After the couple of years that we’ve had with multiple lockdowns, border closures and plans being put on hold, we’ve had to get our fix of wanderlust and escapism elsewhere. So where’s the best place to see the world if you can’t leave your house? Through the wonderful medium of film.
Of course, there are tons of great documentaries and TV shows that are great for showing locations in a new light. There’s pretty much any documentary by Jimmy Chin or David Attenborough, or when it comes to TV shows there’s non-fiction travelogues like those from the late, great Anthony Bourdain, or dramas set in different locations of time periods like The Serpent or The Tourist. That being said, films tend to edge it when it comes to settling in for a few hours and immersing yourself in a far off world.
Let’s check out the 5 best travel movies every traveler should watch.
Here are the 5 Best Travel Movies
1. Secret Life of Walter Mitty
First up is a modern remake of a Walter Mattieu classic starring and directed by Ben Stiller. The premise is that the titular Walter Mitty has quite a mundane life, looking after the negatives for a magazine and often daydreams about his life being more exciting and impressive than it is. Over time, this has left him a little bit isolated from those around him and labelled as a weirdo by some of the people he works with.
When a very important negative goes missing from an illusive, nomadic photographer played by Sean Penn, it’s up to Walter and his workplace crush, played by Kristen Wiig, to track him down. Chaos ensues taking him all around the world including Greenland, Iceland, Afghanistan and more with Walter discovering more about himself with each and every new clue. There are plenty of beautiful sweeping shots of the locations that are accompanied by a gorgeous soundtrack that’ll leave you scrambling for your passport.
2. The Motorcycle Diaries
If you know anything about South or Central American history, then chances are you’ve heard of, or even read, revolutionary Che Guevara’s autobiographical memoir, The Motorcycle Diaries. The events of the film and the book look at Che’s early to mid 20’s as he travels out of Argentina and around the continent of South America with his best friend Alberto on a highly unreliable old motorcycle.
This Spanish language film has all the usual japes and comedic moment you’d expect from two best friends taking a road trip in their 20s, but it also has some seminal moments where you can see the impact the journey is having on the two of them and how it’s going to factor into future historical events.
Of course there are plenty of cool shots of vintage South America including some off the beaten path areas that give a beautiful insight into indigenous culture. It’s important for us to look back at history and culture and really appreciate how it shapes a place.
3. Hunt for the Wilderpeople
Although New Zealand director Taika Waititi is now a household name for his Marvel work and Oscar nominated pieces, one of his most beloved films is a timeless, heartfelt – much still funny as always – homage to the bush area of the North Island, just outside of Auckland.
It follows a young foster kid with dreams of being a gangster, who’s placed in the care of a country-based couple, one of which is a curmudgeonly old man played by the always amazing Sam Neill. Circumstances quickly change and it becomes a thrilling chase film all throughout the gorgeous New Zealand bush area. It’ll make you want to strap on your hikers and go for an adventure.
4. Midnight in Paris
If you love a film that is jam packed full of nostalgia and literary references, as well as an all star cast, then Midnight in Paris is probably going to be right up your street. This entire film is one giant love letter to the City of Lights, both in the modern age and in the past – often considered as Paris’ Golden age.
Follow writer Gill (played by Owen Wilson) as he wanders the streets of Paris at night looking for inspiration, and ends up finding it in the most unlikely of places with the most unlikely of people. It’s a beautiful film that leaves you wondering who’ll turn up next and whether Gill’s modern and historic fantasies will ever truly line up. For the romantics among you who love to uncover the secrets of a city, this is definitely one for you.
5. The Darjeeling Limited
Now, we couldn’t have a movie escapism list, especially one that revolves around travel, without featuring a Wes Anderson movie. The Darjeeling Limited is a stunning look at travelling through India by train as experienced by three very different brothers, brought together by tragic circumstances.
As with a lot of Wes Anderson films, it’s beautifully shot, quirky and has a heart of gold with a huge cast of big names and cool cameos. There’s one especially poignant scene where the characters put their differences aside and appreciate and experience the culture around them, and it’s the one scene that every single traveller should watch to understand why travel and culture is so, so important, and the scene itself is just simply breathtaking.
So, there you have it – 5 best travel movies that every traveler should watch, with some documentary and TV recommendations thrown in for good measure. Don’t say we don’t treat you!
Sometimes it’s simply not possible for us to get away and travel, whether that’s due to a global pandemic or just that we’re still trying to save up for that next trip. In the meantime, you can feed your traveller’s soul with these beautiful movies that’ll inspire any traveller to get their passport out and get back out on the road.
Get that popcorn ready, grab your travel companions and get ready to add a whole new load of places to that travel bucket list of yours! Do you have any best travel movies that you love? Let us know in the comments!
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