The best travel films inspire wanderlust and introduce viewers to the beauty of places they never considered – all while telling a captivating story. We decided to ask our fellow travel bloggers to pick their favorite movie about travel. In addition to the travel movies that everyone seems to love, some unconventional choices and even a few movies we had never heard of made the list. If you are looking for travel inspiration, read on for 51 of the best travel movies of all time.
And if you are looking for more wanderlust inducing viewing, here is a list of best travel shows to watch on TV, Netflix, Amazon Prime and other streaming services.
Best Travel Movies of All Time to Inspire Wanderlust
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The Secret Life of Walter Mitty is a movie that wowed me. The story of a really boring guy that had always daydreamed about adventure (almost too much) gets the opportunity to take the adventure of a lifetime – and it changes him forever. The story, the imagery, the adventure, will make you quit your job, buy a ticket, get a tan, fall in love and never return. – Megsy Collins, Travel Freedom Network
Before Sunrise starring Ethan Hawke and July Delpy is a romantic movie with two sequels that take place in Vienna, Paris and Greece. The main characters Jesse and Celene meet on a train and after an instant connection between them they decide to explore Vienna at night before the sunrise when Jesse’s flight departs. I’ll just briefly mention that their lives intertwine along the way of the next two movies called Before Sunset and Before Midnight following the development of their characters throughout the years. If you are already wondering what a sappy romantic movie is doing in a travel movie list let me tell you that it is filmed beautifully and depicts the destinations in a dreamy way provoking wanderlust. One of these “slow” movies that are focusing on the dialogue (even in the scenes that there is none) and the feeling when we can relate to the characters no matter how many times we re-watch it. – Sianna, EoStories Blog
The Motorcycle Diaries tells the story of two young men – a young Che Guevara and his buddy – who ride through South America on a break from school. As they travel through rural areas, they discover the terrible working conditions of the poor and how they are exploited by wealthy corporations. I love how their interactions with the local people and the injustices they witness while traveling become the inspiration for them to pursue political change. Plus, Gael García Bernal – yes please! – Allison Green, Eternal Arrival
Based on Cheryl Strayed’s memoir, Wild stars Reese Witherspoon as Strayed and follows her journey of self-discovery and healing while walking solo along a 1,100 miles section of the Pacific Crest Trail. With no hiking experience she walks from the Mojave Desert in California to the Canadian border which serves up many trials, both physically and emotionally, along the way.
I love Wild for the stunning scenery. From the deserts to the mountains, watching it made me want to visit the regions featured in the film. It also has a powerful message. How Strayed dealt with fear and the perceptions made about women made me feel inspired. It can be summed up best in this quote from the movie – “I knew that if I allowed fear to overtake me, my journey was doomed. Fear, to a great extent is born of a story we tell ourselves, and I chose to tell myself a different story from the one women are told. I decided I was safe, I was strong, I was brave. Nothing could vanquish me”. – Jen, The Trusted Traveller
While there are many great travel movies The Way has to be my favorite. Starring Martin Sheen who plays an American ophthalmologist who travels to France due to the sudden death of his son, killed during a storm while walking the Camino de Santiago. Tom (Martin Sheen) originally went to retrieve his son’s body, but due to the grief he pays homage to his son and decides to trek the Camino de Santiago carrying his son’s ashes as he goes.
