. But when you fly domestically, you can often save money on ticket prices.

See Related: Why Are Flights So Expensive Right Now?

Do I need a passport to fly domestically?

Holding a Passport

A US tourist traveling to an airport in the US does not require a passport or a visa. Nonetheless, your identity document will need confirmation before traveling. They can include identifying documents such as a driver’s license.

See Related: Things to Know When Flying with Cash

What is the meaning of domestic departures?

Domestic departures are locations in airports where domestic flights depart.

What is the meaning of domestic arrivals?

Domestic arrivals are for travelers arriving in the United States from a United States destination. This is significantly called out at airports since international travel requires different security and jurisdiction measures, such as immigration, customs, and passport control, which are separate from a domestic terminal at the airport.

While international travel typically conjures visions of far-off lands and exotic locales, domestic travel can be just as rewarding—and sometimes even more so.

See Related: Delta Airlines Review


What are examples of domestic tourism?

Domestic tourism refers to tourism that takes place within one’s own country. The term is not well-defined and may have different meanings depending on the context in which it is used.

In some cases, “domestic” can differentiate between locally or nationally-produced products and those imported. In contrast, others use it to distinguish what has been produced domestically from what was imported elsewhere for marketing purposes.

What Does Domestic Travel Mean?

The definition of domestic travel is simple: it’s traveling within the borders of your own country. Domestic travel can include flights, road trips, or train rides.

How early must I be at the airport for a domestic flight?

For domestic flights, you should arrive at the airport 1 hour before your departure date.

How early must I be at the airport for an international flight?

You should arrive at the airport 3 hours before your departure date for international air travel.

Is Puerto Rico considered domestic or international?

Puerto Rico is considered domestic air travel in the United States. Puerto Rico was a U.S. territory acquired from Spain in the Spanish-American War in 1898.

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  1. Melissa says:

    Didn’t they recently change domestic travel in the US to make you require a passport if you don’t have some special state issued ID? I can’t remember but I do remember hearing something about this. I have not traveled since 2011 and with everything that happened in 2020 and since, I am not keen on it either. I am just trying to get all the information I need as I will be traveling several states away to stay with family for a bit.

  2. Charles B. says:

    Thank you so much for explaining this. So basically domestic just means local to your own nation. I was so confused. I recently started working for a new company and this was mentioned as being one of the asks (traveling to a few other states) and it was listed as domestic travel. I did not want to ask and seem stupid when I only just started working there.