Journeys are often used as metaphorical figures of speech because they represent adventure, struggle, and change.
Metaphors for journeys like ‘life is a journey’ and ‘this was a journey though history’ apply these ideas around change, adventure and struggle to a range of life’s pursuits.
Metaphors for Journeys
1. The Journey is a Weight on my Shoulders
As a simile: The journey is like a weight on my shoulders.
This metaphor speaks of a journey as if it is something that is difficult and burdensome just like a heavy pack on your shoulders.
The journey is not literally a weight on anyone’s shoulders. You can’t carry a journey because it’s not a physical thing.
Here, we’re using the weight metaphorically. Like a weight, which can be a burdensome struggle, a journey can be hard.
Interestingly, the phrase ‘weight on my shoulders’ is an idiomatic phrase, so we’re combining both idiom and metaphor for this sentence.
2. The Journey was a Party
As a simile: The journey was like a party
Unlike the burdensome journey above, this journey sounds like it’s a lot of fun! And that’s the point. The comparison to a party, which is fun and social, makes us think that the person on this journey had a great time. They might have made a lot of friends and had many good nights in Inns along the way.
3. The Journey was my Schooling
As a simile: The journey was like going to school.
If you say that a journey was your schooling, you’re implying that you learned a lot on the journey. The analogy here is that like school, going on a journey can be highly educational.
You could extend this metaphor to use phrases like “The Journey was a [something] class” and give a metaphorical type of lesson (a biology class, a science class, a French class). Here, you’d be specifically showing the type of thing that was learned on the journey.
4. The Journey was a Climb
As a simile: The journey was like climbing a mountain.
If we refer to a journey as a ‘climb’, this could be literal or metaphorical. If you actually did climb a mountain on your journey, then of course this is literal.
But you could say a journey was a climb even if you never climbed anything! You’re simply referring to the idea that the journey was something that was as difficult as climbing a mountain.
The central idea you’d be trying to convey in this metaphor is that journeys are difficult.
5. The Journey was a Walk in the Park
As a simile: The journey was like a walk in the park.
This metaphor gives the opposite impression to the one above about journeys being difficult.
In this metaphor, we’re saying that the journey was easy. It wasn’t like a climb at all. It was more like taking a nice comfortable walk through the park!
Here, you might need to know that the idiom “walk in the park” is commonly used as a figure of speech that means “easy”.
6. The Journey was a Walk down Memory Lane
As a simile: The journey was like a walk down memory lane.
The idiom “a walk down memory lane” means to reflect on the past. When we attach it to this journey, we have a mix of a metaphorical statement with an idiom as the metaphor’s vehicle.
We might use this metaphor for a journey that was full of reflections or even a journey to places where our ancestors lived.
Fact File: All metaphors have a tenor and a vehicle. The tenor is the thing being described and the vehicle is the metaphorical comparison. You can find more about the tenor and the mode in our ultimate guide to metaphors.
Metaphors Comparing Things to Journeys
1. Life is a Journey
As a simile: Life is like a journey.
To say that life is a journey isn’t to say that for your whole life you’ll be literally traveling around. It’s to say that, like a journey, life is full of adventure.
In life, there will be ups and downs, “bumps in the road” (that’s an idiom), and good times and bad. Similarly, on a car journey, you might hit literal bumps on the road and go through a range of emotions throughout the day.
2. Your Career is a Journey
As a simile: Your career is like a journey.
To say that your career is a journey is to take a long view of the career. You’re telling someone that their career will take a long time and go through many phases, just like many of the great journeys people go on.
3. Parenting is a Journey
As a simile: Parenting is like a journey.
Being a parent is another long, arduous, but also rewarding thing. It can be compared to a journey because it’s something else with a lot of ups and downs.
While parenting might not involve travel from one place to another like a literal journey, there are enough parallels that we can say it’s a “journey” and people will understand what we mean. In a figurative sense, it’s long, difficult, and rewarding!
4. Friendship is a Journey
As a simile: Friendship is like a journey.
When we refer to a friendship as a journey, we might think of two people who have been friends for a long time. They have been through a lot together and likely know each other very well. Like a journey, the friendship has gone on for some time, and probably has also seen some change and evolution in the friends.
5. The Movie was a Journey to the Future
As a simile: The movie was like a journey to the future.
Sometimes we can walk out of the movie theater and feel like we’ve been on an epic journey. Likely, this is because the movie was so good we felt like we were taken away to a far-off place!
The metaphor “the movie was a journey to the future” might imply that it was a sci-fi movie set in the future. After we leave the cinema, we might feel like we have been on a space ship to the future!
6. School is a Journey through the Textbooks
As a simile: School is like a journey through the textbooks.
To say that school is a journey through the textbooks is to imply that, when we go to school, we are transported to all the places in our history textbooks. While we may not even move off our seats, simply reading a textbook about our past can make us feel like we’ve been on a journey.
A good history class might give you this feeling that you’ve been on a journey, even though you haven’t.
7. College is a Journey of Self-Discovery
As a simile: College is like a journey because it involves a lot of self-discovery.
The idea that college is a “journey of self-discovery” implies that your time at college will cause a change inside of you, just like a good physical journey does.
You might start college as a bright-eyed innocent teenager but, by the end, you’ll come out as a young adult with far more life experience and critical thinking skills. Similarly, on a journey, the things you learn along the way might make you completely change your outlook on life!
What is the Journey Metaphor in The Road Not Taken by Robert Frost?
At school, you’ll often be asked to explore journey metaphors in literature. One good example is The Road Not Taken which is a metaphor for the importance of crafting a unique life for yourself and making bold decisions.
In the poem, a character takes a literal journey. On the journey, he must choose which path to take – the one more travelled or less travelled.
While the story is about a literal journey, it is actually an analogy for the decisions we make in life. Will we take the hard path that others have not taken, which will lead to a sense of fulfilment, or the easy path, which may lead to a rather mundane and unspectacular life.
What is the Journey Metaphor in The Lord of the Rings?
The Lord of the Rings is a story of a journey of 11 people (a fellowship) who are on the way to throw an evil ring into a fire pit. The journey focuses on Frodo Baggins, a fictional character called a hobbit, who must develop his own personal character along the way.
While the story involves a literal journey, there is also a metaphorical message within it. The journey is a metaphor for the ways our personal character is forged through adventure, experience, and struggle.
What Does it Mean to Say “It’s the Journey that Matters (Not the Destination)”?
This is a common phrase which is used to explain that our life is not about getting somewhere. The most important things are the things that happen on the way there.
Usually, we’re not talking about a literal journey here. We’re usually referring to a metaphorical journey, such as life, where the things we do along the way are of greatest importance because they show our true character.
And indeed, the adventure on the figurative journey towards a goal are the things that are often more memorable and exciting than the goal we eventually reach.
Journeys are frequently used metaphorically to refer to things that are difficult, life-changing, and involve adventure. While literally a journey is an adventure from point A to point B, today we regularly use the word in the figurative sense to refer to anything that feels like a journey. In these instances, we’re using metaphor to convey a message to people about the fact that what you did (whether it was parenting, friendship, or college) was a difficult and life-changing adventure.
I’m Chris and I run this website – a resource about symbolism, metaphors, idioms, and a whole lot more! Thanks for dropping by.