Along the way, he faces challenges and meets other walkers with different backgrounds from all around the world. I highly recommend The Way as for me it promotes the Camino de Santiago but also the story is very inspirational with a powerful message that shows the difference between “the life we live and the life we choose”. – Dominic Down, Flashpacking Duo
In Bruges is a dark comedy about two Irish hitmen hiding out after a hit goes wrong and an innocent bystander is killed. While waiting for instructions from their boss, the men decide to take in the sights but the charm of Bruges is lost on one of them. The film is unpredictable, funny and sad all while showcasing the beauty of the fairy tale city of Bruges. – Patti, The Savvy Globetrotter
The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert
Priscilla, Queen of the Desert, is a 1994 movie about three drag queens who take a road trip from Sydney through the Australian Outback to do a cabaret show in a small resort town. They set off in a souped up bus named Priscilla and they meet all sorts of interesting characters along the way. I loved the movie because it showed how vast a country Australia is. I also thought the cinematography was amazing – the vast, open spaces and the colors of the desert were spectacular. – Shobha, Just Go Places
Midnight in Paris
In this visionary tale of nostalgia and history, creatively unsatisfied screenwriter Gil Pender finds himself stumbling back in time while on a stroll in the magical city of Paris. Emerging in to a period of literary and artistic revival, he meets Ernest Hemingway and Salvador Dali, among other great writers and artists – an unfathomable possibility he uses to seek inspiration. The adventures and stories captured by the back-and-forth of a vintage era and modern times is a whimsical experience, one that will keep your imagination afloat and render your dreams of traveling to France as more than just wishful thinking. – Kimberly, Ready, Set, Kgo
Under the Tuscan Sun
Story of an American woman, who escapes to Tuscany for a holiday after her marriage breaks down. Upon arriving, she falls in love with Italy and spontaneously buys a villa in the Tuscan countryside. Realizing the house needs a lot of work and restoration she enlists the help of locals and embarks on a journey of self-discovery, facing challenges along the way. As the house is being restored, so is her soul.
I love this movie, as it is like a moving postcard on Italy. From the rolling hills of Tuscany, to the pretty seaside town of Positano, the visuals fill me with wanderlust and the heart-warming stories in the movie compliment the stunning scenery. We love Italy and often dream of moving there, buying a villa and doing it up, so until our dreams come true, it’s nice to live vicariously through this movie! – Kim-Ling, Travel-Ling
Eat, Pray Love
My favorite travel movie is Eat, Pray Love. Its inherently about travel since the main character, Julia Roberts, heads to Italy, India and ultimately Bali. She experiences 3 types of travel that many of us love and becomes a foodie in Italy, explores awesome culture & spirituality in India before looking for love in Bali. If you like to travel, are a foodie or just a sucker for a romance you’re sure to love Eat, Pray Love and it will make you want to get out into the world! – Mike, Live, Travel, Teach
The Darjeeling Limited
I watched “The Darjeeling Limited” by Wes Anderson not long after I returned from my first trip to India, and it soon became one of my favorite travel movies. The movie talks about three brothers, very different from each other, who meet for a train trip through India after the death of their father. But the best part of the movie to me is the setting. The loud sounds, the colors, the encounters that perfectly portray India will bring a smile and a feeling of melancholy to those who have already visited the country, and will give a serious case of wanderlust to those who haven’t (yet!). – Stefania, Every Steph
The Talented Mr. Ripley
Gorgeous people living off trust funds lounging around the coast of Italy. What’s not to love? Set in the 1950’s this movie is what initially made me dream to one day travel to Italy- where I’m currently visiting for the second time! Jude Law, Matt Damon, Gwyneth Paltrow and Philip Seymour Hoffman star in a story about the lengths Tom Ripley (Damon) will go to in order to steal the life of wealthy socialite Dickie Greenleaf (Law). Money, sex and murder set against an Italian backdrop. Perfection. – Nathan, Foodie Flashpacker
My all time fave travel movie is “The Beach”. It is mostly due to the fact that I love the beach and could practically live the beach life forever – if only I could. This movie inspired me especially to visit Maya Bay and explore the lovely islands in Thailand. So all thanks to Leonardo for this inspiration and to fuel my never ending wanderlust. – Jo, Wander With Jo
Seven Years in Tibet
Seven Years in Tibet tells the incredible true story of Austrian mountain climber, Heinrich Harrer, and the unique friendship he formed with the young ruler of Tibet, the Dalai Lama. Despite the bad reviews for Brad Pitt’s (who plays Heinrich Harrer) poor Austrian accent, the cinematography is outstanding. The movie beautifully captured the breath-taking views of the Himalayas as well as the rural villages and temples in Tibet. Tibet is not the easiest place to visit, so it was great to see what the culture, the landscape and the people are like. – Gia, Mismatched Passports
Hector and the Search for Happiness
Hector and the Search for Happiness can be a little cheesy, but they’re so many nuggets in this film; I can’t help but to love it. Hector is an unfulfilled psychiatrist who decides to step out of his lackluster comfort zone. From wild affairs in China, to potato stew in Africa, and a bit of nostalgia in America, he embarks on a wild and crazy journey in search of what makes people happy, and somewhere along the way discovers his own.
