Whether you are trying to get into the spirit of adventure for your upcoming trip or you’re wanting to relive a little of the magic and excitement of life on the road from the comfort of your living room, watching a travel themed movie is a great way to inspire your inner wander-lusting soul. I’ve compiled a list of some of the best travel movies to really get you in the wandering mood.
Showcasing Thailand in all of its tropical glory – translucent turquoise waters, unoccupied paradisaical beaches and a great community of nomadic, hippy, wanderers, this Leonardo Di Caprio movie has something of a cult following among backpackers and travel enthusiasts. Okay so there may be a few Lord of the Flies-esque themes intertwined within the story line, but the movie demonstrates exactly what it is that we love about travel – freedom, adventure, and a sense of belonging to a place or community so different to what we are accustomed to back at home.
The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel
The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel follows a group of elderly British people who opt to live in a nursing home deep in the heart of the Punjab rather than back home in the UK. Some of them move to India out of the excitement of a new adventure, but many are simply forced to relocate there as a result of their financial situations and the fact that they cannot afford to maintain a comfortable lifestyle in England. It’s a heartwarming tale that watches as some of the closed minded older characters overcome their prejudices and xenophobic attitudes towards India and different cultures. The vibrant, colourful, bustling, and downright hectic nature of India is demonstrated perfectly in this movie and ultimately the characters fall in love with it enough to declare it as their new home.
Lost in Translation
A neglected young housewife that’s feeling disconnected from her marriage and an older washed-up actor form an unlikely friendship over their shared situations of feeling lost and out of place in the Far East. They act as each other’s support system while in a place that isn’t bad, but simply isn’t like home. If you have spent any amount of time living overseas, especially if you have done so in a culture that was completely different to your own, then no doubt you will identify with this movie. Lost in Translation contains some complex themes and it’s safe to say that it truly is a marmite movie – reactions tend to be mixed with half of those who watch it ultimately hating it, and others falling in love with it and feeling moved by its characters and storyline.
One thing is for certain though, it’s definitely worth a watch to determine which end of the spectrum you fall on. Scooping up dozens of Oscars, Academy Awards and BAFTAs, this is arguably one of the best travel movies out there at the moment.
Eat, Pray, Love
Destinations: Italy, India, Indonesia
Julia Roberts plays a successful married woman whose world comes tumbling down around her when she gets a divorce and realises that she has lived her life doing all of the things society expected her to do, yet none of those which she had actually always dreamed of doing (the main one being to travel the world). She leaves her husband, her house, and her life in New York behind to experience an adult gap year and do all the things that she had never taken the time to do for herself. Eat Pray Love, originally a book, is based on a true story. The movie can seem a little long and drawn out in places, however you can really identify with the character and her adventure, particularly as solo female travellers.
The Darjeeling Limited
Three affluent, upper class brothers take a trip to India together as they try to come to terms with their father’s death a year after its occurrence. Growing up surrounded by wealth, and never having to want for anything, their adventures through India sees them thrown into all sorts of chaotic situations unique to India. Their encounters with people from different classes and backgrounds and the logistical problems that they experience during their trip enable them to grow as people and re-assess their mindsets. Directed by Wes Anderson, the colour palette of the movie is extremely bright making it an attractive if somewhat wacky viewing experience. The Darjeeling Limited is one of the best travel movies for demonstrating the life changing experiences of travel – not just in terms of sightseeing, but in learning more about yourself.
Destination: Bruges, Belgium
Two British hit-men are in Bruges under instruction from their employer to “hide out” and disguise themselves as tourists after a particularly messy incident in London. Although the main story line is somewhat dark, the movie is extremely comedic and demonstrates the very best in dry, British humour. Bruges, with its magnificent medieval architecture provides a stunning, almost fairy tale backdrop for the story. The more Colin Farrell’s character complains about how he hates “travelling and tourist crap”, the more your attention is drawn to just how beautiful Bruges is.
Destinations: USA, Europe, Asia, Middle East
Two terminally ill cancer patients embark on an adventure around the globe to cross off the dream destinations and experiences on their bucket lists. Both men have lived fruitful lives – one a multi millionaire businessman, and the other, a family man with a rich home life; however neither have ever taken the time to do what they wanted to do.
Under the Tuscan Sun
A typical girly romance movie. Under the Tuscan Sun follows a recently divorced American Writer who moves to Italy to renovate an old Tuscan villa and winds up finding romance along the way. The story line itself is nothing spectacular or out of the ordinary, however what steals the show here is Tuscany in all of its majestic beauty. From Italian pastel coloured houses, magnificent architecture, lush greenery, and an enviable Mediterranean lifestyle, this movie will have you wanting to book your tickets to Italy like, yesterday.
Whether or not you are interested in the particular destinations showcased within the movies, you are certain to enjoy the stories and the ideologies of freedom and adventure that they aim to inspire. There are plenty of other travel movies out there, but these are the ones which most strongly had me wanting to just abandon everything and book another plane ticket on my next adventure. What do you think are the best travel movies? Any favourites?