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These words have many overlapping definitions, making it difficult to understand proper contextual usage.

Example definitions: trip, voyage, journey, excursion, travel

When is it appropriate to use путешествие, экскурсия, поездка, рейс?

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  • Did you try explanatory dictionary?
    – jwalker
    Feb 7 '16 at 16:45
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  1. "Путешествие" is used when someone goes far away from home (at least to another city... or, say, to another galaxy) and for a long time (at least for several days). One can go on foot or use any transport. In English it corresponds to "travel", "journey" or "voyage".

  2. "Поездка" is usually shorter, than "путешествие" (can last less than one day). Distance may be quite short, too (but not necessarily). But this word is derived from the verb "ездить" ("to go by transport"), that's why transport is necessary. If one goes on foot - it is not "поездка", but "поход" (derived from "ходить"(to walk)). In English "поездка" is "trip" or "tour", I think.

  3. "Экскурсия" is a trip which includes visiting some places of interest, usually for a group of people provided with a guide, who shows them the places of interest an tells some related stories. In English, it is "excursion".

  4. "Рейс" is about transport, which follows some regular route at determined time. In English, it is "voyage" or, in case of planes, "flight".

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    I'd also say that "путешествие" is not only longer than "поездка" but also mostly is used when you travel to several places in one trip. And If we talk about vacation spent in one city, I wouldn't call this "путешествие", it definitely would be "поездка"
    – Alissa
    Feb 8 '16 at 9:30
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    @Alissa, I agree, valuable remark! Although, if someone goes to Thailand and lives there in a single hotel for 2 weeks, he/she still can call it "путешествие". Probably, it is not quite correct, but it is common. I think that it also depends on the goal of the trip. The word "путешествие" contains some romantic charm, and it is more frequently used when the main goal is entertainment and new impressions, but not business or daily pursuits.
    – Lara
    Feb 8 '16 at 9:58
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    BTW "путешествие" in Russian doesn't include business trips. Its connotation is only about entertaining travel. Business trip is actually "командировка" (colloquial and official), but "поездка" (or "деловая поездка" – only official) may be used too.
    – artptr
    Aug 18 at 15:00
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"Поездка" might also mean "bus ride", as in "на моём проездном пять поездок" when I have rides prepaid on my bus card.

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Путешествие has a sense of global travelling. It usually implies visiting other countries or states, far from your sweet home.

Экскурсия is a service of being informed about sightseeing places. Excursion is a casual activity, not prolonged.

Поездка is a diminutive word for naming common trips of lesser importance. Even a usual everyday ride on subway can be named поездка. Nevertheless, it is now very common to say Моя поездка во Францию (My trip to France), for example.

Рейс is a scheduled transfer of a vehicle, including planes and ships. It is equivalent to "flight" when talking about tickets in airport.

Summary


Sounds okay:

Я путешествовала по всей стране. Я была на экскурсии в Альпах. Моя поездка в Италию. У меня прямой рейс.

I travelled the whole country. I took an excursion to the Alps. My trip to Italy. I have a direct flight.


Sounds awkward:

Я путешествовал по городу. Завтра я еду на экскурсию в Африку. Моя поездка на конференцию не удалась. Мой рейс во Францию не состоялся.

I travelled the city. Tomorrow I'm going on an excursion to Africa. My trip to the conference failed. My flight to France did not take place.

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    Most of your points are right, but "Моя поездка на конференцию не удалась" sounds perfectly fine by me.
    – alamar
    Feb 8 '16 at 11:28

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