This film resonates with me because, whether physically or mentally, we have all taken, or will take, a journey to discover what makes us happy. My favorite quote about travel: “Happiness is not a destination. It’s a state of being.” – Colby Holiday, World of a Wanderer
Up in the Air
This George Clooney flick isn’t about travel for entertainment – it’s about a corporate downsizer who travels around the country to give people pink slips. But, the movie nails the cult of business travelers: the obsession with earning airline miles and upgrades, frustrations with security lines, and intricate “rules” surrounding airport travel. The movie also has some thought-provoking ideas on baggage – both physical and emotional. And of course, there’s this quote: “Last year I spent 322 days on the road, which means I had to spend 43 miserable days at home.” – Sean Boyle, Venturists
The next time you head to the airport and have a lengthy wait, imagine for a few minutes what it must have been like for Viktor Navorski (Tom Hanks) in “The Terminal” who spent an indefinite amount of time in JFK’s international transit lounge.
The movie is centered around an Eastern European tourist, Navorski, who was visiting New York City but was denied entry because of a sudden outbreak of civil war in his home nation of Krakozhia. As a result, the Department of Homeland Security didn’t recognize this as a ‘valid’ nation so refused him entry and made him stay inside the airport terminal.
The movie continues to highlight the struggles that Navorski faces, while at the same time offers a very relatable experience to anyone that has spent a considerable amount of time in an airport. I personally enjoy the experience of waiting around in the terminal, whether I am catching up on work or simply people watching, there is always something to do. If I had a similar experience to Navorski, well perhaps I wouldn’t be saying the same thing! – Chris Boothman, A Brit & A Southerner
Trains, Planes and Automobiles
I am addicted to “Planes, Trains and Automobiles.” I watch it every Thanksgiving, since it is about a trip home for the holidays in which just about everything that can go wrong does. Cabs are stolen, planes don’t take off, trains have problems, and cars die. The movie is hilarious, as it only could be with Steve Martin and John Candy as co-stars, and the super-talented director, John Hughes, makes every scene memorable. But actually, instead of inspiring wanderlust, this movie makes me glad to be home. – Carole Terwilliger Meyers, Berkeley and Beyond
National Lampoon’s European Vacation
The Griswold family wins a trip to Europe on the game show Pig-in-a-Poke; travel comedy ensues.Certainly, this movie never won any major awards, and it is definitely not family friendly, but Chevy Chase and Beverly D’Angelo never fail to disappoint me. Full of great one liners – “Look, kids! Big Ben…Parliament!” – and mishaps on a global scale, like knocking over Stonehenge, European Vacation is just plain fun. It reminds us not to take life too seriously and to make some Griswold worthy memories along the way. – Carrie and Carrick Buss, Along for the Trip
The Big Year
This comedy caught my eye primarily because I like two of the actors, Jack Black and Steve Martin. It sounded amusing — three men traveling around the globe in competition with each other to spot the most bird species within a year — and the traveling element appealed to me. The actors didn’t disappoint. I enjoyed seeing the varied landscapes and ecosystems, places I would never even think to visit, and seeing to what extremes birders go (in real life!) to see rare birds. But in the end, its impact on me was surprisingly profound … I’m inspired to take a year of my life and choose a grand but focused goal, the pursuit of which would lead me around the world through many countries and cultures, to be as determined and sacrificial, when necessary, as the characters in “The Big Year” to accomplish something deeply personally satisfying. – Shara Johnson of SKJ Travel
