Describe a Vacation You Took: IELTS Speaking (Cue Card With Example Answer)

In part two or your IELTS Speaking test, your examiner might ask you to describe a vacation you took. The cue card will give you some ideas on what to say, but you don’t need to follow those ideas exactly. 

Let’s look at the best way to get a band-seven score for this vacation question, including a good example answer (go straight to the answer here). 

What You Can Say About Your Vacation

First, choose a vacation you can remember well and talk about easily. Then you can say:

  • Where you went on vacation
  • How long you stayed there for
  • Why you went there
  • Who you went with
  • Where you stayed (describe the hotel)
  • What you did there
  • What sights you saw
  • How you felt
  • What food you ate
  • Any special festival you saw
  • What you found surprising or exciting
  • Any problems you had
  • If you’d like to go there again
  • Anything else you can remember

Use Good Past Tenses

For any IELTS Speaking part-two question about the past, your examiner is listening carefully to your use of past tenses. 

So make sure you practice telling stories a lot with excellent past tense (this means mostly past simple, past continuous, and past perfect). 

And if you prepare a story now about a past vacation, you’ll be able to use that same story in many different part-two questions.

Use Word Groups

In part two, the examiner wants to hear you use lots of interesting, unusual vocabulary. 

One excellent way to use good vocabulary is to memorize some word groups. 

A word group is a collection of interesting words, phrases, and idioms that describe one important aspect of an experience, person, or thing.

For example, for this question about a vacation, you could use a ‘traditional event’ word group. This word group would include words and phrases like: ‘ancestral traditions, time-honored, a rich cultural heritage, in remembrance of our forefathers…’ and more. 

The example answer below shows this word group in use. And you can learn more about word groups here. 

Use Anki App to Memorize Vocabulary

One very effective way to memorize new words is with a flashcard app like Anki App. 

Anki App uses spaced repetition to help you practice daily, and ensure you memorize all your new words well. And it’s completely free. So give it a try for your new word groups.

Now let’s take a look at a cue card and example answer for this question about vacations.

Vacation Cue Card

Describe a travel experience you have had.

You should say:

  • Where you went on vacation
  • When you went there
  • Who you went on vacation with

And say what you enjoyed about this vacation.

I’m going to talk about a vacation I went on two years ago to Florence in Italy. It was during summer and I traveled there with two friends from college. We chose Florence because I had always wanted to visit Italy, which is famous for its delicious food, wonderful weather, and incredible history. Florence is a city with a rich cultural heritage and stunningly beautiful, old-fashioned buildings that really give you a sense of how things once were. 

While we were there, there was a festival which I think is called the Lantern Festival. There was a grand parade and people held lovely lanterns on long sticks. It was very colorful. I can’t remember what the festival was celebrating, but I know it was something very religious and clearly, an ancient, time-honored custom and social convention passed down through the generations. If I remember correctly, the festival was in respect and remembrance of their forefathers. It was very impressive and beautiful to watch. 

I’ve always been interested in European history, and it was amazing to visit a city so steeped in history as Florence is. We stayed there for a week and we spent most of our time exploring the many incredible art galleries around the city. I saw all kinds of rare and priceless paintings and sculptures, such as Michaelangelo’s David, which is very famous. People have been going to Florence to enjoy the city’s legendary art since time immemorial. 

I was inspired and quite awe-struck by how beautiful these pieces of artwork were. It was an experience I’ll remember forever. I also enjoyed strolling along the city streets, over beautiful bridges, and between ancient buildings which seemed to me as old as the hills. 

(Word Group Used: ‘Traditional Event’)

Traditional, Ancient traditions, Customs, Ancestral traditions, Time-honored, Steeped in history, A rich historical heritage, Rember our forefathers, Hasn’t changed in centuries, In remembrance of our ancestors/forefathers, Passed down through the generations, As old as the hills, Old-fashioned, Behind the times, Gain a sense of how things once were, Social convention, Cultural heritage, Something we’ve been doing since time immemorial.

Your Turn To Answer

Now that you’ve read a good example, try to answer this question yourself.

Before you begin, think of a vacation you took. Try to remember it well. Then think of a word group that describes the place or describes your experience there. 

You can create your own word group, or borrow one from the lists collected here.

When you’re ready, set up the recorder on your phone and tell yourself to describe a vacation you took. 

Prepare for one minute, then start talking. And try to keep talking for a whole two minutes. 

Afterward, listen to your recording, notice any mistakes you made, and then do it again!

This is a wonderful way to prepare for part two of your IELTS Speaking test. 

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