Travelled vs. Traveled: Which Is Correct?

Writing that out-of-office email and trying to decide on the correct spelling of traveling vs. travelling? Here's when to use a double "l."

One of the tasks everyone has to tackle before leaving for vacation is writing an out-of-office email. Whether yours is all-business or creative or funny, you’ll want to take care to avoid typos and spelling errors that will make you look bad to colleagues, clients, and bosses. Leave yours to the last minute, and you may have little brain power left after all your planning and packing to expend on grammar and syntax. So here’s the answer to your burning question: Should I use “travelling” or “traveling” in my message? Like many spelling questions, the answer depends on where you live.

When to use travelled

“Travelled” is just one example of the many words that Brits spell differently than Americans do. In British spelling, verbs ending in a vowel followed by an “l” get doubled when adding endings that begin with a vowel, such as “ed,” “ing,” “er,” according to Lexico, but not so in America. For example, “fueling” is the American spelling for “fuelling,” the British version. The words still have the same meaning, just a different variation on the spelling, depending on where you’re from. Tricky, but not as complicated as whole words that mean very different things in England and America.

When to use traveled

Traveled with one “l” is the more popular spelling version in America. This is likely thanks in part to Noah Webster, the Webster of Merriam-Webster Dictionary, according to Grammarly. When faced with multiple spellings, the linguist generally preferred the shorter versions of words, and that’s what he referenced in his dictionaries. Webster’s version rose to common use in America, but not so much in Britain. And Canada and Australia generally follow British English, rules—so they also follow the double “l” spellings.

Travelled vs traveled

“Traveled” and “travelled” mean the same thing and neither is strictly speaking “correct” or “incorrect. The correct American English spelling is “traveled,” while the correct British English spelling is “travelled.” So it’s not a battle of travelled vs traveled but rather a question of who will be reading your email. As the purpose of writing is to communicate clearly to your audience, choose the spelling appropriate to the location of your audience. Got it? Good. Now here’s “the Reader’s Digest version” on the real meaning of those confusing British phrases.

Emily DiNuzzo
Emily DiNuzzo is a former staff writer at Reader’s Digest. There’s a 90% chance Emily is drinking tea right now, but when she’s not writing about food and health with a cuppa by her side, you can find her lifting at the gym, listening to murder mystery podcasts and liking one too many astrology memes.