One of the funniest, craziest and adventurous travel movies we’ve ever watched is EuroTrip, a 2004 American-European comedy that will make you laugh out loud for the entire time of watching it. It tells a story of an American guy named Scott who travels across Europe to find his German pen pal Mieke. His desire to see the girl, who he thinks he loves, takes him and his best friends to such awesome cities as Paris, my favourite Amsterdam, Berlin and Rome. They have plenty of adventures and awkward situations on the way and find out a lot of new things about visited cities. My favourite moment of the movie is when Scott finally meets Mieke! Why? You definitely need to watch it to find out! – Agness, eTramping
Couples Retreat is a romantic comedy, centered on the story of four married couples who choose to go on vacation in one of the most beautiful places on earth, The St. Regis Bora Bora Resort, hoping that this could help them solve their issues. The tropical island in the South Pacific seems to be designed for couples, given that in the end, all four of them appear to have found the solution to their problems. I totally agree that traveling together can help lovers communicate and understand each other better than before. However, the main reason for which this is one of my favorite travel related movies is the filming location. Bora Bora is a dream destination, a place where, for example, I would happily want to spend my honeymoon. – Bella, Whisper Wanderlust
For fans of the wildly irreverent show about four luckless high school losers fumbling their way through life, the opportunity to spend more time with Will, Simon, Neil, and Jay was a Godsend. We’d all cringed and guffawed our way through their awkward attempts to get laid, and the movie gave fans of the British comedy a chance to revisit their old favourites. The film sees the four boys, dubbing themselves the Pussay Patrol, making their way to Malia in Crete for a post high school boys escape. It’s all false bravado, striking out, vomiting, sexual misadventures, and embarassing encounters. In short, it perfectly sums up the boys escape experience for those of us who weren’t blessed with chiseled jaws and washboard abs. While I’ve never done some of the stuff the four boys get up to, I think anybody who has ever taken a boys trip away and felt hopelessly uncool and out of their depth can totally relate to the film. – Chris Walker-Bush, Aussie on the Road
The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel
If this movie about foreign retirees living in India doesn’t make you want to travel the country then I don’t know what will! The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel features an all-star cast with a vibrant score, and of course a hint of Bollywood flare. Follow Judi Dench and the gang through India as they rediscover themselves. This movie left me happy, sad, and inspired to get over to India pronto! – Natasha Alden, The World Pursuit
Roman Holiday is a 1953 Audrey Hepburn classic. This romantic comedy follows the adventures of a crown princess who escapes from the restrictions of her scheduled tour of Europe to explore Rome alone and incognito. She meets an American reporter and during various adventures around Rome, they inevitably fall in love.
Although most people think of Audrey Hepburn in Breakfast at Tiffany’s, Roman Holiday was in fact her first major role – and won her the Academy Award for Best Actress. Although Audrey Hepburn and Gregory Peck are the Hollywood stars of the movie, the real star of the show is the city of Rome. The city provides the perfect backdrop to a very stylish Audrey Hepburn, with all major sights featured, such as the Spanish Steps and the Bocca Della Verita. A gorgeous feel good fairytale! – Marianne, Mum on the Move
Two For the Road
Audrey Hepburn (Joanna) and Albert Finney (Mark- an architect) star in this 60s classic road trip movie. As penniless backpackers travelling together in Europe, they fall in love. Over the next few decades of marriage, children, infidelity and reconciliation they re-visit the same places. The movie jumps back and forth in time juxtaposing the different stages of their lives together.
One scene says it all – On a deserted beach in France, a young Joanna muses, ‘Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we could just clap our hands and a drink would appear.’ She claps her hands and the scene cuts to the same beach years later, now a crowded construction site for condominiums being built by Mark. As a waiter hands a jaded and unhappily married Joanna a drink she says ‘ Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we could just clap our hands and make all these people disappear.’ – Lyn Lindfield, The Travelling Lindfields
Out of Africa
Out of Africa, is based on the autobiographical book written by Karen Blixten which recounts her time managing a coffee plantation in Africa with her husband. It is dramatically evocative and able to take you there, right to the highlands above Nairobi, through the yearly seasons and the tragedies of daily life in Africa. But the movie, with Meryl Streep and Robert Redfort, is even more romantic and includes love affairs, a romance in the African savannah between Karen and famous hunter Denys Finch, plenty of wildlife and magic. If this book, and Karen’s incomparable ease with words, does not make you want to book a trip to Kenya, nothing else will. – Mar, Once in a Lifetime Journey
Easy Rider, a cult film released in 1969, is the ultimate road trip movie. Two bikers set across America on Harleys. The film’s promo tagline was “a man went looking for America and couldn’t find it anywhere.” Wyatt and Billy (Peter Fonda and Dennis Hopper) ride across the American Southwest and south heading to New Orleans. They encounter George Hanson (Jack Nicholson in his first starring role), a civil liberties lawyer and drunk, in a jail cell in Las Vegas, NM; he joins the journey. Spoiler alert: it doesn’t end well. Easy Rider made a big impact when I saw it the year it came out. Why is this my favorite travel film? The acting is wonderful, the plot is riveting and it was my first introduction to New Mexico where I now live. It’s a movie that’s stood the test of time. – Billie, Santa Fe Travelers
The Story of the Weeping Camel
One of our favourite travel movies was The Story of the Weeping Camel. It’s about a Mongolian family living in their her camp with their live stock. One of the new born camels doesn’t naturally bond with its mummy, which is dangerous because without the bond, the baby camel had to fend for itself and therefore likely to die without his mother’s support. So the family find a local fiddler who specialises in playing the healing music which humbles the camel, causing he mummy camel to weep and therefore create the bond with her baby. For anyone travelling to Mongolia, this is a brilliant film which really gives you a glimpse into the nomadic families, how they live and a bit about their customs. It’s also a very touching film. – Stefan and Sébastien, Nomadic Boys
The 1971 Australian Movie Walkabout was an introduction to a tribal culture through the eyes of a recently orphaned Australian child and his older sister. In fact, their father committed suicide in the Outback, leaving them to fend for themselves. An Aboriginal boy found them during his coming of age ‘walkabout’ and introduced them to survival skills both physical and spiritually. I saw this movie about 15 years after it was originally released. Although artistic license was used during the filming and editing, this fascinating look at the Aboriginal people inspired me to put ‘Travel to Australia’ on my bucket list. Having still not crossed it off my list, visiting the Outback and the Aborigine remains the primary reason for me wanting to one day visit Australia. – Vanessa Workman, The Island Drum
It’s been years since I’ve seen “The Lover” and I still remember how much it influenced my decision on visiting Vietnam. A friend of mine recommended it to me, with a note that it’s not an easy movie and it’s everyone’s cup of tea. I’ve searched quite a bit until I found a copy of the movie, as it’s been released in 1992! The story of the movie is based on the semi-autobiographical novel by Marguerite Duras, and it depicts her youth love affair with a Chinese man, in Saigon. “The Lover” is indeed a very shocking movie, with an unmoral story and a lot of nudity. But it’s also a masterpiece that shows the beauty of Vietnam, as the main characters do travel quite a lot. However, I loved the atmosphere of the movie so much that I fell in love with Vietnam right there and then, watching it. And that was it, I HAD to go to Vietnam, I HAD to go to Saigon. Of course, by the time I got to Saigon, the world changed and the narrow dusty streets, where chickens run free and people sweating under their hats hid from the humidity and the hot weather didn’t exist anymore. Or maybe they were just made up for the movie. But I wasn’t disappointed, in fact, I loved even more Vietnam. – Joanna – The World in My Pocket
Stand by Me
Stand by Me is a movie that I grew up watching, and it really kicked in my wanderlust at a very young age. The story is based around a group of 4 teenagers on a quest in rural Oregon to discover a dead body. It is not a scary movie or anything like that, but more of a coming of age movie. The journey turns into a quest about which path each of their lives will take, as it is their last journey together before these best friends head on different paths in high school. This movie always stoked my wanderlust because it encouraged me to seek adventures with my friends, and to not fear changes in the future. – Josh Wilson, Peanuts or Pretzels Travel
Leonardo DiCaprio plays a frontiersman who is on a fur trading expedition in the 1820s who fights for survival after being mauled by a bear and is left for dead by members of his hunting team.
Besides being a fantastic movie (the bear scene is incredible), most of The Revenant was filmed in Kananaskis Country, an area of parks and reserves in the Canadian Rockies situated west of Calgary and the movie shows off these incredible rugged landscapes very well and makes you want to get out there and start hiking some trails! – Geert, Inspiring Travellers
Based on classic novel Heart of Darkness, Apocalypse Now isn’t your typical uplifting travel movie. This dark tale follows Captain Willard and his motley crew as travel upriver from Vietnam to Cambodia to neutralise a U.S army colonel gone rogue. It’s a psychedelic journey, providing a frightening insight into the Vietnam / American War. Just as fascinating is the behind the scenes film Hearts of Darkness: A Filmmaker’s Apocalypse, which documents the struggles director Francis Ford Coppola faced while shooting the movie on location in the Philippines. -Jon, JonIsTravelling.com
The Angels’ Share
Ken Loach is a director renowned for highlighting poverty in Scotland however his film, The Angels’ Share, does this with humour and warmth. The main characters meet while on a community packback sentence and as a treat are taken to a whisky tasting session. There, they are taught about the angels’ share – the proportion of whisky lost to evaporation. With this knowledge they then make it their goal to rescue the angels’ share and make themselves some big cash to help change their lives. What makes this a charming alternative travel movie is the scenery, and the Scottish banter of course! – Gemma, Two Scots Abroad
Cast Away is one of my favourites among travel movies. Cast Away is an American survival drama film. Tom Hanks has superbly portrayed role of the protagonist who is stranded on an uninhabited island when his plane crashes. It is story of his attempts to survive on the island. He fights with himself mentally, physically, and emotionally in order to survive. He carried the entire film on his shoulder. The movie teaches us not to let yourself down, in any condition however tough they are. I have imagined myself in that situation many times, just to think how I would have behaved. It is a very emotional journey indeed. – Nisha, Le Monde – A Poetic Travail
The Disappearance of Finbar
“The Disappearance of Finbar” (1996) was an accidental find for me – one of those movies that you stumble upon in the middle of the night on TV and then you cannot stop watching. Featuring the now much better known Jonathan Rhys Meyers, this film is about two young Irish men growing up in a desolate Irish town with no perspective or hope for a better future. When Finbar makes the soccer team and goes to Europe things seem to go their way but he returns home soon after, now a loser and a fool. In his desperation he one day jumps off a motorway bridge and disappears forever. When his friend Danny receives a phone call from Finbar many months later he is surprised to hear that Finbar has made it all the way to Sweden. Intrigued, Danny hitchhikes to Sweden to reunite with his lost best friend. But not all turns out as it first appears.
I love this movie because it is not just about friendship but also about travelling to find that special place in your life. A coming of age story. There is a great deal of escapism here, and absolution is not necessarily what you will find at the end of the journey. Even though I don’t like snow and winter, the remote landscapes of northern Sweden and Finland are just beautiful, the people are tough and full of warmth, and the contrast to the grey Irish hometown couldn’t be more striking. A beautiful film throughout and not just your usual Hollywood fare. – Silke Elzner, Happiness & Things
The Hundred-Foot Journey
The Hundred-Foot Journey is a movie about a family that leaves India to start a restaurant in a little town in France. They open up an Indian restaurant right across the road from Madam Mallory’s acclaimed French restaurant. A rivalry begins between the two different cultures but they soon realize that food unites them. Food is one of those things that rings everyone from all walks of life together. Travelling around the world has taught me that food is a part of a universal language that we all speak. – Helena, Through an Aussie’s Eyes
Life of Pi
Our favourite travel movie is Life of Pi. It’s a story of teenager from India who survived the disaster at sea. He is struggling to survive and drifting on his raft in hope to reach the land. He is not alone there… the other castaway is huge Bengal tiger. The movie can be interpreted literally or figuratively. It could have been the real story. But you can also think about it as the metaphor. The tiger may be symbol of fear and the figment of lost boy’s imagination. Why we love the Life of Pi? Mainly because of the beautiful scenes that are happening at the sea. Huge whales, fish and storm make it the best fantasy movie ever. – Karolina, karolinapatryk.com
‘Up’ is a Pixar-Disney masterpiece that follows an old man named Carl. After flying his house (held up by thousands of balloons!) he ends up trekking through Venezuela to get to a waterfall named ‘Paradise Falls’. He is accompanied by Russell, an adorable boy scout who befriends a rare, colourful bird. Watching the animation of Venezuela was enchanting, everything looked almost real! I did some research on how the movie was made, and the artists actually did visit Paradise Falls for inspiration. It opened my eyes to the locations in the world untouched by man, so beautifully self sustaining and so full of life. – Anna, Singapore N Beyond
Kiki’s Delivery Service
In this Miyazaki film, Kiki is a young witch who must leave home to complete her training. With her broomstick and black cat in tow, she heads off to the fictional city of Koriko. Here she finds both a job and place to live when she makes a deal with a bakery to start a Witch Delivery Service. Along the way she meets and befriends different characters. Miyazaki is said to have taken visual inspiration from Visby, Sweden with a mix of other Northern European areas. I just remember wanting to fly straight to the fictional town of Koriko as a kid! – Samantha Elisabeth, There She Goes Again
I was four when The Lion King came out, but have never forgotten the experience of seeing African wildlife brought to life for both adults and children. Even at such a young age I was inspired to make it to Africa to see the lions, giraffes, elephants, hyenas, and of course a “Zuzu” (hornbill). Of course I know there are other great documentaries detailing African wildlife – but do any of them involve a talking Warthog? – Natasha, The World Pursuit
Unbranded follows four recent college grads as they traverse the US from the border of Mexico to the border of Canada. Nothing extraordinary, except for they did it on the back of Mustangs, wild horses whose population continues to increase in the muggy southwest of the United Sates. Along the way, cases are made for better management of the horse populations, balancing the needs of the feral horses with that of cattle ranchers. The main thrust of the story, and what I loved about this movie, was that is an underdog story about the horses. Not easily tamed, and not known for being complicit, these horses turned out to be the real stars of the show – showing grit, determination and, sometimes, tenderness. Moreover, it’s a moving tale about our connection with land, animals and our own inner strength. – Andrew, Pygmy Elephant
Love Actually is compulsive viewing for a lot of travellers, and particularly so on Christmas Eve. No matter where you are in the world, and no matter what is happening in the world, the opening lines always resonate.
Whenever I get gloomy with the state of the world, I think about the arrivals gate at Heathrow Airport. General opinion’s starting to make out that we live in a world of hatred and greed, but I don’t see that. It seems to me that love is everywhere. Often, it’s not particularly dignified or newsworthy, but it’s always there – fathers and sons, mothers and daughters, husbands and wives, boyfriends, girlfriends, old friends. When the planes hit the Twin Towers, as far as I know, none of the phone calls from the people on board were messages of hate or revenge – they were all messages of love. If you look for it, I’ve got a sneaky feeling you’ll find that love actually is all around.” – Paula McInerney, Contented Traveller
Long Way Round
I particularly love the documentary series “Long Way Round” in which actor and motorcycle enthusiast Ewan McGregor undertakes an ambitious journey with his good friend Charley Boorman. The duo rides eastward from London to New York City (covering almost 19,000 miles). It’s an incredible look at some of the most remote regions of the world, and I found it fascinating to see how challenging and harsh the conditions can be for some people in the world. Yet, a joy for simple life is revealed as Ewan, a rich celebrity, is truly affected by the difficult circumstances that people deal with just to survive. They ride through Mongolia, Siberia, Western Russia and Khazakhstan and onward to find the beauty and cruelty of nature while meeting people who welcome them into their homes to sing, dance, wrestle, eat — and assist them when the bikes break down. This documentary is an inspiring piece of work that reveals the importance of travel in making the world smaller and better. – John Roberts, InTheLoopTravel.com
There is little wonder that Indochine won the academy award for Best Foreign Film back in 1992. The glamour of the costumes from 1930’s French Colonial era in Vietnam and the stunning backdrop of the villas in Dalat are as beautiful as Catherine Deneuve herself. The Vietnamese scenery is like an extra character in the story, always changing and ever present as the plot unfolds in the decades leading to the fall of the French rule in Vietnam. Haunting scenes in Ha Long Bay will inspire a desire to see the monumental beauty for yourself. Ironically, I have since learnt that some of the colonial scenes that drew me to Vietnam were actually filmed in Butterworth Malaysia. – Lydia, Holidays, Hellidays and the Journeys in between….
Y Tu Mamá También
Y Tu Mamá También is a Mexican movie which uses a road-trip as a metaphor for life, and it’s events. Two young boys and best friends, Julio (played by the now famous Gael García Bernal) and Tenoch, take a road-trip with an older woman Luisa in search of a mysterious beach Boca del Cielo (Heaven’s Mouth). Their eventful journey is also a coming of age story for the boys who make confessions which could cause confrontation, yet these bring the three of them together. Just like any great road-trip, it’s the unexpectedness of the turn of events which makes the story so gripping and the end so deliciously unpredictable. – Sid, The Wanderer
Because of our passion for Responsible Travel, Gringo Trails is one of our favorite travel movies. Director Pegi Vail’s documentary takes a look at the cost of mass tourism on the environmental health of popular travel destinations. Though it offers no simple answers, the film examines how we can balance the needs of travelers with those of developing nations desperately in need of revenue. In the end, it suggests that sustainable tourism development is essential to ensuring we, as travelers, don’t destroy the very aspects that make these places so uniquely beautiful. – Bret Love of Green Global Travel
Until the End of the World
The Wim Wenders film Until the End of the World is perhaps the ultimate travel road movie. The full length film runs just over 5 hours (a shorter theatrical version was released in most countries and on DVD) and spans diverse locations from Paris to the Australian Outback. Starring William Hurt and French actress Solveig Dommartin, the film has an ensemble cast featuring everyone from Sam Neill to David Byrne and Tom Waits, along with the single greatest movie soundtrack ever produced. Blending genres of science fiction, crime and road movie, each character must find a way to embrace their humanity during their extensive travels. Until the End of the World is one of the most epic travel films ever produced. – Lance and Laura, Travel Addicts
First things first. My chosen movie, Baraka, is one of a kind. So much that it could better be described as a non-verbal film, a visually breathtaking one shot entirely on 70mm. With shots from over twenty different countries, it was already released in 1992 and since then its director created yet another similar jewel, Samsara. Whether you are as much into photography and film as me or you simply want to know what this is all about, I recommend you to watch it as soon as possible. You can even live stream it on Youtube for free. It was never easier to access eye candy… – Inma, A World to Travel
Lost in Translation
An ageing, past his prime movie star and a young newlywed randomly meet in an upscale Tokyo hotel. Both are experiencing issues in their personal lives and find modern Tokyo a bit of a culture shock. Their chance meeting turns into a surprising friendship as they venture through Tokyo. While it is interesting watching the unexpected connection evolve, Lost in Translation also has the advantage of taking place in one of our favorite cities in the world.
Do you agree that these are the best movies about travel? Did your favorite travel movies make the list?
Looking for more travel inspiration? Read our related post Best Travel Quotes to Inspire Wanderlust.
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